SLO officers accused of targeting a witness to a use of force incident

July 23, 2022

Officer Blake Etherton


San Luis Obispo Police Chief Rick Scott says it might just be coincidence that officers in two police cars followed a videographer who is known as the “SLO County Observer” for seven minutes a few days ago. The officers followed him for a distance of about two miles before stopping and citing him for failing to use his turn signal to travel from Pismo Street to Higuera Street.

The videographer accused the officers of targeting him in retaliation for a video he shot.

“SLO County Observer” live streamed and uploaded a video to YouTube showing a police officer hitting a man in the temple during a July 17 arrest. Shortly afterwards, the unnamed officer was placed on paid administrative leave pending the results of an investigation.

Four days later, officers in at least two police cars appeared to follow SLO County Observer while he drove northbound on Higuera Street, a rearview video of the incident shows. As one police car turns away, another car pulls behind the videographer.

Officer Blake Etherton follows the videographer onto Marsh Street, before the officer turns right onto Pacific Street without activating his turn signal.

The videographer continues northbound on Marsh Street and makes a right turn onto Nipomo, driving for a short time without an officer on his tail before he turns right onto Pismo Street.

Etherton then loops around and again begins following the videographer, this time on Pismo Street near the intersection with High and Higuera streets.

The videographer transitions onto Higuera Street in a lane that also allows a left turn onto High Street. The meeting point for Higuera and Pismo streets meet in a roughly “y” shape with Pismo feeding directly to Higuera Street going south.

Lane markers at the intersection show a right arrow to go north on Higuera Street, a left arrow to go east on High Street and a straight arrow to transition onto southbound Higuera Street.

After officers followed the videographer for about seven minutes, Etherton pulls him over claiming he failed to activate his turn signal a full 150 feet before heading onto Higuera Street. The video appears to show the videographer did not turn left.

In addition, Etherton incorrectly quotes California Vehicle Code 22108, which  requires all drivers signal at least 100 feet, not 150 feet, prior to making a turn or changing lanes.

The videographer explains on camera that he drove straight onto Higuera Street. But Etherton does not agree. He writes the videographer a ticket.

Chief Scott says the facts might support that the officer and the videographer were headed in the same direction, towards a police call in progress.

It is not clear which call the officers in the two police cars would have been responding to that would require them to drive in a loop. The officers followed the videographer northbound on Higuera Street, onto Marsh Street, then onto Pismo Street before heading south on Higuera Street. The cars traveled roughly two miles over a period of seven minutes going from north on Higuera Street to south on Higuera Street.

“There is a very strong possibility the person was not being ‘followed’ or ‘stalked’ at all, but chose to take the same route as the police officers responding to a routine police call for service, which was broadcast over the police channel and possibly also received by any person utilizing a consumer grade scanner,” Scott said. “I am waiting on the full details to be provided to my office so these circumstances and the issuance of the citation can both be review [sic] for further administrative action.”

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I’m curious why there are portions that we cannot hear the conversation? The shadows clearly show that they are still talking but it is silent.

Driver likely did not want his personal info on youtube.

That makes sense!

Standard police procedure is that vehicle code violators be stopped as close to the scene of the violation as possible. This allows the officer to point out where the violation occurred and for the violator to have his driving performance fresh in his mind, To follow a driver for seven minutes after the violation and stop them for a violation that occurred miles away is ridiculous.

The police Chief jumped to the officer’s defense that he were going to a call for police service and it was a coincidence, Then he states that he doesn’t have all the facts. If he didn’t have all the facts why did he offer an excuse?

The chief uses the artform of sophistry “a method of argument that is seemingly plausible though actually invalid and misleading…subtle but unsound or fallacious reasoning”.

Did the videographer willfully disregard vehicle code or commit a skilled based error? No, you can hear the blinker at previous stops. Did the videographer commit a decision based error? No. As opposed to the Higuera light that allows two way traffic on a green light, the Pismo entrance onto Higuera is given a green light by itself. So, in effect the turn signal is worthless information to the drivers at the other three intersection entrances. Would signaling have prevented an accident when only one path is given a green light? No. Had the videographer made a left sharp turn onto High St. then yes that could have impacted a northbound vehicle turning right on a red onto High St., but that didn’t happen. So, the officer picked to pull over the reporter on a non-violation and give a false lecture and ticket. How does giving a bogus ticket to a videographer that feeds news outlets help the Police Chief’s goal of getting a new multimillion dollar headquarters with a spiffy community room? From ticket revenue? I doubt it. Clearly this is stalking and harassment of the videographer and the chief is out of control of the vindictive rogue officers chuckling about this in the bullroom. Karma will occur when the videographer beats that officer to the next scene and the officer begs for info.

“To follow a driver for seven minutes after the violation and stop them for a violation that occurred miles away is ridiculous.”

If you were correct, that would be ridiculous, but that’s not what happened.

If you look at the timestamps on the SLO Co Observer’s own video, the turn signal violation occurred at 6:27:51pm and the officer activated his lights to pull him over at 6:28:09pm, just 18 seconds later.

The seven minute time refers to something else, but I’ll give you a chance to re-read the article to figure that one out. Maybe watch the video first before commenting?

Even though I end up supporting police officers in most controversies after considering the accusations, this one seems different. The filming of the previous police misconduct that led to led to an officer being placed on leave has got to be a VERY significant event for the department which may have split opinion on the issue. Following someone around that you want to get info on, then detain them for something trivial, so you can inspect their car, ask a bunch of questions, build up a profile for later, this seems like bad cop behavior.

If you can discredit the source of the evidence as biased, unreliable, or corrupt, perhaps you can allege the evidence it self is inadmissible. Find some dirt on the videographer and maybe we can make the case about him. Maybe we can see a precedent against filming officers and using the video against them.

Cops loosing guns, cops raping witnesses, cops getting duis, cops abusing spouses, cops killing people and dogs with impunity, cops getting head from a Ksby journalist on the job, cops having sex with subordinates, cops taking bribes, cops killing mentally disabled men strapped naked to a plastic chair until a young man has an ebolism, cops stepping on men’s testicles in the county jail. Cops under federal investigation in SLO, cops baiting and rigging journalists without sex. Back SLO PD blue Lives. Or, hold all equally and quit this Alabama Fake Jesus BS. Medics and firefighters always say they don’t carry guns, because they save lives, not take them away. Local meme here. Gonna go to academy, get head from a local journalist, and get a paid vacation. What does the DA do, wait nothing, he likes to watch, that’s called a Cuck. Encourage everyone to call and ask the local PD what’s going on? Was this man receiving oral sex on the job? Is this local policy for cops that entitles them to paid leave? No slander here, just facts, let’s see if facts are censored here in the name of fake conservativism, grab em by the P***y and watch democracy and it’s failed glory burn like a red bush.

The police were following and ticketing the car because they were hoping that Angela Boss Russell was driving. They hear she likes police officers.

Does SLOPD not have grooming standards either? I worked for 19 years for CDCR at a couple of prisons in Monterey County. Though we were not nearly as visible to the public as PD is, we still were required to show up for work with a clean shave everyday. Oh we had a few troublemakers that worked for the department, but we’re talking a few out of 700 sworn peace officers supervising 4500+ inmates (that was just one facility out of 30+). Normally the few who got away with not shaving would go to their doctor to get a “shaving chrono.” Basically a medical note stating there was some medical reason they could not shave daily. I saw maybe one in 19 years that was actually legitimate. When you have to get a doctors note to violate even a minor rule, what lengths will one go through to cover up something more major? Of the few dishonest LEO’s I’ve known in my life, most of them had beards. Coincidence?

Huh, and I thought our last Police Chief was bad…

New police chief? Living here I can’t tell we have one and haven’t seen any motorcycle cops recently either. I could swear we had some to handle traffic.

How does this affect me? Oh yeah. It doesn’t. I don’t commit crimes, I mind my business and let the police do their job.

As does SLOCO. And, he minds his own business while recording that which can be seen from public property, just like the 1st Amendment says you can do!

Until they mind yours and your freedom. Guilty until innocent, guess you have gotten lucky. This county is as corrupt as they come and will let you die before you have a chance to speak your truth. This county will literally kill you or force you to do it until you have a fair trial..Who can afford court; ie, no regular human who isn’t Johnny Depp or OJ or anyone.

I’m sorry to say this type of thing has been going on so long the cops can’t even resist beating, lying and trying to intimidate citizens on camera.

I’m sure two cops going to a call for service take different routes, make a loop, then make a bogus stop for not signaling, what about their call?

The Chief makes up a story to cover for them then states he is waiting for full details, why wait he seems to be a seasoned cop-splainer.

I too was wondering about the call the two police officers/cars were responding to….they weren’t in a hurry to respond that’s for sure. Hmmmmmm, police harassment, not in our county .