Anyone foolish enough to expect that his move to Junius Heights would quiet neighborhood gadfly Avi Adelman was sorely mistaken. Lower Greenville's longtime Barking Dog has merely shifted his territory about a mile to the southwest, which is how he wound up at Ross and Haskell avenues last Monday.
Adelman was driving home when he spotted the flashing lights of several Dallas Sheriff's Office squad cars in front of Ross Liquor, which are to Adelman what honey is to Winnie the Pooh. He got his camera, positioned himself on the sidewalk and began to take pictures.
According to Adelman, one of the deputies, who identifies himself later as Hamilton, threatens to arrest him for obstructing their investigation. Adelman doesn't get that on film, but he does capture their subsequent exchange.
"Keep walking Barking Dog," the deputy says, apparently familiar with Adelman's work on Lower Greenville., He shines his flashlight at Adelman's camera and admonishes him to spell his name correctly on his blog: H-A-M-I-L-T-O-N.
Hamilton and Adelman spend the next several minutes attempting to out-troll one another. Hamilton pauses occasionally in his police work to shine his flashlight at Adelman's camera. Adelman crosses the street, then crosses back. Again with the flashlight.
"That's not going to hurt the camera! Hate to tell you that!" Adelman shouts. "Why don't you tell me what your problem is? Do you have a problem with me exercising my rights? Obviously you do."
Adelman, who was driving his boss' van, had packed at a nearby 7-Eleven. Hamilton and another deputy walk over to it and jot down the license plate. Adelman keeps filming. When Adelman finally gets in the van to leave, he says a squad car pulls behind him and tails him for the entire 2.1-mile route home. He keeps the camera rolling to capture his narration of the pursuit -- "This guy's on my tuckus"; "This is unfucking real." -- but keeps the camera stowed and doesn't capture the pursuit itself.
He then drives back to Ross and Haskell to film some more. There are a couple of Waxahachie police cars there now, apparently to recover a stolen vehicle. Hamilton glares at him. Adelman eventually returns home.
Adelman has filed an internal affairs complaint with the Dallas Sheriff's Office, accusing Hamilton of intimidation and infringing upon his right to photograph in public. Adelman reminds Sheriff Lupe Valdez in a letter that her department recently participated in a seminar organized by Adelman and the National Press Photographers Association on citizens' right to record cops.
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DSO spokesman Raul Reyna says the department takes Adelman's complaint "very seriously."
"The Sheriff's Department acknowledges and understands that the public have the right to record a police officer's activity as long as they remain a reasonable distance as to not interfere with the officer's duties or create a safety concern for the officer, person detained, or other onlookers," he said in an email. "Safety is always the number one priority in these types of situations for both our citizens and our officers."
Here's Adelman's full video:
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.