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Police Wrong To Order Destruction Of Arrest Captured On Cell Phone Video

Police Wrong To Order Destruction Of Arrest Captured On Cell Phone Video

The Illinois Appellate Court reversed a defendant’s conviction of aggravated battery of a peace officer and resisting arrest after concluding the police acted in “bad faith” by ordering the destruction of cell phone video taken by crowd at the scene of an arrest.

In this case, police officers arrived on the scene and observed a verbal altercation between the defendant, her ex-boyfriend, and his girlfriend. Shortly after the police arrived, the defendant kicked at one of the officers, at which point the officer handcuffed the individual and threw her to the ground, causing her front teeth to be knocked out. A large crowd gathered and the crowd began recording the arrest on their cellphones. The police officers ordered the recordings be deleted otherwise their phones would be confiscated.

At trial, the officers testified that it was their belief that witnesses had a right to record arrests and the officers had the right to seize the cellphones. The Appellate Court determined that the officers clearly were acting in bad faith when they made the order to those who had taped the incident on their phone. In further explaining the Court’s opinion, it noted that the police violated the defendant’s due process right to a fair trial by failing to preserve and in ordering destruction of the recordings.  People v. Nunn, 2014 IL App (3rd) 120614

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