This documentary tells the true story of Blake Byers, a San Francisco based street artist, and his experience being profile and beaten by a police officer. His crime? Smoking a cigarette. Join us as we follow Blake Byers 3 year journey through a broken legal system as he tries to defend his innocence. While we focus on the intimate details of Blake's story, we also interview expert witnesses and police whistleblowers to gain an understanding of the bigger picture, and how police violence has become a widespread American crisis in an age of increased law enforcement militarization.
Glendale, California. 2014.
After pulling an all-nighter painting, Blake Byers takes a break from working in a friends studio. He walks into a convenience store; buys a pack of cigarettes. Upon exiting, a homeless man asks to bum a smoke. Blake is happy to oblige.
Moments later, an unmarked car approaches Blake. The driver rolls down the window and tells Blake that it's illegal to smoke in Glendale. Blake explains that as an out-of-towner he was unaware and immediately puts out his cigarette. It's then Blake notices a shotgun resting on the driver's lap. The driver, dressed in civilian clothes, demands to see Blake's ID. Naturally intimidated, Blake refuses. The next thing he knows, the driver's exited the car and Blake's being slammed to the ground - the impact fracturing his ribs and causing him to defecate himself.
Blake would later find out that his paint covered clothes, combined with his kindness in giving a homeless man a cigarette, had gotten him profiled as a perpetrator of a drug-related crime. When the overzealous undercover officer failed to find any illegal substances on Blake, instead of admitting his fault, he arrested Blake on the charge of "resisting arrest". The question remains, how can one be arrested for "resisting arrest" when there was no reason to be arrested in the first place?
Glendale, California. 2017.
After 11 plea bargains, the time has come for Blake to appear in court to prove his innocence...