UPDATE (January 7, 2016): It took four months, but Fort Worth police finally released the body cam footage from one of the officers. Turner said the footage they gave him is missing footage from when he was sitting in the back of the squad. He has since filed a lawsuit against the department.
Two Fort Worth police officers named Dyess and Grinalds pulled up in front of their station and walked across the street onto the sidewalk to confront PINAC correspondent Phillip Turner, who had been lawfully recording the police station for at least two minutes.
What happened next is all too familiar, as the video shows two Texas officers arrest the photographer without probable cause..
The cops could not even say what crime they suspected Turner of committing.
It began when the officers walked across the street and said “How’s it going man?”
Officer Grinalds – who was the primary speaker in the video – immediately segued into, “Do you have ID with you?” to the lone citizen journalist conducting the First Amendment audit.
The officer again asked “Do you have any ID, sir?”, to which Turner said nothing, continuing to record the encounter silently as is his Constitutional right, but the officer continued to repeat his request.
Turner calmly made sure to record both officers badges and name tags before asking, “Am I being detained?”
“For investigation purposes, yes. Especially with everything going on around law enforcement, to be walking around the facility with a video camera.” said officer Grinalds.
“We like to know who’s surrounding our complexes.”
As anyone can see from Google Maps, this complex is within a residential neighborhood, and Google was allowed to photograph it along with the department and all of the Fort Worth PD cruisers in front too.
It’s hard to imagine one photographer could surround an entire police department – and presumably citizens with smart phones and cameras surround their stations which normal in America today – but this encounter is illustrative of the bunker mentality that police in Texas are taking against anyone who might express their 1st Amendment right to free speech.
Turner calmly asked both officers their name and badge numbers to which Grinalds stated his name and badge number, but interrupted Dyess who never identified himself by name during the encounter asking, “Are you refusing to ID yourself sir?”
Turner asked again, “Am I being detained?” to which Grinalds replied “Yes, you are.”
Turner asked the officer, “For what crime?”
“I didn’t say you committed a crime,” said Grinalds – admitting that he couldn’t make up so much as a charge of spitting on the sidewalk against Turner as would be required to ask for identification. All police know this standard which was set in the famous court case Terry vs. Ohio, which authorizes ‘stop and frisk’.
When officer Grinalds continued saying, “but I have the legal right to detain you for investigation,” he was wrong.
The Texas officer continued to say that he was walking, “in front of a law enforcement facility very suspiciously,” which ignores that Turner was on a public sidewalk across the street from that facility.
Still, Turner has the right to visit his law enforcement facilities as a citizen virtually anytime. They are public buildings, paid for with tax money.
Public sidewalks, whether in front of the station or across the street as Turner was stationed are clearly open for anyone to use, and to express their free speech rights.
“We have the right and authority to know who’s walking around our facilities,” continued Fort Worth officer, trampling over the Constitution a little more moment by moment.
Turner serenely replied, “That’s incorrect.”
Officer Grinalds resumed requesting Turner’s ID until he asked the cop, “What happens if I don’t ID myself?”
Omniously, the cop replies that, “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”
Turner quitely said that that point, “But you have to tell me what happens if I don’t ID myself,” which sent the officer into denial, followed by further repeated requests for ID.
Officer Grinalds even licked his chops at that point at 2:47 of the video – the moment captured in the story’s headline photo – betraying the exact point at which one might believe the officer decided to his suspicion-less detainment into a full on arrest and seizure of Turner.
Phillip Turner continued politely asking the officer if he was familiar with Texas Penal Code 38.02 which is ably explained in this blog post, supported by the 2008 Texas legal appeal verdict which fell against an Austin PD officer who demanded ID from a citizen being detained, but who not lawfully arrested at time time – such as appears to be the case with Turner here.
The banter dried up like the Texas lawman’s lips and the two cops quickly took Turner into custody and applied handcuffs.
“This is what happens when you don’t ID yourself,” Grinalds then said.
“You’re kidding right?” asked Turner, but he had no idea what was coming, and asked for a supervisor to visit the scene, which should’ve been easy enough right in front of the station.
The dispatch can be heard asking if officer Grinalds is, “in the parking lot with someone,” to which the cop can be heard lying by replying, “Yes, I am,” when he was, in fact, on a sidewalk in front of the private residences across the street from the station’s corner.
The Fort Worth police officer who drove out of the gate on camera and who called in to report Turner, can be heard off camera confirming that he’s the reason officers detained Turner.
Officer Grinalds can be heard off camera continuing to interrogate Turner asking for ID and that, “you’ll go on down and get fingerprinted then, so we know who you are.”
“You made the choice,” Grinalds told him.
Moments later, the video stops, and resumes after Turner is released from captivity.
Fort Worth cops followed Turner after he was released claiming they needed more photos of him, while refusing to identify himself.
The citizen journalist then recounted on camera what happened when the camera was turned off:
I was handcuffed and put in the back of a patrol car with the windows up for five minutes. Even though I was put in handcuffs, officers said that I didn’t do anything wrong and I fully cooperated. Now he’s threatening me with criminal trespass if I ever step foot on the property.
Turner’s video ends with a visual review of the damage that handcuffs did to his wrists which occurred off camera.
“Shit hurts like hell” was Turner’s fitting epithet to the gross failure of Fort Worth police in this First Amendment audit.
Clearly, police have little time, nor interest in enforcing actual laws in Fort Worth, but they’re happy to spend hard earned taxpayer cash to violate the highest law of the land, which they’ve sworn to defend.