BLOOMINGTON — The Illinois Attorney General's Office has turned down the city's request for the state to reconsider its decision directing Bloomington police to release footage from an officer's body camera to the owner of a private bus service.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office informed lawyers for the city Tuesday that the state would not reconsider its August opinion that Lee Eutsey is entitled to camera footage from his February encounter with BPD officers in downtown Bloomington.
The owner of Magic Bus argued that he needs the video to resolve a dispute with the city over his decision to provide free rides to college students from the downtown Bloomington bars for several months while his license to transport was not in effect.
In his comments Wednesday on the state's ruling, Eutsey said "this whole episode speaks to the dishonest double standard that our police and officials aren't willing to give up."
In its first challenge to the release of camera footage since the city started a pilot program for the equipment several months ago, the city withheld the video based on its interpretation of state guidelines for body cameras.
Springfield lawyer Gabriel H. Neibergall, whose firm provides legal services to the city, contends that the video is exempt from the state's Freedom of Information Act unless the recording is flagged by police due to a pending complaint, internal investigation, discharge of a firearm, use of force, an arrest or an incident involving a death or great bodily harm.
The video involving Eutsey was not flagged.
Neibergall said Wednesday that "we are reviewing our next step and will make a decision quickly."
The nonbinding opinion puts the city in the position of either releasing or keeping the video without consequences until Eutsey takes the matter to court.
Madigan's Public Access Bureau disagreed with the city's interpretation of state guidelines, ruling that people depicted on body camera video may request copies of the footage under the FOIA.