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'First Amendment auditors' arrested after allegedly harassing post office patrons, police officers

Joey Perez
Posted at 4:21 PM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-12 17:21:19-04

The Belton Police Department arrested a 36-year-old Belton man on a retaliation charge related to a threat he allegedly made to shoot police officers.

Joey Perez was arrested on a retaliation charge related to a threat he made to shoot police officers, according to Belton PD.

Police said Perez made the threat on April 9 as he was being transported to the Bell County Jail on a separate misdemeanor charge of interference with public duties stemming from an April 7 incident.

In the April 7 incident, Perez and another man, 34-year-old Paul Estrada IV, of Temple, allegedly video recorded themselves interfering with a traffic stop.

Estrada is also charged with interference with public duties.

"The interference is related to actions from the men, which caused officers to divide their attention from official police duties," Belton PD said.

Perez and Estrada also face a third charge, misdemeanor harassment, related to an April 9 incident at the U.S. Post Office in Belton where the men allegedly live-streamed an online video in which they harassed multiple patrons at the post office.

When the patrons left the post office and went to the Belton Police Department to issue complaints about the activity, Perez and Estrada followed them there and continued the harassment and intimidation, according to police.

Perez and Estrada refer to themselves as "First Amendment auditors," Belton PD said.

Belton PD said both have been active for several weeks recording and commentating on area police activity and posting it online.

Belton Police said Chief Gene Ellis sent certified letters to the men on April 7 acknowledging their right to record police activity, but also requesting that they do it in a safe manner that allows officers to perform their duties unimpeded, as specified by Texas law.