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. Henderson provided a copy 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.
His is the latest in a string of cases nationally involving citizens who record police activities.
“I wish the police around the country would get the memo on these situations,” said Jane Kirtley, professor of media ethics and media law at the University of Minnesota. “Somebody needs to explain to them that under U.S. law, making video recordings of something that’s happening in public is legal.”
The courts have been “pretty clear” on the issue, Kirtley said. “Law enforcement has no expectation of privacy when they are carrying out public duties in a public place.”
Randy Gustafson, spokesman for the Ramsey County sheriff’s office, declined to discuss details of the case, saying it is an “ongoing investigation.”