Woman receives $117,500 in settlement after being arrested for recording police

Sep 24, 2015

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

Woman receives $117,500 in settlement after being arrested for recording police

Sep 24, 2015

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

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An Illinois woman, who was arrested and charges were filed against her after she recorded police officers on her friend’s property without their consent, decided to fight back and stand up for her rights.

Ironically enough the officers themselves were not given permission to enter the property in the first place. Additionally, the Illinois Eavesdropping Act under which the woman was arrested had already been ruled unconstitutional.

PINAC reports that after filing a lawsuit against the city of Naperville, a suburb of Chicago, and the police officers involved, the woman accepted a $117,500 settlement.

In the settlement agreement the city insists that the agreement is not an admission that the police “acted wrongfully”, but the videos below paint a different picture.

Back in January 23, 2013, Malia “Kim” Bendis recorded utility workers as they ignored a locked gate and entered her friend’s property to install a smart meter.

The friend and homeowner, Jennifer Stahl, was part of a group of residents that had opposed the wireless devices due to health concerns, as was Bendis herself, and for that reason four policemen had joined the workers.

After what seems like a few minutes that Bendis was recording the events and getting Stahl’s disapproval on camera, Sergeant Nick Liberio told her that she does not have his consent to record him and asked her to desist. Several moments later he arrested her for recording him, even though, get this, a CBS news crew was also there recording the women, the cops, the utility workers and eventually the arrest as well. Needless to say the news crew was not arrested.

YouTube video

PINAC mentions that other than the fact that the Illinois Eavesdropping Act had already been ruled unconstitutional by then, there have been several arrests made over the years and not a single conviction.

Eventually Bendis was charged with two misdemeanor offenses: “attempted eavesdropping” under the now former Illinois eavesdropping statute and resisting a peace officer.

PINAC points out that the fact that Bendis was charges with misdemeanor eavesdropping, while all previous arrests were felonies, indicates police knew they had a weak case. In fact, looking at the lawsuit Bendis filed, it seems PINAC was not the only one to think these charges don’t hold water.

Apparently filing felony eavesdropping charges require the approval of an Assistant State’s Attorney and the lawsuit claims the defendants could not get it, thus leading to misdemeanor charges.

The suit adds that knowing the Class A misdemeanor charge of attempted eavesdropping would not be held up in court, and because the city wanted to prosecute Bendis, the officers fabricated the charge of resisting a peace officer.

As expected, during the criminal case the DuPage County State’s Attorney dismissed the misdemeanor charge of attempted eavesdropping due to the statute being unconstitutional. Additionally, a jury acquitted Bendis, finding her not guilty on the charge of resisting a peace officer.

With all that in mind, and the fact that Bendis had to appear in court several times during the twenty plus months the criminal case against her was pending, the defendants were probably more than happy to pay her (and her lawyers) the lump sum.

For those interested, here are the lawsuit and the settlement agreement.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NP1P2tbS-KA

[via PINAC]

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Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

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5 responses to “Woman receives $117,500 in settlement after being arrested for recording police”

  1. Neal Grant Avatar
    Neal Grant

    sound quality on the second video was bad…so honest question, how does a smart meter put a “chronically sick” child at risk? Does it turn off the electricity to the home if you use too much or something? Either way, I’m pretty sure the utility company owns their equipment, and until the pipe or wire enters your house, if they want to paint it purple and put little gun turrets on it, i think they have that right, no? As usual, the cops probably shouldn’t have arrested her, but, as usual, she was being kind of annoying and making an issue out of nothing. Just my 1.5 cents.

    1. JOhn C Avatar
      JOhn C

      I THINK they may be some of the people who believe that waves from things like WIFI can be harmful. Like you I don’t know the legalities of ‘opting out’. I don’t get why some officers have to act so authoritarian. He is a public servant, we have a right to verify they are doing the right thing. And IF he was doing the right thing what does he have to fear with a video? . Isn’t that what they tell people on things such as DUI checkpoints? If you aren’t hiding something why do you object? They don’t seem to care for that much when it applies to them. And aren’t their cars equipped with cameras that are recording us? I was pulled over and accused of running a red light, the officer went to ‘review the video’, I never gave him permission to record me. How many law abiding citizens was her recording without consent? I think they need to adjust to the world of cellphone cameras and follow the law, not use it to intimidate innocent people.

  2. Ian Hecht Avatar
    Ian Hecht

    “Sergeant Nick Liberio told her that she does not have his consent to record him and asked her to disease.” I’m guessing that should be desist? #corrections

    Also, on what grounds are you allowed to refuse service updates? Could the service provider then choose to not continue to provide the service?

  3. Madara Avatar
    Madara

    She should have been charged $100,000 for wasting police resources.

    “The friend and homeowner was part of a group of
    residents that had opposed the wireless devices due to health concerns”.
    Probably filmed on a cell phone.

  4. Sean Avatar
    Sean

    I applaud her standing up for her rights and winning a lawsuit (most of which probably went to the lawyers anyway and really did not affect the city in anyway..it’s called insurance). But the thing that started it? Really, these are probably the same people who won’t vaccinate their kids and believe every horror story fed to them on the internet. I’ve had wireless water meter for YEARS and I’m not dead. There are more energy waves coming out of the phone next to your head, the wires providing the electric, and just the general abundance of electrical devices in the world. The hubbub over these meters is just to make some lawyers money.