Date of Incident: November 11, 2016
Officers Involved: Officer Maufrais Badge #7432 and Officer Lane Badge #7705
Department Involved: Austin (TX) Police Department
Department Phone Number: Chief Art Acevedo – (512) 974-5000
Department Facebook Page: Austin PD on FB
Department Twitter Profile: @Austin_Police
Department YouTube Account: Austin Police Department
Internal Affairs Division: Citizens Complaints
The video above shows “the Battousai,” a man from Texas who often films the police, being harassed, threatened, and even assaulted by two officers from the Austin Police Department. At the time he is accosted by Officers Maufrais and Lane, he is doing nothing but quietly and very much legally filming a traffic stop from a very appropriate distance.
In addition to shining a light on his camera(s), Maufrais and Lane physically bump the Battousai numerous times and illegally detain him from leaving by declaring that the area where his car is parked is of limits, claiming that it is part of the area they are using to conduct their investigation despite being nowhere near the actual traffic stop. All this deliberate and ridiculous harassment is supposedly rationalized by their need to protect the safety officer conducting the traffic stop, which is clearly nonsense.
Although this video is fairly self-explanatory, there are a few “highlights” from it that are worth mentioning. One is that Officer Maufraus states in the early part of the video that he “is not intimidated by you people, like most officers are.” When asked for clarification he defines “you people” as people that legally film the police. That’s both telling and a little sad that police would be intimidated by someone simply filming them in public.
The second issue is that when Officer Maufraus is told that he is violating Austin Police Department policy by interfering with someone legally recording them in public, he not only acknowledges be aware of that, but states that he “doesn’t care about policy.” The APD, like most police departments at this point, does in fact have a policy that clearly states recording police officers in public is allowed and should not be interfered with. The screenshot to the left shows the first page of Article 302.2 in the official Austin Police Department handbook. (You can see the entire handbook in PDF form here.) The fact that this officer readily admits on camera to not caring about the department policies is pretty bad.
And keeping with that theme of not knowing or caring about policies or laws, the last lowlight is when Officer Maufraus states his definition of a “lawful order.” While threatening the Battousai with arrest for supposedly violating a lawful order, he is asked, “What’s lawful about it?” to which he answers, “because I told you to do it.” That’s very far from the definition of a lawful order. The fact that it was a cop who told someone to do something is incredibly far from what makes that a lawful order.
Below is the description from the Battousai, via Youtube:
“This was one of the most stressful videos I have ever filmed. I was harassed and intimidated for nearly an hour all for exercising my 1st amendment rights. I was grabbed, shoved, and bumped into a few times when trying to walk in a different direction. Then the cops prevented my from going to my car and leaving. They made me wait until after arrested the tow truck to come and take the arrested individual’s car. When the tow truck left I was allowed to get my property back and go to my car. Estimated amount of detention was 56 to 57 minutes.”
If you’d like to let the Austin Police Department know what you thing of the behavior of their officers and their stated disregard for department policies, you can contact them through several social media and/or email options, via the links above. In addition you can contact Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo directly via Twitter using this link: @ArtAcevedo