Challenges charges brought against a man who was filming emergency response workers which the ACLU believes is protected under the First Amendment.
ACLU of Minnesota is asking the Ramsey County District Court to dismiss charges against Andrew Henderson, who was cited for peaceably filming paramedics and sheriff’s deputies in the parking lot of his apartment building. Henderson was charged in fall 2012 with disorderly conduct and obstruction of legal process after he passively filmed an interaction between a resident of his apartment building and Ramsey County Sheriff's deputies and paramedics.
Upon returning home from work, Henderson encountered police and paramedics escorting a resident of his apartment complex out of the apartment building and into the parking lot. Henderson began filming the incident while sitting on a bench immediately outside the apartment building. He did not interfere with the police or the paramedics at any time. At some point the paramedics complained to the deputies about Henderson’s filming. At this time, a deputy walked over to Henderson, seized the camera, and cited Henderson for disorderly conduct and obstruction of legal process.
ACLU of Minnesota firmly believes that the state’s charges violated Henderson’s First Amendment rights. The law has clearly established that the First Amendment protects an individual’s right to film police and other public officials engaged in official duties in public or quasi-public spaces as long as he or she is not physically interfering with the officials or engaging the officials with “fighting words.”
ACLU of Minnesota has asked the district court to protect the First Amendment and to dismiss the charges against Henderson for his lawful behavior. A hearing on the motion to dismiss was held on May 22, 2013 at the Ramsey County District Court.
In August 2013, a Judge denied the ACLU's motion to dismiss the charges against Henderson. The case will now proceed to trial. A trial date has yet to be set.
This case was won on February 27, 2014 when Andrew Henderson was found not guilty by a Ramsey County Jury in regards to charges of obstruction of justice and disorderly conduct.