Scottsdale Photo Radar Van Protesters May Be Hit With Additional Charges

By Ray Stern

Two local activists face potential disorderly conduct charges after allegedly holding signs up on August 27 in front of a Scottsdale photo radar van, an incident New Times covered in a recent Valley Fever article.

However, police now say a third man at the scene -- the only one who was arrested -- was not cited for blocking the van's camera as originally stated in some news reports and a Scottsdale police press release.

Jason William Shelton, 35, (pictured above), was arrested for failing to provide a truthful name at the scene of the protest. A police report released Tuesday states that Shelton resisted efforts by police to fingerprint him while he was being booked into Scottsdale city jail, resulting in a citation for obstructing governmental operations.

The police report backs up some details described by the activists' supporters, such as the fact that Shelton never held a sign, just a video camera to document the event.

The other two protesters at the scene near 6800 E. Shea Blvd., D.T. Arneson and Matthew Sharp, held signs that stated "" and "Honk For Privacy." When approached by police, Arneson was "very loud and boisterous stating that he has a legal right to freedom of speech," the reports states, while Sharp "was very polite and courteous to officers..."

Police submitted charges on Arneson and Sharp for disorderly conduct/fighting to the city prosecutor's office. Officer David Pubins, spokesman for Scottsdale police, explains that even though the two were not fighting, police believed that, of six subsections under the disorderly conduct statute, the "fighting" subsection best applied to the pair's actions of blocking the speed camera's view.

Good luck making that stick.

Shelton took a different tack with police, refusing to cooperate at all. Officer K. English asked Shelton four times for his name and date of birth, but Shelton just shouted back that he didn't have to give the info and he wasn't doing anything wrong. English arrested the subject "as he became increasingly belligerent and confrontational reference his identity."

In jail, Shelton would not allow officers to take his prints, curling his fingertips inward and trying to pull his hand away, the report states. Three police officers were needed to force Shelton to submit to a second batch of prints. On the court's release order, Shelton signed the name, "Agent 0."

Other police reports on Shelton going back several years paint Shelton as a trouble magnet. He was arrested in 2003 after patrons and staff of a local Denny's claimed he was angling for a fight with some customers, and apparently threatened them. Police say Shelton had worked in the early 2000s as a civilian employee for the Kansas City police -- maybe that's where he developed his apparent high disdain for men and women in blue.

Shelton gives officers a hard time in 2006, when they approached him an apartment complex parking lot. He was working on a laptop in a pickup truck, apparently sucking someone else's wireless Internet signal, a report states. He gave police the name "Jay Dillon" and a false date of birth, [the same fake name he gave officers in the August 27 incident, police say). He was later charged with false reporting, but not convicted.

In August of 2007, Shelton got pulled over in Scottsdale for having expired vehicle registration. He refused to cooperate with police, who soon arrested him. Police noted in a report that he had a book entitled "The Constitution" in a back pocket, and that he admitted he was a "constitutionalist." Shelton was later convicted of driving with no license or registration and false reporting to a law officer. Court records show he blew off several court hearings related to the charges and still hasn't paid his fine.

A month after that stop, in September of 2007, Scottsdale police stopped Shelton again, driving the same pickup that had no valid registration. When a cop asked him about it and tried to find out who Shelton was, Shelton told the officer, "What is this, fucking Nazi Germany?" a report states.

Activist groups need people who aren't afraid to stand up to police, but it seems like Shelton might be more of a liability than an asset for Arneson and other members of who want the public to take their complaints against photo enforcement seriously.

[CORRECTION: The original item I posted last night stated Arneson and Sharp were "cited." Turns out Shelton was the only one who got an actual citation. While police seek the disorderly conduct charges on Arneson and Sharp, city prosecutor Caron Close told me today that her office has not yet made a decision to charge any of the men. Also, Officer Pubins pointed out on Wednesday that the disorderly conduct "A1" charge could apply for "fighting, violent or seriously disruptive behavior," and not just "fighting." If prosecutors believe the protesters intended to seriously disrupt the "peace or quiet" of the guy in the photo radar van, maybe they'll get this to stick after all. -- RS].

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.