Colorado Cops Disciplined for Detaining Journalist Videoing Arrest of Naked Man
The Denver Police Department has disciplined two officers involved in handcuffing a Colorado Independent editor who refused to stop photographing an arrest on a public sidewalk in July 2018.
Susan Greene is a editor for The Colorado Independent, a news company in Denver, Colorado.
According to disciplinary orders that were released on Tuesday, February 5, 2019, police determined that Officers Adam Paulsen and James Brooks were in violation of Denver Police Department Policy for detaining Greene for recording an officer in a public place.
The officers will each be docked two days’ pay, according to the disciplinary order.
The discipline is the result of an encounter that took place on July 5, 2018 in uptown Denver. Greene was video recording officers tending to a man who was sitting naked on the sidewalk, The Colorado Independent reports.
Officers approached Greene, blocked her camera shots, and told her she could not record the scene because it violated healthcare laws. Greene refused and continued to record.
It was then that the officers grabbed Greene’s phone and placed her in handcuffs, leading her to the back seat of a police car.
Greene said Brooks initially approached her in a “ridiculously aggressive way” and that both Brooks and Paulsen told her to “act like a lady.”
Greene sat in the back of a hot uncomfortable police vehicle for nearly 15 minutes. Officers Paulsen and Brooks called for a supervisor to get permission to formally charge Greene with police interference, but the police supervisor declined and ordered her to be released.
Colorado law states that “officers may not threaten or intimidate individuals who are recording police activities.”
In a news release, the police department said it has “reiterated to officers policies involving First Amendment considerations,” providing a training bulletin it used with its officers.
Jeff Roberts, executive director of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, says:
“Having the officers involved penalized hopefully sets an example for other officers to see. Maybe they’ll think twice before doing something similar.”
Attorneys Mari Newman and Andrew McNulty of the Denver firm Killmer, Lane & Newman are, on behalf of Greene and The Colorado Independent, in negotiations with the city.