A Pittsburgh police officer wearing a “thin blue line” face mask became enraged when a man told him his mask was disrespectful to the American flag, arresting the man on a series of contempt of cop charges.
But the arrest was caught on video and the cop is now under investigation.
The incident took place Sunday at a farmer’s market where Pittsburgh police officer Paul Abel Jr. was working off-duty as a security guard, according to Trib Live.
Abel claims he was minding his own business when a 22-year-old man named Daniel Evan Holc approached him, telling him his mask was disrespectful to the flag. Abel claims he tried to ignore Holc but Holc continued to harass him about his mask.
Abel claims he only arrested Holc because he was blocking an exit. He also claims he found marijuana on Holc after searching him.
The video shows Abel was wearing his mask beneath the nose which makes it ineffective.
According to the press release from the city of Pittsburgh:
Just after noon on September 6, a Pittsburgh Police officer working an approved off-duty detail for City of Pittsburgh Special Events at the Squirrel Hill Farmer’s Market was approached by a male patron who informed him that his mask (thin blue line mask) was disrespectful to the American flag.
The officer, who was speaking with a Special Events employee at the time, told the man that he would have to agree to disagree. The man, who was exiting the market at the cordoned-off exit point, continued to make his point to the officer and wanted to show him something on his phone. The officer would not engage with him. At this point a line was building as the man was blocking the exit, preventing other customers from leaving, including a blind couple.
The Special Events employee informed the man that he was blocking the exit and he needed to move aside. He became agitated and raised his voice, tried to engage the officer further about the flag, and continued to refuse to move. The officer asked for his identification several times so he could cite him, but the man refused each time and continued to block the exit and shout profanities at the officer.
At this point the officer moved to physically arrest the male, who resisted, knocking the officer’s body worn camera into the street in the process. The male continued to resist arrest so the officer told him he would use his Taser if he did not comply. At that point, the man complied and put his hands behind his back to be handcuffed.
The events employee then retrieved the officer’s body worn camera from the street so he could reactivate it.
The officer retrieved the man’s wallet for identification and searched his backpack where he recovered marijuana, THC edibles, and drug paraphernalia. The man did not possess a medical marijuana card.
He was arrested and charged with Resisting Arrest, Defiant Trespass, Disorderly Conduct, and narcotics-related charges.
According to the U.S. Flag Code, the American flag “should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery” but police claim the thin blue line flag looks nothing like the American flag.