The moment Rick Hubbard saw a Broken Arrow police car approaching Nienhuis Park on April 8, he knew it would be different.
The gut feeling turned out to be right and a month after his arrest, and pending a potential felony gun charge, Hubbard said he is not only innocent but also glad the incident has furthered discussion about open carry.
“As bad as this thing went, look at the conversation this thing generated,” Hubbard said. “Look at how many more people know constitutional carry goes into effect in November. Look at how many more people know that you’ll be able to carry a long arm. Look at how many more people have asked questions about it, are educated about it.
“I might be fighting against false charges, but in the end it’s going to be worth it. I’m 100% confident that all of this is going to disappear.”
On April 8, Hubbard was arrested at Nienhuis Park on complaints of obstruction and felony pointing of a firearm. Police said in a press release that a witness had told police Hubbard was pointing a weapon — which Hubbard flatly denies — and that he ignored officers’ commands.
Hubbard and his attorney, Jay Ramey, are in the midst of a legal battle with both the Tulsa County District Attorney’s office and Broken Arrow police about a key piece of evidence from the arrest: Hubbard’s phone. It contains video Hubbard recorded of his interaction with officers who responded and shot pepper balls at him during his arrest.
However, Ramey said the Police Department wants a blanket download of all data on Hubbard’s phone, something he said is unreasonable given the scope of the case.
“We’re at an impasse right now about getting the video out of the phone,” Ramey said. “The police are telling me they have to download the entire phone because of some sort of protocols. I’m just saying we’re not agreeing to that. … If you’re gonna download the entire phone, including all the emails he’s written to his wife about whatever, they don’t need that.
“We have no problem with the DA or the police wanting the video. We just don’t want them to have the entire contents of the phone.”
Hubbard’s next court appearance is an initial arraignment on June 14. He faces potential charges of misdemeanor obstruction and felony pointing of a firearm. Under the conditions of his bond, Hubbard had to surrender all firearms and ammunition until the case’s conclusion.
Broken Arrow Police Officer James Koch said the department’s investigators want the phone’s contents not only because of policy but also to protect the investigation.
“We take a mirror image of the device,” Koch said. “The reason we do that is because we don’t want anything to be lost, misplaced or overlooked. That is to maintain the integrity of the investigation.
“We copy the device so we have a mirror image and work off of that so we don’t damage the evidence itself.”
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Keller said his office is awaiting the police investigation before proceeding and that he wants “the clearest picture possible of what took place.”
Hubbard said he and his wife had returned from a cruise the day before his arrest and that, having eaten more than he should have, he decided to take a walk at the park. He took his chamber-loaded pistol in his hip holster and a magazine-loaded AR-pistol on his back.
Hubbard’s AR-pistol looks like a rifle, between its red-dot scope and 30-round 5.56 mm magazine, but it’s classified as a pistol and can be openly carried under Oklahoma law thanks to its shortened barrel length.
Better known on YouTube as “Picture Perfect,” Hubbard, when he isn’t on the road as an interstate truck driver, is a Second Amendment “auditor,” one of a mostly online community of individuals who test public and private entities’ response to rights to openly carry firearms.
Hubbard carries not only to audit but also as an activist to educate the public about gun rights, he said. With constitutional — or permitless — carry of legal firearms coming Nov. 1, Hubbard said he wants people to approach and ask questions to learn about it. He said his goal isn’t to scare anyone but that he is cognizant of people’s fears in the wake of mass shootings.
“I’m not there to alarm people, so I don’t want to go into a place that could potentially be a target for a shooter, especially with recent events,” Hubbard said. “I try to stay sensitive to that while still trying to educate.
“The guy exercising his rights isn’t going to have the gun in his hands. … You can tell how someone’s demeanor is. The shooter is going to have a gun in his hands and have a target he’s going toward. … It’s not going to be some dude with a pistol strapped to his back just tooling along the park trail with friends or family.”
At the park, his wife stayed in the car, but Hubbard began walking the perimeter trail. Hubbard said that in 45 minutes at the park, he barely saw anyone beyond some Station 6 firefighters playing basketball and didn’t approach anyone. He said he purposely tried to stay far from the community center, both because state law prohibits open carry inside the building and because he did not want anyone to think he was walking toward a target.
That day, however, Hubbard said he was not conducting an audit. He said he only began recording when he saw police approaching and believed the situation could escalate. Hubbard would not discuss the specifics of his interaction with police pending the resolution of his obstruction complaint.
Hubbard said he has been detained before and had negative interactions with police. Tulsa police know him by name and rarely approach him, knowing he is exercising his rights and not a threat, Hubbard said.
The response from Broken Arrow police surprised him.
“They’ve never really gone off the deep end like this,” Hubbard said. “I didn’t think it was going to go like this in Broken Arrow at all.”
Stetson Payne 918-732-8135