Minnesota Man Criminally Charged After Filming Police in Public

user2593-1250187527--Ramsey_County_badgeWe have been following the continuing arrests and even prosecutions of citizens who film police in public. (For prior columns, click here and here). Despite consistent rulings upholding the right of citizens to film police in public, these abuses continue. The latest has a different twist. 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.”

That is of course ridiculous since HIPAA provisions deal with health care providers handling consumers’ health information. A lawyer from Little Canada insists that there was no deletion of the film. However, it is a bit odd that Henderson would be pointing a camera at the scene (and prompting the intervention of the officer) without actually filming the scene.

Henderson is a welder and is representing himself in court. The question is not only the abuse of the arrest but compounding of the abuse by actually charging and prosecuting the citizen.

Source: Twin Cities

48 thoughts on “Minnesota Man Criminally Charged After Filming Police in Public

  1. Didn’t Minnesota learn from our experience here in Illinois? If the police can film us without permission, aren’t the rights of citizens just as important?

  2. 99% of these charges of filmers are brought for one simple reason. To protect the cop from a suit for false arrest / false imprisonment via the plea bargain process.

  3. The time differential between the return of the camera and the actual charges came about no doubt because they were looking for a hook to charge him with. HIPPAA fails the legal test but passes in their minds the PR test. This stuff will contnue as long as there are no consequences for the illegal action of the LEO’s.

  4. don’t film, upload to offsite.

    or run a sting. have someone stand nearby filming while someone else stands further back uploading. catch them in a lie. then they can get a few weeks off with pay.

  5. OK, so invent a tiny wireless transmitter in the camera that transfers what you’re taping from the camera to a little chip hidden somewhere on your person.

  6. “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.”

    Is is possible to write a criminal citation and use complete sentences? At least give the defendant the respect of that when you unlawfully arrest him.

    They tell him they are seizing the camera “for evidence” but the recording was deleted. CYA is why this happened.

    And what is up with enforcing HIPAA? Do the courts there have any jurisdication over this federal law? Of course, the arrest weeks after the fact, prove it to me this was not retaliatory.

    I hope this man files a false arrest and theft suit against the sheriff’s office.

  7. Here is a personal experience that can cast this into perspecteve:

    When I was 17 years old, I visited the Soviet Union as part of a cultural exchange of sorts where several of us and a couple tearchers toured Moscow and Leningrad. We were told of several rules that we had to follow while we were there, so that we did not get into legal trouble. Of these it included that we were not allowed to take photographs of government buildings, industrial areas, or the police or military personnel. Of course we could take pictures of tourist areas but we didn’t want to push our luck because knowing the reputation of the USSR for being heavy handed.

    When we landed in Moscow and went through customs we were surrounded by uniformed officials, either police I am not sure exactly, who just glared at us with the utmost suspicion. At that time, that experience solidifying in me every stereotype of what I grew up learning about the USSR was true. I would find this belief to be premature and not accurate but at the time it did tend to set the stage that the police were always watching.

    When we arrived at our hotel rooms, we convinced ourselves (rightly or not I don’t know) the rooms were bugged and we searched the room for probably 20 minutes looking for cameras or microphones. I don’t know what sort of strategic secrets could be obtained from American Teenagers and maybe we were just being paranoid but being children of the cold war, the warnings we were given and the experience at the airport had some effect.

    Now I don’t want to convey that we were treated badly by the Russians. Other than the food being mostly unsavory tasting to us I regard this trip as being one of the most interesting travels I have made. It did give me a new perspective on the Russians and America itself.

    So from this I can say that to some degree I know first hand what it is like to live in a country where where one has to worry about the gov’t finding out what you say, do or photograph. There were many occasions where we would talk or visit with people and they would talk quietly or look around to see who was watching them. I will admit that when we got back into Western Europe there was a slight bit of relief.

    Now 27 or so years later, when I read articles here on this website about people being arrested for taking videos of the police it sounds more like my experience in the USSR than it does America. It really bothers me, but what mostly bothers me is that there are many people in this country who really do not understand how these arrests are a threat to our freedom and an insult to liberty. I don’t want to live like people had to in the USSR. These type of arrests need to stop now before it becomes worse, yet unfortunately I see many examples of government eroding our freedoms and too many people in this country are empowering the gov’t and our elected officials to get away with it.

    Just my две копейки

  8. Here in Sweden (heard that before?) welfare money is delivered to your bank account or by check in the mail.

    Welfare checks are done by envious or disgruntled neighbors, often filming the totally disabled wheel chair confined receiver doing activities in their yard. Or swimming or dancing on their vacations.

    Why was this filmed? Had the welfare receiver complained to the filmer of his previous treatment during these checks.

    And why send police to do a welfare check? How is this a crime that needs investigation by police? A cheaper but trained interviewer would do it equally well. Or are welfare receivers usually abusive, armed and dangerous?

    Send the cops back to doing traffic stops. Ot other abuse of citizens.

  9. Idealist:

    I think there might be some understandable confusion here with regard to the words “Welfare Check”.

    In the US “Welfare Check” has two meanings

    1) A social benefit payment to a welfare recipient
    2) A visit by police/firefighters/ambulance service of a person to determine if this person is in need of assistance of some kind.

    The two terms are misleading to many even here.

    Typically, the police only are involved in 2) and calls of this kind are usually made if the person is elderly or has a medical condition and the family has not been able to telephone or hear from the person for some time. So the police are called to visit the person and see if they are ok.

    Though police have the authority to enforce welfare fraud laws, it is rarely done by police. It is usually investigated by the Department of Social and Health Services or similar agencies. I agree it is better for these agencies to do this since they do the case management of the recipient.

    But it is usually better for police or better yet sheriff’s deparment personnel to handle welfare checks of people that might be be in need of aid. They are usually more readily available and they have the authority to force entry into a person’s house and render emergency aid and take temporary custody of children who might need care during the patient’s incapacity.

    Police usually do not film disabled people as you mentioned, if this is done it is almost always by public assistance agencies. I agree that I would not want to see this be a major function of general police agencies.

  10. As if the job of the police is not tough enough and thankless enough without people filming them willy nilly.

    Enjoy some Joe Blow filming you while you were working in private or in public would you? I doubt it. And you surely would not if you chose the police force as a career.

    Maybe this guy will mind his own business and get on with his own job in future and let the police do theirs unimpeded.

    Finally, I am sure there is a whole lot more to this case than the scant information mentioned here.

  11. I do not use the video feature on my cell phone. It is not a smart phone and only makes and receives calls. However, some of my friends who have smart phones tell me you can install an app that allows you to upload photos and videos to the “Cloud” in real time. That way, you can retrieve it later even if the phone is lost or destroyed. Perhaps if one wants to film the police or other such events, it might be a good idea to use that app.

    I also recall one enterprising fellow who makes a habit of slipping the memory chip from his phone and putting it in his mouth, substituting a blank chip in its place if he is approached by someone who looks as if they might want to hassle him.

  12. CRIMMINAL VIOLATION of Freedom of Speech…… Send these BOZO’s to the GULAG for Re-education…….

  13. The post about the trip to the USSR is very instructive. Unfortunately, as we have become the USSR of your teenage fears, American citizens are not treated well by the police or other agencies who no longer believe, some with good reason, that they must respect the Constituional rights of citizens or anyone except major corporations.

    The terrorists have won!

  14. “Here is a personal experience that can cast this into perspective:”


    Your personal experience in the USSR was instructive in terms of the situation we see today. I’ve never been there, but being much older than you and growing up at the height of the “Cold War” era, you confirm what people in the U.S. were told about the Soviet Union. I remember well those descriptions of what a police state was like, with the inevitable comparisons to the freedom we had in America. As the years passed by though I began to see certain of those “police state” features become implemented here. It is true that this progressed slowly, in what seemed at the time reasonable increments to protect public safety. Roadblocks thrown up to catch “DUI’s” for instance. Also by increments came the militarization of police, now to the point where SWAT teams are sent to make what were in the past routine arrests. The fact that many small town police department have semi-tanks and riot gear adds to the mix.

    Much of this was implemented for what seemed at the time to be good cause.
    MADD arose and publicized “drunk driving” to the point where police set up “initiatives” like roadblocks to protect us. The War on Drugs brought in a whole layer of barely constitutional procedures to protect us from “druggies and drug dealers. RICO was instituted to protect us from organized crime. From my perspective these were “overreactions” to the problems that eroded our Constitutional Rights. The War on Drugs initiatives have never worked. DUI
    standards have been lowered to a point where there is a real question if the standards of “impairment” have been lowered too far. Finally, RICO may have
    destroyed the Cosa Nostra, but many other “Mafias” have taken their place. This is all in the context of lowered crime rates, but sensationalized news and a majority of TV dramas being police procedurals.

    The end result is a public so fearful of danger that it is willing to cede our Constitutional protections, to protect us from uncertainty. Judging from personal experience as you have, I can remember stories told me by my maternal Grandfather when he came to the US in the 1890’s. The NYC he arrived in was a very dangerous place with so many street murders of immigrants that the police rarely investigated. My father grew up in the 1920’s and the picture was different, though their was much ethnic conflicts. My own work in the Welfare Department in the late 60’s and through the 70’s taught me that the “Ghettos” portrayed as such dangerous places on TV that police officers had to travel “en masse” for protection, represented little danger to me walking alone without weaponry.

    Just as Orwell described in 1984 the use of fear instilled in the populace becomes justification for repression. This case may be overturned, but in the absence of significant penalties for false prosecution this practice will soon become standard.

  15. This police action is horseshit as I’ve said previously. However, HIPPA does extend beyond hospitals, clinics, etc. I would routinely interview EMT’s and paramedics about cases I was investigating but that ended w/ HIPPA. Now, I consider HIPPA in large part horseshit also. However, if there were an ambulance crew present they might squeek by on this technicality.

  16. Darren, When my sister worked for Yale alumni she would take groups to the Soviet Union. Your experience was just like hers. She figured the Yale..CIA..connection may have added more surveillance but probably not.

  17. “Enjoy some Joe Blow filming you while you were working in private or in public would you? I doubt it. And you surely would not if you chose the police force as a career.”

    “Maybe this guy will mind his own business and get on with his own job in future and let the police do theirs unimpeded.”


    I wonder whether you would think a news crew showing Sanitation workers doing illegal dumping waste was intruding on these workers? How about a public official who is in a bar during work hours? Perhaps a Meter Maid ticketing a car before the time has run out would that be intrusive? These are all people who are “public servants”. At this blog in the last number of years we have seen police misconduct caught even on their own car videotapes. This misconduct has been sometimes gross violations of our Constitutional Rights. Are police somehow more “privileged” than the rest of us in your view?

  18. When a trial comes up on this, or a motion hearing with the cops at court, the guy needs to get the local “legitimate media” news reporters there with their cameras. Then while Channel 5 is there filming, have some children come up with cameras and take the igPays’ videos. Put them all on uTube. Then set up hidden surveilance cameras around the igPay Superintendent’s home and publish the videos of him and wifeypoo taking out their garbage etc. Then go through his garbage and video what he had for breakfast.

  19. If the job of police is too tough, tell them to get another job. We have a right to film them out there making arrests or eating donuts and if they dont like it they can shove the donuts. Hmm, a video of that would be good too.

  20. Here’s another link, Cameron:


    I’m a law-abiding professional, Cameron, and some of the activities in which some police officers are currently involved would make heads spin, if known. I never would have believed some of the garbage if I hadn’t seen it for myself. So film, film, film, good citizens.

    If police, first-responders, firefighers, etc. don’t want to be filmed, then they should find another line of work.

  21. perhaps a little course on what HIPAA actually is/covers, is in order. i hear all too often that “we can do that because of HIPAA”, from people who have NOTHING to do with health insurance. all HIPAA does is cover the health care providers who must share protected information with the insurance in order to get paid! it doesn’t mean confidentiality of the police doing a welfare check!

    and why in this instance could the police just take the person’s camera away? police cannot just seize items from innocent bystanders, can they?

  22. genevieve, As stated previously, EMT’s and paramedics use HIPPA so as to not be interviewed. It should come as no shock to anyone who has dealt w/ government workers that their first, second, and third inclination is to NOT release information. And, the primary motivation is not anything sinister..it’s mere laziness. I worked in Wi. that has a superb open records law. However, I had to battle on a daily basis w/ some govt. officials[elected County Sheriff’s being the worst] to get records I KNEW were discoverable. Laziness, followed by control are the two major reasons.

  23. There are several companies that provide upload to the web while the filming is occurring. (cell phone)This is different than uploading later. The services are free, one being from the ACLU. All this because there is no problem…move along..nothing to see here.

  24. Cameron I guess that you would al so be opposed to the filming of the Rodney King beating which turned out to be a federal civil rights violation with the cops sentenced to federal prison. But Cameron, I guess they were just doing their job. Are you son incredibly naive to believe that the police never violate the civil rights of a citizen?

  25. Cameron-
    No, I wouldn’t have any problem with someone videotaping me in public. I don’t have any expectation of privacy when I’m in public, neither should police.

    It’s hard for me to chalk this one up as yet another “bad apple” when the good apples in uniform don’t condemn garbage like this.

  26. What a bunch of BS Cameron. How does being videotaped interfere with police doing their job? The only reason cops hate being videotaped is because if they’re breaking the rules, it is evidence of their misconduct. Good cops have nothing to be worried about. Only the bad cops have reason to be concerned, and if this causes them to look for other work, then so much the better.

  27. The HIPPA charge seems blatantly ridiculous to me. If there’s any HIPPA violation, it’s for the unauthorized disclosure of protected information. The guy with the camera is not disclosing anything because he doesn’t know anything. Perhaps the cop is disclosing some protected info that he’s not authorized to do so, but then this would be a violation by the cop.

  28. Public officials performing public duties in public places have no reasonable expectation of privacy. If the law were to permit the arrest of private citizens filming or photographing the activity involved in this case, it could also permit the arrest of private citizens merely viewing that activity, a facially absurd position. Therefore, the only reason for a police officer to confiscate a camera from a bystander (in the absence of actual interference by the bystander) is to prevent the memorialization of the conduct of the officer.

  29. Waldo, I totally agree w/ you on the absurdity of the HIPPA excuse. However, allow me to play diablo advocatus. Assuming the camera was video w/ sound. They would claim any private medical info discussed would have been privileged, like “I’m bipolar”. That’s the type of back flips bureaucrats will do to remain in control.

  30. “Public officials performing public duties in public places have no reasonable expectation of privacy.”

    And there’s the heart of it.

  31. Nick S.: If you share medical information with a health care provider (and various other specified organizations/persons), the health care provider may not disclose it. However, if you do so in front of third parties, those third parties are not so restricted. Here, the photographer was lawfully present in a public place. He is free to document and communicate what he observed while there.

  32. blhlls, I agree. I was merely thinking like a horseshit cop and coming up w/ pretext reasons to disallow videotaping. Maybe the role is Barnus Fifus Advocatus

  33. It’s actually a nice and helpful piece of information. I’m satisfied that you just shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  34. Nick:

    Laziness is certainly one of the reasons, but sometimes blind ignorance is another.

    I found in my former career that serving large banks with search warrants for banking records resulted in the most resistance of all.

    I had several times where I was investigating a bank fraud case against one of their account holders, and obtained a search warrant from a judge. The branch manager initially would refuse to cooperate saying that I had to serve their corporate office in another state even though the defendant’s accont was at that branch or other excuses they would come up with.

    I reminded them this was a court order and their procedural policies were not relevant and again it met with resistance. It usually took about 15 or 20 minutes of explaining that it was mandatory and they could be held in contempt of court or worse if they did not comply before they would.

    Small banks and other businesses were easy to deal with. I just handed them the info and they said they would have the documents ready for me the next day.

  35. Here’s a suggestion. Despite the “film” being erased…if it is “digital” there is still a decent chance that it can be recovered with Data Recovery software. I recover deleted files fairly often from hard drives and other digital media. Good Luck! Joe of AngelGeeks

  36. Darren, I agree totally. I was in no way absolving private business. Banks, hospitals, insurance companies, all are feet draggers. My only consistent dealings w/ MaBell were in KC. I had inconclusive sporadic contact in Chicago, Wi, etc. but working for the prosecutor in KC they were very helpful and dare I say compassionate. Victims getting harassing phone calls, needing phone records on a murder, rape, etc. case were handled immediately. Part of that could have been I built a relationship w/ the MaBell women and so this ANECDOTE IS NOT DISPOSITIVE. I just wanted to share it w/ you and see if you had any experience w/ the phone company and how it would compare.

  37. Darren,

    My belated thanks for your full of facts and respectful answer.
    There are fraud investigations but by civilians, and police checks for welfare.
    The latter would be something for the Swedes to emulate. Dehydration and temp mental incapacity can be cured. Worthy cause.

    Been trying to cope with my heart’s oondition and resting lots now.
    Good health to ýou.

  38. It is alarming how many moronic law “officers” are ignorant of the actual laws of the united states. I find it extremely alarming that when push comes to shove- such as during hurricane Katrina, a two-bit mayor and an ignorant local police force, along with ignorant thugs from federal agencies have gotten away with disarming US citizens with no cause. At exactly the time they would rely on arms to defend themselves. None of the politicians nor ignorant thugs in the field have received the public beatings they deserve for undermining the constitution. This is on a smaller scale- but along with many similar incidents around the country give you little confidence in people who represent the law here.

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