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Citizen-Journalist Arrested For Facebook Post About Police

Citizen-Journalist Arrested For Facebook Post

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A Texas woman might face time in jail after being slapped with two felonies because she posted something she heard from an acquaintance on her Facebook page.

“In my opinion, this is the government’s attempt to silence my client,” Priscilla Villarreal’s attorney, Sergio Lozano, told The Texas Monthly.

Villarreal was arrested by Laredo, Texas, police on Dec. 13 and charged with “misuse of official information.”

Her crime was posting on Facebook the fact that a U.S. Border Patrol agent had committed suicide. Police claim that Villarreal violated the law because she asked Laredo Police Officer Barbara Goodman about the suicide, and then put the information on Facebook. Villarreal posted the information before the department released it to the public.

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“Information provided by Officer Goodman pertaining to the case in question was used by Priscilla Villarreal in her Facebook page ‘Lagordiloca News Laredo TX,’ immediately notifying her followers of the incident,” the complaint against Villarreal states.

Her Facebook page has 86,482 followers and is described as one of the most popular news sources in Laredo. “Lagordiloca” means “night crawler” in Spanish.

Villareal drives around Laredo on the Texas/Mexico border at night looking for news. Often, that includes posting live streaming video of police interactions with citizens.

“This is something that should trouble all news outlets in any medium, because otherwise, how do you get this information from the entities?” Lozano asked. “Whoever gets to it first gets the most readers, or ‘likes,’ or whatever. The Laredo Morning Times has subscribers, they sell ads, so why is Lagordiloca being treated differently?”

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