Wheeling, IL. (ECWd) –
Several years ago, I sent a Freedom of Information Act request for text messages from a certain Wheeling police officer for two days of time periods he was attending court to observe, and possibly intimidate, a woman charged with a criminal trespass for entering into a public meeting, when the meeting was alleged to be held electronically, not in-person.
She was found “not guilty” by the Courts.
Having noticed this police officer texting during the trial, I was curious what was so important to be sending text messages during a trial.
On receiving my FOIA request, the FOIA Officer attempted to comply with my request as the law requires but was met with denials and obstruction from fellow officers and supervisors.
He later filed a lawsuit claiming retaliation under whistleblower laws, because a person cannot be retaliated against for refusing to break the law or attempting to comply with the law.
Around four years later, and the Village of Wheeling voted to settle the lawsuit for $250,000.
You would think they would have learned after paying a $34,000 settlement in FOIA lawsuit we brought against them several years ago, but they apparently thought it was more important to protect the reputation of the department, rather than comply with the Freedom of Information Act.
Read this article, published earlier by Journal and Topics for more information (HERE).