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Steelworker: Officers Beat Me For Videotaping Them

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Police Taping Lawsuit

A screen capture from the video recording that Tyrone Gillett claims got him beaten by police. (Credit: Home Video)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — An African-American steel worker says Chicago Police officers beat him up before arresting him for videotaping them last summer, and he has footage to prove it.

Tyrone Gillett, 29, has filed a lawsuit in connection with the Aug. 3 incident. He claims police beat and arrested him for filming officers near State and Madison streets downtown.

The civil rights lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court, and names officers David Zacek, M. Rosciani, Sgt. Thompson and “other unknown officers.” Courthouse News reports the lawsuit claims Gillett had gathered with other onlookers to watch a disturbance involving police, and began videotaping the incident with his cell phone.

The lawsuit claims that Sgt. Thompson first came up to a white man who was recording the police activity on his cell phone, and politely asked him to stop, Courthouse News reported.

But Gillett says the sergeant then came up to him and “physically assaulted him, grabbed his phone, swore at him, pulled and dragged him to the hood of a police car, kneed and kicked him, and then handcuffed him,” Courthouse News reported.

The videotape shows a sergeant telling Gillett to “take a hike,” then putting his hand over the lens of the camera as Gillett is ordered to place his hands on a police car.

Gillett was originally arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. Those charges were later dropped.

Making a recording that captures audio of police officers doing their jobs in public is illegal under state law. Under the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, someone who records a police officer, prosecutor or any other member of the law enforcement community without his or her permission can be charged with a Class 1 felony.

In the past, police Supt. Garry McCarthy has said he supports letting the public videotape officers, but he has not commented specifically on the Gillett incident.

The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police is against all taping of officers, saying recordings will impede their investigative powers.

State Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) is sponsoring a bill that would eliminate the part of the act that now forbids recording police officers.

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