By Brandi Makuski
The trial of a Stevens Point man who was accused of repeatedly photographing people without their permission is scheduled to being Wednesday.
Scott Wenger, 46, was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting an officer after being arrested at the 2014 Art in the Park. Attendees at the Pfiffner Pioneer Park event complained to police that Wenger was acting suspiciously and taking their photos without asking.
According to the criminal complaint, police attempted to question Wenger at the park about the photography, but Wenger responded only by videotaping the officers and asking if he was being detained repeatedly until he was yelling. After several moments a large crowd had begun to notice, and police took him into custody for creating a disturbance.
Wenger resisted to such a degree officers weren’t able to restrain his hands in the same pair of handcuffs. Officers on either side of Wenger were eventually able to place one pair of handcuffs on each of his wrists, then cuff both together behind his back. Wenger then “intentionally flopped” to the ground, according to the complaint.
Officers managed to get Wenger into the squad car by laying him down on the back seat. As they were searching him for weapons, Wenger suddenly became quiet and polite. Believing he would now be cooperative, officers sat him upright.
But Wenger then sprang from the car and began shouting at the crowd, advising people to videotape what he called “police abuse” with their cell phones, before officers could successfully restrain him in the backseat.
Wenger contacted the City Times in 2015 alleging he was the victim of police harassment. During an interview with City Times staff he admitted to taking photos of adults and children at local parks. When asked his purpose behind taking the photos, and whether or not they were sold or displayed in any fashion, Wenger shrugged and said, “I can take pictures of whatever I like in public. It’s still a free country, isn’t it?”
When asked if he obtained permission from individuals before taking the photos, Wenger accused City Times staff of being “in cahoots” with the police and promptly left the office.
Wenger’s lawyer, local defense attorney Jared Redfield, filed a pair of motions last October requesting the case be dismissed on the grounds police had violated Wenger’s First and Fourth Amendment rights.
“The defendant’s behavior does not fall under the scope of disorderly conduct…the behavior cited for arrest is protected by the Constitution of the United States,” Redfield’s brief read in part.
Judge Thomas Flugaur dismissed the charge of disorderly conduct, saying it would be “difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt”. The charge of resisting an officer was upheld.
Wenger’s two-day bench trial is expected begin June 29 at 8 AM.