“Flashlight Game” Backfires as Belton Police Officer Faces Complaint

Phillip Turner, a police accountability auditor and YouTube personality with over 200K subscribers, has filed a complaint against a Belton, Texas police officer who allegedly played the “flashlight game” and refused to identify himself while Turner was recording police activities, which is a First Amendment protected activity. The officer’s behavior obstructed Turner’s recording. He has been accused of violating his constitutional rights.

Turner is no stranger to fighting for his First Amendment rights. In Turner v Driver, a Fifth Circuit case that established the constitutionality of recording police activities, Turner successfully argued that recording police helps to ensure that they “are not abusing their power.” This case has since been cited in several court cases involving the recording of police activities.

Public comments on Turner’s video show the outrage at the officer’s behavior. One commenter expressed their support, saying, “Thank you Battousai, for putting your life on the line to fight for our rights against these tyrants.” Another commenter noted the officer’s contempt for accountability, saying, “You can just taste the hatred officers have for accountability.”

The behavior of the Belton police officer is similar to a recent case, Irizarry v. Yehia, where a police officer obstructed a journalist’s recording of a DUI traffic stop in Lakewood, Colorado. The court held that such behavior was unconstitutional and clearly established to be so.

Turner has published videos of the alleged misconduct and filed a professional standards complaint with the Belton Police Department. The incident has raised questions about police accountability and the protection of First Amendment rights while recording police activities.

Turner’s video of the Belton Police Department complaint process also drew comments critical of Deputy Chief Larry Berg. One YouTube commenter pointed out the bias of police officers in framing their actions in their favor, stating, “…talking to the chief you explain that an officer was shining a flashlight directly into your face, this is immediately reframed as ‘shining a light in your general direction’ by the chief (who wasn’t even there) – and when you explain that you were simply filming, he immediately goes to people ‘holding flashlights on police, it gets dangerous, pointing a laser at police, we ain’t going to be blinded while we’re dealing with something else’ . . . everything the police do is downplayed, excused and minimized, everything the public do is exaggerated, magnified, blown way out of proportion.” This comment reflects the need for transparency and accountability in law enforcement to ensure that the public’s rights are upheld and that officers are held accountable for their actions.

Turner’s videos and the comments serve as reminders of the importance of holding law enforcement accountable for their actions and upholding the rights of citizens to record police activities. The officer’s behavior, while obstructive and intimidating, has only brought more attention to Turner’s fight for police accountability and the protection of First Amendment rights.