Body camera footage capturing the moment police handcuffed a Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist going about her job has been released.
Susan Greene, editor of The Colorado Independent, was driving through Colfax Avenue, in downtown Denver, when she spotted police tended to a handcuffed almost-naked man on the sidewalk.
She stopped and attempted to begin photographing the scene when police took exception – telling her if she didn’t stop she would be arrested.
Greene, who was a finalist for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and is now editor of the Colorado Independent, was promptly handcuffed and led to a patrol car but can clearly be heard on the footage saying the officers were causing her pain and questioning on what grounds she was being arrested.
The officers could be heard telling her to ‘act like a lady’.
However, Denver District Attorney Beth McCann says there was not enough evidence to file and prove criminal charges against the officers involved.
Denver police approached Susan Greene, editor of The Colorado Independent, an online news outlet, as she was taking photos of them standing near a naked man on a Denver sidewalk
Greene says police told her to stop taking photos and, when she refused, handcuffed her
Colorado law protects the public’s right to photograph police officer’s actions
The officer claimed that photographing the man violated his right to medical privacy
The video shows officer James Brooks then used his body and hands to block her taking photographs but she told him her right to do so was protected by the First Amendment.
She was handcuffed after she then tried to photograph his badge.
Officers told her to stand up and ‘act like a lady’ and to stop resisting and relax when she said they were hurting her. She was released after about 10 minutes after the officer consulted with someone on his cellphone.
After refusing to stop taking pictures, Greene was handcuffed
Greene’s struggle with the police was caught on police bodycam as they led her to a patrol car
The Denver police officer who handcuffed Greene and placed her in his patrol car for taking pictures of a police stop will not face charges.
Greene said a police officer ignored her assertions that she had a First Amendment right to take photos on a public sidewalk. Colorado law protects the public’s right to record the actions of peace officers.
Greene said a police sergeant later assured her he would look into the incident and ensure evidence was preserved for review.
She also filed formal requests under the Colorado Open Records Act for records both about the incident and about what happened with the unidentified man on the sidewalk, she said.
‘As it turns out, Officer Brooks didn’t like having his picture taken,’ Green wrote at the time. ‘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.’
‘I wasn’t resisting,’ she added. ‘Not even close.
‘I’ve been wondering since then what would have happened if I weren’t white or a journalist, or if I hadn’t mentioned those pesky ‘public sidewalk’ and First Amendment details, or if this hadn’t gone down in broad daylight, right across the street from the state Capitol, and within view of body cameras, halo cameras and onlookers,’ she wrote in a July column.
Colorado prosecutors will not file charges against a police officer who handcuffed Greene
Greene wrote in a column for her paper she was glad the incident happened in broad daylight
Denver’s police department has opened an internal investigation but not yet commented
She was held in the back of a squad car for 12 minutes before being released
Denver’s police department said last month that it launched an internal investigation into Greene’s detention.
A police statement issued last month said officers had summoned an ambulance while tending to ‘a person in crisis’ near the state capitol building when ‘a bystander began taking pictures of the incident’.
‘Officers confronted the bystander and detained her until after the person was transported to the hospital,’ according to the statement released by Jay Casillas, a department spokesman.
Amber Miller, a spokeswoman for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, said the city takes seriously ‘the importance of the First Amendment, and Denver is not about arresting journalists who are doing their job. That said, it will be important not to prejudge the situation until the internal investigation that is underway is completed.’
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. She joined the Independent in 2013.