Houston P.D. Orders All Officers Turn Off Body Cameras During Protest

December 20, 2014   |   Derrick Broze

ANTI-MEDIA Staff
December 20, 2014

(TheAntiMedia) Remington Alessi was arrested on Saturday December 13 in Houston, Texas. He was arrested while engaging in a nonviolent protest against police brutality. He gives us his account of what he learned in the back of a squad car.

“We’re going to go ahead and turn off the personal video devices going forward, so be sure all officers have them turned off when engaging the protesters.” The words cut through me and chilled my spine as I sat, helplessly handcuffed in the back of a Houston Police cruiser after being arrested in the midst of a protest.

As an activist who has been around the block a few times, I knew that little would endanger a crowd more than a crowd of officers who had just received an order from higher up to disable their own personal accountability.

Barely into the pilot program, the Houston Police Department’s commanding officers managed to brazenly display how easily the personal video devices can be misused. Per an earlier interview, “Capt. Mike Skillern, who heads HPD’s gang unit and is involved in testing the cameras, said his fellow officers act “a little more professionally” when wearing the devices.” But how do they act when they switch the devices off? If officers had their way, no one would know.

The biggest fault here lies in the physical design of the cameras themselves. The VIEVU LE3 model camera is employed by HPD and is worn by over four thousand police agencies, according to the company’s website. The camera’s most conspicuous feature is an easily operated off switch, which can functionally slide over the lens of the camera at any time an officer feels the need to remove any potential accountability. Hyperbole fails in describing how much of a problem it is for police to control when video is being recorded.

Allowing police to control the video stream will create a situation in which footage will appear only when it benefits the officer, while footage of police beating unarmed suspects, throwing incendiary devices at toddlers, and erasing civilians’ video records of police brutality will never appear, due to conveniently located off switches designed by VIEVU to make the devices popular among police.

When the order came across the radio to disable the cameras, I held my breath, hoping against hope that even a single officer would object to the directive that specifically commanded officers to stop recording their activities. My heart sunk as I was met with silence. Not even the friendly Lieutenant Troy Finner, who only an hour prior had waxed poetic about being concerned about protesters’ safety had a word to say about the order. Instead, he, like every other police officer assigned to ‘protect’ the nonviolent protesters, agreed to endanger them the moment a commanding officer gave the order.

The thin blue line will be maintained, cameras or not.


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Author: Derrick Broze

Derrick Broze joined Anti-Media as an independent journalist in July of 2014. His topics of interest include solutions to the police state, the surveillance state, economic inequality, attacks on Native communities, and oppression in all its forms. He was born in Houston, Texas.

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65 Comments

  1. HPD commandant (Sig Heil!) should be forced to personally pay 4 all body cams he just dumped into the worthle

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  2. Worthless expenditure category. Than he should demoted to dog catcher for his stellar decision ! Period. We want tax refunds dammit!

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  3. worthless expenditure category; then demoted to dog catcher for his stellar n arrogant decision. We want tax refunds dammit!!

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  4. Is there a recording of this or paperwork? Seems funny for them to publicly broadcast something like that making this article hard to believe.

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  5. Tell me all about the times you know of when police released information that incriminated themselves.

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  6. Also, they didn't 'publicly broadcast' it. The cops just had their radio on when protesters were sitting in the back of the car. File some FOIA requests if you find it too difficult to believe firsthand witnesses.

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  7. Remington Alessi I'm going to ignore your first question because we both know that there are many video of cop video that incriminate. What matters of the said videos is if they are held accountable for what happened in them.

    As to your second response, that's the problem with journalism (and people in general) these days. For some reason think they can say any thing as fact and leave the burden of truth up to the reader. If it's as easy as filing a FOIA, (whatever that is) then why doesn't Derrick Broze or The Anti-Media do exactly that to give themselves credibility? Instead this article seems to be coming off the desk of CNN or Fox News.

    Firsthand witnesses lie all the time. Look at the Ferguson witnesses. Check out all the people who have seen aliens.I didn't write this story but I am asking for proof before I believe some supposed "firsthand" account like any responsible adult should.

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  8. Abel D. Wilkes I have to congratulate you. You're the bravest jackass idiot I've talked to in almost two hours.

    Don't be that guy.

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  9. Remington Alessi Look in the mirror pal. I'm not the idiot believing a idiot.

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  10. Remington Alessi This ain't 4chin

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  11. Abel D. Wilkes Wait, so witnesses aren't good enough to you, so you basically have to find something in writing for you, personally, to believe it? It has to be notarized, right? You must be a politicians absolute best friend. Ignorance is bliss, but willful ignorance is asinine.
    Please tell me I'm wrong, or at least that you didn't vote..

    No one is holding a gun to your head, saying to believe it or they'll murder you and your entire family. If you don't believe it, great. If you do, also great.

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  12. Josh B-lank Produce some evidence of this supposed "order" and stop criticizing someone for wanting proof. You want to bitch about politicians but your running me the same line of bullshit that the politicians speak. Pull your circle talking crap on someone else.

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  13. If they operate within the law they are supposed to enforce, what are they afraid of?

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  14. I think cops are WAY too militarized today; but they MUST be able to defend themselves to do their jobs…I can't blame them for having had enough of protests at this point. Especially since the goal of the protesters seems to be that they simply don't wish to be policed at all. Odd, considering the nature of their neighborhoods.

    However…what is to be gained at all by the cops shutting off body cams? I'd think that in today's climate, cops would WELCOME the cameras. Seems like it gives them an instant witness to their innocence (presumably). I don't see the point of this cameras-off tactic. It looks really bad with no benefit.

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  15. LOL! Yeah, they distributed a department-wide memo instructing them to defy the law.

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  16. Don McCoy Think about your comment for a few and apply some common sense and logic to it. Thanks. Try again.

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  17. As much as I detest the saying, as much as the logic is flawed, I revel in the opportunity to fling this back at em:

    If they weren't doing anything wrong they should have nothing to hide.

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  18. Hahaha so much yes. They keep saying it to us as far back as Hoover's early career, or maybe earlier, but turning that around on them isn't as popular, is it?

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  19. Thanks for speaking about an issue to which you are truly ignorant. Fucking idiot.

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  20. You should try to say that to one of their faces. Lol.

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  21. Just like a zebra can't change it's stripes, the corrupt can't quit being corrupt, until they are forced to stop and I don't see that happening.

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  22. Abel D. Wilkes If you want proof so bad, how about you get off your ass and file the FOIA requests yourself?

    Oh, I know why – it's because you're just a shitty internet troll hiding behind a keyboard.

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  23. What about taking a shit? GTFO

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  24. Remington Alessi – there's always THAT guy (lol) but thanks for giving the rest of us a first hand view of what's really happening behind the cameras!!

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  25. Remington Alessi I grew up in a moderately small town. I once saw a video of an officers daughter getting a train run on her by 8 dudes. It was a cell phone video by one of the participants. I told the cop about it and laughed the whole time. I also told him about how his daughter was at a keg party and pulled her pussy out and fucked a rusty trailer hitch. It was a good day. I have been arrested more times for giving a cop attitude than anything else.

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  26. Mike Malcom Well you certainly sound like a real piece of shit.

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  27. Mike Malcom Glad you're doing some pushback, though I'm not entirely sure I understand parts of your comment.

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  28. Abel D. Wilkes He is not the idiot believing the idiot. Check the author. This is his website, his story. He made this shit up.

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  29. Jan Scarborough Any time. Thank you for your support. I wouldn't be able to do what I do if it weren't for folks like you believing in me. It means more than words can describe.

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  30. John Davis I felt the same way about him and all the other ones who have abused their power. I have had my head repeatedly slammed on the hood of my truck during a seatbelt violation because the officer thought my lighter was a weapon. I was a concert one time at an outdoor pavilion. The cops showed up as the crowd was larger than they expected. I was hooting and hollering along with the rest of the crowd. One officer pulled me out of the crowd and slammed my head against a brick wall and asked who I was yelling at. When I tried to answer, he put his hand over my mouth and slammed my head back into the brick wall and asked , "who the fuck asked you a question, boy?" The situation escalated from there. They shoved me thru a crowd of people, knocked over a small child, stepped on him, and put me in jail for having the audacity to have an attitude with police. Called it public intox, though I was stone sober. I got arrested shooting fireworks on labor day weekend. The cops showed up and slammed my buddies head into the hood of their police cruiser so hard it left a dent. They tried to charge him with destruction of gov't property. They also tried to break his arm pulling it around him to handcuff the other arm, though they had him pinned in a way that would not allow him to pull it out. So…you can say that, but fuck those pigs and fuck you.

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  31. Mike Malcom I am so happy that the police find the stupid cunts like you and punish them. Fuck you. You deserved every. fucking. second. of that. You and your shit friends. You are a loser. You are a fucking piece of shit and a liar. Your stories are fake and obviously so. Go fuck a rusty trailer-hitch. Kthanks

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  32. Remington Alessi Wot mate? nobait/8 I didn't make the shit up. I don't need to provide the proof. But I can definitely call bullshit on bullshit. Next troll try harder.

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  33. Ur dead wrong in saying that we don't want to be policed. What we want is justice when we keep dropping like flies at the hands of an officer of the law. What we want is equal treatment. A cop who kills should suffer the same mandatory minimums that i do for crime. Not paid vacations. Either that or let us get away with crime too. Fairness justice and equality. That's all we want.

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  34. John Davis the camera itself is removable from a uniform for laundering. Officers must report in when they stop to eat or use a restroom. Nobody is denying the right to shit in privacy.

    Funny that you say that though because usually when they get shut off it is during their 'investigations' while they shit on the Constitution

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  35. Pretty simple, you don't get arrested for "peacefully protesting" so the rest of the story is questionable at best

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  36. Remington Alessi Way to really fuck up any credibility or respect you had with that response man. Now you look like a total fool to 9000. Congrats.

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  37. Don McCoy there's idiots and then there' idiots! You are certainly a police sympathizer and may you one day have your fucking face smashed in by some fucking cop without a camera on and it all be found justifiable.. maybe that'll bring your stupid ass up to speed.

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  38. Mr. Broze – I call bullshit on this one – prove me wrong by filing an open records act request for all radio transmissions from the time this clown was arrested. It's easy to do – get a copy of the arrest report which will indicate time of arrest, get a copy of the booking report which will indicate the time he was booked into jail. File a request under the Texas Open Records Act with the Houston Police Department for their radio logs and a copy of the tape for the time period between arrest and booking.

    That's what a real investigative journalist would do before publishing an article about uncorroborated allegations – Corroborate it.

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  39. Rather interestingly, Cop Block Houston has recently stepped up to file the appropriate open records requests. It may take a while, but I'm sure you'll move that goalpost since cop apologists never believe direct eyewitness testimony from victims.

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  40. Remington Alessi Why would I move a goalpost. I stated specifically what the author of this article needs to do to convince me that the individual who made the allegation was telling the truth. Perhaps CopBlock Houston should post that open records request online so that we can evaluate whether or not they are asking for the correct record. Better yet why don't you post a link – I'd hate to have CopBlock or the author or this article not ask for the correct records and come up empty

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  41. Nigel Brooks You obviously didn't read the article well enough to recognize my name. Do you have difficulties with reading comprehension that I should take into consideration and/or accommodate?

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  42. Remington Alessi Perhaps you didn't understand my response. It is very easy to make allegations and blog away – in order to be more convincing it would be helpful if you were to provide corroboration in the form of the audio tapes of the alleged communication over HPD frequencies for the period from the time you were arrested to the time you were booked into jail. I previously instructed you the correct way to request those tapes.
    It's interesting that non of the photos and videos of the event that I took a look at show any officer wearing a camera. How many were wearing cameras? Was the officer who arrested you wearing a camera? Perhaps you need to request copies of any video that depict you being arrested (after all you claim that the order to turn them off came when you were already in custody)

    Did any of the folks arrested with you witness the transmission? Casallas, Neal, Hidalgo etc?

    Otherwise I'll continue to call BS. The ball is in your court – convince me you're telling the truth.

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  43. Nigel Brooks You should direct those questions to my legal team. I'm not going to discuss the details of a pending case with an internet troll.

    Nice try, though.

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  44. Hello, I just want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Unfortunately I need to ask you on a very personal level for a helping hand up, and you can really help by just visiting this link to read my story and possibly find it in your heart to offer a contribution, prayer or just leave kind words of hope and inspiration or just share my story elsewhere.

    Thank you very much for reading this post and always have a blessed day. Please don't be offended in any way by this post, I sincerely apologize if i have offended you. (And I mean that)

    http://www.gofund.me/Help-Rob

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  45. Remington Alessi Mr. Kennedy probably wouldn't answer my questions unless you waived atty client privilege. Why do you consider my valid questions to be a troll? I was merely commenting that lacking any corroboration, your allegations lack veracity. If as you claim there was indeed a radio transmission directing officers to turn off their cameras, then you and Mr. Kennedy will easily be able to obtain copies of that transmission through either the Texas Open Records Act or if you intend to go to trial through the discovery process. The video from those cameras you allege were present during your arrest could go a long way to proving either your guilt or innocence when it comes to contesting the Obstructing Highway charge.

    Of course everything you say is also discoverable by the DA's office including any commentary you make about the facts of the arrest in forums such as these. If those allegations are subsequently found to be untruthful it would most certainly harm your defense.

    You might want to discuss this entire matter with your "legal team" – if they are any good, they'll undoubtedly counsel you to keep your mouth shut and your hands off the keyboard

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  46. Nigel Brooks So given your access to case information from the district clerk's website, you obviously have some passing familiarity with research. If it's that important to you, do it yourself. It's a saying I live by.

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  47. Remington Alessi I guess I called it right the first time.

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  48. Who insists on proof from one of the most criminal forces in the whole country. The FOIA or Freedom of Information Act (for the tards) filing that has been tasked to Abel Wilkes, would be a waste of time because as previously stated, they almost certainly didn't issue a statement or memo so there will be no proof. Let there behavior be your proof. Only the cops who's ego's were so big that they thought they were untouchable left cams on purposely others were just caught up in the moment. As for the rest of you, why feed the troll? Abel, if you check the pages and pages of misconduct with an open mind then I believe you won't be able to dismiss the trend of misconduct but if that isn't enough a FOIA may not yield said order but I bet it will show that there is no footage from the accusers time frame which should be more than enough proof of her accusation. I believe and support you Remington. thank you for your activism and courage.

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  49. The inability to resist feeding their ego. I know it doesn't fall in the parameters of your question but you know what I mean.

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  50. The lack of footage will prove you just and true.

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  51. I'll break it down for you. He is saying that Don doesn't know what he is saying because Don is uninformed and a little slow to begin with. What Don and I guess yourself fail to realize is that most of us only "need" cops because of cops. If someone breaks into my home, I'll shoot them before calling 911. When I call 911, it is only so that I can dispose of the body properly but then the cops are dispatched because it was a shooting. See how I didn't really want them but they came anyway? Once they come there is a great chance things get worse than better.

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  52. Wow Jason, what fucking planet do you come form? People have been arrested for peaceful protest way longer than either of us have been alive combined. Why do so many think that all laws are good and enforced perfectly?

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  53. John Tripp aka you believe in spoon fed bullshit also. CNN and Fox commend you.

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  54. Abel D. Wilkes You're quite an angry person, are you alright?

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  55. Josh B-lank Ain't no point in being angry with sheep and pigeons. I'm great. How are you buddy?

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  56. John Tripp Actually, any lack of footage proves nothing. The first thing that needs to be proven is that officers assigned to the protest were actually wearing body cameras. If anyone chooses to review the many photographs taken during that particular event, it does not appear that any of the officers are actually wearing body cameras. However, giving the author and Alessi the benefit of the doubt, I suggest that they file a Texas Open Records Act request with the Houston Police Department which would require the following information.

    1. Transcript or copy of all radio transmissions from the time of arrest to the time of Mr. Alessi's booking.
    2. The number of body cameras that are currently deployed by the Houston Police Department and whether any of the officers to whom the cameras were assigned were at the protest.

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  57. one would fully expect that the accused through his capable attorney would have filed for discovery on these alleged radio transmissions which according to him directed officers to turn off their body cameras.

    As of the date of this posting – no such request has been filed in Mr. Alessi's case.

    I'm still calling Bullshit on this one

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  58. Is there any independent verification of this? I'm not saying it couldn't or didn't happen, but a command like that given over the open air seems like an invitation to disaster. Were any protesters injured?

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