Owner of fake Borger Police Department Facebook page facing a felony charge; says it’s a violation of his first amendment rights
The owner of the satire/parody Borger Police Department Facebook page has been charged with impersonating a police officer, which is a third-degree felony in the State of Texas.
The page itself, which was made in June of this year, is notorious for sharing/making memes and posts joking about the local area’s drug problems and making fun of police officers and citizens committing what could be considered laughable bone-head crimes.
“They originally charged me with a felony of impersonating a police officer and felony of destruction of emergency services, but they ended up dropping the destruction charge,” the owner of the page says.
The owner of the satire page, a Borger native who has requested that they not be named publicly yet, says that he’s lawyered-up and is confident that the charge won’t make it past the district attorney’s office.
“When I talked to my lawyer, he told me that the DA is probably not going to want to touch this because satire is a protected first amendment right,” says the page owner.
Because the page is specifically listed in its “About” section as a Satire/Parody page, the owner of the page and his lawyer, Ryan Brown of Blackburn & Brown LLP in Amarillo, believe that no prosecutable impersonation was made.
“I talked to another person who does a parody of his local police department’s page in Wisconsin.”
“They charged him and they arrested him. He actually ended up having the charges dropped and ended up suing the city for civil rights infringment and harrassment and won.”
When The Pampa News asked the owner of the parody Borger PD Facebook page if he planned to sue the city of Borger, he said it depends on them.
“If the DA wants to continue pursuing these charges, then you are right I will (sue the city). If they want to back down, then we can all just walk away,” he said.
He says that he has no intention of taking the page down.
“I’m not going to delete my page, because it is my first amendment right to post on it. Satire has been used since the time of ancient Greeks to make fun of political standings. If they take away our free speech, then we have nothing left,” he said.
The Texas Penal Code § 37.11 defines impersonating a public servant as:
(a) A person commits an offense if the person:
(1) impersonates a public servant with intent to induce another to submit to the person’s pretended official authority or to rely on the person’s pretended official acts; or
(2) knowingly purports to exercise, without legal authority, any function of a public servant or of a public office, including that of a judge and court.
(b) An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree.
The dictionary’s definition of satire (noun):
(1) the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.
(2) a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule.
(3) a literary genre comprising such compositions.
For now, the page owner says that all he can do is turn himself in to avoid having a warrant and bide his time while the DA figures out what they want to do with the charges.
“I have to go turn myself in and post bond so that I’m not running around with a warrant on my head. I got a call from my grandmother on Monday morning and she asked me if I was running drugs because there were five cop cars in front of her house and that police were looking for me wanting to question me.”
“The funny thing is that I actually (currently) live out-of-state,” he laughed.
“That’s just my mailing address.”
The page owner says that he believes the tactic was meant to intimidate him into taking his page down. He says that this incident followed a phone call made to him by a detective from Borger PD in regards to a post he made about an officer.
“She called me and told me that the chief said he was tired of my page and that I needed to do something about it. She told me that it all got the ball rolling when I posted something about the patrol sargeant,” he said.
“They are people just like we are. They make mistakes, and if we hold them to this crazy high standard all the time and we can’t relax a little bit, stuff like George Floyd happens. Stuff like these riots happen, you know?”
“I have a history with the Borger Police Department. They are corrupt in some areas, but there are also good officers there as well. It’s good to just poke a little fun at them, just to show people that you don’t have to be scared of the police. They aren’t some scary entity that we have to bow down to. It’s good to have respect for them for what they do because they do have a hard job, but at the same time they aren’t our masters,” the page owner said.
“Everyone needs to be able to take a step back from the COVID, quarantine, protests and violence and have a little laugh.”
Although the page has only been live for less than two months, it already has a third of the following the real Borger Police Department’s Facebook page has.
“I just broke 2,700 likes and they (real Borger Police Department’s page) have 9,500. But, I do have a better review rating on my page. I have 4.9 stars and they have 3.8,” the page’s owner said.
Chief Bruce Roberts of Borger Police Department made an official statement that was relayed to The Pampa News by Captain Stropes of BPD.
“The charge that was filed against the owner of the page was for impersonating a police officer,” Stropes relayed.
Stropes went on to say himself that some of the posts that the charge was referring to have since been removed from the page, and that they are in contact with Facebook and have preserved those posts.
“The thing is, he has gone and taken down everything where he was bragging saying that he could do anything that he wanted to. He was actually arguing back and forth with our real page, saying that his page was a valid page and that we had fired our page administrator and that his was the one to listen to,” Stropes said to The Pampa News.
“He started putting stuff out about curfews and was just generally causing alarm.”
To continue following this story as it unfolds, you can like and/or follow the satire page named “Borger Police Department” on Facebook.