Case dropped against YouTuber, armed fisherman, arrested in Brevard County
BREVARD COUNTY, Florida – Known to tens of thousands of fans on YouTube as “SoloYaker” and “The armed fishermanMichael Taylor, 41, was arrested in late March for allegedly illegally recording a phone call with an employee of Brevard Parks and Recreation. Last week, he was informed that the state prosecutor had not filed any information in the case.
“It is always important to register your public officials so that you have a record of what they are telling citizens,” Taylor told FLORIDA TODAY on 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 carrying 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 officer to the scene and checking all of Taylor’s licenses, the police apparently resorted to the trespassing broadcast 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 the port of firearms in Florida while hunting or fishing.
It is not uncommon for gun rights activists on YouTube to check in with guns while fishing, expecting police to be called to the scene and to record the interaction that is taking place. result.
While critics denounce 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 “auditing”. The community of “listeners” spans the political spectrum and includes more than gun rights activists.
However, Taylor wanted to make sure he could return to the park and open without incident, and called officials to ask for some sort 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 time during the recording posted to YouTube did Taylor seek consent to the recording, as required by Florida law. The registered official also told investigators that he was never asked for consent.
Titusville Police then investigated the case and obtained a warrant against Taylor who was arrested on March 25 for breaking Florida’s third-degree wiretapping law. Taylor was released after posting $ 2,000 bail.
Shortly after his release, Taylor told FLORIDA TODAY he intended to fight the charges and said the case law was in his favor. Taylor fans and other YouTubers have reacted to his arrest with outrage, with some calling him “retaliation” for Taylor’s videos.
In January 2021, Taylor gave Titusville Police and Brevard Parks and Recreation notice of intent to prosecute for violating his rights.
“They violated my rights and they didn’t care,” he said. He declined to say whether he would 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 constitute 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 saying that it is not a punishable offense to record an officer doing police business on a public highway because there is no expectation of confidentiality in this space. But a phone conversation is quite different from a traffic stop. “
The no-information notice, filed April 27, actually means the state attorney is choosing not to prosecute the arrest charges. Taylor wants to know why. “What is their position on this? He asked “I definitely want to know if I’m going to be left alone.”
Attorney General 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 expiration of the limitation period.
A spokesperson for the Titusville Police Department said Wednesday the agency had made 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 the subject of arrests and charges. This month, he said, an open carrying case against him was abandoned when he went fishing, guns, in Bal Harbor, near Miami Beach. He said he would “definitely” prosecute authorities in Bal Harbor.
For now, Taylor intends to keep doing what he’s doing. “I will continue to do what I do … the Second Amendment and the responsibility of the government.”
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