Officer Had No Expectation Of Privacy In Employer Video Equipment

Written on 11/05/2022
Will Aitchison

Scott Kilmer was a police officer for Bells Police Department in Tex­as. On March 11, 2017, Kilmer was working off-duty security at a private wedding venue; he was dressed in his Bells police officer uniform and using his Bells police patrol vehicle.

Over the course of the evening, some guests noticed Kilmer placing his foot between the legs of unsuspecting women and “videoing up their skirt” with a small camera attached to the top of his boot. County deputies were called to the scene. When deputies arrived, one of the guests gave them a covert camera with a long wire and plug, which connected to an external recording device. The guest said he removed the camera from the “security guard,” who was identified as Kilmer.

The Bells police chief arrived and spoke with Kilmer, who told him that he was wearing the camera because he was supposed to meet with a confi­dential informant later that evening. The Chief asked about the external recording device, and Kilmer said he had left it at home. A search of Kilm­er’s car revealed the recording device under the passenger seat, hidden by paper towels. The Chief determined the device contained recordings up women’s dresses and skirts, consistent with what witnesses reported.

Kilmer was criminally charged with three counts of invasive visual recording after he was caught re­cording images underneath women’s dresses with a camera attached to his boot. After the trial court denied his motion to suppress evidence, Kilmer entered a plea of guilty. After hearing the evidence, the trial court assessed punishment at two years in state jail in each case and added a $1000 fine.

Kilmer challenged his conviction, arguing that he had an expectation of privacy in the recording equipment and that it should not have been seized except pursuant to a warrant and probable cause. The Texas Court of Appeals disagreed, and upheld Kilmer’s convictions.

The Court found that though there was conflicting evidence as to who owned the recording equip­ment, it was clear that the Chief had only given Kilmer permission to use the equipment for law enforcement purposes when Kilmer was either on the job or working off-duty security. Those limitations, the Court found, meant that Kilmer had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of the recording equipment, and that it was proper for the trial court to deny Kilmer’s motion to suppress.

Kilmer v. State of Texas, 2022 WL 3053873 (Tex. App. 2022).

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