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Convenience store surveillance sets Peoria aflurry

Published by Jennifer on April 17, 2007 2:25 PM

After what could have been considered a normal cigarette sting, a Peoria, IL convenience store owner has revealed surveillance and audio recordings of his interaction with a police officer that may turn out to be incriminating - of the police.

Terry Beachler, owner of Beachler's ServiCenter and Car Wash, has been caught selling cigarettes to minors a couple of times in the past. Because of these infractions, he's occasionally subjected to stings conducted by Peoria police in which a minor attempts to purchase cigarettes from the offending store. In a reaction to previous stings (and fines), Beachler adopted a policy where any minor attempting to purchase cigarettes would have their ID confiscated. This policy was effective until a minor in a police sting had his ID confiscated, and the police had to get involved.
A local controversy has arisen over the struggle between Beachler and the police - Beachler was arrested and jailed after a peaceful conversation wherein he refused to surrender the minor's ID. Beachler, in order to regain his good name, has released an audio recording he took of the conversation with the police officer (listen here). This didn't make many waves, until he showed the accompanying surveillance recording to a local journalist. This surveillance footage, claims Peoria Journal Star columnist Phil Luciano, is incriminating evidence against the police, who acted unreasonably, if not unlawfully, while investigating the sting at Beachler's convenience store.
This type of video surveillance is atypical evidence in a typical convenience store case. Instead of incriminating a criminal, this type of surveillance is siding with the owner. Katherine Mangu-Ward's noted column about the potential benefits of video surveillance mentions this (read it here) - video surveillance's power as a potential tool against the state. Is Mangu-Ward's prediction coming true?

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