33-year-old Brandy Berning was pulled over by a Broward Sherriff’s officer last March for driving in an HOV lane on a Florida freeway because she was theonly person occupying her vehicle. During the traffic stop, she told Lieutenant William O’Brien that she was recording their conversation with her iPhone. WPLG Local 10 News reports it’s what happened next that has Ms. Berning now suing the Broward Sherriff’s Office.
In the recorded conversation, you can hear Ms. Berning inform Lt. O’Brien, “Oh, I forgot to tell you I was recording our conversation.” Lt. O’Brien asked for clarification, to which Berning again reiterated, “I have to tell you I forgot to tell you I was recording our conversation.” O’Brien then told her, “Ok, well I have to tell you that you’ve just committed a felony.”
WFOR CBS Miami reports that Berning alleges that O’Brien then entered her car through the passenger side, and sprained her wrist when he grabbed it, trying to take her phone. He reached for her keys and tried to force her from the car. The entire time, Berning can be heard resisting O’Brien, saying thing like, “Get off of me,” and “You are breaking the law.”
Eventually, Berning was taken into custody and spent the night in jail. However, charges were dropped and she was released. Now, with the assistance of her attorneys Eric Rudenberg and Mike Glasser, she’s suing the Broward Sherriff’s Office over battery, false arrest, and false imprisonment. Glasser told WPLG, “He shouldn’t have had any concern about what she was doing with her cell phone as long as it wasn’t impeding his ability to write the citation, give her the citation, and send her on her way.”
The Sun Sentinel spoke with Barry Butin of the Broward American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) about the incident. He told the paper her case is strong because, despite Florida requiring two-party consent over recordings, people in Florida are allowed to record video of on-duty police officers. Butin also noted she shouldn’t have been put in jail overnight.
Interestingly enough, Berning says she was encouraged to sue by another sheriff’s deputy. As for the Broward Sherriff’s Office, they declined to comment to the press.