By Joel Hillan
DENVER (CBS4) – On July 5, 2018 Susan Greene, Editor of the Colorado Independent, was taking pictures of officers who had placed a naked man in crisis in handcuffs.
Body cam video from Officer Adam Paulsen released Tuesday shows the exchange between Greene and Denver Police Officers Paulsen and James Brooks:
Officer Adam Paulsen: “This is protected by HIPAA you can’t record here and you can’t…”
Officer James Brooks: “…Protected by the Health Information Privacy and Protection Act.”
Susan Greene: “There’s also the First Amendment. Have you heard of it?”
Officer Adam Paulsen: “That doesn’t supersede HIPAA.”
Greene claims she was taking pictures of police interaction with a black suspect who was cuffed and nearly naked when she was told taking those pictures violated privacy provisions in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
“The press’ job is to be a bulwark between government and oppression, and Ms. Green was doing just that when she was out filming on the sidewalk,” said Civil Rights attorney Andrew McNulty.
Mari Newman, also representing Greene went on to say, “The First Amendment right to freedom of speech and press is core to our system of democracy. The moment that Susan Greene tried to take a picture of the badge of the police officer, he grabbed her by the arm, roughly handcuffed her and told her to act like a lady,” said Newman.
Officer Adam Paulsen: “Stand up straight. Let’s act like a lady.”
Officer James Brooks: “Stand up and act like a lady.”
Susan Greene: “Are you (expletive) kidding me?”
Officer James Brooks: “No.”
Susan Greene: “Telling me to act like a lady?”
Officer Adam Paulsen: “Here you go, now you can go to jail.”
Denver Police tell Greene an internal investigation is ongoing.
The Denver District Attorney’s Office released this statement Thursday:
Our office has declined to file charges against the police officer involved in connection with the July 5, 2018, incident. There is insufficient evidence to charge and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer’s conduct constituted criminal offenses.
Greene’s attorneys have not filed charges, saying they are waiting to see what the City of Denver and Denver Police will do.
“The City needs to step up and take accountability, do appropriate training, and make sure it’s holding its officers accountable. It should not always be up to the public to hold Denver law enforcement accountable when they use excessive force and violate the law,” said Newman.
The Denver Police Department issued this statement Wednesday afternoon:
On Tuesday, August 28, 2018, the Denver Department of Public Safety, which oversees the Denver Police Department, released officers’ body-worn camera footage of an incident that occurred on July 5, 2018, near the intersection of E. Colfax Ave. and N. Grant St. During the incident, officers were assisting a nude man who was in crisis, and officers detained a bystander after she refused to stop photographing the man. The man in crisis was transported to the hospital for evaluation and was not arrested.
The released body-worn camera video is available for review here: https://youtu.be/Pa2g4NRl97g
The Denver Police Department conducted a preliminary review of the officers’ interactions with and detainment of the bystander the day of the incident, and opened a formal internal affairs investigation into the matter to determine if the officers acted in accordance with department policies. Per standard procedures, the Office of the Independent Monitor is providing oversight of the internal affairs investigation. Additionally, the Denver District Attorney’s Office reviewed the case and declined to file formal charges against the officers.
Right now, the internal affairs investigation remains underway, and therefore it would be inappropriate for the Department to discuss the incident or officers’ actions in detail. The results of the internal affairs investigation will be made public at the conclusion of the investigation and review process.
The Denver Police Department respects the First Amendment rights of all individuals. Guided by that value, the Department trains officers on First Amendment issues, and recently reiterated to officers the relevant policies involving First Amendment considerations. On July 10, 2018, a training requirement to review the applicable policies was sent to all officers, and on August 16, 2018, a training bulletin was published for officer review. That training bulletin is included below.