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  • On June 2nd, outside this convenience store

  • in Baytown, Texas,

  • Isaiah Benavides saw his friend being pulled over.

  • He took out his phone and pressed record.

  • - 'Cause he's Black, huh?

  • - I didn't do nothing.

  • - You're cussing in public.

  • Put your hands behind your back.

  • - As he filmed, the incident got pretty violent.

  • - Put your hands behind your back.

  • And if you don't get back, I'ma break your shit.

  • - But it didn't end there.

  • Isaiah posted the video online.

  • It went viral and set off a string of consequences

  • for Isaiah,

  • his friends,

  • the local police,

  • and the city of Baytown.

  • All from one video clip and one snap decision to hit record.

  • - Shit just went down, bro.

  • I think they're probably gonna try to get me next.

  • - It all started after Isaiah

  • and his two friends, Skylar Gilmore

  • and Isaiah Phillips, left a barbecue.

  • - Well, Jostin was leaving

  • and we were going to get more beers

  • from the store for the barbecue.

  • And Jostin got pulled over in his car.

  • - We noticed Officer Brown pulling over our friend.

  • - Their friend, Jostin Moore,

  • had been pulled over for a traffic violation.

  • - That's Officer Brown.

  • - All of Baytown recognizes Officer Brown.

  • - Officer Brown is known in Baytown

  • for doing some shady stuff.

  • So we just wanted -- I just wanted to make sure

  • that our friend Jostin was alright.

  • - They pulled him over just 'cause he's Black.

  • - That's fucked up, bro.

  • - Black lives matter.

  • - Officer Nathaniel Brown

  • had previously been accused

  • of targeting and harassing Black Baytown residents.

  • - Like, we started talking about how

  • he was doing this shady stuff

  • in the past, how he sicced a dog on somebody.

  • - He's the one that sicced the dog.

  • Oh, 'cause you Black, bro.

  • A hundred percent 'cause you Black.

  • - I guess he overheard us talking about him.

  • - He clearly had a problem with us basically watching him.

  • - He proceeded to walk up to Skylar

  • and I was just standing there behind Skylar

  • like that's not right.

  • - I didn't do nothing.

  • - You're cussing in public.

  • Put your hands behind your back.

  • - Whoa, whoa, whoa.

  • - I get thrown against a wall, thrown onto the ground,

  • and then I get kneed in the face.

  • - Put your hands behind your back,

  • hands behind your back.

  • - What happened next?

  • I mean, he basically got up from Skylar,

  • walks over to the other officer and he says,

  • "Just to make things fair across the board."

  • - I gotta be fair across the board.

  • - And grabs the other officer's handcuffs,

  • and then that's when he grabbed Isaiah.

  • - Turn around.

  • - They're arresting him for nothing.

  • - They slammed me and left a dent on my face.

  • - If you don't get back, I'ma break your shit.

  • - I'm not doing nothing to you.

  • - I was hoping they didn't draw their guns.

  • That's all I was thinking in my head.

  • They cannot draw their guns on me today.

  • - What surprised me is that

  • I was getting arrested for talking on the sidewalk.

  • - I was confused, but I was enraged at the same time.

  • So I had to use my mind,

  • take a step back, and keep using the camera that I used.

  • And that's how we got that video out like that.

  • - Skylar and Isaiah Phillips were arrested

  • for disorderly conduct for using profanities in public.

  • Jostin was arrested for the traffic violations

  • and a prior warrant related to a car accident.

  • What happened next is the reason we know this story

  • and so many others like it.

  • Later that night, Isaiah and another friend,

  • Dajone Mitchell, posted the video online.

  • - Isaiah and Skylar were in jail.

  • From there, Dajone put the video to Twitter,

  • and I put it on Facebook.

  • - By the time we got to see the video,

  • it already had a couple million views.

  • - Not even 24 hours later,

  • we had, like, eight news interviews back to back to back.

  • - After the incident went viral,

  • the friends joined other victims of police brutality

  • in Baytown to stage a protest.

  • - The march was organized

  • due to several incidents

  • involving the Baytown Police Department.

  • - And that really made our cause bigger,

  • and that ended up causing the petition to form itself.

  • We ended up getting Officer Brown fired.

  • - The charges against Skylar and Isaiah Phillips

  • were also dropped.

  • The Verge was unable to reach Officer Brown for comment.

  • - We're happy that it went viral

  • because our justice is gonna be served soon,

  • but at the same time, like, that's not the video

  • you wanna be known for going viral.

  • - Isaiah had never filmed the police

  • before this moment.

  • - I'ma get out and record.

  • - So what made him hit record now?

  • - He was by himself without any other recording on him,

  • then they could do whatever they want.

  • Normally, it's supposed to behe says, she says,”

  • but if you say something and the officer says something,

  • it doesn't go that way.

  • It's the officer said something and that's it.

  • - When they see a cellphone being pulled out,

  • I think law enforcement are aware

  • of the potential accountability

  • that may come with these recordings.

  • - Chaz Arnett teaches law

  • at the University of Maryland,

  • and he studies the role of technology

  • in situations like this one.

  • - Typically, what we see --

  • we see this in some of the footage

  • from most recent Black Lives Matter protests --

  • is that when cameras are introduced in these scenarios,

  • law enforcement oftentimes take that as a threat

  • to what they are doing.

  • - That's what Isaiah thinks happened

  • with Officer Brown.

  • - He clearly had a problem with us basically watching him.

  • I feel like that's the exact reason why everything happened.

  • I feel like he was angry that we weren't letting him do

  • what he wanted to do, so he came and took it out on us.

  • - I mean, I think that's a reflection of law enforcement

  • knowing that there is some level of power connected

  • with being able to document these episodes.

  • It is seen as a way of attempting to take away

  • and flip on its head that imbalanced power relationship.

  • - Skylar and Isaiah Phillips' lawyers

  • believe the video was key

  • in getting the charges promptly dropped.

  • But using technology this way

  • can have scarier consequences, too.

  • - For the next couple of weeks,

  • we were getting, like, watched by the officers.

  • At the beginning, there was just one cop car

  • that would be watching us, and now after the protests,

  • that's whenever they'd have different types of cop cars

  • that would watch us at different times.

  • It made me feel like I was gonna get picked up

  • by a black van one day.

  • - Anytime an individual is attempting to document

  • or speak to what is happening in terms of law enforcement

  • and police abuse, they become targets.

  • - The Verge reached out

  • to the Baytown Police Department

  • but did not receive a response before publishing this story.

  • - Yeah, we've been getting a lot of anxiety.

  • Could barely even sleep.

  • Every time I see a cop, I'm not even doing nothing wrong

  • and I'm just already, like, my heart's already racing.

  • It brings stress to not only us but to our families.

  • I mean, they're scared 'cause this simple matter,

  • it can cost us our lives.

  • - In spite of everything that happened,

  • Isaiah feels like he did the right thing.

  • - I don't regret any of it.

  • I feel like it would have been swept under the rug

  • like nothing happened.

  • Because that's what happens almost every day

  • whenever somebody... even if somebody gets a video of it.

  • - Recording the police

  • can be a risky and painful act.

  • But as we're seeing across the country, it is also powerful.

  • - Particularly with the killing of George Floyd,

  • I think that video has ignited and set off

  • these global reckonings with law enforcement.

  • - And that movement

  • clearly helped Baytown residents have their own reckoning.

  • - This incident really changed how our community

  • really does things because everybody really took a part in

  • taking the movement and making it into something else.

  • The more people across the country doing good

  • and making more protests,

  • the more my community and other communities

  • would do the same just simply because

  • other people are doing it.

  • - I feel like more people should record the police,

  • not even if it's just their problem.

  • I feel like even if you see somebody else

  • that's in a problem, I feel like you should record it.

  • Because nobody is gonna believe our voices.

  • The whole world believed the video, though.

  • This video was part of a larger project at The Verge

  • that looks at the power and consequences

  • of filming police violence

  • Our other YouTube channel Verge Science

  • looks at what police body cameras don't always show you

On June 2nd, outside this convenience store

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Recording police brutality: how one snap decision changed this town

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/10/29
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