Kevin Duane Butler, who also goes by the moniker “No Question Abaudit” on his YouTube channel, appeared in Killeen Municipal Court on Wednesday for his hearing on his misdemeanor charge of interfering or obstructing a police officer.
Butler refused to plead either guilty or not guilty, but City Judge Mark D. Kimball quickly gave Butler a not-guilty plea.
Butler is a part of an online community of people who refer to themselves as “auditors” who film police officers along with other public officials, and post the videos online. He was arrested on Dec. 18 while doing a video recording of Killeen police during a traffic stop. Police say Butler was interfering with their investigation when he voiced aloud that people in the passenger seat don’t have to show ID.
Butler claims that his arrest was a violation of his free speech rights.
Before his hearing Wednesday, Butler did have some disagreements with the bailiff. The first cane when the bailiff called out Butler’s last name and Butler refused to say his first name.
The second disagreement came when Butler asked whether not being allowed his cellphone during the hearing was a policy or a law. The bailiff responded that it was policy.
“So it’s not a law?” Butler asked. The bailiff said that if Butler had any issues with this, then he can bring it up to the judge.
Once Kimball called on Butler to approach the bench to plead guilty or not guilty, Butler said that he refused to plead either way.
“OK, that will be ‘not guilty’ and I will give you a pre-trial date,” Kimball said as Butler walked back to his seat.
In the weeks since his arrest, Butler has been gaining some support among some Killeen residents, but others consider Butler’s actions more of a nuisance.
Killeen resident Bill Paquette last week spoke before the Killeen City Council and asserted that auditors only push the situations until there is a reaction.
During that same City Council meeting, activists with Open Carry Texas presented a petition to amend the city ordinance that police claimed Butler violated.
“This is only done for money and (online) views,” Paquette said. “How many people are going to do what Butler does? I don’t want to change anything because they are only in it for the views.”
After viewing NoQuestionAbaudit’s YouTube video of his arrest, an attorney with the ACLU of Texas said Butler’s interaction with police seemed to be well within his First Amendment rights.
“He was at least 10 to 15 feet away, if not more, from what was happening,” ACLU attorney David Donatti said in a phone interview with the Herald Tuesday.
“He is just a citizen on a public street in the city where he lives. Whether he was speaking to the passenger or to his YouTube followers, he was speaking on a matter of public concern which is: what are people’s rights when they are confronting a police officer.”
Donatti said in an ideal world the charges against Butler would be dismissed.
“The police overstepped what appears from the video to be a plain exercise of a constitutional right and these charges should be dropped,” Donatti said.