" It only works if people aren't actively trying to create the situation."
I must disagree here.
What "works' is the police following the law even if someone is trying to provoke a verbal confrontation.
You say the police could have known he was lying? I agree. And a good cop probably would have thought, "This guy is looking for a confrontation—which he won't get." From what I saw there was no reason to think this guy was a terrorist, planning to blow up a courthouse in a remote Texas town. That is the kind of thing that makes good cops good—they can assess a situation quickly and accurately and react appropriately.
An example: the first officer, who seemed to catch on quickly to what the photog was doing and dealt with it sensibly.
The second officer shows what many photographers have to be afraid of: overzealous, self-entitle "lawmen" abusing power because they can and like to. I have been out shooting news photos and run into this—police giving illegal orders and threatening to arrest me when I was in no way breaking any law, when I identified myself as a reporter, and was on public property a safe distance from the police.
It is not that guys like this photographer make cops dislike photographers—some cops already do. Some simply don't like anyone not bowing down before them. I see nothing wrong with catching those cops acting badly; they give the rest a bad name and are a threat to law-abiding citizens.
I have met a lot of police officers, and the vast majority have been excellent at their jobs. I have even met one who got overzealous with me once, and later was friendly; he turned out to have been mistaken and reacted wrong one time, but wasn't a jerk in general.
I have also been threatened illegally.
As for guys like the photog in question, or the many others who do the same thing ... If they are looking for abuse and find it, that isn't because they Created the abuse. The photog here did nothing to warrant being grabbed, or having his camera seized (and he is very lucky he didn't lose the camera and go to jail. I have seen policemen lie on the stand and with his recording gone, the photog had no defense.)
I don't think the guy is a hero, but I don't mind that there are people out there exposing bad cops, any more than I mind people exposing bad businessmen or dangerous doctors are pedophile priests. Weed out the rare bad one so people can trust the good ones.
You realize that as much as the police might not trust photographers, there are as many citizens who don't trust police, because they have met cops like that second one? Go tell that second cop he is undermining the system, not the photog who caught the cop breaking the law.
The system works when a good police officer is put in this situation: the actions of the first officer show exactly how.