BREVARD COUNTY, Florida – Known to tens of thousands of fans on YouTube as “SoloYaker“and”The armed fishermanMichael Taylor, 41, was arrested at the end of March for illegally recording a phone call with an employee of Brevard Parks and Recreation. Last week, he was informed that the prosecutor had not filed any information in the case.
“It is always important to register your officials so that you have a record of what they are telling citizens,” Taylor told FLORIDA TODAY Monday. “Whether it’s a conversation or an interaction with the police, the camera doesn’t lie.”
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Taylor’s case in Brevard stems from a June 2020 incident when he received a trespass warning while fishing and opened with an AR-15 style pistol and Glock 23 handgun at Parrish Park near the Max Brewer Bridge in Titusville. Police in Titusville had responded to concerned citizens at the sight of Taylor with his guns. After calling an FWC agent to the scene and checking all of Taylor’s licenses, the police apparently resorted to issuing the intrusion to get him to leave, according to News 6 Florida Today partners.
Taylor complied with the intrusion and successfully challenged it and had it removed. It is legal to open firearms in Florida when hunting or fishing.
It is not uncommon for gun rights activists on YouTube to check in with open guns while fishing, expecting police to be called to the scene and tape the interaction. resulting.
While critics decry the practice as an attention-grabbing spectacle, activists say they are performing an important civic task of testing local law enforcement’s knowledge of gun laws. The practice is also known as Second Amendment “verification”. The community of “listeners” spans the political spectrum and includes more than just gun rights activists.
However, Taylor wanted to be sure he could return to the park and open the transport without incident, and called the officials to ask for some kind of written guarantee that the trespass warning had been lifted. Taylor recorded all of her interactions, including a phone call with a parks and recreation manager. At no point in the recording posted to YouTube, did Taylor seek consent for the recording, as required by Florida law. The registered official also told investigators he was never asked to give consent.
Titusville Police later investigated the case and obtained an arrest warrant for Taylor who was arrested on March 25 for violating Florida’s wiretap statute, a third degree felony. Taylor was released after posting $ 2,000 bail.
Shortly after his release, Taylor told FLORIDA TODAY he intends to fight the charges and said the case law was in his favor. Taylor fans and some other YouTubers have reacted to his arrest with outrage, with some calling him “retaliation” for Taylor’s videos.
In January 2021, Taylor notified Titusville Police and Brevard Parks and Recreation of his intention to prosecute for violating his rights.
“They violated my rights and they don’t care,” he said. He declined to say whether he was going to continue the prosecution.
Frank LoMonte, a freedom of information law expert at the University of Florida, said that while most interactions with public officials can be freely recorded, a phone call with just one person would still require consent.
“Whether the recording can be grounds for arrest and prosecution depends entirely on the circumstances and whether the conversation can be considered a private conversation. A phone call between two or three people is generally considered a private conversation that Florida law requires consent to record, ”LoMonte wrote in an email.
“There is good First Amendment case law that it is not a punishable offense to register an officer doing business with police on a public highway because there is no expectation of confidentiality in that space. But a phone conversation is quite different from a roadside stop. “
The no-information notice, filed on April 27, actually means the prosecutor has chosen not to prosecute the arrest charges. Taylor wants to know why. “What is their position on this?” he asked “I want to know definitely if I’m going to be left alone.”
State Attorney Phil Archer’s office has not responded to calls and emails since Monday. Technically, a non-information filing leaves open the possibility of prosecution in the future until the limitation period has expired.
A spokesperson for Titusville Police said Wednesday the agency had no comment.
Taylor’s experience with the Brevard County justice system is not his only contact with the law. The Port St. Lucie resident has previously been arrested and charged. Just this month, he said, an open carrying case against him was abandoned following the moment he went fishing, guns in tow, in Bal Harbor, near Miami Beach. . He said he would “definitely” prosecute the authorities in Bal Harbor.
For now, Taylor intends to keep doing what he’s doing. “I will continue to do what I am doing … the Second Amendment and the responsibility of the government.”
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