Washington resident and educational videographer Gavin Seim was recording a traffic stop in Boise on October 8 when Officer Lori Sperry approached him and ordered him to move. At the time, Seim was at least twenty yards away from the traffic stop. He had done nothing to interfere, or to threaten the officer.
Nonetheless, Sperry’s indoctrination regarding the primacy of “officer safety” dictated that she control the Mundane, so she aggressively confronted Seim and demanded to see his hands. Seim — who, unlike Sperry, was polite and composed — did remove his left hand from his pocket. He didn’t provide identification as Sperry demanded, because she had no legal authority to do so. Annoyed that Seim was aware of his rights and unwilling to relinquish them, Sperry grabbed Seim’s arm and pulled it away from his body.
“Hey — do not touch me!” Seim told Sperry, which was a lawful order she was required to obey. Rather than leaving Seim alone, Sperry continued make demands of him, insisting that he permit her to pat him down, and that he move to another location. Eventually another officer arrived to guard Seim while Sperry carried out her act of state-licensed extortion.
In a complaint filed with the Boise Police Department, Seim correctly described Sperry’s action in grabbing his arm as an act of criminal assault: “Had I acted in the same aggressive manner towards the officer, I would likely be charged with a crime.”
Seim’s video of this encounter, predictably, went viral, and this has prompted the Boise PD and its media allies to engage in damage control. The result is a case study of the way “professional” journalists massage a message on behalf of the state and its officially licensed agents of coercion.
To provide “expert” analysis of the encounter, and Seim’s complaint, the Boise ABC affiliate consulted a local lawyer named Joe Filicetti, whom they identified simply as an “attorney.” Filicetti told them that because Seim was “not complying” with Sperry’s unlawful demands, “She could have arrested him at that point.”
The viewing audience was left with the impression that this was the conclusion of an objective, impartial observer whose unbiased assessment was based on the law. What they weren’t told is that Mr. Filicetti is an “approved counsel” for the Fraternal Order of Police — that is, the police union. Among the officers who have benefited from Mr. Filicetti’s services are former Ada County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Joe Wright, who was forced to resign (without charges) after multiple women accused him of opportunistic sexual assault. He also represented former Ada County Deputy Spencer Powers, who wrecked an entire neighborhood in August 2009 while driving under the influence of alcohol and sleeping pills. Powers was also fired without facing charges or even being arrested.
“I think this guy is getting crucified,” Filicetti complained in response to public outrage over the preferential treatment given to Powers. Inflicting such humiliation, expense, and prolonged hardship on a paladin of public order who demolishes a neighborhood simply isn’t proper; treatment of that kind is more appropriate for uppity Mundanes who refuse to defer to every imperious directive spewed by one of their uniformed superiors, according to Mr. Filicetti and his comrades.
If Sperry had arrested Seim, she would have committed an “illegal arrest and seizure” — a misdemeanor under Idaho State Code (18-706). By grabbing Seim’s arm, Sperry committed what the Idaho State Code (18-706) describes as an “unnecessary assault by an officer,” which is punishable by a year in prison and a $5,000 fine. Ironically, the crime Filicetti would have recommended that Sperry commit was less serious than the one she actually committed.
Of course, we shouldn’t expect an FOP attorney to admit any of this, since that’s not the kind of service he is paid to provide. In similar fashion, we shouldn’t expect government-aligned “journalists” to do anything other than retail the “authoritative” pronouncements of such supposed experts.
In an online exchange with me, Mr. Filicetti pointed out that he has “taught police officers at the Idaho POST Academy and throughout the state since 1987,” and said that it “would have been helpful to describe my background, training, and experience” in the news report. That disclosure would also have indicated to viewers that Mr. Filicetti is not a disinterested legal expert when it comes to matters of police misconduct. He also points out that the Idaho Fraternal Order of Police, unlike affiliates in other states, does not consider itself a labor union because it does not engage in collective bargaining.
1:08 pm on October 17, 2013 Email William Norman Grigg