Police department with long history of internal affairs investigations looks to charge satirist with felony
© KIRO 7A Renton, Washington native has been accused of felony cyberstalking for making a satirical cartoon depicting local crooked cops.
When cartoonist "Mrfuddlesticks" decided to make a series of animated videos parodying the local police department in Renton, Washington, they had ample source material from the media and the public record -- the city had suffered repeated misconduct scandals in recent history. The individual used the popular animation site www.xtranormal.com to create a series of videos making fun of the city's police department. Little did they know, those videos would have them facing criminal charges
[Scribd] for "cyberstalking".I. Satirist Accused of Felony Crime for Cartoons
In what legal experts are calling a rampant abuse of power, police have taken the first steps towards filing criminal charges against the creator, claiming their creator violated the Washington State cyberstalking statute "RCW 9.61.260
." A local judge at the Superior Court for King County
-- James Cayce
-- has signed off on a search warrant sent to Google Inc. (GOOG
© YouTube/KIRO 7The video reportedly depicts a city bureaucrat, Penny Bartley, talking about covering up wrongdoing.
The warrant is designed to obtain the real world identity of the cartoonist, who posted the videos to YouTube. The videos were created using the same free animation suite as the famous viral "iPhone4 vs HTC Evo" video. Two of the videos can be viewed here [1
Legal experts blasted the move. In an interview with a local news network, lawyer Venkat Balasubramani, a Constitutional and cyber-law expert, states, "The cyberstalking angle doesn't pass the laugh test. It's a serious stretch. I'd be surprised if somebody looked at it and realistically thought well these acts actually fit the statute and we and could make a violation and hold someone criminally liable. [More likely] they were trying to get at the identity of the speaker and the looked around for a statute to shoehorn their conduct into."
But while legal experts say the felony charges are laughable, they're no laughing matter for the accused. The statute lists the type of cyberstalking named in the case as a Class C felony -- applicable for up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 USD fine. Drug dealing and major theft are other examples of local Class C felonies.