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Video shows Harford County deputy arresting self proclaimed activist who tried filming traffic stop

Harford County Sheriff's Office traffic stop
Posted at 9:58 AM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 08:41:04-04

BEL AIR, Md. — A May 4 traffic stop in Harford County is getting a lot of attention, after a deputy arrested a self proclaimed activist who tried filming it.

The department released body cam footage of the 11 plus minute encounter on Facebook, which now has nearly 300 shares and 2,800 comments.

It starts with the deputy pulling a car over and speaking with the driver.

After the driver complies with the deputy's request to step out of the car, the two begin a conversation about which local businesses are hiring new workers.

As backup arrives and the deputy prepares to search the driver's car, they notice an unidentified man approaching from behind recording with his phone.

The deputy asks multiple times, "can I help you?"

As the man continues getting closer and closer, the deputy says "you can back up please."

He refuses, saying "this is a public sidewalk." The deputy again orders the man to step away telling him, "this is a traffic stop, you need to back up, you cant walk up behind us."

The man still refuses and continues confronting the deputy repeatedly claiming, "this is a public sidewalk, you don't know me, and I don't care."

After several more unsuccessful verbal requests for the man to back up, the deputy pulls out his taser.

This time the man backs away slightly but argues he has the right to film police, for which the deputy responds, "you can go over there."

Seconds later the deputy tells the man he's under arrest for hindering.

Online court records identify the man as 30-year-old Sean Paul Reyes, of New York. He was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court on July 21. The arresting deputy is listed as K. Jackson.

While sitting on the curb handcuffed, Reyes tells Jackson he's a constitutional activist from New York that films police for a living.

Jackson explains per policy of the Harford County Sheriff's Office, people are allowed to film but cannot do it from behind where deputies cannot see them.

"How about you let me go on my way," Reyes pleads with Jackson while repeatedly apologizing. "Nope, you're going to jail that's it, I'm not messing around man, listen to me I believe in your rights," Jackson is heard saying. "I don't care you're not gonna walk up behind me like that, you took my whole attention from this stop over here," he continued.

The video ends with the deputy apologizing to the driver he initially stopped.

Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler released a statement explaining the department's policy on recording deputies.

"Members of the Sheriff's Office may not prevent or prohibit any person's ability to observe, photograph, and/or make a video recording of law enforcement activity that occurs in the public domain, as long as the person's location, actions, and/or behavior do not create a legitimate, articulable threat to the deputy’s safety or the safety of others, or an unlawful hindrance to successful resolution of the law enforcement activity."

Gahler also encouraged residents, "to watch the entire arrest from the vantage point of the deputy."

He goes onto say an internal investigation will be conducted into the deputy's actions.

"A more thorough investigation is being conducted to review all the evidence, including additional body camera footage subsequent to the arrest, and in car camera video recordings. The results of this administrative investigation will be shared with our Harford County community when complete."

Watch the video below.