Georgia Man Arrested for Making Public Records Request

It was just over a year ago that Matthew Haley was arrested for video recording on a public street corner in Georgia after deputies demanded his identification and he refused to provide it on the basis that he was not committing a crime, telling them that all he was doing was documenting the number of cars violating traffic laws.

Two days later on the Fourth of July, after having spent 12 hours in jail for obstructing, he was standing outside the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office in Augusta being interviewed by a local television reporter about his arrest when a pair of deputies walked up to him and demanded his identification again, accusing him of suspicious behavior because he was holding a cell phone camera, even though it was obvious he was retelling the story of his unlawful arrest – a charge that is still pending.

A few months later, Haley returned to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office to make a public records request for the report pertaining to the July 4th incident, but was again harassed because he had a camera and was ordered away under threat of arrest.

He managed to submit his request outside the sheriff’s building before he was forced to scurry away, told never to come back again unless he had legitimate business – as if submitting a public records request is somehow illegitimate.

However, when he later called the department for a copy of the trespass order, he was told that none existed.

Fast forward to Tuesday of this week when he returned to the sheriff’s department to make more public records requests, only to wind up arrested again because he had refused to turn off his camera.