FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A Davie woman plans to sue the Broward Sheriff’s Office after she was forced to spend the night in jail for using her cellphone to record a deputy during a traffic stop.
Last March, 33-year old Brandy Berning was pulled over by Lt. William O’Brien after she reportedly drove in the HOV lane at the wrong time, according to The Sun-Sentinel.
As O’Brien approached her vehicle, Berning hit the record button on her phone. She recorded about 15 seconds of the conversation before telling O’Brien that he was being recorded. That’s when the deputy told her she had just committed a felony and demanded that she hand over her phone.
Bernings phone recorded her arguing with O’Brien for the next four minutes, he insisting that she was under arrest and must hand over her phone, she insisting that she didn’t do anything wrong.
At one point O’Brien reportedly reached into the vehicle and grabbed Berning’s wrist, spraining it, according to the paper. Berning said O’Brien got into her passenger seat and reached for her keys as he tried to force her from the car.
He eventually took her into custody and to jail where she spent the night. Berning was never charged and released the following day.
She’s now informed the sheriff’s office that she plans to sue.
In Florida, both parties are required to know when a conversation is being recorded. Berning recorded about 15 seconds of her conversation with O’Brien before informing him she was doing it.
However, it is legal for third parties to record a law enforcement officer performing their duties.
Barry Butin with the Broward American Civil Liberties Union told the paper there’s was good chance that the law will be on Berning’s side.
“Finding they’re liable for what they did, using what we think was excessive force just because she was recording him on her phone, that would drive home the point that police officers can’t do this,” said Eric Rudenberg, one of Berning’s attorneys told the paper.