The Taskforce is asking our friends to take action in the case of Tiawanda Moore, a young woman in Chicago who has accused a police officer of sexual harassment, and has herself been charged with recording police officers on her Blackberry. Here’s what we know.
Tiawanda Moore, whose trial is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 7 in Cook County Criminal Court, is accused of using her Blackberry to record two Internal Affairs investigators who spoke to her inside Police Headquarters while she filed a sexual harassment complaint last August against another police officer.
On January 22, the New Times featured her case as well as that of Chris Drew as they are both facing up to 15 years in prison for taping police officers.
Quoting from the New York Times:
Ms. Moore’s case is more complicated and “disturbing,” said her lawyer, Robert W. Johnson, who is representing her pro bono.
Ms. Moore lived with her boyfriend at the time of the incident and theirs was a stormy relationship, filled with fights and visits by the police, Mr. Johnson said. Last July, the boyfriend called the police and said he wanted Ms. Moore out of his house. But by the time the police arrived, Mr. Johnson said, the couple had calmed down. Still, one of the officers talked to Ms. Moore upstairs while his partner interviewed the boyfriend.
On Aug. 18, Ms. Moore and her boyfriend went to Police Headquarters to file a complaint with Internal Affairs about the officer who had talked to her alone. Ms. Moore said the officer had fondled her and left his personal telephone number, which she handed over to the investigators.
Ms. Moore said the investigators tried to talk her out of filing a complaint, saying the officer had a good record and that they could “guarantee” that he would not bother her again.
“They keep giving her the run-around, basically trying to discourage her from making a report,” Mr. Johnson said. “Finally, she decides to record them on her cellphone to show how they’re not helping her.”
The investigators discovered that she was recording them and she was arrested and charged with two counts of eavesdropping, Mr. Johnson said. But he added that the law contains a crucial exception. If citizens have “reasonable suspicion” that a crime is about to be committed against them, they may obtain evidence by recording it.
“I contend that the Internal Affairs investigators were committing the crime of official misconduct in preventing her from filing a complaint,” Mr. Johnson said. “She’s young. She had no idea what she was getting into when she went in there to make a simple complaint. It’s just a shame when the people watching the cops aren’t up to it.”
Days later, accompanied by Mr. Johnson, Ms. Moore returned to Internal Affairs and was able to file a full complaint. There is a continuing investigation of Ms. Moore’s charges against the officer, a Police Department spokesman said.
Meanwhile, Ms. Moore is in Cook County Jail after another domestic dispute with her boyfriend, Mr. Johnson said.
In a tearful telephone interview from jail, Ms. Moore said that when she went to Internal Affairs she was only trying to make sure no other women suffered at the hands of the officer.
“I’m scared,” she said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen now. I don’t want to be in jail. I want to make my parents happy and proud of me.”
Our Call to Action:
1. Read the entire New York Times article here.
2. Complete our petition at change.org.
3. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in potentially attending Tiawanda’s trial. We will let you know once the trail date is confirmed.