On Wednesday, September 30th, Phillip Turner walked into the lobby of the Arlington Police Department in Texas to file a complaint regarding a confrontation with two police officers from the night before.
The process took an unexpected turn when a simple exercise in processing paperwork led to a physical altercation and trip to the hospital for Turner.
In the video, shot by Turner and uploaded to YouTube, Turner can be seen calmly requesting information on the officers, their badge numbers and requesting the paperwork to file a complaint. The desk officer directs Turner to the records office to submit a video of the incident along with his complaint. Turner then stops the recording to save the video, and then restarts the video as he enters the records room.
Turner said that after about 10 minutes, Arlington police officer Thomas Green entered the room and demanded he turn off his video camera.
Turner agreed to shut off the camera if Green could provide him with a written policy stating that video recording was not allowed in the facility.
But that made Green angry, prompting him to reach for the camera. When Turner picked up his camera before Green could reach it, Green grabbed Turner’s wrist, causing him to drop the camera. Green then twisted Turner’s arm behind his back. The video from this incident was corrupted, possibly due to camera hitting the ground.
Turner said that as more officers arrived, Green accused Turner of assaulting him.
The officers then escorted Turner into the lobby area, and Green left the scene. Paramedics were called, and they assisted Turner in completing his paperwork before he was transported to the hospital for treatment of a shoulder injury sustained in the altercation. No charges have been filed against Turner, and although he suffered a strained ligament, he is expected recover.
Turner then returned to the station and filed an open records request for the video footage of the attack along with the written policy that forbids citizens from recording inside the department.
I filed an open records request for the same items on October 5 and again on the 6th when I did not receive an automated response. And PINAC News investigator Felipe Hemming has also reached out to them, asking for this material, but was told it won’t be available until October 21.
However, under Texas law, the city has ten working days to complete an open records request or appeal the request to the attorney general’s office.
Today marks the tenth working day since Turner filed his request, given that Monday was a holiday.
Did they fulfill his request?
No, they chose to appeal the request to the attorney general’s office, informing Turner of the decision in this letter. This means there will be another 45 days before we get a final decision. The lack of transparency in this case raises some serious questions about the motivation of the department. If, as Turner says, officer Green was willing to use force to enforce a no-recording policy, why does the department not provide the recording policy when requested?
We only have Turners version of the story, but Arlington has so-far been unwilling to provide theirs. Turner has made available every document and every video in his possession. If Green’s use of force was justified, why not release the surveillance video showing the altercation?
Turners request will now be decided by the Attorney General. We made a request for the same material, and have not received an official response yet (the deadline on our request has not passed). We will follow through on our request, and we will update this article with new information as it provided.
Update: We received the following statement from an Arlington Police representative this afternoon: “The Arlington Police Department is investigating this use of force incident in the same manner that we would investigate any use of force. It goes through a chain of command review to determine whether or not policies and procedures were followed correctly and the application of force was consistent with our department’s expectations.” — Lt Christopher Cook, Arlington Police Department
Watch Turner’s video below.