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Jan 12 2013

Another Illegal Arrest for Filming the Police

Jonathan Turley reports on yet another instance of a police officer arrested someone and seizing their camera for filming them making an arrest, using the ubiquitous “disorderly conduct” charge and a transparently ridiculous rationale for why they had to do it.

Andrew Henderson not only had his camera taken from him by police in Little Canada, Minnesota but he was charged with violating the the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) by filming officers responding to a call.

Henderson, 28, was filming Ramsey County deputies arresting a man when his camera was confiscated by a deputy, Jacqueline Muellner, who suddenly announced “We’ll just take this for evidence.” She also warned Henderson that “If I end up on YouTube, I’m gonna be upset.”

Henderson says that he later went to the police station to retrieve the camera and found that it had been erased. He was then charged a week later for obstruction of legal process and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors. Notably, the deputy recorded 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.”

As Turley notes, HIPAA does not apply here at all. It applies to the handling of someone’s health care data by doctors and hospitals. It’s time to start charging these officers with an illegal arrest. If there aren’t consequences, it’s never going to stop.

8 comments

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  1. 1
    John Hinkle

    She also warned Henderson that “If I end up on YouTube, I’m gonna be upset.”

    She continued, “It’d be a real shame if your nice little camera here accidentally fell off the roof of the police station.”

  2. 2
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    During the student protests last spring there was an instance of this here in Quebec.

    Unfortunately, the person arrested was not the only witness with a cellphone, and at least two films made it on youtube. The policewoman involved is now featuring as a character in a brand new porn movie titled ” Matricule 728 “.

  3. 3
    Dr X

    “It’s time to start charging these officers with an illegal arrest. If there aren’t consequences, it’s never going to stop.”

    Yes. These are crimes, plain and simple. I also see actions like this as a serious warning sign of an officer likely to engage in future misconduct.

  4. 4
    haitied

    Yeah, There was a case like this in MA where the officer was parking in a handicapped spot and the citizen was questioning the legality of that action with his camera on the officer. The officer got really irate and was up in the guy’s face, In response Lawmakers tried to pass a law restricting video/audio taping of on-duty officers. It failed but still fuckin scary to have people trying to pass laws like that.

  5. 5
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    Pretty much what Dr X said at #3. On the other paw… can we really trust other officers (and the court system) to work impartially, considering the case involves “one of their own”? (Or, you know, “who watches the watchers”?)

  6. 6
    lancifer

    It’s time to start charging these officers with an illegal arrest. If there aren’t consequences, it’s never going to stop.

    I agree, but who are you going to get to arrest these clowns, the local prosecutor? Good luck with that. The city and county prosecutors and DA’s are effectively just an extension of the police apparatus. They work hand in hand with the police and have a very chummy relationship in most locations.

    The State’s Attornies General are just about as likely to go after these cops as the local prosecutors.

    Perhaps the feds?

    Yeah, that’ll happen.

  7. 7
    Engineer

    This is more complicated than it seems, there is also legitimate aspect why cops don’t like getting filmed. Police operations in densely populated areas will always attract curious bystanders and people hunting camera phone footage for Youtube. All these extra people make situation control and threat evaluation much more difficult and also increase likelihood of bystanders getting hurt in the process.

    So, naturally it should be legal to video public officers in action, but anyone who does it should not make it harder and more dangerous for these people to do their job. After all, they will get blamed if outsider gets hurt for any reason, not matter what was the motivation of him/her being there.

  8. 8
    lancifer

    Engineer,

    Passively recording a police officer doing his job is not a threat to a cop that is acting legally. Honest cops should welcome the recording since this could be used later to prove that he or she was acting properly.

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