Police are extremely scared of video cameras because they typically catch them violating someone’s rights.
Andrew Henderson watched as Ramsey County sheriff’s deputies frisked a bloody-faced man outside his Little Canada apartment building. Paramedics then loaded the man, a stranger to Henderson, into an ambulance.
Henderson, 28, took out his small handheld video camera and began recording. It’s something he does regularly with law enforcement.
But what happened next was different. The deputy, Jacqueline Muellner, approached him and snatched the camera from his hand, Henderson said.
“We’ll just take this for evidence,” Muellner said. Their voices were recorded on Henderson’s cellphone as they spoke, and Henderson provided a copy of the audio file to the Pioneer Press. “If I end up on YouTube, I’m gonna be upset.”
Henderson calmly insisted he was within his rights to do what he was doing. He refused to give his name.
[…]Henderson said he carries his camera with him and uses it often. Occasionally, he will post something online.
“Police are in a position where they have a certain power that should be watched by the citizens,” he said, explaining his motivation. “The best way to watch them is to film them and hold them accountable for their actions.”
The day after Henderson’s camera was taken Oct. 30, he went to the Arden Hills sheriff’s substation to get it back.
He gave staff there his name. The camera, they said, would have to wait, according to Henderson.
A week later, Henderson was charged with obstruction of legal process and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors.
He had been filming from about 30 feet away, he said. Henderson said deputies gave him no warning before Muellner took his camera.
The deputy wrote on the citation, “While handling a medical/check the welfare (call), (Henderson) was filming it. Data privacy HIPAA violation. Refused to identify self. Had to stop dealing with sit(uation) to deal w/Henderson.”
The Supreme Court ruled citizens can videotape police out in public. So what the officer did was illegal.
Henderson appeared in Ramsey County District Court on Jan. 2. A pretrial hearing was rescheduled for Jan. 30.
The allegation that his recording of the incident violated HIPAA, or the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is nonsense, said Jennifer Granick, a specialist on privacy issues at Stanford University Law School.
The rule deals with how health care providers handle consumers’ health information.
“There’s nothing in HIPAA that prevents someone who’s not subject to HIPAA from taking photographs on the public streets,” Granick said. “HIPAA has absolutely nothing to say about that.”
She had never heard of a case in which a law enforcement agency cited HIPAA to bar someone from recording, she said.