Galveston police sergeant indicted on criminal trespass charge for searching activist's car without a warrant
A Galveston city police sergeant has been indicted by a grand jury on a misdemeanor criminal trespass charge arising from the search of a self-described video activist's vehicle, according to prosecutors.
The Galveston County district attorney's office alleges that Sgt. Archie Chapman "located, entered, and searched" the car of Phillip Turner, a correspondent for the website photographyisnotacrime.com who was observed filming near the police department in November.
Chapman arrested Turner at the time on charges of failure to provide identification to officers, but the chargers were subsequently dropped, prosecutors said.
Chapman's attorney, Greg Cagle, said his client was looking in Turner's car for the man's driver's license to book him into jail after detaining him. Cagle said Chapman was worried about the safety of police officers, sheriff's deputies and jail staff who worked in the nearby building.
"Sgt. Chapman was trying to do his job as a police officer," Cagle said. "He had no motive other than to protect the public and the officers."
Michael Gray, a spokesman for the Galveston city police, said Chapman had been placed on administrative duties as the department conducted an internal investigation into the incident.
Prosecutor James Haugh declined to discuss what Chapman's motive might have been for the search of Turner's car. Haugh said the grand jury reviewed the evidence and considered several possible charges before handing down the criminal trespass indictment Thursday.
Cagle said Monday that Chapman had not yet been arrested -- a judge still needs to sign the grand jury's indictment.
If convicted, Chapman faces a maximum punishment of 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine, prosecutors said.