By Joe Southern
Missouri City Police Sgt. Phillip Englishbee has become a YouTube sensation, but not in a flattering way.
Englishbee and Officer Lewis Jefferson were captured on video Feb. 15 by an unnamed Houston area Internet news videographer when they questioned why he was filming the exterior of the Missouri City Police and Fire Department building.
The two officers approached the videographer from News Now Houston, asked him what he was doing and asked for his name and date of birth. The cameraman said he was videoing exteriors of the building but, citing a right to privacy, declined to give his name to the officers.
Englishbee repeatedly asks for the man’s name, claiming him to be a suspicious person photographing and videoing the police department. The man declines to give his name each time. The confrontation escalates to the point where the man is handcuffed and led inside the foyer of the building.
Once detained, the cameraman claims he wants to evoke his right to remain silent and have an attorney, but continues to banter with the policemen. Englishbee leaves the foyer and returns a few minutes later with a book of legal code and reads the passage that he claims gives him the right to ask for the man’s name. The man said he would give it to the chief or an assistant chief.
When Assistant Chief Lance Bothell comes out a few minutes later, the man hands him a business card and is let go. The 12-minute video was posted on YouTube (click this link) and as of Monday evening has been viewed 24,621 times. There is also an 18-minute version that automatically follows it.
The confrontation has raised concerns from citizens who say the police overstepped their bounds. Numerous comments have been posted on the video and some have been emailed to the Fort Bend Star. The police department and city hall have been inundated with phone calls and requests for information and action.
“The incident is under administrative review and, upon completion, the City will take appropriate steps to address the decisions made by the officers,” the city said in a press release. “We are reviewing the circumstances surrounding the citizen-police interaction,” said Police Chief Mike Berezin. “We have received hundreds of inquiries from across the globe regarding the incident, and we appreciate all who are bringing forth their concerns.”