Just over a year ago in January, Andrew Henderson of Minnesota was unable to get the attention of the ACLU to help him in his case after he was criminally charged for video recording a local deputy standing by as another man was being placed into an ambulance.
Two months earlier, Ramsey County sheriff’s deputy Jackie Muellner snatched his camera, telling him she did not want to be on Youtube. She also accused him of violating the federal HIPAA law, which really has to do with the privacy of medical records, not with the photography of medical patients.
He was not arrested on the spot, but was charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing justice more than a week later. And when they returned his camera two weeks after that, his footage had been deleted.
The welder made too much money to qualify for a public defender but not enough to hire an attorney. And more than a month went by after he had contacted the local ACLU with no response.
So on January 6, 2013, he published an 18-minute video to Youtube, explaining the entire situation, including audio he had recorded on his Android after she had snatched his camera.
On January 9, I published his story on PINAC, encouraging readers to call the ACLU to urge them to take his case:
The 28-year-old welder said he makes too much money for a public defender but not enough to hire an attorney.
He said he reached out to the ACLU more than a month ago, but was ignored.
Meanwhile, he is facing disorderly conduct and obstructing charges, which were filed more than a week after a Ramsey County sheriff’s deputy illegally confiscated his camera. Read the report here.
Henderson has a pretrial hearing scheduled for January 30. Call (651) 645-4097 to encourage the ACLU of Minnesota to assist him in this matter. Or email them at ACLU of Minnesota.
After three days of phone calls and emails from PINAC readers, he was contacted by the ACLU, inviting him to meet with them in person to discuss his case, as I reported on my Facebook page at the time:
Story continues below... really.
Less than 12 hours ago, the ACLU announced a victory after a two-day trial and a 90-minute jury deliberation found him not guilty.
This is not only a huge victory for Henderson, 29, who is now running for city council. But a huge victory for the PINAC community because it shows the power we have by backing each other up when needed.
But it mostly shows the importance of resorting to back-up recorders once they confiscate the first recorder as well as using social media, especially Youtube, to get your story out there.