Illinois Cops Harass Man for Video Recording them from Public Sidewalk


A man who was standing on a sidewalk video recording cops in Aurora as they were blocking vehicle traffic with their patrol cars ended up getting harassed by the cops who accused him of blocking the sidewalk.

However, not a single pedestrian attempted to walk past the man with the camera during the entire 13 painful minutes he was recording.

He started off with the old vertical video syndrome that has become quite the rage among citizens who have spent all their free time learning Constitutional law, so apparently haven’t had the time to learn how to properly video record with their smartphone, which is why I’m including the video below.

It appears as if he tried to straighten the video out after starting out in the vertical position, which just made things worse. The best thing to do in that situation is to just stop recording and start up again in the horizontal position.

To get the heart of the video, start it at 9:00 and watch as they start harassing him for blocking the sidewalk, telling him that it didn’t matter if nobody tried to walk past him, that he was still blocking it.

But the cop was wrong as Aurora Ordinance 27-242, which he specifically cited, states the following:

It shall be unlawful for a pedestrian to stand upon any sidewalk except as near as is reasonably possible to the building line or curbline, if such standing interferes with the use of the sidewalk by other pedestrians.

The man calls the cop on his bullshit and attempts to walk away, but the cop tells him he is being detained and needs his identification.

The video ends, so we’re left with no conclusion. Just a twisted neck from watching the video sideways.

About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.

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  • JB

    It’s painfully clear that the cops are utterly corrupt. They came to talk to him because he was video recording. The “blocking the sidewalk” line was a made up excuse for them to harass him. He should have told them to arrest him, then sue the bastards.

    • Joseph Murray

      What’s most depressing is the # of people who are Ok with it. It’s like Stockholm Syndrome or Battered Wife Syndrome…

    • ExCop-Lawyer

      This was simply an attempt to chill the photographer’s exercise of his First Amendment rights. Nothing else.

      The investigation claim that the officer made was BS. They were caught talking, and didn’t like it.

      • Proud GrandPa

        Am curious. What are you saying? Do you mean that the police were caught while ignoring their work just shooting the breeze talking with one another and felt anger that someone could prove it?
        Or do you mean they were caught discussing how to come up with a Mickey Mouse charge to use?
        Either way their actions chill the citizen’s rights. It is their motive that is of interest. Would you explain what you mean? Thanks.

        • Proud GrandPa

          Note: The LEOs say they investigating something pertaining to a car nearby. They did not use flashers while blocking the street. Is that their concern?

          • ExCop-Lawyer

            No, the flasher comment by the photographer is BS, there is no requirement to use the flashers in most cases.

            The officers were likely concerned that they would be viewed as screwing off. All officers will stop and talk with other officers at some point during the shift, it is not really an issue inside the department. It’s sort of like having a five or ten minute discussion at the water cooler. But they would not like someone filming that discussion.

          • TheFlashingScotsman

            I was working long hours at a soon-to-be-opened retirement home in San Juan Capistrano, installing carpet with my partner, who used to be an Orange County Deputy Sheriff. I looked out an upstairs window, and spotted two Sheriff’s vehicles in the parking lot, pulled up window to window, and pointed it out to my partner. He went out to say hello. (They may have been wondering what the lone pickup truck in the parking lot was there for.)

            As he walked up between the two cars, he realized that both occupants were asleep. Not being the cautious type, he stood right between the two windows and suddenly hollered really loud, “Hey!”

            I stepped back, not wanting to be a part of the mayhem. It took a while for them to recognize him, and a good laugh was had by all. But for a couple of minutes, there were a couple of really PO’d Deputies. I wished I’d had a video camera with me then.

          • Clark

            Then they should conduct it in private.

          • ExCop-Lawyer

            Do you always conduct your conversations with co-workers in a private area, such as a broom closet, or in the open, by a water cooler or whatever?

          • Phred

            Doesn’t matter. If they are in public, they can be photographed, even if all they are doing is shooting the breeze for a few minutes. Whether they like it or not is immaterial.

          • Clark

            No, but I also don’t expect any degree of privacy, so I watch what I say. Plus, in that situation, I probably have the company’s surveillance watching me anyways. But in that situation, it’s already semi-private anyways since a water cooler is very likely not anywhere near the general public.

          • Proud GrandPa

            Thanks, EC. That is what I thought. In this case I do not fault my employees for a brief time out to talk. When caught on video they reacted wrongly. If I were their supervisor, I’d reprimand them for the way they treated the citizen, but not for the time they took for ‘water cooler’ chat.


          • Difdi

            Then perhaps they should have it at the water cooler (or over the radio) rather than on a public street in full view of everyone and anyone?

      • LibertyEbbs

        So, should we start making a list of all the things that the average cop doesn’t like so we can all avoid being victims of LEO terror tactics?

        I will start:

        1) observing them talking
        2) observing them standing
        3) observing them driving
        4) observing them walking
        5) observing them making an arrest
        6) video documenting all of the above and any other activity
        7) video documenting ‘their’ buildings
        8) standing on the sidewalk
        9) selling lemonade
        10) dancing
        11) assembling peaceably
        12) open carrying
        13) concealed carrying
        14) speaking in public
        15) refusing to give ID even if demand is illegal
        16) taking still photographs

        Okay, I am stopping here because I realize how obnoxious this is…

        The fact of this matter that is most important, IMHO, is that there is an undeniable pattern of this behavior across the board in American LE. That pattern would not exist if it were not for the willingness and/or complacency of the vast majority of those entrusted to do this work.

        Until they are held accountable to the same laws as the rest of us, this will not change and will continue to get worse (at least until the public at large sees LE to be a greater threat than all the scary bad guys out there.) Civil suits, of course, do not provide this needed accountability. Criminal charges would. Let’s force prosecution (tall order, I know) of crimes even when it is a cop who commits them.

        • ExCop-Lawyer

          Every one is accountable to the laws of their jurisdiction.

          A lot of what people see as “criminal” behavior on the part of officers simply is not (and would not be if a non-officer did the same act). Some is due to the way that the law is written about how they perform their job and the duties, rights, and privileges of that job.

          Other professions have similar limitations, not allowing the general public to take certain actions. A non-lawyer cannot represent someone else in court. A non-doctor cannot perform medical procedures. A non-electrician cannot wire someone’s house for them. The list goes on.

          • LibertyEbbs

            “Every one [sic] is accountable to the laws of their jurisdiction.”

            Bullshit! LEOs are a de facto protected class and are not accountable to the laws of their jurisdiction. This blog and yours, along with many others, are just tiny windows into the arena and it is quite clear that law breaking is par for the course while accountability is almost nonexistent.

          • ExCop-Lawyer

            I’ve seen too many officers prosecuted to agree with your position.

            I’ve also seen far more non-officers given breaks by officers or prosecutors.

          • rick

            “I’ve seen too many officers prosecuted to agree with your position.”
            True, some are held accountable, but as the Cato Institute shows not on par with the general public.

            “I’ve also seen far more non-officers given breaks by officers or prosecutors.”
            Well, the general population does exceed the number of officers greatly.

          • LibertyEbbs

            And I’ve seen officers beat the holy-living-shit out of a person (yes, the person being beaten was definitely not a saint) and not get arrested or charged. I’ve seen officers harass, bully, threaten, stalk, batter, and assault with impunity. Your anecdotal evidence that most cops are law-abiding good guys is not convincing. I have not asked you to buy my anecdotal evidence to the contrary either. I ask for accountability in the cases where LEO are beyond ANY doubt (not even the reasonable doubt standard) guilty of crimes.

            There are more arrests/prosecutions of LEOs for some crimes (e.g., DUI, child sexual assault, and child porn) than for others (e.g., assault, harassment, stalking, and violating the natural rights of individuals) but LEOs are less likely to be charged or prosecuted than the general public. When they are actually charged and found guilty, they receive far more lenient punishment than the general public.

            With all due respect, if you are truly arguing that police are held more or equally accountable to the law than non-LEOs you are either dishonest or delusional. Frankly, I think you are the former. You are very good at discerning crime from non crime, for cops and non-cops both, but you are terrible at seeing (or admitting) the root cause of this epidemic. That makes you still part of the problem.

          • ExCop-Lawyer

            There are plenty of examples of people who should be charged with a crime but are not.

            I really don’t give a f**k if you think what I say is convincing or not, or whether you think I’m honest or not. I’ve been very clear that police misconduct is not acceptable, and that criminal acts should be prosecuted. It has to be a real crime though, and not something made up by a mob at the time. The rule of law applies to all, not just non-officers.

            You want to talk about the solutions, fine. I’ve laid out a number of things that would help correct the problem, but until one gets the support of the general public, none of them are going to happen. You can’t get better legislation, better prosecution, or for that matter, more convictions, until you have that support.

          • LibertyEbbs

            Testy, tsk tsk.

            “The rule of law applies to all, not just non-officers.” Yes, in theory, but not in practice. You continue to minimize this fact which is what I think is dishonest. I am not attacking you as a person, rather I am being critical of your behavior which is to provide cover for criminals who happen to be LEOs by using the ole “yeah, but other people get away with it too” BS.

            As for talking about solutions, yes, please! The solution is for EVERY SINGLE infraction by an LEO to addressed as a matter of law. Speeding without emergency lights = ticket and fine. Stopping someone without PC = jail and fines. Violently attacking someone who is not a threat to life or limb = prison, fines, and restitution. Etc, etc. EVERY TIME!!! That is the solution.

          • ExCop-Lawyer

            “Speeding without emergency lights = ticket and fine.” That means in Texas, you would be ticketing an officer when he has broken no law. By law in Texas, speed limits do not apply to police patrols, with no requirement to have emergency lights on.

            “Stopping someone without PC = jail and fines.” Again, not necessarily a violation. You can stop and detain based on RAS, a much, much lower standard than PC.

            “Violently attacking someone who is not a threat to life or limb = prison, fines, and restitution.” Same here – under Texas law, deadly force may be legitimately used in a number of situations not involving a threat to life of limb.

            First, you need to find out what the law actually is, not just what you “think” it is.

            If you are setting that standard for officers, then you have to set the same standard for everyone. Otherwise you are violating the Constitution (equal protection). It would mean that officers would no longer be able to give warnings, and prosecutors could no longer offer pre-trial diversion.

            It is not the solution.

          • Difdi


            No one said Texas until you did. Liberty’s statement about emergency lights might well be true in the state Liberty lives in.

            When I mention the equal protection clause of the constitution, you have all sorts of reasons why police cannot be treated more harshly than private citizens. So why are you now using it to argue for making police more equal than other pigs? Equal protection is equal or it’s not.

            I could jump all over one of your statements of fact because it’s not true in Washington, you know. Your post is trollish at best.

          • ExCop-Lawyer


            I mentioned Texas to point out the problem in his argument.

            For example, in Texas, a private citizen may use deadly force in the following situations where life or limb may not be threatened – theft during the nighttime or criminal mischief during the nighttime, where the property cannot be protected by other means. Tex. Pen. Code. Ann. § 9.42. In Washington, that is not the law on deadly force, but in his statement as to force would not be accurate in all states.

            My point on equal protection is that if you have no discretion for one class of citizens (police), you cannot exercise discretion for another class without violating the constitution. It’s call the Equal Protection Clause.

          • LibertyEbbs

            Okay, I got very careless with my language on that last post to this thread, true. That is a dangerous thing to do in any discussion with you because you are masterful at deflecting conversations away from the issue at question. Of course it has to be a crime for the officer to be charged, yes, a crime for anyone. And you know and I know that LEOs are not held accountable for most crimes that they commit on and off duty. They get away with an incredible amount of law breaking and are protected by a culture/unspoken code. All of this is known. Most shrug and accept or make excuses for it (like yourself). I don’t accept it and I despise those who excuse it.

          • ExCop-Lawyer

            I’m being trained in a profession where the use of precise language is critical, and to some degree it was critical in my past career.

            I do not make excuses for misconduct, and where you have a chargeable offense, I have consistently stated that the officer should be charged.

            I will point out situations where there was not a crime, like seizure of evidence being claimed to be armed robbery, or where people claim that an officer commits treason for what is actually an assault & battery.

            I point out plenty of problems on my blog, as you are aware.

            I’m also aware that the same system that protects citizens protects officers – and that many of the ‘crimes’ will never be prosecuted due to the lack of resources, normally because of the trivial nature in the scheme of things. This incident for example could meet the requirements of 18 USC 242 – but it would never get prosecuted because it is not serious enough for a US Attorney to pursue.

          • LibertyEbbs

            Can I first say that I greatly admire the work you put into bringing police misconduct to light? I truly do, I neither have the time or energy to do even a fraction of what you do for that cause.

            For me, police misconduct is so ubiquitous that it should be clear to all that it is SOP. Where we part ways is that I do not think a cop illegally detaining and harassing a member of the public is unusual; it is a normal practice in the day of the average cop. It is not a training issue; it is a crime and should be dealt with accordingly. However, I am not aware of even one example where a LEO was held criminally accountable for an illegal detention. Perhaps it has happened, but that would only prove that there is less than a 1/1000000000 chance of it.

            I think you are aware that there is a much lower level of accountability for crimes committed by cops, but you struggle to come to terms with it because it is not congruent with your other strongly held belief that cops are mostly law-abiding good guys. It is an understandable bias given your 20 year LE career.

            I understand your point that a lot of people refer to legal and authorized behavior of LEOs criminal. They are wrong. I am not one of those people. I know the difference. But, when cops do violate the law I don’t want to hear excuses; I want to see them in court.

          • ExCop-Lawyer


            It really isn’t as common as it appears from YouTube. I know of several officers who have been charged and convicted for unlawful restraint, I’ll see if I can pull up the information and post it.

            It is not just a bias, it is based on my experience.

            I agree that when an officer commits a crime, they should be charged.

          • ExCop-Lawyer

            Julian Steele, Cincinnati Police, convicted of Abduction and Witness Intimidation. Five years in prison followed by five years of supervision.

            Although not for unlawful restraint, since 1960, 295 Chicago police officers have been convicted of various offenses.

            Michael Miller, Ford Heights, Ill., convicted of Unlawful Restraint, 12 years.

            Brian Quilici, Ronald Pilati and Jerome Volstad, plead out to reduced charges after their original felony convictions were overturned. They had served two years in prison prior to the successful appeal.

            That’s just a real quick, 30 minute check.

          • LibertyEbbs

            Okay, we both agree they should be charged. Do you agree that for the overwhelming majority of criminal acts they are not? See, this is the point you seem to avoid. Maybe you live and work in one area where accountability for cops is the norm and most do not act like ego-maniacal asshats. Most Americans don’t.

            Your insinuation that my opinion is formed solely from watching YouTube videos is insulting. But, it IS hard to wash off 20 years.

          • ExCop-Lawyer

            I wasn’t insinuating that your opinion was based solely from YouTube – all I was saying is that the bad apples are the ones that everyone sees on YouTube.

            I don’t agree that they are not charged, I’ve seen it and run too many IA investigations myself to believe that it is swept under the rug. And although I believe that in this area, accountability is more present than say, NYC or Chicago, there is obviously still room for much improvement here too. It is very dependent on the department and the culture of the agency.

            But for another example of a good officer, see The officer in Auburn was fired for speaking out against ticket quotas – exactly the type of officer departments need to keep, not fire.

          • WithinThisMind

            If a private citizen would go to jail for taking the action, a cop should too. If a private citizen would go to jail for taking a shot, the cop should too. Meaning – if the shot was fired for a reason other than self defense or the defense of another, the cop needs to go to jail because it was a bad shot.

            If a private citizen would go to jail for striking the person, the cop should too – meaning, if the strike was delivered for a reason other than self-defense or defense of another, it was a bad strike.
            If the private citizen would to to jail for entering the property, the cop should too – meaning, if there was no justifiable reason to be on the property (cough..legit warrant..cough), it’s trespassing.

            Ditto harassment, kidnapping, illegally detaining, stealing, etc… No warrant/just cause, then it is as much a criminal act for the cop to do it as a private citizen.


            Anyone who would be justified in their response if it was too a private citizen would be justified in their response if it was a cop – meaning, if it was a private citizen kicking their door down and coming in armed and they defended themselves, then it is okay to do the same to a cop.

            Cops are supposed to uphold the law, not stand above the law.

          • Difdi

            Your solution of more/better training is flawed.

            If a private citizen whether by ignorant good faith or personal weakness breaks the law you are generally in favor of them being punished as the law prescribes. Even if they had no way of knowing their action was illegal. Your solution to crime seems to be not to commit them, even when someone would have to be psychic or some flavor of superhuman to avoid it.

            But when the accused is a police officer, your solution is more training. Police ALREADY have more training than the private citizens who you (and the system) seem expect to be legal experts or else. If a private citizen is expected to know the law with the training we all receive in public school, then a police officer should have at least that level of expertise, given their additional training in enforcing the law that private citizens don’t have.

            So why is it that most of the ones we hear about here actually know LESS about the law than the general public? And why is the system okay with that when it’s not okay with someone with less training in law being ignorant of it?

          • Difdi

            Given that if the same standards that would make ME (a private citizen who works in IT) a criminal conspirator or accomplice to a crime were applied to most police officers, most police would end up in prison, the fact that you’ve seen officers be prosecuted doesn’t mean all that much.

            I can’t find the link to it now, but I read the findings of a study a few years back, and it was enlightening. The study looked at arrest rates per 100,000 people for various crimes. Not prosecution rates, not severity of sentence, not conviction rates, just how many arrests total for each crime. Police officers were within a point of the general population for every crime except sexual assault, where police were three times the general public rate.

            Given the general reluctance to arrest a fellow officer, we can draw several possible conclusions from the data. Two of them stand out.

            Either there are a lot of rapists in uniform and police are no more white hats than the average guy on the street…or police are three times more likely to be criminals than the general public, but some thing are beyond the pale.

            Either of those would be absolutely terrifying, but the idea of the latter possibility, given the immense public trust police carry is the more horrifying of the two.

      • steveo

        In my community, I see cops doing this alot, not in the middle of the road though, it doesn’t bother me that they sit together and talk (that may be a problem with the bosses though), but it is a problem when they harass a citizen who is clearly not a threat to public safety and not breaking any laws. Maybe they shouldn’t be gossiping about shop talk if they don’t like being recorded.

        • ExCop-Lawyer

          Yeah, the sidewalk BS was really, really feather-legged.

  • Joseph Murray

    So it’s a violation to STAND ON THE SIDEWALK. Sweet Jesus I …I don’t even know what to say.

    As if the BS loitering ordinances aren’t enough. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised; we’ve had people arrested for recording from their own yards, garages, front doors, and balconies. We’re trapped in a seamless web of ‘law’ that allows the government to deny you every freedom you’re supposed to have. You basically can’t live any semblance of a normal life without being in violation of something, and the fact that you usually aren’t accosted for it (as long as you don’t challenge The State) is what passes for ‘Freedom™’ nowadays. I weep for this nation.

  • Pissed Off

    Just another episode in their unending war on cameras.

  • rick

    It’s a sidewalk not a sideSTAND. The officer’s detention and request for ID was absolutely correct. Lurking nearby, recording their conversation, and violating city ordinance gives the officers the right to find out what he is doing or even planning!
    Paid for by Cops Against Cameras.

    • Kenneth Bankers

      But the cop was wrong as Aurora Ordinance 27-242, which he specifically cited, states the following:

      shall be unlawful for a pedestrian to stand upon any sidewalk except as
      near as is reasonably possible to the building line or curbline, if
      such standing interferes with the use of the sidewalk by other

      • rick

        Using same voice as above:

        The videographer is blocking the sidewalk from any pedestrian that MIGHT come along. That same pedestrian would then have to step around the videographer, possibly even leaving the sidewalk to do so. It is incumbent on the officer to recognize the hazard the videographer poses and in the interest of public safety to approach, ID, and cite if necessary. While the reading of ordinance 27-242 is open to interpretation by the untrained public, the officer clearly operated in the best interest of the community he serves and therefore is not a complete fool trying to chill first amendment rights with a flimsy excuse that everyone can see through. In addition the officer should not be ashamed for being a Rights trampling asshat.

        Darn, broke character…

        • steveo

          In FL, Statute 316.003 (47) defines the sidewalk as the area from the curbline of the road to the property line (which is usually at least 13 feet due to the public easement) . In most cases, it would be impossible for one person to block a sidewalk, here, unless they had some carts, tables, chairs and gates and stuff, certainly not just a normal sized human. Here if they said something like that to me, I’d just say, fine, arrest me or beat it. Probably whatever they said to me, I’d say arrest me or beat it.

          Something leos will probably never admit to be schooled on is that the comparable article in their State constitution that mimics the 1st Amendment usually says.. “no law can be enacted that interferes with the right of free speech, free assembly, and the freedom of the press.” So no matter what “law” they spout off to interfere with these rights, it’s probably not true. There are time, place and manner restrictions, but even those are a stretch, especially on a public sidewalk.

          • Difdi

            In some states, private citizens can write citations, including to police (Oregon, to name one). If standing alone in the middle of a sidewalk constitutes blocking traffic, then anyone could be cited for blocking traffic anywhere anytime.

            Might be fun to return the favor to the cops…

      • Joseph Murray

        You’re kinda slow, aren’t you Kenny?

        • Kenneth Bankers

          Notice it says if it interfears with another pedestrian. Also note there WHER N OTHER PEDESTRIANS. Wow and you call me slow.

          • Joseph Murray

            [hysterical laughter]

          • Guest

            So what’s your argument, Joey?

          • Joseph Murray

            Wow, I really have to break it down? Really? Even a casual reading of ‘rick’s posts show them to be FACETIOUS in nature! (look it up)

            He never intended them to be taken seriously, as Ken and now you obviously have. He wasn’t even trying that hard, or do you really think there’s an organization called: ‘Cops Against Cameras’?

  • Matt

    “Sec. 27-242. – Standing on sidewalks.

    It shall be unlawful for a pedestrian to stand upon any sidewalk except as near as is reasonably possible to the building line or curbline, if such standing interferes with the use of the sidewalk by other pedestrians.”

    I think it’s very clear who was in the wrong here. +1 for pedestrian -1 for the cops here.

  • PA

    Thats nothing, I thought there was going to be big trouble in Illinois yesterday as cops went door to door collecting guns from folks that had expired permits.