What’s done in the dark will usually come to light, as the Balch Springs, Texas, Police Department is apparently learning. Just two weeks after a now-fired officer shot and killed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards, the police chief is now also in the middle of an investigation regarding who leaked a video of another controversial incident involving one of the department’s officers.
KDFW-TV obtained the leaked bodycam footage, which is from April 28, 2016. It shows a white Balch Springs officer using a Taser on a handcuffed black man. The video was apparently mailed to the news station after Jordan was killed, although the original source of the leaked footage is unclear.
Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber says that he is concerned about the timing of the video leak and how it might affect the perception of his officers, the news station notes.
Sounds as if Haber has other things he should be worried about, but whatever floats his boat, I guess.
The footage shows an officer responding to a call about a man waving a gun in the neighborhood. As the officer arrives on the scene, the suspect, 39-year-old Marco Stephenson, is seen on his knees with his hands on his head, apparently fully cooperating with officers.
The officers approach Stephenson and a gun is kicked away. Stephenson can be heard repeatedly telling officers, “It’s a BB gun,” as officers go through his pockets.
“That’s the thing. It’s their perception that counts,” one officer claims. “They perceived it as a threat, so you are under arrest.”
As the officers cut Stephenson’s backpack away from him, a spitting sound is heard.
An officer can be heard saying, “You better watch it, Marco.”
“I spit a toothpick out,” Stephenson replies. Then the situation suddenly escalates, with an officer tasing Stephenson in his side.
“Don’t pull away! You understand? You understand?” a sergeant on the video says as he deploys the weapon. “Don’t pull away! You get it?! You get it?! Because I ain’t playing with you today! Do you understand?!”
“Yes, sir,” Stephenson can be heard replying.
Haber identified the sergeant in the video as a supervisor, whose actions were questioned by his own officers.
“We looked at it. At the end of the day, they did the right thing,” Haber said. “They brought it to our attention.”
The video was reviewed by the Texas Rangers, Professional Standards and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit, according to the chief.
“We decided together that this was an administrative issue, not a criminal issue,” Haber said.
Of course they did.
At any rate, the sergeant was reprimanded, according to the chief, and put on “no contact with the public” until he finishes classes on conflict resolution, anti-bias and how to respond to mental-health calls.
Haber, naturally, dredged up Stephenson’s record, noting that he is well-known to authorities, with multiple arrests ranging from criminal trespass to aggravated assault on a public servant.
“He’s been handled 37 times through Dallas County—37 offenses,” the police chief explained. “He’s been arrested or booked into the Dallas County Jail 17 times. He’s been booked in through our facility 19 times and, I think, 33 separate offenses.”
Stephenson, Haber added, never filed a complaint with the department over his treatment.
“We just hope people understand and realize that we’re out here doing these things,” he said. “We’re out here actually policing ourselves and making sure we’re doing the right thing.”
Read more at KDFW-TV.