Harris County, TX - (Updates at bottom of article) A video surfaced on Facebook showing an entrepreneurial Houston teenager being harassed by a cop for putting out business cards while his crew was mowing lawns. According to the post, later that day cops “broke into his home and attacked him with dogs,” although this has not been verified.
The video begins with an officer telling the young man named Marlin Gipson to “step over here” next to a vehicle which is presumably their lawn work truck. Lawn machinery can be heard in the background as others are going to and from the truck.
“When I saw you, you were going from door to door to door,” says the unidentified cop.
“Yeah, I’m putting my business cards out,” Marlin replies, holding a business card out for the cop. Later in the video, we see the Marlin hold his business card in front of a push mower.
“Well that’s what I’m trying to find out,” says the cop.
“Well that’s all you had to ask,” says the teen. “You see me cutting grass.”
Marlin seems to think the situation was de-escalating, but the cop was not done. He demands to see the teen’s ID.
It’s important to note at this point that Texas is not a ‘stop and ID’ state, so the teen was not required to show his ID or even answer any questions. And everyone has the right to invoke their 5th Amendment right to remain silent.
Instead, the teen fell into the cop’s trap. Law enforcement can prey on ignorance of the law and fish for anything incriminating or any behavior that can be used to escalate the situation. The teen said he doesn’t have it on him, so the cop proceeds to interrogate him and write down the information.
“Now what is all this for,” asks the teen after giving his name and date of birth. The teen said he was nineteen, but gave his date of birth as 10/12/1999, which would make him seventeen. This can be construed as providing false information to an officer, giving them grounds for arrest.
“Because I’m investigating what you’re doing,” said the cop with feigned incredulity.
Of course, it’s very obvious at this point what the teen was doing. There was a crew mowing lawns and the teen was putting out business cards and offered one to the cop. No damage was done to any vehicles and nothing illegal was taking place.
The cop tells a lie himself, insisting, “When an officer asks you for your ID, you’re supposed to provide your ID. You don’t have your ID. I don’t care what you’re doing.”
The teen then asks the cop for his card or his name, and that’s when the cop decides to arrest the teen.
With the clear lack of any justification for escalating the situation, it has to be asked if this is a case of ‘cutting grass while black.’ Perhaps the cop, like others caught in racist moments, thought the teen looked like a ‘bad dude.’
Recommended for You
As the officer brandishes handcuffs, the teen backs away, reminding the cop that he’s on video. Others on the crew notice and approach, asking why the teen is being harassed.
“You cannot put me in handcuffs, sir. Put them back in your pocket,” asserts the teen.
The video transitions to a segment “later that day,” presumably at the teen’s house well after the confrontation. The same cop, who apparently just can’t let go, is seen standing in his front yard.
The cops said he “just wants to talk” but the teen knows he is being harassed, and states it emphatically. He tells the cop to get out of his yard, but the cop refuses, saying he “needs to get you identified.”
“I’m cutting yards. I’m minding my business,” said the teen.
The video closes with the cop walking up to the front door, insisting that all he’s got to do is talk with the teen.
The video then shows pictures of lacerated arms, which allegedly came from the police dogs sicced on the teen when cops broke into his house. This however, has not been verified. It could be the case that the vengeful cop had caught the teen in a little white lie about his age and decided to use it against him. Or the teen could possibly have had a warrant out.
After the incident the teen took to twitter to post pictures of his injuries along with his thoughts about the incident.
In any case, the video demonstrates the importance of not talking to cops. When they are on a mission to cause trouble for people that ‘look like bad dudes’ in their eyes, they can and will create a situation – with their own lies and deceit – where the victim incriminates himself.
Always film police encounters, and always know your rights.
Marlin has also started a GoFundMe to help pay for his medical bills, if you would like to donate, you may do so here.
TFTP spoke with JC Mosier of the Harris County Constable’s Office, Precinct One. Mr. Mosier had not seen the video but explained that according to the police report, the Constable was called to the scene by residents of the neighborhood who were concerned about Marlin Gipson knocking on doors. Mr. Mosier went further, saying that a 911 call is enough articulable suspicion to stop and ID someone, and that knocking on doors is typical “burglar behavior”.
The spokesman divulged further details about the report, noting that the constable’s office did return to the home and found the teen hiding in a back room. After they arrested him for “failure to ID” and “evading arrest”, they found he had a warrant for misdemeanor assault. Allthe charges, he said, are misdemeanors.
The teen's account of being attacked by a dog is correct, according to Mosier, the dog was let loose on Gipson because he wouldn't go into police custody. Mosier also said an ambulance was called to the scene immediately and Mr. Gipson was attended to by paramedics at the scene.
It is debatable, and may be up to a judge and/or jury, to decide whether the initial stop was legal, considering the only articulable suspicion of the teen committing a crime, was knocking on doors. Because Mr. Mosier was so transparent and allowed us to obtain details of the official police report,we will be completely transparent by saying that if knocking on doors is suspicion enough to detain someone, Texas, and America for that matter, is in big trouble.