Episode 724 (Duration 33:57). Chicago defense attorney Peter Lewis explains what a litigant can do when their criminal discovery is missing the police body cam video.

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In This Case…

The State’s Attorney’s position is if they didn’t get it from the police then it doesn’t exist.

Attorney Peter Lewis

Am I Entitled To Have The Police Body Cam In My Case?

Yes. Generally, speaking a criminal defendant is going to be entitled to possess a copy of the police body cam or cams involved in his or her case. The interesting question is what to do when you don’t get it.

Attorney Peter Lewis

Peter Lewis has been an Illinois attorney since 2004. He currently has an extensive criminal law practice. He handles cases throughout Cook County and the collar counties.

Contact Information

5508 West Lawrence Ave
Chicago, IL 60630


Main Areas Of Law

 In Chicago what are the three main areas of law that govern the police use of body cameras?

What Does The Consent Decree Say About Body Cam?

What does the Justice Department’s Chicago Police Department Consent Decree say about the use of police body cams?

On page 6 of the report it says,

…that the Justice Department supports the City’s decision to accelerate its plan to ensure that all CPD officers have body cameras.

In the “Recommendations” section of the report, it says that CPD should “adopt use of force practices that minimize the use of fore.” Subsection (i) states,

Equip all patrol officers and supervisors, and officers who regularly interact with the public, including tactical officers, with body cameras, and develop a body camera policy delineating officers’ responsibilities regarding the consistent and appropriate use of body cameras and the retention and review of body camera footage.

Consent Decree

Important Details From The Illinois Body Cam Act

✓ The Illinois Law Enforcement Officer-Worn Body Camera Act does not require that police departments employ body cams. The act merely provides guideline for departments that wish to use them. The act also includes minimal feature and procedures that must be followed if a department chooses to use body cams. (Go to 4:04)

✓ “No officer may hinder or prohibit any person, not a law enforcement officer, from recording a law enforcement officer in the performance of his or her duties in a pubic place or when the officer has no reasonable expectation of privacy.” 50 ILCS 706/10-20(11)

✓ Generally, body cam videos ARE NOT subject to FOIA requests unless you have been arrested, are a victim, or a witness. See 50 ILCS 706/10-20(b)

Did You Know?

✓ As of right now every single Chicago Police Department patrol officer is suppose to be using a fully functioning and operable body cam device. (Go to 2:59)

What You Need To Know About The Chicago Police Department Body Cam Special Order

The policy says in clear unmistakable terms that,

All sworn members and their immediate supervisors assigned to a Bureau of Patrol district normally assigned to field duties and any other member at the discretion of the district commander will be assigned and utilize a BWC.

CPD Special Order S03-14

This is one of the most important things listed in Special Order S03-14, it’s under the “Operational Procedures” section. (Go to 6:20)

An attorney trying to hunt down body cam footage may want to know the following to help facilitate the search (Go to 10:08):

  • Name of person arrested
  • Date of arrest
  • RD number
  • Incident number
  • Name of officers involved
  • Badge number of officers involved
  • Beat Number

✓ CPD currently has 8,200 video cams issued to officers. This should be enough to cover the entire patrol division. (Go to 14:50)

“Can’t Miss” Moments:

✓ In video recordings you often see an officer stop and do this with his equipment right before he engages with a subject(Go to 7:01)

✓ Body cam equipment involves more than a camera. The devices includes a camera and hard drive that can hold at least 10 hour of video. At the end of a shift all the recordings go into one master super data base. (Go to 8:04)

✓ Peter says CPD should not be allowed to do this one critical thing in regards to this body cam issue. A third independent body should involved and do this when there is an arrest. (Go to 9:16)

✓ You ever hear of a beat number and RD number? You may want to know what these are if you’re hunting down body cam recordings. Peter Lewis explains this, just (Go to 9:16).

This one fact provides the state with zero motivation to hunt and search for something that might exist but is buried somewhere. (Go to 12:25)

✓ The question then is what do we do when you know a video exists but for some reason it was not tendered to you during discovery? (Go to 14:16)

These particular police units come into a lot of contact with the public. You could say they’re in the thick of it. Oddly, these units don’t wear body cams. What’s that all about? (Go to 14:50)

What Do You Do When You Don’t Get Police Body Cam In Your Discovery?

✓ The question then is what do we do when you know a video exists but for some reason it was not tendered to you during discovery? (Go to 14:16)

A Kladis motion is often filed when there has been a violation of discovery. This remedy is rare, but it can lead to the suppression of evidence. (Go to 18:30)

✓ Peter’s discovery violation motion is titled, “Motion To Exclude Testimony of State’s Witnesses And For Other Relief Or Sanction The Court Deems Appropriate”. It incorporates parts of the state statute and the CPD special order. (Go to 19:00)

If a court or other finder of fact finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a recording was intentionally not captured, destroyed, altered, or intermittently captured in violation of this Act, then the court or other finder of fact shall consider or be instructed to consider that violation in weighing the evidence, unless the State provides a reasonable justification.

50 ILCS 706/10-30

The State statute is kind of soft. It doesn’t exactly say that evidence can be barred or excluded. (Go to 22:36)

✓ This is a last ditch effort thing to do when you see that a judge is not going to give you sanctions for missing body cam video. Do this when you got no other cards to play. (Go to 25:50)

Links & Resources

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