Free man goes on trial Friday over courthouse tasing incident

Author: Anusha Roy, KXLY4 Reporter, anushar@kxly.com
Published On: Nov 13 2012 04:39:58 PM PST   Updated On: Nov 13 2012 06:27:12 PM PST
Kootenai County court officer taser
COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -

Robert Peterson, the man tased in the Kootenai County Courthouse in August, is heading to trial Friday, and said the video he shot without the court's approval will clear his name.

Peterson is charged with three counts of battery and one count of contempt of court but is confident video from his camera of the tasing will prove that he's is innocent. He's been out on bail for a few weeks now and is confidant things will go his way.

Back in August, Peterson walked into the Kootenai County Courthouse with his camera on. He was there to attend a hearing for riding a bike at night without a light.

In Idaho however, you have to get permission from a judge before rolling. Peterson didn't have that.

When a bailiff approached Peterson in the courtroom and told him cameras were not allowed in the courtroom, he said "Yeah there is" and when told he had to put the camera way he quipped "No I don't. Under what authority?"

The courtroom was cleared, along with Peterson, and at that point he decided he wanted to go back inside to tell a prosecutor he didn't miss his court date. A bailiff told him to leave his camera outside but, again, he ignored the bailiff's commands.

As Peterson tried to walk between two court personnel blocking the entry to the courtroom, he continued to refuse commands to leave the camera with his mother, and after given warning one of the court officers stepped back and tased him. He was handcuffed and booked into the jail.

As he faces trial, Peterson is confident he will be exonerated. When asked Tuesday what his defense strategy is, Peterson replied, "I don't think I need one. The video is pretty clear that I didn't batter anybody."

Peterson said he didn't break the rule when filming inside the court room because a judge hadn't come in yet. The trial court administrator said, judge in the courtroom or not, there is no filming unless you have permission, which Peterson did not.

The trial court administrator said that typically a taser is used when verbal dialogue fails to bring a person into compliance. In this case it appears tasing was used to protect the bailiffs and people standing nearby.

Usually when a situation escalates like this, the chief bailiff is called but in this particular case the chief bailiff himself pulled the trigger.

"They were completely out of line to taze him, did not use the standard escalation procedures for force so they used excessive force so I'm screaming mad," Peterson's mother Tina Busby said.

Peterson says he's a free man; his unique political beliefs mean he's not subject to most laws unless he has hurt or wronged someone else. In this case, Peterson said he didn't hurt anyone and is confident that truth will come out in court.