Saturday, January 22, 2011
Man Who Refused To Show ID at Sunport Acquitted
By Lloyd Jojola
Journal Staff Writer
In a case that garnered nationwide attention, the Seattle man accused of disorderly conduct and other crimes following his refusal to show his ID at the security checkpoint of the Albuquerque airport was acquitted of all counts Friday.
A Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court jury found Phillip Mocek not guilty on four alleged offenses.
Mocek was "very pleased" with the verdict.
"I think probably most significantly from the case we found via testimony from a (Transportation Security Administration) representative and from an Albuquerque police officer, they both testified that, in no uncertain terms, you do not have to show ID in order to fly and that you can use cameras in public areas of the airport," Mocek said.
In November 2009, Mocek, 36, refused to show an identification to TSA officers and began filming the process and confrontation that ensued with TSA and airport police personnel at the checkpoint area.
After it was alleged by police that Mocek created a disturbance and refused to leave, he was arrested and charged with misdemeanors of disorderly conduct, concealing his identity, refusing to obey a police officer and criminal trespass.
The six-woman jury deliberated about 50 minutes before acquitting Mocek, who the state in its closing statement characterized as testing the system.
"They (a TSA officer and an airport police officer) told you about the circumstances of this case and how it escalated, not by the officers' actions, but by Mr. Mocek's actions," Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Drebing said. "He came there with the purpose to test the system. The problem is, he crossed the line. He went too far."
But the defense said the two-day trial showed Mocek did nothing illegal that day.
"He did nothing criminal. He did nothing wrong," defense co-counsel Molly Schmidt-Nowara said during her team's closing statement. "What happened is that Mr. Mocek went to the airport and he didn't have a government identification. He started going through the alternative screening process ... and he started filming — and he had a right to film.
"What happened is the TSA employees and the police officers became annoyed because he was filming. ...
"It is not criminal to bother the police, to annoy the police, to irritate the police or the TSA officers."
Mocek didn't take the stand in his defense. The defense rested without calling a witness.
Mocek, after the trial, denied that he was testing the system, as the state asserted.
"Everybody tests the system every time they go through," he said in an interview. "I wasn't testing the system. I went in with a boarding pass. I had what I'm required to have to fly and by way of being a human I observed what happened."
Mocek said he hasn't been to an airport since he flew back from Albuquerque.
"I don't fly now," he said. "I have decided that I won't fly as long as TSA has the policy that passengers are subjected to the strip-search machines and to the police-style body searches.
"That's not appropriate, and so I don't fly."
Mocek used Amtrak to make this week's court date.