Reporter Says She Was Cuffed for Photographing a Cop in Public

Prosecutors have declined to file charges against the officer.


Jaromír Chalabala/Dreamstime.com

Prosecutors have declined to charge a Denver cop who allegedly handcuffed a reporter for taking photos of him on a public sidewalk.

"There is insufficient evidence to charge and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer's conduct constituted criminal offenses," Ken Lane, a spokesperson for Denver District Attorney Beth McCann, told The Denver Post.

Susan Greene, an editor at The Colorado Independent, says she was driving on July 5 when she noticed a group of officers congregated around a handcuffed and almost fully naked black man. Curious, she got out of her car and started taking pictures of the scene with her iPhone.

Under Colorado law, it's legal to photograph on-duty cops. Plus, the First Amendment allows members of the public to take pictures in public places. But Greene says Officer James Brooks didn't see it that way.

In a column last month for the Independent, Greene wrote that Brooks "blocked me, then got in my face and told me to stop." She says Brooks claimed she was violating the naked man's privacy rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Protection Act. At that point, Greene focused her camera on Brooks, which he apparently didn't like:

After accusing me of blocking the door of an ambulance that had been called to the scene—toward which he had prodded me during our encounter—and saying something about me obstructing officers, he grabbed me and twisted my arm in ways that arms aren't supposed to move. At some point in the blur, either he or Officer Adam Paulsen, badge No. 08049, locked one or maybe two pair of handcuffs on my wrists, tightly, and pushed me toward a nearby police car by grabbing my arms hard enough—and with a painful upward thrust—that I told them to stop hurting me. Their response: That I was hurting myself by resisting

To add insult to injury, Greene claims one of the officers (she thinks it was Brooks) told her to "act like a lady." After about 10 minutes in a patrol car, Greene was released.

In the days following the incident, a police spokesperson confirmed some of Greene's account to the Associated Press, noting that a "bystander" who had been "taking pictures" was "detained."

In another column yesterday, Greene says she decided against pressing charges, believing there was very little chance Brooks would face the music for his alleged actions. She also points out "that if police and prosecutors deemed Brooks' behavior illegal, it was within their own power to charge him."

But that won't happen. Greene got a call yesterday from McCann, who said that cops can't be charged with false imprisonment. And even if McCann had charged Brooks with assault, a jury likely wouldn't have convicted him. McCann did acknowledge that the alleged "act like a lady" comment "was a little unnecessary."

Though Brooks won't face any criminal charges, the Denver Police Department has opened an internal investigation into his actions.

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  1. If I’m a cop, and I can arrest someone for photographing me, it doesn’t matter if the arrest is legal or not, if nothing happens to me as the cop. I’ll arrest you just to stop you from photographing or interfering. The arrest is the punishment. I don’t give a shit if the case is thrown out.

    1. ^ ^ ^ ^ ^


    2. Of course the District Attorney said that.

      She should press charges, she would win or they would settle.
      This guy from CO did and they settled:


      1. Doesn’t matter if she wins a lawsuit. If nothing happens to me as the cop, then I will continue to arrest people who photograph me. Lawsuit payouts don’t change my job, my salary or my guaranteed pension.

      2. Oh, and sure, I have “watch a video”. I’ll get “training pay” for that, and I won’t change my behavior one iota.

        1. Not even trying to make them accountable just enables more of the same behavior.

    3. If they refuse to let justice take place in the jury box, they demand that justice take place from the cartridge box.

    4. It is, in effect, illegal to photograph police in Denver.

    5. If you’re a cop you can arrest someone for no reason at all, disorderly conduct they call it, and nothing will happen to you.

  2. Though Brooks won’t face any criminal charges, the Denver Police Department has opened an internal investigation into his actions.

    Problem solved then.

    1. It may take a while though. I think they have to wash their hair and do other important things first.

  3. Do any lawyers out there know whether or not the law forbids journalists from doxxing cops?

  4. As long as the cops made it home safe, all is well.

  5. >>> told her to “act like a lady.”


  6. Their response: That I was hurting myself by resisting

    Indeed, and resistance is futile.

    1. I don’t hope that officer ever gets shot, but I do hope he resists some bullets passing through where he’s standing.

  7. …our newsroom is poised to take whatever action necessary to compel the city to keep its police from restraining journalists or anyone else exercising their First Amendment rights in Denver.

    That does not seem to be the case.

    1. That does not seem to be the case.

      Exactly, they issued a boilerplate statement.

  8. She says Brooks claimed she was violating the naked man’s privacy rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Protection Act.

    Uh, OK, sure thing.

    Because she was obtaining exactly what kind of medical records from where? And a HIPPA violation is a federal rap, not local. They should charge the cop with felony stupid. On the other hand, what difference, at this point, does it make?

  9. “There is insufficient evidence to charge and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer’s conduct constituted criminal offenses,”

    Wait, I’m confused.

    She wasn’t committing a crime, so the cop detaining her would, by definition, be a crime – its kidnapping. So, he committed a crime, there’s no doubt he committed a crime – he admits to the actions – so the only thing left here is whether or not he walks under ‘qualified immunity’. As in ‘the right of the people to go about their legal business unmolested by the state’ is not ‘well established’.

    1. Her rights were clearly violated.
      You think the district attorney is going to be proactive here? That would indeed be a rarity.

      She should file a lawsuit herself or nothing changes at all.

  10. She will file suit. The cop will claim qualified immunity. The cop should lose because it has been established that photographing police in public is a right. But some judge may grant him qualified immunity anyway.The woman will receive a high dollar settlement paid for by the citizens of Denver. The cop will do it again because there has been no deterrent. And life goes on.

  11. Examp;e # 24,356,712 of why when I hear that a cop was shot in the face I say ” who cares ? I sure do not ” !

  12. Fucking pigs

  13. Oh, good. I’m happy they opened an internal investigation. Now we KNOW the officers will be held accountable for their actions. I guess this is that “thin blue line” that I keep reading about on bumper stickers.

  14. Wow, such a lack of reason in this thread.

    Pretty simple. You’re allowed to photograph cops, but you’re not allowed to photograph naked people without their consent.

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