'Kony 2012' Filmmaker Detained for Intoxication, Exposure, Vandalism

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on March 16, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Jason Russell, the filmmaker behind the viral video "Kony 2012," is receiving medical treatment after police detained him in connection with public intoxication and indecent exposure, police said.

Police detained Russell, 33, near San Diego's Mission Bay Park about 11:30 a.m. Thursday, when concerned citizens reported a half-naked man running through traffic and screaming, KNSD-TV reports.

Officers found Russell "in his underwear" and allegedly masturbating in public, a police spokeswoman said. Russell also allegedly vandalized some cars and was likely under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

"Kony 2012" filmmaker Jason Russell was "no problem for the police," the spokeswoman told reporters. "However, during the evaluation we learned that we probably needed to take care of him."

Police detained Russell and took him to a medical facility for evaluation and treatment.

Russell is co-founder of Invisible Children Inc., a San Diego nonprofit that bankrolled the "Kony 2012" video to raise awareness about African warlord Joseph Kony and his alleged atrocities.

Russell's "Kony 2012" video gained worldwide exposure in recent weeks, becoming the most-watched viral video of all time, according to the website Gizmodo. You can watch the video here:

Invisible Children's CEO issued a statement, saying Jason Russell was "suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, and malnutrition."

"The past two weeks have taken a severe emotional toll on all of us, Jason especially, and that toll manifested itself in an unfortunate incident yesterday," the CEO's statement said, according to KNSD.

In public intoxication cases, police can generally detain an intoxicated person until the person sobers up. If Russell was voluntarily intoxicated, that's not a defense to a crime.

But since police took Jason Russell to a medical facility for treatment, that could suggest a more serious mental condition. If a person's mental state makes him unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of his acts, that could set him up for a possible mental-illness defense.

Prosecutors will likely wait for the results of Jason Russell's medical evaluation before considering whether to press charges. Russell, an evangelical Christian, is married with two children -- one of whom has a cameo role in "Kony 2012."

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