Back in September, PINAC correspondent Phillip Turner walked into the Arlington Police Department in Texas to file a complaint against a pair of officers who had harassed him for video recording them in public.
He ended up attacked and hospitalized for video recording inside the police station.
Now, more than four months later, Arlington police have released the surveillance video showing the attack and revealing the hypocritical irony that they can record us but we can’t record them.
The truth is, there is no law or departmental policy that forbids citizens from recording inside the public areas of police departments.
In fact, a lawsuit against Homeland Security in 2010 resulted in a settlement where the federal agency acknowledged that photography and videography is allowed in “building entrances, lobbies, foyers, corridors or auditoriums for news purposes” of federal buildings.
The Arlington Police Department is not federal, of course, but it would have a hard time arguing that they have the right to prevent videography in the public areas of their buildings when the feds have already agreed that it is legal.
But perhaps it will take a lawsuit against the department as it did with Homeland Security. And Turner, who operates the popular YouTube channel, The Battousai, already has two pending lawsuits against Texas police departments who have either attacked, arrested or harassed him for shooting video of police.
He plans to sue the Austin Police Department this month as well and he will sue the Arlington Police Department once he challenges a traffic citation they gave him the night they harassed him for video recording him.
That was when they pulled him over, accusing him of “failing to dim his lights,” an accusation he denies, saying the stop was in retaliation for recording them minutes earlier. During that traffic stop, he remained silent, pressing his drivers license, registration and insurance against the window while blaring NWA’s Fuck the Police.
That traffic stop took place after midnight on September 30, 2015. Later that day, he walked into the Arlington Police Department to file a complaint with his camera recording.
From the lobby, he was directed into the records room, an area that is open to the public. He placed the camera on the counter and began filling out the necessary paperwork when Arlington police officer Thomas Green stepped in and told him to stop recording.
“You’re not allowed to record or use cell phones in here,” Green said. “In the lobby, you can record us all day but not here.”
Turner asked for the policy that would confirm this.
“I don’t have the policy,” Green said.
Turner again asked to see the policy.
“Ok, but you need to turn the camera off,” he said, grabbing at the camera, which was laying on the counter.
When Turner placed his hand on the camera, Green grabbed his wrist and twisted his arm behind him, swinging him around and shoving him down on the floor, pulling him arm up hard behind his back.
No charges were ever filed against Turner, who was transported by paramedics to the hospital where he was diagnosed with arthralgia, described as pain in the joints resulting from a number of factors, including injuries.
And the Arlington Police Department conducted an “investigation” on Green as well as the two officers who harassed him earlier that night, but all were cleared of any wrongdoing.
However, the makeshift sign they had posted in the records department banning cellphones, the one that included no statute or policy number, has been removed.
So perhaps they’ve been advised not to attack citizens who record themselves making complaints against officers.