Florida Police Accused of Harassing Citizen Filming in Public and Then Making Anonymous Calls of Possible Crime

florida-cop-frames-activist-masturbation.sivideo cameraThere is a controversy surrounding another confrontation between a police officer and a citizen over filming officers in public. We have been following the continuing abuse of citizens who are detained or arrested for filming police in public. (For prior columns, click here and here). Despite consistent rulings upholding the right of citizens to film police in public, these abuses continue. The latest story has a weird twist. Critics are alleging that, after Michael Burns had a confrontation with Lakeland officer Javier Perez, the officer allegedly placed an anonymous call to claim that Burns was masturbating in his car.


The video shows Burns at a considerable distance. The officer questions him and demands his name and identification. The officer pushes for his name and identification. Later an officer confronts him and tries to rip the camera off his wrist. He tells him to stop filming even though he has a right to do so and says that he does not have a right to film but then says that the camera will be seized for “evidence.” The officer fails to identify a clear criminal charge while the officer keeps repeated the same statement that just by refusing identification he has committed a crime. The suspicion seems however to be the fact that the camera is the basis for the possible crime. By simply claiming he is under investigation, the officer demands the camera and other information. He then says that the camera will be subpoenaed for his camera.

Weblog Photography is Not a Crime detailed the original confrontation:

“Turn the camera off or else I’m going to seize all your equipment”

Can you get the sheriff?”

“I can but I won’t.”

“Can I get the supervisor?”

“I am the supervisor. I’m in control and you’re not.”‘

“No sir, I’m a citizen. I’m ok.”

“What you need to do is be quiet.”

“No, sir, I’m allowed to talk.”

“No you’re not.”

“First Amendment, yes sir.”

“I’m fixing to put you under arrest.”

“For what?”

No answer.

“You think I make up stuff?”

The officer is also quoted in refusing to give his badge number:

“Can I have your badge number?”

“No, you may not. When I arrest you in a minute, you can have it.”

The officer invoked “post-9-11” as the basis for these actions out of concern that he is filming them and “county buildings.”

Now another website is claiming reported that Burns filed two public record requests with police on his record and found that two calls were made by an anonymous caller to report a “suspicious person” masturbating inside a car. Burns told the site that “I did a Spokeo search and it came back to a Javier Perez. I then Googled the name and discovered a Javier Perez had been hired by the Lakeland Police Department.” He says that he cannot make a concrete link but that, according to the site, “a sergeant has confirmed that police are looking into claims that Perez has made false 911 calls.”

That is a very serious allegation and could be the basis for defamation by Perez if untrue. If true, it is equally serious for Perez. Florida states that:

817.49 False reports of commission of crimes; penalty.—Whoever willfully imparts, conveys or causes to be imparted or conveyed to any law enforcement officer false information or reports concerning the alleged commission of any crime under the laws of this state, knowing such information or report to be false, in that no such crime had actually been committed, shall upon conviction thereof be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.”

What is clear is that the video shows what does appear to be harassment and baseless claims by the police to stop this citizen in the exercise of his first amendment rights. The attempt to seize the camera in the name of “evidence” shows a new spin in police seeking to stop filming by citizens.

Kudos: Michael Blott

36 thoughts on “Florida Police Accused of Harassing Citizen Filming in Public and Then Making Anonymous Calls of Possible Crime”

  1. LPD officers are taught that if someone is filming them “to just go about your business as you normally would,” Gross said.

    Grady deputies do the opposite when I film them in my yard or elsewhere.

    Arrest April 2, 2014 – 11:57 pm
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-TU1n7rb70

    The Neighborhood
    http://michaelleekribbs.blogspot.com/…/01/censor-ship.html

    I even get questioned when I didn’t take videos.

    December Violence at Melody Acres
    http://michaelleekribbs.blogspot.com/2013/01/december-3-2012-i-heard-siren-and-went.html

  2. Brian Harris PhD is very confused. He needs a little Dianetics & Scientology to put him on the right track. There are answers. Life is not a total riddle. Give it a try, Brian. Start with something simple like ‘The Way To Happiness’ before you move on to anything more complex. That might be all you need.

  3. The attempt to seize the camera in the name of “evidence” shows a new spin in police seeking to stop filming by citizens.

    That’s hardly new.

  4. RE: anon, June 7, 2014 at 6:46 am

    “There is no way to break the cycle.” -bc

    Prosecute them when it’s appropriate. Put them in jail when it’s warranted. Fire them. Take away their pensions. Rein in their bad behavior and we might see less of it.

    ***** *****

    There is a way to break the cycle.

    I know what it is.

    I am familiar with it through my lifelong encounter with human society.

    I understand it because I live it as the core process of my actual life.

    *****

    The cycle is the vicious cycle of self-referential and self-reinforcing deception which is of traumatic moral injury generated by human ignorance of how to actually and pragmatically live in full accord with fully rigorous truthful honesty.

    The dichotomous alternative to fully, rigorously, truthful honesty is deception in any, and/or in every, possible form.

    Whereas ,models of reality are subjective personal and social constructs, reality itself is not, and cannot ever be, a social construct; this being the simple consequence of humans and human society being tangibly observable constructions of tangibly observable objective reality.

    In a life of more than 75 years, I have never observed any accident/crash/mistake/crime/blunder/tomfoolery/stupidity/violence/hatred/love or other event of any kind or form or function whatsoever which actually happened which was actually avoidable through any sort of actually-achievable process whatsoever.

    Seventeen years ago, I was busy working on writing my Bioenginering PH.D. dissertation. it has been available, via the Internet, on the INDIGO web pages of the University of Illinois at Chicago since November 27, 2012, with a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. I observe that my dissertation seems to have been downloaded, worldwide, more than 500 times, and I have not been informed of one iota of a whit of a refutation of the core scientific finding of my bioengineering dissertation.

    The core scientific finding in my Ph.D. bioengineering dissertation is, to put it simply, actually-avoidable events never actually happen.

    So what?

    Absent any actually-avoidable event ever actually happening, the essential philosophical premise of the Anglo-American Adversarial System of Law and Jurisprudence, that “culpable mens rea” is biologically real, is an absolute and eternal existential fallacy.

    The term, “psychological defense” (if a useful definition of “psychological defense” is “a mental mechanism which distorts reality in the service of the {Freudian?} Ego) is, for me a synonym for “delusion.”

    Please note that I, as a demonstrably competent biologist, categorically and absolutely reject any and all notions which hold that what is, or is not, a delusion is in any way a property or function of human social consensus.

    Given the fact, scientifically established fact that no mistake ever made could have been avoided through any actually, tangibly achievable process, the notion that avoidable mistakes are made is, in truth, insanely psychotic.

    Also the notion that mistakes made should have been avoided, given the scientific fact that actually avoidable mistakes do not and can not actually exist, is tragically insanely psychotic.

    The Anglo-American Adversarial System of Law and Jurisprudence is an exercise of insanely psychotic cultural/social self-referential tragedy of overwhelmingly catastrophic effect.

    It is the insanely psychotic nature, in both form and function, of our system of adversarial law and adversarial law enforcement, which drives peace officers into inescapable violence against those they have supposedly striven to protect from violence.

    Adversarial law and adversarial law enforcement are immensely disastrous double-bind social and personal calamities.

    Until humans grasp the fact that it is the form and function of adversarial law which drives good people into supposedly bad behavior, we will continue to victimize the victims of child abuse; abuse presently as-though intractably grounded in pervasive, pre-historic-origin ignorance of human neurology and human biology.

    The remedy for human destructive violence is not more sacrifice, for human destructive violence is sacrifice driven by sacrifice.

    The remedy for human destructive violence is rigorously truthful honesty and the unconditional mercy such honesty relentlessly engenders.

  5. “There is no way to break the cycle.” -bc

    Prosecute them when it’s appropriate. Put them in jail when it’s warranted. Fire them. Take away their pensions. Rein in their bad behavior and we might see less of it.

  6. Police officers are horrible people. Horrible people become police officers because they get paid a large salary to be horrible. There is no way to break the cycle.

  7. What are “two hyper links”? Is this something to do with bi polar or manic depressive, or hyper activity?

  8. Charging cops and officials equally as they would any civilian should be a no-brainer. There is so much abuse by officers and officials here, but in some countries, notably Britain, officers get more stringent punishment because they should be setting an example.

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