Andrew Henderson watched Ramsey County sheriff's deputies frisk a bloody-faced man outside his apartment building in Little Canada, Minnesota, a suburb of the Twin Cities,on October 30, 2012.
That's when Henderson took out his small handheld video camera and began recording.
One of the deputies, Jacqueline Muellner, approached him and grabbed the camera out of his hand, reports TwinCities.com.
Muellner said: "We'll just take this for evidence. If I end up on YouTube, I'm gonna be upset."
Randy Gustafson, spokesman for the Ramsey County sheriff's office, said: "It is not our policy to take video cameras. It is everybody's right to [record] what happens out in public happens out in public."
The day after Henderson's camera was taken, he went to the Arden Hills sheriff's substation to get it back. However, the officers refused to give the camera back to Henderson.
A week later, Henderson was charged with tw misdemeanors: obstruction of legal process and disorderly conduct.
Deputy Muellner wrote on the citation: "While handling a medical/check the welfare [call], [Henderson] was filming it. Data privacy HIPAA violation. Refused to identify self. Had to stop dealing with situation to deal w/Henderson."
Deputy Muellner's was claiming that Henderon's video recording violated HIPAA, or the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which is part of Obamacare.
Jennifer Granick, of Stanford Law School, told TwinCities.com: "There's nothing in HIPAA that prevents someone who's not subject to HIPAA from taking photographs on the public streets. HIPAA has absolutely nothing to say about that."
Henderson went back to the sheriff's office on November 17 to get a copy of the police report and to retrieve his camera.
Deputy Dan Eggers told him: "I think that what [the deputies] felt was you were interfering with someone's privacy that was having a medical mental health breakdown. They felt like you were being a 'buttinski' by getting that camera in there and partially recording what was going on in a situation that you were not directly involved in."
Henderson recorded his conversation with Deputy Eggers on another device, but finally got his camera two days later. However, his footage from earlier had been erased.
Henderson does not intend to make a plea deal with prosecutors: "I'm in the right. If they don't drop it, I'm definitely going to trial."
Henderson works as a welder and does not qualify for a public defender. He is representing himself in court.