Texas Deputy Sued For Privacy Violations After Live Streaming A Traffic Stop On TikTok

from the awful-and-probably-not-lawful dept

I don’t know, maybe don’t do this?

A Tarrant County man is suing Dallas County and a sheriff’s deputy after he says his personal information was revealed to more than 100 people after the deputy livestreamed a traffic stop through TikTok.

So, there’s a lot going on here, most of it in favor of the Tarrant County man. That man would be Torry Osby, who recently sued Dallas County deputy Francisco Castillo for livestreaming a whole bunch of his personal information during a routine stop.

One of deputy Francisco Castillo’s (d/b/a “cycosisco” on TikTok) followers saw the livestream and reached out to Torry Osby — something they were able to accomplish because Deputy Castillo basically broadcasted all of Osby’s personal information by putting Osby’s driver’s license in front of his camera.

This is a screenshot of the TikTok broadcast, as included in Osby’s lawsuit [PDF]:

Here’s a small part of the allegations, as stated by Osby’s lawyers:

Osby said he was driving to his job at a Walmart distribution center March 2, 2021, when he was pulled over by Castillo for speeding — even though Osby said he had his cruise control set to drive below the speed limit. Castillo let Osby go with a warning.

Osby never consented to being livestreamed, his lawyers wrote, and did not know he was being recorded until a viewer of the livestream reached out to him. His lawyers said Castillo only pulled Osby over and filmed the stop to get likes and views on TikTok, and not for any legitimate government purpose.

It’s true Osby never consented to being livestreamed. But he had to assume he was being recorded in one way or another. Dashcams have been around forever. Body cams are swiftly becoming omnipresent.

On top of that, Texas is a one-party consent state, which means Osby’s permission to be recorded wasn’t necessary. The law only prevents recordings in which neither party knows they’re being recorded.

But consent to a recording, whether consensual or not, is not the same thing as consenting to a broadcast of the conversation. That the deputy decided to broadcast a ton of personal information about a person stopped and let go with a warning is something else entirely. Law enforcement agencies regularly release a lot of personal information about people arrested, booked, and charged with criminal offenses. Law enforcement agencies do not regularly release information about people who have only interacted with law enforcement officers.

The lawsuit gets it tort on. There are plenty of claims under state law about privacy violations. As should be expected in any lawsuit (and, indeed, any prosecution), the opening tactic is to note any and all possible legal violations in hopes that some of them will stick.

But beyond the lawyering that’s expected in the opening rounds of litigation, Osby’s lawyers do make good points. The lawsuit opens with a physical world analogy:

Imagine an officer pulling over driver on traffic stop, and then loudly proclaiming to people walking down the sidewalk who the driver is, when he was born, where he lives, and his driver license number. This shocking invasion of privacy is essentially what occurred in this case, only to over hundred people on the internet.

And that’s the crux of the issue here. It’s not shocking that an officer would record a traffic stop. It’s shocking that an officer would broadcast a bunch of personal information over social media, effectively doxing the person being stopped. If someone posted a bunch of personal info about a cop on social media, police officials, union leaders, and probably even some local legislators would be publicly incensed. But when a cop does it to a regular person, no one has much to say about but the person who got fucked.

And nothing much is done about this obvious breach of policy, privacy protections, and general “don’t do stupid shit” expectations of public officials. Deputy Castillo received all of a two-day suspension for this act, despite there being evidence on record that the deputy regularly uses his law enforcement work as entertainment for nearly 18,000 followers on TikTok.

At best, this was an egregious breach of trust by the deputy. It violated the assumptions of interactions with cops — one of those being that officers aren’t detaining people for internet points. At worst, this was a careless, dangerous, incredibly stupid, and illegal use of Deputy Castillo’s law enforcement powers.

Whatever this ends up being under Texas law should be decided by a jury. There’s probably no precedent that says officers shouldn’t broadcast people’s personal information on social media, but it’s such an obvious indiscretion, no officer should expect a court to look the other way in order to grant immunity. Deputy Castillo fucked up. And, given his alleged social media history, this very likely isn’t the first time. He deserves to be held civilly accountable for what he’s done. No matter the outcome of the lawsuit, his employer should sever ties with someone who thinks his taxpayer-funded job is just fodder for 17.5 thousand TikTok followers.

Filed Under: , , , , , , ,
Companies: tiktok

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Texas Deputy Sued For Privacy Violations After Live Streaming A Traffic Stop On TikTok”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...