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, a first update including his initial court appearance was posted here on August 27th, shortly after the incident happened.
Date of Upcoming Trial: November 17, 2015
Department Involved: Lakeland Police Department (Florida)
Officer Involved: Officer Aaron Peterman
Department Phone Number: (863) 834-6900
This is going back to a video I posted in April of 30 officers clearing a lot, which somehow ended in no arrest…Fast forward three months to July 27th and I am being arrested at my house for missing court on a trespassing arrest I never knew I had received. It wasn’t until I was at the Polk County Sheriff Station midway to the Bartow Booking facility where I was briefly shown a copy of a police report and realized I had been arrested over a video. After spending 23 hours between three facilities in custody, I returned to what I thought was the parking lot which the video referred to. At this point I had still never been told I was permanently trespassed from the property. So I went to speak with the security officer just to confirm my suspicion that he had never spoken with police that night.
I still had not read the police report at this point… I had to wait 30 hours after getting out of jail before I could do a public record request with the Lakeland Police to figure out one butthurt Officer Aaron Peterman watched a video 18 days after the fact and decided to go back and file a report for trespassing, citing my making fun of him in the video as his evidence.
I had only spoken with Peterman briefly. I had already spoken to the private security officer and two other Lakeland police officers at that point. Both told me I was good to be there doing what I do. There were about 30 officers total that night, 29 of which had no problems with me being there. The problem was 200 intoxicated people leaving a club at once.
In the full length videos from April I can be heard instructing the girl I was filming with to stay back from the crowd and other tips that would usually count as interfering with police. The officer however only pointed out the minute and second of each time I made fun of his lack of order.
During the brief encounter I had with Officer Peterman, he informed me that security wanted everyone out. This was a lie. Possibly security of the club wanted everyone out but not security of the parking lot. That old man didn’t care about anything.. obvious from my video.
Peterman will lie in his police report saying the corporation that owned the parking lot gave them authorization to trespass people that were not patronizing a business or loitering, but I was able to gain a copy of the authorization form and it only cites their authorization to trespass for threats to public safety and welfare, neither of which my being there filming fell under. This property while owned by a private corporation “Nickanna Corp” rents spaces to the City of Lakeland on the property in question, including the court house I must go to to defend myself from these charges.
The full length videos from that night show a man hitting a woman. Officer Peterman not only doesn’t arrest him, he walks the still-yelling man and woman to their car to send them off. When he first approaches me and tells me about their trespassing powers, he starts to tell me to “go out there and film.” I ask if I can film them getting the people out and he confirms “as long as you are moving with us”. I don’t know exactly how to take that, but I know in my years of filming the police and dealing with the word “trespassing” my brief encounter with Officer Peterman was not in any way a direct order to leave under the threat of arrest.
Every few minutes in the video I pointed out Peterman and made fun of the fact that he had given me a half-ass non-order and I joked about having to stay away from him. Peterman misquotes my jokes as me seriously wanting to stay away from him. Yet minus an invisibility cloak, I followed him (and 20+ other officers) through the parking lot as they broke up fights and sent people home. The only thing I was worried about is that Peterman would actually give me a direct order to leave. He hadn’t successfully done that yet…he still hasn’t.
Knowing I live in Lakeland, they had the court summons sent to Avon Park and waited…I returned to the parking lot in question filming for the following four weekeneds. Many LPD saw me there filming in the following weeks, but no one told me I had been trespassed, I had an upcoming court date, or I missed my court date…I had to hear about it while being arrested for missing my court date…Funny how they knew right where to find me when that happened.
I know I can win this in court with the video evidence, but I also know the court may find ways to keep it out. I would ask people call both the Lakeland Police Department at 863-834-6900 and the Prosecutor’s office at 863-802-6240 and let them know how you feel about the arrest! It seems punitive and a waste of tax-payer money to me.
– Michael Burns