by Matt Agorist, The Free Thought Project:
Normal, IL — Body camera footage revealing the arrest of an innocent college student is now at the center of a federal lawsuit against the Normal police officers involved. The Pantagraph obtained the videos via a Freedom of Information Act request, and it is nothing short of infuriating. The victim, Taylor Brown, alleges she was arrested without probable cause, and officers used excessive force — and the video proves her case. For standing up for her rights, police attacked and brutalized her.
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On Feb. 9, 2023, Brown, an 18-year-old college student, voluntarily went with police to the station for questioning about a fire at her Parktrail Road apartment. The lawsuit reveals that her arrest occurred after she refused to hand over her phone to the police, who did not possess a warrant for it but demanded it anyway. Brown’s assertion of her rights led to an attack on her by multiple officers.
Brown’s attorney, Abby D. Bakos, stated, “She knew her rights, and she knew what these officers were trying to do was wrong, and it was illegal.”
Highlighting the corruption within the department is the fact that although the Pantagraph was given the videos, Bakos has not received them from the Town of Normal, despite filing a records request. She also noted that the Normal Police Department has refused to identify the arresting officers, leading her to seek a subpoena.
The lawsuit claims Brown’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated, and she was battered during the encounter. Video shows this. She is seeking reasonable compensatory and punitive damages and costs. Lawyers for the Town of Normal have remained silent on the ongoing litigation.
According to the lawsuit, Brown’s roommate called 911 after the fire broke out. Officers asked Brown to join them at the police station for questioning. She agreed, but after being left alone in a room for 40 minutes, like any rational innocent person, Brown asked to be taken home.
As the footage shows, a female officer informed Brown that her phone would be seized as part of the investigation. Brown was on the phone with her mother, a Chicago police officer, and repeatedly asked for a reason behind the seizure. The officer merely reiterated that the fire was under investigation.
When Brown — who was well within her rights to do so — declined to hand over her phone without a warrant, officers attempted to take it, resulting in a struggle. She was brutally taken to the ground, battered, and handcuffed, all while she screamed for her mother.
Brown yelled, “No, I’m not under arrest!”
A male officer retorted, “You are under arrest.”
As Brown was escorted away, a detective inquired if she would provide a statement. She requested a lawyer, prompting the detective to tell the officers, “You can take her to jail. Whatever charges you guys have.”
The female officer informed Brown of the charges: “You have resisting (arrest) and aggravated battery of a police officer.”
Visibly upset, Brown cried, “Oh, my God! OK, I’ll do the interview!”
But the officer insisted the charges would remain, “Listen. I asked you to provide your phone and you refused.”
Brown maintained she didn’t aggravate the officer but was assaulted by her and the video below adds weight to this claim.
Not only was Brown — who was entirely innocent — subjected to police violence and illegal search and seizure, but the lawsuit states Brown was later taken to jail and subjected to a strip search. She was later released at 1 p.m. on Feb. 9.
Brown was never charged with any crimes related to the fire or her actions at the station. After failing to obtain a search warrant, police returned her phone around 3:30 p.m.
Ironically enough, this happened in a town named Normal.