YAKIMA, Wash. — Yakima authorities are investigating whether a resident violated the law when she secretly recorded a recent meeting with City Manager Tony O’Rourke and posted it on YouTube.
The information came out at Tuesday’s Yakima City Council meeting when a friend of Joey Anderson, the resident in question, addressed the council demanding O’Rourke drop charges against her.
But so far the city hasn’t brought charges.
“We’re in the process of investigating what we believe to be a criminal violation of the law,” O’Rourke told council members after the exchange.
Anderson has been a regular at council meetings in recent months in attempts to draw attention to accusations of police brutality against her husband stemming from an incident in April.
Police were responding at the time to a domestic disturbance at Anderson’s mobile home, where she was attempting to evict a tenant. A confrontation developed between police and Anderson’s husband, Russell. Police said he refused to obey their instructions. According to police reports, he was arrested after a struggle that resulted in both he and a police officer being treated at a local hospital.
Since then, Anderson has used the audience participation section of council meetings to raise allegations of corruption against O’Rourke, the entire council and the Yakima Police Department.
The council and other officials had largely ignored Anderson’s comments, in part because of a pending case against her husband on a charge of domestic disturbance, but O’Rourke agreed to meet privately with her to discuss the case July 16.
Anderson recorded the meeting on her cellphone camera, which she says was sitting on top of her wallet during the meeting. The meeting lasted about 40 minutes and included Yakima police Capt. Greg Copeland.
O’Rourke and Copeland say very little on the recording. Anderson becomes increasingly upset to the point of shouting at the two before O’Rourke agrees to review the case file.
O’Rourke later sent a letter to Anderson detailing his review of the case file that found her claims to be unsubstantiated.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, Anderson’s friend, Maria Bosworth, said O’Rourke didn’t have to consent to the recording because it occurred while he was conducting business in his official capacity.
In an interview Wednesday, O’Rourke said there are any number of tasks he performs in his official capacity that must be able to remain confidential, such as labor negotiations and real estate transactions. He said Anderson’s recording violated state law, which requires consent from both parties to be recorded.
“I wasn’t concerned about anything I said in the meeting,” O’Rourke said. “It’s the principle of the matter.”
O’Rourke said city attorneys are currently reviewing case law on the matter before deciding on bringing a charge.
Recording and broadcasting without consent is a gross misdemeanor in the state, punishable by up to one year in jail or up to a $5,000 fine.
• This article has been updated to correct the location of the camera with which the recording was made and the length of the meeting. It has also been corrected in regard to the circumstances of the confrontation between police and Russell Anderson