What exactly did he do? The man, Michael Allison, recorded police officers on duty in his front yard inspecting vehicles he was repairing.
Allison was fined for failing to register the vehicles, and so he requested an ordinance hearing, and once again he brought his camera into the court and hit record.
For those simple acts, Allison is facing five felony charges calling for 15 years in prison per each count– a possible total of 75 years. If found guilty, he could easily spend the rest of his life behind bars for “eavesdropping.”
WTWO-TV Channel 2 in Indiana reported on the whole ordeal back in June when Allison was arrested and has more details. According to the outlet, Allison’s spat with police started because he fixed old cars on his mother’s property but refused to register the vehicles (and pay a registration fee, of course). Despite being fined, as mentioned earlier, authorities also confiscated the cars he was working on. That’s the exchange he initially recorded.
Allison then went to the Robinson police department with his cell phone camera in hand for an ordinance hearing. He claimed that officers selectively applied the car registration statutes against him, and told the judge he had recordings of his interaction with the officers. He also recorded those proceedings, and told the judge he was doing so.
It was on his way out from the hearing that Allison was immediately arrested, and charged with the five felony eavesdropping counts.
In Illinois, recording law enforcement officers without their consent is considered a serious crime — or at least the authorities choose to interpret an old eavesdropping statute that way. According to WBBH, 12 other states have a similar interpretation of the law, including Florida, Massachusetts, and Maryland.
But could this be a brazen double standard? Consider that police in Illinois are specifically exempted from the eavesdropping law, and constantly record citizens without their consent. Citizens such as Allison, however, can go to jail for it.
Allison was offered a plea deal for a lesser felony with a guarantee of no jail time, but he turned it down. He believes the law under which he is being prosecuted is grossly unconstitutional, and he is doing a service for fellow citizens of Illinois by seeing the case through.
“You’ve got to stare down the face of this big government that we have,” he told WBBH in an interview about the case, “If you don’t fight for these freedoms here at home, we’re all going to lose them.”
Below you can find WTWO-TV‘s report on the case:
A pre-trial hearing for the case was held on August 18th, and a judge is expected to rule in the next few weeks if the case will go to trial. Allison is currently out on bail.
The State’s Attorney in charge of the case has refused to publicly comment on why this case has not been dropped like many similar ones across the country.
The Blaze will follow these developments closely and update as warranted.