First Amendment Auditor Nasty Nathanial Thomas was assaulted and unlawfully detained by Morro Bay Police Officers, including Police Chief Gregory Allen
First Amendment Auditor Nasty Nathanial Thomas was assaulted and unlawfully detained by Morro Bay Police Officers, including Police Chief Gregory Allen
First Amendment Auditor Nasty Nathanial Thomas was assaulted and unlawfully detained by Morro Bay (CA) Chief of Police Gregory Allen and Officer Greg Gruich.

The video and description included within this post were shared with Nevada Cop Block by “Nasty” Nathanial Thomas, via reader submission. You can (and should) visit Nathanial’s YouTube channel (click here) to see other videos he has posted. In addition you can see other posts involving Nathanial that have previously been published at NVCopBlock.org by clicking here, here, and here.

Note: If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

This video shows what is known as a “First Amendment Audit.” As Thomas explains in more detail within his description, that consists of going out and filming government buildings and other public property. Oftentimes, the police, security guards, government employees, and even members of the public don’t understand that the First Amendment protects a citizen’s right to take photos and/or record video of anything that is within view of a public place.

Obviously, this video is very much an example of that (commonly referred to as an “audit fail” among those who do them). As can be seen on the video, during this audit Thomas was approached by Morro Bay Chief Of Police Gregory Allen, who was accompanied by Officer Greg Gruich. They then proceeded to demand ID from him, stating that filming inside the lobby was a misdemeanor crime based on an city ordinance which they claimed not to know the code for.

After Thomas declined to identify himself, based on it being an unlawful detention for exercising a legal right, he was assaulted, thrown to the ground, and placed under arrest. That arrest was later classified as a detention and no charges were filed as a result, although Thomas states that he was held within a police car for over an hour while in handcuffs. It’s also worth mentioning that Chief Allen and Officer Gruich addressed Thomas as “Nate” numerous times throughout the video. That obviously implies that they in fact did know who he was already.

Note: In Nevada, the police are limited by law [NRS 171.123(4)] from detaining a person for longer than one hour total without establishing probable cause to make an arrest. In addition, that maximum time is not an open window to detain people for a full hour. The actual time someone can be detained is predicated on the reasonable amount of time it should take to investigate the crime the person being detained is (reasonably) suspected of. (This is a state law specific to Nevada, it may not apply if you live in a different state.)

Department Contact Information:

Morro Bay Police Department
850 Morro Bay Blvd
Morro Bay, CA 93442
(805) 772-6225

Police Officials Involved In Incident
Chief Gregory Allen – Phone: (805) 772-6284
Officer Greg Gruich

App & Social Media Links
Morro Bay Police Department on Facebook
Morro Bay Police Department on Twitter
Morro Bay PD App

San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office
1035 Palm Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93408
(805) 781-5800

District Attorney
Dan Dow
Contact Form

Social Media Links
San Luis Obispo County Facebook Page
San Luis Obispo County Twitter Account
San Luis Obispo County Youtube Channel
San Luis Obispo County on Flickr
San Luis Obispo County LinkedIn Account

Assaulted While Legally Filming in Public

On February 6, 2018 I was physically assaulted by the Morro Bay Chief Of Police Gregory Allen, and uniformed Officer Greg Gruich, while conducting a First Amendment Audit outside of the city’s police station.

Morro Bay Chief of Police Gregory Allen
Morro Bay (CA.) Police Chief Gregory Allen

First Amendment Audits are a form of activism. It is where individuals, such as myself, test the responses of public officials by openly filming government facilities from public view. Police stations are often an ideal location for a First Amendment Audit.

As an auditor I have filmed everything from police stations to correctional facilities to courthouses to military installations to even NASA. If it can be seen in public then it can be filmed.

Now here is the challenge that First Amendment Auditors have. A number of people are under the impression that you need permission to film government buildings or public officials. I can’t even count the number of times that I have heard things like “your not allowed to film a Federal facility” or “your not allowed to take pictures here.” This is where as an auditor you are given the opportunity to educate people.

What it all comes down to is that there can be no expectation to privacy when in a public place. This does not exclude public officials, such as police officers.

Now I expect a private security guard making minimum wage for standing outside the entrance of a Walmart to be ignorant of the law. However, I do expect someone, such as Chief Allen, whom before coming to Morro Bay was a 34 year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, to understand the basic laws concerning public photography.

Video Of Assault

But whether or not Chief Allen was ignorant of the law, or simply chose to ignorant it, he felt it necessary to physically assault me. With assistance of Officer Gruich, Chief Allen threw me to ground where my head hit the concrete.

First Amendment Auditor Nasty Nathanial Thomas
“Nasty” Nathanial

My hands were then twisted behind my back in a very aggressive and painful manor. I was then handcuffed and placed in the backseat of a hot police car while Chief Allen and his goons tried so desperately to figure out some way to charge me with a crime.

After about an hour I was released without any charges. Why was I not charged with anything? The answer is actually very simple. Because there was NO CRIME! At least not on my end.

As for Chief Allen and Officer Gruich, I can think of a handful of crimes they committed last February 6, such as assault, kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, and so on…….. Will the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office file criminal charges against Chief Allen and Officer Gruich? I think you probably know the answer to that.

Regardless of how this incident plays out, in the end Chief Allen and Officer Gruich need to be held accountable for their actions. Thank you for reading.

Nasty Nathanial Thomas

Local Media Coverage of the Incident

Naptime

Related Content on NVCopBlock.org:

Kelly is a lifelong resident of Las Vegas, who’s been very active in local grassroots activism, as well as on a national level during his extensive travels. He’s also the founder/main contributor of Nevada Cop Block, served as editor/contributor at CopBlock.org and designed the Official Cop Block Press Passes.
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Connect with Kelly at these social networks; Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

2 Comments

  1. You also forgot to mention how the D.A. was called by the Chief and was told he HAD to let the person go and to leave him alone, since there was no crime. This happened before and during the arrest.

    1. Author

      Technically, I didn’t forget to mention that, because I wasn’t actually aware of it. Thanks for the info.

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