A Ramsey County man who videotaped a sheriff's deputy last year is fighting a citation for obstruction and disorderly conduct after the deputy confiscated the camera and accused him of violating a privacy law.
Andrew Henderson, 28, was at his apartment building in Little Canada last October as sheriff's deputy Jacqueline Muellner helped load a man into an ambulance. Henderson said he was recording the incident while he sat about 30 feet away.
Muellner grabbed the camera from him and cited him for interfering with the other man's medical privacy. Henderson was cited for obstructing legal process and disorderly conduct, according to a St. Paul Pioneer Press report (http://bit.ly/Sr5ymH ).
His next court appearance is set for Jan. 30. He intends to fight the charges, defense attorney John Lundquist said.
"A citizen such as Mr. Henderson has an absolute right to be present in a public area, as he was, and to take pictures or to film the surroundings, including police officers that were present," Lundquist said. "And by seizing his camera, they violated in a very dramatic way his First Amendment rights."
Attorneys with Kelly & Lemmons, the firm prosecuting Henderson on behalf of the city of Little Canada, did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment Saturday.
Henderson said the deputy took his camera and told him, "If I end up on YouTube, I'm gonna be upset." He said he told her what he was doing was legal, and he refused to give his name.
When he retrieved his camera from the sheriff's office the next day he said the recording had been deleted. He did give deputies his name at that time, and he received the citation in the mail a few days later.
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."
HIPAA, the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is a privacy measure dealing with how health care providers have to handle consumers' health information. It doesn't cover private citizens who record a medical event in public.
Ramsey County sheriff's spokesman Randy Gustafson said people are within their rights to record deputies' activities. He said it's not the department's policy to confiscate cameras.