Witness: Authorities harassing, confiscated pictures

Thursday, July 3rd 2008, 10:47 pm
By: News 9

By Stacey Cameron, NEWS 9

Chris Owens said he was handcuffed, thrown into the back of a police car and harassed for taking pictures of a car crash scene Monday evening.

He said he witnessed the end of a high-speed chase while riding his scooter down N Classen Blvd. Monday.

"That black SUV passed me doing about 120," Owens said. "I stopped, pulled off on the median, had my camera and just walked around and shot a few pictures."

Much to Owens' surprise, when police saw him taking the pictures, they demanded he hand them over or go to jail. Owens said three troopers and an Oklahoma City police officer were present during the incident.

"I quickly opened the scooter seat, dropped my camera in and locked it, and said ‘No, I won't give it to you,' Owens said.

As professional photographer and a teacher at Casady School, Owens stood his ground, telling police they were violating his civil rights.

"I'm a prep school teacher, not a criminal," Owens said. "It was constant screaming a foot from my face, of how stupid I am."

After Owens refused to take the camera out of his scooter and delete the pictures, that's when he said one of the Troopers lost his restraint.

"He finally just snapped, and said ‘That's it, you're going to jail,' and knocked my helmet off my head and took me over to a tree and cuffed me," Owens said.

Troopers told Owens he was inside a crime scene and had no right taking pictures. Owens said he was outside the tape, but deleted the pictures fearing he would be thrown in jail.

"Where's the checks and balances? Who lets them run like unleashed dogs," Owens said.

Owens filed complaints with the Oklahoma City police and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

"The chief's office is aware of it and it's in the process of being handled appropriately," OHP Capt. Chris West said.

Owens said he doesn't want an investigation, just an apology.

"I want them on TV. I want them to step up and say ‘Hey, our officers acted like they were the criminals.'"

Owens was able to recover the pictures using software, and said he's considering filing a lawsuit.