Michael Burns, of CopBlock Central Florida, submitted this post, via the Cop Block submissions page. This consists of an update on his arrest, supposedly for trespassing, the charges for which were not filed until months after the incident from which they originated. That arrest was reported previously on CopBlock.org in this post by Ademo. In addition, the video included below shows Mike’s initial court appearance for the arraignment on those charges.
Date of Incident: 8/19/15
Department Involved: Lakeland Police
Contact Phone Number: (863) 834-6900
On April 12, 2015, myself and someone else that will remain nameless were recording about 30 police officers clearing a parking lot of about 200+ club goers. When we first arrived I spoke with the security guard who granted us permission to film what was going on. From there we spent about 10 minutes filming as police started clearing the club. One hot-headed 5′ tall bouncer had a problem with us filming however I reached out to two different police as they were passing, one of whom can be seen and heard on video saying we were good to be there filming.
Insert Officer Aaron Peterman of the Lakeland Police Department, coming to tell everyone they had to leave. He approached us and said “We have been asked to clear the lot.” I asked him if we can film as they are doing it and he gave a very half-ass comment of “as long as you are moving with us” or “them.” The last word is debatable, but either way it was not a direct order to leave and no threat of arrest had been made.
We spent the next 10 minutes filming as the crowd dwindled, but a few small fights happened. We watched a man hit a woman in the face and Officer Peterman did nothing, but walk them to their car. I made a few (quite a few) sarcastic and comedic (in my opinion) comments as to having to stay away from Officer Peterman during the last 10 minutes of filming. I knew what he had told me was not an actual order to leave the property under threat of arrest, but I did not want it to reach that point. So I did keep about a 50′ bumper area between myself and the officers as they were doing what they were doing. No other officer seemed to have a problem with me being there and again, in my opinion, Officer Peterman at the time was just going with the flow and said what he said never to be heard from again. I poked the bear with a few sarcastic comments that he ended up hearing two weeks later when he watched the video on my YouTube channel.
He set my arrest in motion by filing papers with the state saying my video showed me in the act of trespassing after being ordered to leave. That never happened, but either way, they sent the papers for an arraignment to my house, knowing full well that I wasn’t living at my house. I was staying in Lakeland. They waited…they waited…I missed court…they waited…I saw Officer Peterman on the streets a few times after this and likely every other Lakeland Police officer at least one time between them filing for my arrest and my being picked up for a bench warrant for missing the court date. Funny how they knew right where to find me at that point.
Finally my arraignment. After they once again switched the arraignment date from the 20th of August to the 19th and mailing the notice to my house once again so I would miss court. I was smart enough to check online every day following my arrest and I noticed this the same day they did it. I showed up and they basically tried to get me to take a plea that would end up costing me about 700… 1000, if you include what I paid for bond and what they stole out of my wallet while in jail for a “housing fee.”
I will not be accepting the plea and will be fighting it. My next scheduled pre-trial is Sept. 15th, 2015 in Lakeland, Florida…though this is likely to change with notice being mailed elsewhere.