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Police Tell Journalist To ‘Act Like A Lady’ While Arresting Her For Recording In Public ?

Image Credit: NowThis Her/Facebook

On July 5, Susan Greene, a veteran reporter and editor for The Colorado Independent, was driving through Denver when she noticed what she described as “police surrounding a nearly naked African American man sitting handcuffed on the sidewalk.” Having written “extensively” about police brutality in the past, she decided to pull over and film what was happening on her phone.

As she approaches the officers, she’s immediately cut off from filming by Officer James Brooks, who is quickly joined by Officer Adam Paulsen. Both attempt to block her sightline and tell her she cannot record what’s happening “because doing so violates the HIPAA rights of the nearly naked man they have cuffed.”

Body Cam Footage Shows Denver Police Telling Reporter To 'Act Like A Lady' During Arrest

This reporter was told to 'act like a lady' while police arrested her for recording video in public

Posted by NowThis Her on Wednesday, August 29, 2018

HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the law which protects an individual’s right to medical privacy.

Greene responded somewhat testily:

There’s also a First Amendment. Have you heard of it?

The officers begin telling Greene:

Step away, or you’ll be arrested for interference.

Their warnings became even more urgent as Greene tried to capture their badge numbers on video. Moments after warning her once again, the officers put Greene in handcuffs and told her:

Stand up straight. Act like a lady.

Greene says what any woman would think:

Are you f**king kidding me? Act like a lady?

To which the officers respond:

There you go. Now you can go to jail.

As the police lead Greene to their vehicle, she repeatedly complains they are hurting her, which they claim is a result of her resisting their arrest. She was held in the police car for roughly 12 minutes before being released, after which she asked for her arresting officer’s badge numbers and they asked for her press badge.

District Attorney Beth McCann later called Greene to inform her the city would not be pressing charges against the two officers, according to a post in the Colorado Independent:

(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.


What was said during the first 30 seconds of Greene’s encounter with the officers is unclear (including whether or not she identified herself as press). When a police officer activates his or her body cam, it will automatically include the prior 30 seconds of video, but audio only begins recording when the officer turns the camera on, which is why many body cam videos feature lengthy portions of silence.

Denver Police Department spokesman Jay Casillas claims an internal investigation into the officer’s actions is ongoing, though Mari Newman, a lawyer for Greene and The Independent, may not wait to take legal action against the police department:

The one thing we’ve seen over and over again is the city drag its feet for months and months and months in doing an internal investigation. Certainly we’re not going to sit on our hands while the city takes its sweet time to investigate an event that took a matter of minutes. If we need to file a legal action to hold the city accountable, so be it.

She also had something to say about the officers’ assertion that Greene could not film due to HIPAA:

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, for one, is glad the body cam footage of her encounter has finally been released:

It squares exactly like how I remember it. The only thing I didn’t realize is that when it was happening, both of the police officers told me to act like a lady, which raises the question: How exactly should a lady act when being wrongly detained on a public sidewalk for exercising First Amendment rights?

H/T – The Colorado Independent, Facebook


Written by Collin Gossel

Collin Gossel is a writer and comedian living in Brooklyn, New York, but there are nights when he looks up at the stars and wistfully thinks to himself “there’s got to be more out there…” You can catch Collin improvising new musicals every Tuesday night at the Magnet Theater’s Musical Megawatt, or follow his unfiltered thoughts on Twitter and Instagram @CollinGossel.--