Chief Cites Austin Cop for ‘Stupidity’ in Viral Video Fracas

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An Austin police officer recorded trying to prevent an activist from filming a traffic stop Saturday night has been taken off patrol while the department investigates, reports the Austin American-Statesman. Officer James Maufrais is shown in a YouTube video following volunteer cop-watcher Phillip Turner around a bank parking lot, shining his flashlight directly into the lens of Turner’s camera. Later, officers refused to allow Turner to leave and detained him for about an hour. Police Chief Art Acevedo said the officers had violated department policy and values. He called the incident “self-inflicted stupidity.”

Records show that the officer has filed eight use-of-force reports since 2013. Acevedo said he has had personal contact with Turner, an Austin Community College student who has been filming police work in the Austin area for two years. “In most instances, at least that I’m aware of, (when) he has engaged in his lawful right to videotape police officers, he has always done it in a manner that is respectful and doesn’t interfere,” Acevedo said. Turner has studied police policy and knows that Austin officers are directed not to interfere with people who film their work, as long as they don’t get in the way. The incident Saturday night began when Turner happened upon a traffic stop in a bank parking lot and decided to film it.

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