Maui Time publisher arrested by police

Russo arrested for obstructing government operations, resisting arrest, harassment

Published  5:35 PM HST Nov 20, 2012
KAHULUI, Hawaii -

Maui police says the publisher of Maui Time Weekly was arrested Tuesday for obstructing government operations, resisting arrest and harassment.

Officers with the Maui Police Department's Traffic Section were conducting enforcement of oversized vehicles and illegal tinted windows on Haleakala Highway.

This operation was called Operation Recon.  It was in response to complaint letter to the editor of the Maui News regarding oversized vehicles and vehicles with illegal tints.

Operation Recon, which started on Nov. 16, would focus on these types of violations islandwide.

At around 9:20 a.m., officers conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle with illegal tints on Haleakala Highway near the intersection of Hana Highway.  The vehicle, with two occupants, pulled over onto the shoulder of the roadway followed by two police vehicles.

Shortly thereafter, another vehicle pulled up behind the police vehicles.  The lone operator of the vehicle was later identified as Thomas A. Russo, publisher of Maui Time Weekly.

Police say Russo started to videotape the traffic stop with his cell phone.  Russo proceeded past the police vehicles and continued walking toward the vehicle that was stopped still videotaping the officers and the two occupants within the vehicle.

As a matter of routine police traffic stop procedures designed for officer safety, the officers advised Russo to stay behind the police vehicles while they conducted a controlled traffic stop investigation.

Russo refused to comply, according to police, and continued approaching and videotaping the officers and the two occupants.  The two occupants of the vehicle then informed the officers that they had been alarmed by Russo videotaping them.

According to police, Russo then compromised the officers' safety, after failing to comply with numerous requests from the officers to move back behind the police vehicles and was then placed under arrest.

When the officers attempted to place Russo under arrest, he began to resist by pulling his arms away.  However, officers were able to safely gain custody of Russo.

Russo's bail was set at $3,000.  He posted bail and is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 27.

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