With that arrogant bravado only a cop can muster, Austin police officer Jamess Maufrais pointed two flashlights into the lenses of two cameras held by PINAC reporter Phillip Turner last November, bragging about how he was “not intimidated” by citizens with cameras, thumbing his nose at his own departmental policy that forbids officers from harassing citizens with cameras.
But now that he’s been slapped with a 20-day unpaid suspension for assaulting and bullying Turner on November 11, 2016, shoving and grabbing him as well as threatening him with unlawful arrest, he may have changed his tune.
After all, it was the evidence on the camera that led to his suspension last week.
If he was not intimidated, he should have at least been intelligent. But that’s too much to ask from police these days.
His fellow officer, Jesse Lane – who killed a man two months later while the incident was still under investigation by internal affairs – was slapped with a 10-day unpaid suspension for part in bullying and detaining Turner while shining a flashlight into his lenses for almost an hour that night.
All because Turner was attempting to video record another cop making a traffic stop in the parking lot of a bank – completely legal activity as we all know.
Even Austin police know this after years of arresting Peaceful Street members, implementing a policy in 2014 that made it clear police are not allowed to interfere with citizens who record them from in public as long as they are not physically interfering.
Turner was standing 30 feet from the traffic stop he was recording, not saying a word. He was not interfering, even though he was accused repeatedly by Maunfrais through the infuriating bullying session.
Austin Police Policy 302.2, which can be read here, states that officers are forbidden to “intentionally block or obstruct cameras or recording devices” or “in any way threaten, intimidate or otherwise discourage an individual from recording officer’s enforcement activities.”
But that is exactly what both cops were doing as you can see in the 30-minute video, which Turner edited down from 58 minutes for his YouTube channel, The Battousai.
A second shorter video from his second camera is also posted below.
As it turned out, Turner knew the policy better than the two cops, even down to the number.
“I have the right to film,” Turner spoke into the blinding flashlights. “It doesn’t matter, I didn’t say anything to that officer.”
But Maufrais claimed he, as a cop, had the right to physically block citizens from recording from respectable distances, using the same old bullshit excuses such as “officer safety.”
“And I have the right to put my flashlight right in the middle of your camera,” Maufrais said.
“You’re clearly mistaken,” Turner said. “That’s against your policy.”
“Okay,” said the officer.
“Interacting with the community, 302,” Turner explained, referring to the policy number that addresses the issue of citizens recording officers in public.
“Okay, I’m not worried about that right now,” Maufrais said.
“You’re not worried about your policy?” Turner asked.
Maufrais does not come across as a smart guy, so of course he was not worried. He was not even worried about his arrogant words – recorded on two of Turner’s cameras – becoming evidence against him, resulting in him not being paid for nearly three weeks.
But three weeks is nothing for a cop like Maufrais, who comes across as a thug just itching to kill. A ticking time bomb of a cop, even more so than the usual ticking time bomb cops we read about daily.
We’ll be hearing about him soon. Mark my words. He’s a man that does not deserve to carry badge.
Then there is Jesse Lane, his partner in crime, who told Turner he was free to leave, just not free to leave in his own car. Stupid mind games like that, which would have broken down most citizens..
But Turner remained solid as usual.
Turner uploaded the video the following day where it quickly went viral, drawing the attention of local media, prompting a news conference from then-Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, who said the behavior of the cops that night towards Turner was “egregious” and “self-inflicted stupidity.”
But Acevedo then took a job as Houston Police Chief as the incident was investigated by internal affairs.
Jesse Lane Kills Man
Two months into the investigation, Lane shot and killed a man who police said was shooting a gun into the air, and was placed on paid administrative leave. The Austin Police Department would not respond to PINAC inquiries about whether was still on paid administrative leave when he was placed on unpaid suspension, but it has made no announcement on the completion of the internal investigation into January’s shooting death.
As for the investigation into the harassment against Turner, it still took another three months to determine what should have taken a day. The policy is very simple to read. There should be no doubt they violated it.
Both cops deserve to be fired because if they act that way knowing they are being recorded by two cameras, their voices and statements not filtered out by flashlights, then imagine how they act when they believe they are not being recorded.
Turner would like to sue but is unable thanks to his own recent appeal victory in federal court that established recording cops is protected by the First Amendment.
“The 5th Circuit ruling voids any previous violations because it was not a clearly established right,” Turner explained.
Turner maintained incredible composure against the two cops who were trying their best to get him to lose his cool, so they could beat him senseless.
Maufrais kept shoving his flashlight into Turner’s face, then threatening him with arrest and violence if he dared touch the flashlight.
“Touch my flashlight and I promise you, this will go in a different direction,” Maufrais said, itching for a confrontation, any excuse to hurt and harm and possibly kill.
“Do whatever you gotta do,” Turner said, not showing any signs of fear, which further frustrated Maufrais, who then resorted to drawing an imaginary line in the ground forbidding Turner from crossing it, even to get to his car, which happened to be on the other side of his imaginary line.
Maufrais claimed it was “a lawful order” although there was nothing lawful about it.
“What’s lawful about it?” Turner inquired when Maufrais kept repeating that phrase as a child who had just learned a new word.
“Because I told you to do it,” Maufrais replied, just as a child would.
So if you live in Austin, please be sure to record these cops anytime you see them in public but keep in mind he’s not intimidated.
“Problem is, some people are actually intimidated by you guys. I’m not,” Mausfrais told Turner after first confronting him.
“Whose you guys?” Turner asked.
“You, you guys that film,” Maufrais responded.