Woman acquitted after taping conversation with cops

August 24, 2011 8:37:49 PM PDT
The state of Illinois' eavesdropping law was at the center of a trial in Chicago involving a woman who recorded her conversation with Chicago police investigators.

"I don't feel like I did anything wrong," said Tiawanda Moore, 20, defendant.

Moore used a phone to record a conversation with two Chicago police investigators.

"I think it's something we can handle without having to go through this process," said one of the investigators on the tape.

It happened at police headquarters while she was filing a complaint against another officer who she says groped her at an apartment on the South Side. Moore says Internal Affairs officers tried to persuade her to drop the complaint.

"If all you want is to make sure he doesn't bother you again, we can almost guarantee that given that we're going to be able to speak to his superiors," an officer said on the tape.

When investigators saw the phone recording in Moore's lap, they arrested and charged her for violating the state's eavesdropping law which prohibits audio recording of people without their consent.

Recording a law enforcement officer or court official is considered an aggravating circumstance punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

"Sometimes it makes you think should I have left it alone for nothing to happen? For nothing at all to happen?" said Moore.

On Wednesday, a jury acquitted Moore of two felony counts because of an exception to the law, which allows recording in cases when a crime is suspected.

"That's pretty powerful for them to say the Internal Affairs division, she was reasonable in suspecting that they were doing criminal activity," said Robert Johnson, defense attorney.

Though the American Civil Liberties Union was not involved in Moore's case, the group has filed suit challenging the law as it pertains to police.

"A public official who is engaged in their public duties in a public place doesn't have some special exemption from having that activity recorded," said Ed Yohnka, ACLU of Illinois.

Chicago police did not return ABC7's requests for comment.

In a statement, the Cook County State's Attorney's office said Moore's original statements to police "differed drastically" from her statements in court, and the office said it prosecuted the case based on credible evidence.

The findings of the Internal Affairs investigation into Moore's original complaint have been sealed by court order.


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