A misdemeanor charge of obstructing justice was dismissed Monday against a man who was arrested after he was seen filming the exterior of the Richmond-area headquarters of the FBI.
At a hearing that lasted minutes, a Henrico County judge dismissed the charge after being asked to do so by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney David Giroux.
There was no public discussion in court of why the case against Kyle David Hammond, 27, who lives in western Henrico, was dropped. But his attorney previously said that Hammond did not violate the law July 5 by declining to talk with an officer who asked him what he was doing.
The encounter, filmed by Hammond, was placed on YouTube and received tens of thousands of views.
But Hammond, after being taken to the ground and handcuffed by Henrico police as he tried to walk away, provided identification information once he was in custody, his lawyer, Thomas Coatsworth, said last week.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor said last week that the case would be resolved within days rather than at a hearing scheduled for August.
Hammond said after court that he has been filming federal buildings as part of an unspecified project. FBI security personnel at the headquarters on East Parham Road called Henrico police when they observed a man filming their building from a short distance away.
“Everything he did was within his legal rights,” Coatsworth said after court Monday.
Hammond is the stepson of a Henrico sheriff’s deputy, but he refused to comment on the relationship.
In separate responses Monday, the commonwealth’s attorney and police said the dismissal of the charge was appropriate; Taylor stressed that the relationship to the deputy sheriff was not a factor in the case.
Taylor said it was important to resolve the case after reviewing the video taken by Hammond and the video of the arresting officer, and both supported dismissal. Hammond also was wearing a holster but had no weapon.
There were no signs in the area where Hammond was positioned warning against trespassing, nor was Hammond violating any law by filming the FBI building. But Taylor stressed that the incident occurred a day after July 4 and at a time when alerts had been issued nationally about concerns over increased terrorist activity.