Authorities are investigating a recorded confrontation between a Houston police officer and an open-carry activist.
A video recording of the encounter between two officers and a man carrying a sign and an AR-15 rifle along a commercial boulevard was posted this week to YouTube, reported KVRL-TV.
Two officers arrive in separate patrol cars and park at the curb, and the video shows one of the officers briskly approach the gun-rights activist, who is recording the incident.
He demands the man’s identification, but the activist tells the officer he must have left his at home and offers to verbally identify himself.
The officer grabs the man’s sign and tosses it to the ground, then orders him to take off his gun – saying the man intends to provoke a confrontation.
“You are going to jail for failure to ID because you can’t tell me who you are, you can’t prove who you are,” says the unidentified officer. “I’m tired of you idiots coming out here.”
The officer then grabs the man’s cell phone, telling him he intends to destroy the evidence.
“Take the phone off now, we’re going to erase it, because that’s what you’re doing – you’re recording everything,” the officer says.
He tells the man he’s encountered him before, during another open-carry demonstration about a month ago.
“I don’t consent to this,” says the man, who denies being part of an open-carry organization. “I’m trying to protect myself.”
The officer derisively asks what the man needs the gun to protect himself from, and he says “from you.”
“You don’t have no ID on you,” the officer drawls. “How do I know you’re not a wanted felon carrying a firearm? It’s against the law, failure to identify.”
The man said one officer handcuffed and searched him as the first officer fumbles with the cell phone, attempting to shut off the video recording.
He then demands a sergeant come to the scene, then quickly changes his mind and asks for a sheriff – who he says in a video caption “overrides all other law enforcement.”
The man is placed in the back of the police cruiser as officers continue fumbling with the phone and discussing how the video can be erased, but they eventually figure it out.
Legal experts told the TV station that the officer’s actions were unlawful and violated Houston Police Department policy, and a representative from Open Carry Texas said the officer should lose his badge.
“The officer is an unconvicted felon,” said David Amand, of Open Carry Texas. “He may not ever get convicted, but the fact of the matter is this one particular officer broke the law big time.”
Texas permits rifles and shotguns to be openly carried, although lawmakers are considering changes to the law that would allow the open carry of handguns.
However, police may ask gun owners to turn over their weapons during questioning when they respond to complaints about the firearm, experts said.
Texas law requires people to identify themselves if they are arrested, and the law prohibits giving false information to arresting officers.
The law does not require a person to identify himself if they are lawfully detained but not placed under arrest.
Court rulings have repeatedly upheld the right to record on-duty police interactions with the public.
Internal affairs has launched an investigation of the incident.
The man was not charged and was permitted to leave after a sergeant came to the scene.
Watch video from the encounter posted online by Common Sense: