Oct. 8, 2004 – A filmmaker is facing eavesdropping charges after recording police traffic stops in Champaign, Illinois, capturing footage to illuminate how officers interact with the African American community. Police confiscated some of Patrick Thompson and Martel Millerâ€™s footage as well as the documentary set to air on public access TV.
Charges have been dropped against Miller and the documentary returned, but charges remain against Thompson. On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a court brief to get Thompsonâ€™s charges dropped as well.
Prosecutors charged the men in September, concluding that their videotaping broke the law because they did not obtain permission from their subjects. Adam Schwartz, staff counsel with the ACLU, believes this was an abuse of Illinoisâ€™ eavesdropping law. "This eavesdropping stature is a bomb waiting to go off in the hands of an overzealous prosecutor," Schwartz told the Chicago Tribune.