I'm curious about this video (TYRANT ALERT PHOTOG ATTACKED BY FEDERAL AGENTS - MICHAEL HODSON U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PATROL) of a federal LEO (law enforcement officer) who is egregiously assaulting/battering a citizen without even a legal pretense. He did so both on the federally managed grounds and on the ME easement.

My questions regard the legal limitations and boundaries of a LEO's jurisdiction and how criminal conduct color the rules for jurisdiction. When the LEO violently assaulted the citizen on the easement is he out of his jurisdiction? Suppose for the sake of argument, the LEO has jurisdiction limited to the property with the easement in question. Under the general question of where or not jurisdiction ends in an easement a few specific questions come to mind:

  1. If a LEO acts entirely on the easement, due to events that happened entirely on the easement, does that have any impact on the legal authority of the LEO?
  2. Is there any immediate or long term legal consequence for an officer committing crimes or doing so egregiously (with or without qualified immunity) while out of his jurisdiction as opposed to doing so in his jurisdiction?
  • For instance, could a civilian defend himself against violent assaults from an officer while out of the LEO's jurisdiction that he could not legally defend himself from while the LEO were fully in his jurisdiction?
  • Are other officers bound by law to arrest or stop other officers committing crimes outside of the jurisdiction when they are normally allowed discretion to allow fellow officers to flout the law?
  • Does an officer loose the qualified immunity defense or other legal defense when doing illegal things out of his jurisdiction?

Are there any important nuances to jurisdiction and law enforcement by LEOs that a first amendment auditor should be aware of?

*** VIDEO CONTEXT The video show a first amendment auditor and legal activist taking video of a federal facility, U.S. customs and border patrol. Before he can enter the facility or say a word to anyone he is threatened by his soon-to-be asailaint, a federal LEO. I know this is illegal for the LEO to do, and so does the first amendment auditor. This is a matter of clearly established law. At this point it is likely only a civil matter because the officer has given prior restraint to limit the auditor's clearly established legal rights.

The auditor says "Don't touch me!", then the belligerent LEO repeatedly shoves, slaps, and threatens with frightening words. While the assaults/batteries happen the auditor is trying to explain the law and give notice of the DHS memo that verifies the auditor's right to record and then he threatens legal action with phrases like 'You're going to get fired/loose qualified immunity/etc for this!'

I'm taking it for granted that the cop knowingly broke the law even before the easement. Certainly, he should have known. It seems like a civil matter at this point, before the easement, because cops are given special privileges while on duty that allow them to commit certain crimes without obstruction from civilians. *I'm not merely saying cops are legally allowed to do things that civilians cannot legally do. * I'm also suggesting that cops effectively can break the laws even they are under, as there are often laws against resisting an unlawful arrest even if this is a privilege to temporarily break the law it is nonetheless permission to break the law in often egregious ways at least while acting under the color of law. As other officers witnessing the crimes of fellow LEOs often have discretion, this is effectively a license to commit crime at least for a while. I'm not debating the merits of this, but merely stating what I believe to be relevant facts leading up the question of whether or not civilians can ever restrain criminally acting violent LEOs in any lawful way in the context of easement law.

The LEO went beyond what is his normal lawful jurisdiction for protecting against criminals not just by committing crimes himself, but by going into the easement of the property and into the public street. He pushed the auditor into the public street or highway - I can't tell which. He then threw the auditors equipment into the street. The auditor claimed this easement was not his lawful jurisdiction. So now I'm interested to know if any LEO is ever restricted in jurisdiction by an easement in any way and if federal LEOs like this one, who are normally restricted to enforcing laws on a property, are restricted in any way by easement laws. As a concrete example related to the video content, could this LEO observe a person peacefully walking along the easement and then shove him into traffic while having the full protection of laws that prohibit obstruction of unlawful officer action or could the auditor or civilian observers legally have defended the auditor in this simplified example by responding in kind by for instance restraining the belligerent LEO? For the sake of understanding the law, let's consider just the example of an auditor that was on the easement of the property the LEO has jurisdiction on but not ever beyond that.


  • I'm not asking about the violent assault while within his jurisdiction except to contrast to the assault within his jurisdiction.
  • I'm not asking what is prudent for either an average citizen or a seasoned first amendment auditor and legal activist to do in this situation. These are rather questions of de jure law.
  • I'm not asking about the jurisdiction for a citizen to effect a legal citizens arrest.
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    I'd rather not watch the video - can you explain more about the status of this easement? Granted by whom, to whom, for what purpose and on what terms? Generally, federal law enforcement officers are empowered to enforce federal law throughout the United States, which of course includes the state of New Hampshire - is there something particularly special about this piece of land that makes you think it would be an exception? Aug 20, 2021 at 15:43
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    @NateEldredge the issue seems to be the belief that Customs and Border Protection field officers are only empowered to enforce federal law on federal property. There is a misconception that, having left the federal facility and entered the state highway right of way ("easement"), they are outside their jurisdiction.
    – phoog
    Aug 20, 2021 at 15:50
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    A question must be fully formed and stand alone. It needs to be backfilled with more details about what happened in the video, so the question can be answered without having to watch the video. To avoid spending 3 minutes adding detail, you are asking everyone else to spend 33 minutes watching a video. Fix that. Or delete: StackExchange is not "discuss youtube videos; that's what the youtube comments section is for. Yes, I know, you like SE's signal/noise ratio better. Well, make it better. Aug 21, 2021 at 3:58
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    please define what you mean by "NH Easement" as well. On the sidewalk? An easement only affects property rights, not eliminates them.
    – Tiger Guy
    Aug 21, 2021 at 19:12
  • @phoog, it's also worth noting that some federal agents really are limited to enforcing crimes of federal law that happened on specific federal property. I know the example question is narrowly about Customs and Border Protection field officers, but I would love to answer the general question even more of whether or not easement can ever additionally limit a LEO's lawful authority, protection, and privilege?
    – haleonj
    Aug 22, 2021 at 15:19

2 Answers 2


When the LEO violently assaulted the citizen on the easement is he out of his jurisdiction?

No. Federal law enforcement officers' jurisdiction generally* includes the entire US. Federal and state jurisdiction are said to be concurrent with one another. If the federal law enforcement officer has a lawful basis to effect an arrest, the arrest can be effected on a state highway easement.

Is there any immediate or long term consequence for an officer committing crimes or doing so egregiously (with or without qualified immunity) out of his jurisdiction as opposed to doing so in his jurisdiction?

If the officer were outside his jurisdiction (which isn't the case here) then the officer is generally treated as any other private individual. In this case, "outside his jurisdiction" means "in another country," which brings up all sorts of additional complications that aren't really in scope here, largely because the laws and legal systems of other countries are different from those in the US.

Are there any nuances to jurisdiction and law enforcement by LEOs that a first amendment auditor should be aware of?

There are plenty, but perhaps the most prominent one, if the internet is any guide, is that an officer is not required to articulate the basis for reasonable suspicion or probable cause at the time of a Terry stop or an arrest. The time for this is much later, after a judge is involved. Arguing with an officer on this score is just going to make things worse. Instead, one should cooperate while stating one's objections clearly and calmly, especially making it clear that cooperation does not imply consent.

* Some categories of officers do have more limited jurisdiction: thanks to cpast for the example of park rangers, whose jurisdiction is essentially restricted to national parks. The officers in this case are CBP field officers. There is a wide misconception that CBP officers' jurisdiction is limited to within 100 miles of the border, but that 100-mile limit only applies to their power to board and search vessels and vehicles without a warrant in order to prevent illegal entry into the US. Their power to make warrantless arrests "for any offence against the United States" committed in their presence is not geographically restricted.

† The original video was filmed in South Portland, Maine, and the roadway is a municipal street, Gannett Drive, to be precise. The point remains, however, that it is a public right-of-way, and federal officers are not "out of their jurisdiction" simply because they've left a federal facility and entered a public place.

  • If a NH LEO were operating outside his jurisdiction, could he fall on qualified immunity?
    – haleonj
    Aug 20, 2021 at 20:37
  • @haleonj I am no expert on qualified immunity, but I doubt it applies to a state police officer who is out of state, because in that case the officer has no police powers. Perhaps you should ask another question about that.
    – phoog
    Aug 21, 2021 at 1:32
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    Most federal law enforcement officers have nationwide jurisdiction, but it’s worth noting that some are more restricted. For instance, a park ranger’s authority to make arrests is limited to national parks and national park-related crimes.
    – cpast
    Aug 21, 2021 at 13:42
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    @cpast not entirely: it also extends to individuals fleeing the national park system to avoid arrest (54 USC 102701(a)(2)(B)). That is relevant here because, in an analogous incident with park rangers and a National Park Service facility, it would similarly not be possible to escape the officers' jurisdiction by leaving the federal property.
    – phoog
    Aug 21, 2021 at 15:07

The first amendment protects a citizen to photograph Federal and Municipal governments and Agencies. The DNS Memo even states that photographing / recording is LAWFUL!

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    – user35069
    Mar 10, 2022 at 11:16

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