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Friday, January 21, 2011
Security Checkpoint Case Opens
By Lloyd Jojola
Journal Staff Writer Journal Staff Writer
Footage taken by Phillip Mocek at the security checkpoint of the Albuquerque International Sunport captured some of his back-and-forth with Transportation Security Administration and airport police personnel the afternoon of Nov. 15, 2009.
"Are you flying out? Comply with what TSA's rules and regulations are," Mocek is told at one point, apparently by an Aviation Police officer.
"I plan to comply with all their rules and regulations," Mocek responds.
"Before you interrupt me, comply with what they are requesting otherwise we will escort you out of the airport ..." Mocek is told.
The footage was shown in Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court Thursday as a six-woman jury began hearing the state's case against Mocek.
The 36-year-old Seattle man faces misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct, concealing his identity, refusing to obey a police officer and criminal trespass charges that evolved from his refusal to show an ID while passing through the checkpoint.
"This case is really about Mr. Mocek going to the airport with a purpose, with an agenda," Assistant District Attorney Daniel Rislove said during his opening statement in Judge Kevin Fitzwater's courtroom.
"He presented a boarding pass but no ID to show who he was or that he was the person mentioned on the boarding pass," the prosecutor said, adding that it wasn't the case of someone who forgot their wallet or was a frazzled traveler.
When he was moved aside for alternative identity verification procedures Mocek began to "protest," Rislove said.
"He began to take out his camera and start to film what was going on. ... He stopped cooperating with their procedure."
Rislove said testimony would show that Mocek became "argumentative," "disruptive" and he "caused other passengers to become concerned."
Defense co-counsel Nancy Hollander countered, in her opening statement, that the case was about filming.
"It's about the fact that Mr. Mocek was filming in a public place where he had a right to film. ... He decided to film the process as he went through the TSA checkpoint."
She said there is no law that prohibits filming in the airport or at the checkpoint although the TSA states that local or state laws may prohibit the practice or the TSA may ask someone to stop if they are "interfering with the screening process" or taking photos of certain monitors.
"The other thing that I suppose we all learned from this case ... is that even though there are signs up that say you're required to have a government ID to travel, you're really not required to have a government ID to travel," Hollander said.
Mocek was "polite" and "courteous" the entire time, she said.
"Mr. Mocek did nothing illegal that day," Hollander said. "The only thing that happened that day was that the TSA and the officers were the ones out of control, were the ones making a commotion, and were the ones shouting. And if the passengers were disturbed they were disturbed by the police and the TSA and not by Mr. Mocek."
The case continues today.