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Home > EMS Products > Ambulances

Man who taped deputy, medics with patient is 'not guilty'

The 29-year-old says he'll continue to shoot videos of public safety workers and save them in "the cloud" so they can't be erased

By Richard Chin
Pioneer Press

St. Paul, Minn. — Andrew Henderson said he will continue shooting videos of police after a Ramsey County jury found him not guilty Thursday of criminal charges filed against him after he turned his camera on Ramsey County sheriff's deputies and an ambulance crew in 2012.

But Henderson said that from now on, the videos he shoots will be immediately streamed and saved in "the cloud," meaning there will always be a copy that can't be erased.

A sheriff's deputy took away Henderson's camera when Henderson would not identify himself and refused to stop taping an Oct. 30, 2012, incident outside Henderson's apartment building in Little Canada in which an ambulance crew and police were taking away a drunken man.

The deputy told Henderson, "If I end up on YouTube, I'm gonna be upset."

Henderson, 29, was charged with misdemeanor crimes of disorderly conduct and interfering with an ambulance crew.

He thought he would be exonerated by the video he shot, but when he got his camera back from police weeks after the incident, the recording was gone, Henderson said.

A six-person jury found Henderson not guilty Thursday after less than 90 minutes of deliberation at the end of a two-day trial that drew attention of civil liberties advocates. The Minneapolis-based Fredrikson & Byron law firm provided free legal representation to Henderson in association with the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota.

ACLU legal director Teresa Nelson called the verdict a First Amendment victory.

"The notion that we're going to criminalize conduct that is First Amendment activity is troubling, and I think it was troubling to the jury," Nelson said.

Kevin Beck, the prosecutor for Little Canada, said that he was disappointed by the verdict but that the case was worth prosecuting.

Beck said that Henderson got within three feet of a paramedic trying to do a medical assessment of the drunken man and that Henderson continued recording after the paramedic asked him to stop.

Beck said the paramedic had to ask a sheriff's deputy to talk to Henderson, which delayed the ambulance crew in getting the drunken man to a hospital.

"The crime was committed when the paramedic had to stop providing medical care" to try to get Henderson to stop taping, Beck said.

But Henderson testified that the paramedic didn't tell him to stop recording, and his lawyer argued that Henderson didn't interfere with the drunken man's care.

Henderson was 35 feet away "quietly" taping while the drunken man was being questioned by the ambulance crew and frisked by police, defense attorney Kevin Riach said.

Henderson, a welder, is a "meek, mild-mannered guy" whose hobby is videotaping police to keep them accountable, Riach said.

Henderson said he doesn't have animus toward police and he's never suffered from police abuse. But he said he got interested in videotaping police activities after an August 2012 incident in which a YouTube video showed a St. Paul police officer kicking a man named Eric Hightower during an arrest.

When Henderson taped the ambulance crew and Ramsey County sheriff's deputies in Little Canada, he was doing what half the TV news crews in the metro area do every day, Riach said in closing arguments.

But Riach said when a sheriff's deputy, Jacqueline Muellner, asked Henderson what he was doing and he refused to give her his name, that angered her and she snatched his camera.

That led to "the mystery of the disappearing video," Riach said.

Riach said testimony from Muellner showed that the camera was temporarily left in Muellner's squad car and in her office mailbox, and was not adequately secured by police.

"That camera should've been put into evidence right away," he said. "We'll never know exactly what happened to it."

Riach also said prosecutors failed to prove the charge that Henderson intended to obstruct the ambulance crew, and he never physically got in the way of the emergency responders.

"He was sitting peacefully off to the side, videotaping," Riach said.

But Beck said that when the paramedic asked Henderson to stop taping, he knew his behavior was offensive and obstructive.

Beck said Henderson didn't have to physically get in the way of the ambulance crew to be guilty of the misdemeanor. If his actions had the effect of obstructing the ambulance crew, he committed a crime, Beck said.

Joshua Norgaard, the Allina Health Emergency Medical Services paramedic who was on the ambulance call that night, testified that he asked Henderson to stop taping to protect the privacy of the drunken man.

Henderson said he could have resolved the case by accepting a prosecution offer to plead guilty to a petty misdemeanor and pay a $50 fine.

But Henderson insisted on a trial.

"It's the principle of it," Henderson said. "It's our First Amendment right to film law enforcement personnel."

Henderson said he would have represented himself at trial if he hadn't received free legal help.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
"Andrew is a unique guy in which he was willing to stand up and fight on this," Nelson said. "I think we should admire him."

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Brodie Verworn Brodie Verworn Friday, February 28, 2014 5:16:35 PM Hmm..nothing like a simple verbal warning and then an errant 50cc syringe of blood that is errantly dischaged in this little bastards face wouldn't take care of in the future. Always could set up a scene with an off duty EMT who has consumed $30 worth of Taco Bell and a triple dose of epicac. Timing is everything!
Graphic Gorillas Graphic Gorillas Friday, February 28, 2014 5:18:54 PM I am a law enforcement officer and if the facts are as stated here I see no problem, The problem occurs when people taping get in the way which can put themselves or officers in jeopardy or when you are the person in contact with police. There are cameras and cellphones among many other things that have been altered to conceal a gun. If I am investigation someone i surly would not allow them to point a camera or cellphone at my face! Being an observer from a safe distance is completely acceptable and within every Americans rights.
Gary Saffer Gary Saffer Friday, February 28, 2014 5:32:33 PM Take note. There is a well established right to film police, fire, and EMS personnel performing their duties in public. There is no such thing as a medical privacy in public. I'd expect that Ramsey County and Deputy Muellner will be on the wrong side of a civil rights law suit.
Ryan Donnelly Ryan Donnelly Friday, February 28, 2014 5:50:21 PM as much as i respect what you're saying, there's a line. as an emt i would not want someone filming me and being distracting as i am treating a patient. i dont understand the point of filming if there isnt a crime or any wrongdoing going on. let the medics work.
Rob Stables Rob Stables Friday, February 28, 2014 6:13:14 PM Not sure the privacy of the patient should not trump his right to film
Aaron Zevgolis Aaron Zevgolis Friday, February 28, 2014 6:16:19 PM Ryan P Donnelly if you agree or not it keeps getting reaffirmed again and again on all public safety fronts that it is perfect legal to film as long as you do not directly interfere with the said personnel performing their respective duties. It doesn't matter if you like it or not that is how it is.
Aaron Zevgolis Aaron Zevgolis Friday, February 28, 2014 6:19:15 PM because he is not held accountable by HIPAA or any other such law. I do not agree with him doing it but the fact remains that it was perfectly legal.
Lee Thetford Lee Thetford Friday, February 28, 2014 6:19:50 PM the day a modern sized cell phone can be altered to conceal a gun.... I'll eat my hat
Tim Schroeder Tim Schroeder Friday, February 28, 2014 6:21:50 PM I guess because the deputy potentially "tampered" with the evidence the jury made the right decision based on the evidence presented, had there been a video recording to play for the jurors there could potentially have been a different result. I have no issues with the filming in public of public officials to include EMS/Medics. However, patient privacy should be taken into account as well. A private videographer has the same rights to record in public as the media does.
Aaron Zevgolis Aaron Zevgolis Friday, February 28, 2014 6:23:29 PM Lee Thetford I must agree.. an IED maybe but not a gun. I will believe it when someone can show me one credible source of a modern smartphone being used to conceal a gun.
Graphic Gorillas Graphic Gorillas Friday, February 28, 2014 6:36:32 PM Lee Thetford That is a stupid comment. They exist or I would not have said it. We receive regular notices on seized weapons.
Tracy Fulcher Tracy Fulcher Friday, February 28, 2014 6:52:13 PM I want to see this cell phone that can conceal a gun !!! We're in the twentieth century pal. Not the 80's. The reason for erasing the tape and never turning in to evidence..Tells me someone is hiding something that no one needs to see..I am a Firefighter/Emt for 15 years. Video me anytime...
David Newton David Newton Friday, February 28, 2014 7:10:36 PM Okay....
Lonny Wilcox Lonny Wilcox Friday, February 28, 2014 7:19:19 PM Ryan P Donnelly if having someone stand off to the side filming distracts you as you treat a patient you must not have much skill as an EMT. Cameras and phones are everywhere today and you can't respond to any call and not be filmed. It goes with the job now. Everyone in scanner land usually beats us to the scene of something really good anyway. Out in public there is no patient privacy expected nor are we tasked with delivering it before we begin patient care. You can't do your job with someone taking pictures? Really? Find another line of work.
Steve Jacobi Steve Jacobi Friday, February 28, 2014 7:24:31 PM Amazing how some in EMS want to do bodily harm to the public. You really want to spray 50 cc of blood onto someone's face? There should be a nice jail cell in your future.
Steve Jacobi Steve Jacobi Friday, February 28, 2014 7:28:47 PM Ryan P Donnelly If you are professional, you should not have a problem with someone watching or filming you. Most EMTs want to get noticed by the media and whatever camera is around. But, if you are a real screw up or if you steal money and/or drugs from the patient this could be a problem.
Brodie Verworn Brodie Verworn Friday, February 28, 2014 7:42:35 PM You can video me at any time, but I feel we are dealing with people at some of the most private and personal times of their lives. It is up to us to do all we can to protect that. All it seemed this individual wanted to do is start s**t. The press has a job to do, but they keep a respectful distance from scenes most times. What happens if the pt. loses it and attacks said photog...then do we get part of the blame for it?
Dee Fennessy Dee Fennessy Friday, February 28, 2014 7:53:32 PM if he's not interfering w my care or my pt's privacy I could care less. sounds like entities not immediately involved in the incident wanted to make some thing greater of this thing than it really merited
Steve Jacobi Steve Jacobi Friday, February 28, 2014 9:31:45 PM Brodie Verworn Dude, the only one making any threats of attacking someone is you. If you throw blood at someone's face you deserve to be charged, sentenced to a life in prison and hopefully never, ever work in EMS again.
Steve Jacobi Steve Jacobi Friday, February 28, 2014 9:36:26 PM Ryan P Donnelly Sounds like you must be a real screw up as an EMT or doing something illegal while with the patient. If you are a professional at doing your job this should not bother you.
Terry Johnson Terry Johnson Friday, February 28, 2014 10:49:47 PM HIPPA only refers to ones personal medical and billing information... does not include privacy from being filmed in a public venue, as long as the video isn't being used for monetary gain or fraud. I've been in EMS for 18 years.... feel free to film me.
Terry Johnson Terry Johnson Friday, February 28, 2014 10:54:27 PM I'll surrender my potato suppressor to local law officials in the morning.....
John David Clynes II John David Clynes II Friday, February 28, 2014 11:23:48 PM fucking police
Graphic Gorillas Graphic Gorillas Saturday, March 01, 2014 12:40:38 AM Do a search on it Tracy. There are pictures of several variants. The one we got from the central intelligence report is actually indistinguishable from a regular phone.
Jason Martocchio Jason Martocchio Saturday, March 01, 2014 6:50:13 AM
Robert Hutson Robert Hutson Saturday, March 01, 2014 3:22:14 PM I think that by allowing him to video the identity of a patient you are directly allowing a HIPAA violation thus he could be stopped on grounds that he is causing you to have a HIPAA violation and thus invading the patient's privacy.
Robert Hutson Robert Hutson Saturday, March 01, 2014 3:23:20 PM No he would not be held accountable under the law, but the Medic would be and has the responsibility to stop the violation.
Aaron Zevgolis Aaron Zevgolis Saturday, March 01, 2014 6:37:59 PM Robert Hutson In legal terms the medic can't really do anything to stop it.. that is the sad part.. the most he can do is get an LEO to do something and even then it is up to the LEO. Many cases the LEOs are becoming more and more forgiving of the cameras because they are being told to (and deciding themselves) because of the ludicrous amount of lawsuits popping up after an LEO makes someone stop filming.
Rob Stables Rob Stables Saturday, March 01, 2014 6:49:47 PM The best bet is to take the patient and move them into the back of the unit and shut the doors - problem solved
Lee Thetford Lee Thetford Saturday, March 01, 2014 7:00:08 PM Graphic Gorillas if someone is going to attack police on scene the chances of them premeditating to the point where they'd hide it in a cell phone or camera is ludicrous especially when people recording draw this kind of attention, neither of those are ergonomically conducive to accurate shooting and it would be far more practical to simply keep it in a hoodie pocket or fire out of a bag or umbrella, also, I still maintain that it's impossible or at the very least CIA/blackops level stuff to put a gun into a cell phone, most these days aren't even the same thickness as a .22, you say you get regular reports of these and that you're a law enforcement officer, all you have one your page is ads for a T-Shirt company and statuses about designing T-Shirts for people, provide proof, either the cell phone stuff and that you're a LEO, until then you're just a lying troll
Lee Thetford Lee Thetford Saturday, March 01, 2014 8:00:12 PM A google search turned up Alex Jones's website and a few anti cop pages, I think we can all agree that those aren't exactly credible sources
Lee Thetford Lee Thetford Saturday, March 01, 2014 8:03:52 PM Thank God.... finally someone that isn't a complete idiot about this, there are people on here actuallysaying that the public should be held to patient privacy standards just like us medics....
Lee Thetford Lee Thetford Saturday, March 01, 2014 8:05:18 PM Ryan P Donnelly if it's not a threat, quiet filming shouldn't distract you, if they get up in your face then it's a problem, just like anyone else getting in the way for any reason
Lee Thetford Lee Thetford Saturday, March 01, 2014 8:09:45 PM No. you're dead wrong. HIPAA regards patient confidentiality for healthcare providers, the public is held to no such standard, someone filming in public is not a HIPAA violation because they're in public, it's like saying someone viewing the patient at all on scene is a HIPAA violation which would be ridiculous
Ryan Donnelly Ryan Donnelly Saturday, March 01, 2014 8:48:45 PM Lonny Wilcox as i said there's a line and i wouldnt want it to become distracting. i am perfectly fine at doing my job and im not really understand where you would have gotten that idea. im not talking about just some dude sitting on the side filming me, im talking about someone in the way and being intrusive. someone preventing me from treating my patient. if that makes me a bad emt for that i guess im one shitty emt then. Lee Thetford thats what i meant.
Lee Thetford Lee Thetford Saturday, March 01, 2014 8:55:18 PM Robert Hutson it's not a violation of HIPAA as you said in your other post for the reasons I stated in my reply below. Personally I would endeavor to protect my patient's modesty and privacy but you can't just clear an entire public area in order to prevent bystanders from just seeingthe patient as you take them to the ambulance and recording is only an extension of that. I have absolutely zero, zip, none, nada, problem with them recording my actions or the actions of any other responders on scene and our actions should always be vindicated if we acted appropriately. With the argument you're making we should first thing be covering the patient's face on scene (whether they're dead or not) so their identity is first and foremost protected from the public. Also I don't mean any disrespect since I'd guess that you have more years in this field than I do but you do work in EMS right? or at least the medical field?
Lee Thetford Lee Thetford Saturday, March 01, 2014 8:58:40 PM Ryan P Donnelly Cool I'm glad you think that, it's exactly the same as anyone else getting in the way or interfering, whether they're filming or not shouldn't really make a difference, my goal at that point is to end the interference, not the filming. It's just amazing the amount of people that completely lose their minds over this
Lonny Wilcox Lonny Wilcox Saturday, March 01, 2014 9:00:52 PM Ryan P Donnelly from the article that is exactly what 1 half of the case said was happening. He was standing off to the side filming which is perfectly within his Rights. From the sound of it the EMT in question was distracted by this and tried to get him to stop (wasting time and diminishing patient care) and got the police involved (also wasting time and diminishing patient care). Funny thing about EMT's we roll everywhere with our office. If the guys was that distracting you move the patient into "your office" and continue patient care. Now obviously in some cases moving the patient safely would require packaging and in cases like this we can and will "move people back" either by asking them to step back for their own safety or having the police do the same. Usually any incident that requires packaging there is an element of danger and moving people back for their own safety is perfectly acceptable and covers your ass if they should end up hurt too.
Lee Thetford Lee Thetford Saturday, March 01, 2014 9:03:21 PM Graphic Gorillas That is also a stupid comment as I don't take everything everyone says on the internet at face value
Steve Kady Steve Kady Monday, March 03, 2014 10:39:53 AM As a retired professional TV news photographer for 42 years, I have to chuckle. As long as you are on US soil and it is public property, you have the right to take pictures, demonstrate, protest, etc. It's the law. It is yours, mine and anyone else's right to do .If the person taking the picture is not physically in the way of the people involved, it's OK to let them do whatever they want. Get over it! It is not your job to decide.
Wayland Slater Wayland Slater Monday, March 03, 2014 12:23:30 PM What did the patient say about all this? Was it OK to him to be filmed? Filming just so you can post a clip on YouTube, now that's true ambition. Or trying to get on "Worlds Wildest....(whatever)", those are dime a dozen and totally over-done. So when someone slaps him with a Civil Suit because they did not want to be filmed or have their likeness appear on-line via the "cloud", then more power to ya. I'm sure someone will sue someone for everything they don't have for violation of privacy.

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