Denver Police Who Arrested Journalist For Doing Her Job Won’t Face Charges

By Aaron Kesel

The Colorado Independent’s editor, Susan Greene, was handcuffed and detained in July for attempting to photograph police as they responded to a call on a public sidewalk, Huffington Post reported.

According to the Colorado Independent, Greene was driving along East Colfax Avenue near the Colorado State Capitol building on the afternoon of July 5th when she noticed Denver police surrounding a half-naked African American man sitting handcuffed on the sidewalk. So Greene stopped to see what was happening.

Ironically, Greene is an investigative reporter who is no stranger to police brutality, known for writing about instances where police have harassed and killed African Americans.

Police responded to Greene’s attempt to take pictures of the scene by blocking her from committing her civil duties as a journalist to investigate what was going on.

As Greene detailed in a post the next day, and as video obtained by the Colorado Independent confirms, she approached the scene and was immediately blocked by Officer James Brooks. Brooks is then joined by Officer Adam Paulsen and the two inform Greene that she is forbidden from taking photographs because it violates the HIPAA rights of the man laying there half naked and handcuffed. It’s an absolutely laughable statement — HIPAA is short for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which outlines an individual’s rights to medical privacy.

“There’s also a First Amendment,” Greene retorts. “Have you heard of it?”

“That doesn’t supersede HIPAA,” Paulsen responds back.

Brooks repeats Paulsen and adds, “Step away, or you’ll be arrested for interference.”

The tension between the three picks up and then Greene is seen directing her Iphone at Brook’s police badge. Which, then at some point Brook’s swats at her phone repeating himself: “Step away, or you’ll be arrested for interference.”

It’s after this that we see the officers handcuff Greene, who screams in pain, “Ow!”

“Stand up straight,” Paulsen orders Greene. “Act like a lady.”

“Stand up and act like a lady,” Brooks reiterates.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Greene responds. “Act like a lady?”

“There you go,” Brooks says. “Now you can go to jail.”

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Greene worked at newspapers in California and Nevada before joining The Denver Post as a reporter and columnist. She and a Post colleague were finalists for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting about the destruction of DNA evidence in criminal cases, Colorado Politics reported.

The video is a shocking abuse of civil rights, liberties, and an abhorrent display of law enforcement violating the constitution, the right to an unimpeded Free Press.

However, none of this bothered the District Attorney Beth McCann who had a phone call last week with Greene informing her that the D.A.’s office would not be seeking to press charges against the officers, despite their misconduct.

Greene detailed the call in a post last week:

(McCann) said a charge of false imprisonment wasn’t an option because there’s an exemption for cops. And she said her office likely would have a tough time convincing a jury that Brooks assaulted me.

I asked McCann about her take on the incident beyond the question of criminality. “I don’t know that he knew you were a journalist, for one thing,” she said. “But people are entitled to take pictures as long as people are not” getting in the way of police. She added that Brooks’ “act like a lady” comment “was a little unnecessary.” And she said we’ll likely be hearing something from Hancock’s administration now that she has made her decision not to prosecute.

As a result, The Independent notes that the news organization may take legal action on its own.

“If we need to file a legal action to hold the city accountable, so be it,”  Mari Newman, a lawyer for Greene and The Independent said.

Newman added the officers excuse that Greene was violating HIPAA is “ridiculous.”

HIPAA does not apply to an individual on the street. It’s designed to protect private medical information — for example, information that a medical provider or an insurance company might have about a patient. HIPAA does not impose any obligations on a private individual walking around on the street.

Greene wrote that the context for her interest in the scene came from “Denver’s history of uniformed officers harassing, hurting or killing folks, sometimes without offering them medical help.”

“It stems partly from the fact that Denver sheriff deputies stood around the limp, lifeless body of Marvin Booker, a homeless, black street preacher after they killed him in Denver’s jail in 2010,” she wrote. “And it also stems from officers similarly having stood around Michael Marshall, a mentally ill, homeless, black man, after having fatally restrained him in 2015.”

Essentially, once again, police made up laws that didn’t exist and won’t be reprimanded for their failure to understand the law they are sworn to uphold, all while mocking a woman, arresting her and possibly intentionally hurting her as a message to her during the confrontation.

Their only mistake is that they didn’t realize she covers police brutality issues, so it’s inevitable that this blows up.

Aaron Kesel writes for Activist Post. Support us at Patreon. Follow us on Minds, Steemit, SoMee, BitChute, Facebook and Twitter. Ready for solutions? Subscribe to our premium newsletter Counter Markets.

Image credit: CBS Denver

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