BAY COUNTY Fla. (WMBB) — The Youtuber arrested by Bay County Sheriff’s deputies last week when videotaping outside a UPS facility said he plans to file a lawsuit.
Jason Gutterman’s lawyer Kevin Alvarez claims he was exercising his first amendment rights and his arrest was unconstitutional.
“It has been the law that you can film on public sidewalks for decades,” Alvarez said. “Everybody knows that, except apparently these officers. “
On November 9th, Gutterman and his son stood outside the UPS facility on Minnesota Avenue in Lynn Haven shooting video for what he called a “project.”
“So the story about UPS was how are they going to react to somebody filming on the sidewalk outside of their facility,” Alvarez said. “It’s a public interest story.”
But that original project has morphed into something else. After UPS workers complained, Bay County Sheriff’s deputies showed up around 2:45 p.m.
They asked Gutterman what he was doing, but he refused to answer.
“Apparently law enforcement didn’t like that explanation and were dissatisfied when he didn’t provide identification,” Alvarez said.
Quoting a Florida statute that prohibits people from being within 500 feet of a school and within an hour of dismissal, without a valid reason, deputies arrested Gutterman.
Gutterman’s attorney claims that the statute is no longer constitutional.
“Engaging in journalistic activity is a permissible purpose,” Alvarez said. “I think this is now an attempt by the sheriff to try and justify somebody’s constitutional right by trying to dog whistle this is for the children.”
A judge dismissed Gutterman’s charges last Friday. He is now considering a lawsuit against BCSO.
This is nothing new to Gutterman, who stages videos like this all over the country for his Youtube channel.
However, Alvarez claims Guterman doesn’t do it for baiting or compensation.
“This is trying to make positive change,” Alvarez said. “He is trying to educate those about the first amendment and trying to make sure that people don’t violate it and here’s the question.”
Gutterman has only sued one other agency in the past. He said he thinks he deserves an apology.
Bay County Sheriff’s officials issued a statement over the weekend, but would not comment Monday.