YouTuber files notice of lawsuit with Bay County Sheriff

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — A man who was arrested after filming on the sidewalk near a business and school has filed a notice that he intends to sue.

Jason Gutterman was arrested on November 9, 2021, while driving past a business on Minnesota Avenue and near two schools, Mosley High School and New Horizons Learning Center.

In his April 15 letter to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, the City of Lynn Haven and the Florida Department of Financial Services, Gutterman’s attorney Kevin Alvarez said he was unlawfully arrested.

“During the filming, deputies from the Bay County Sheriff’s Office and officers from the Lynn Haven Police Department beat Mr. Gutterman and his son, continued to falsely imprison Mr. Gutterman, and falsely arrested him. “, wrote Alvarez. “Mr. Gutterman was incarcerated in the Bay County Jail, suffering the indignities of such confinement for hours until his release.

Gutterman’s attorney said he was arrested based on an unconstitutional law. However, in a press release after Gutterman’s arrest, Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford defended his deputies and said they arrested Gutterman under a law still in place and designed to protect students.

“BCSO deputies provided the men with ample opportunity to allay the deputies’ concerns as to why they were in the school safe zone,” Sheriff Ford wrote. “They thought it was more important to protect students from potential harm than to protect their reputation from any potential damage they would face on social media. Florida State Law 810.0975 is an actionable criminal offense. As such, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office may choose to pursue this charge against Gutterman, but has decided not to.

However, that press release was defamatory, Alvarez wrote.

Sheriff Ford “falsely released into the public domain that Mr. Gutterman was a criminal and maliciously insinuated that Mr. Gutterman’s expression of free speech had nefarious intent toward the school,” Alvarez wrote. . “The sheriff must have known that his officers at the scene knew that Mr. Gutterman had no interaction with the school, nor had he filmed the school.”

Alvarez added that the lawsuit involves assault and battery, false imprisonment, false arrest, malicious prosecution, First Amendment retaliation, libel and willful indifference.

Gutterman’s videos are on at least two YouTube channels with over 100,000 subscribers. On these channels, he posts videos of his interactions with law enforcement officers, federal employees and others. The videos include titles such as “3 Cops Owned and Fired”, “Tyrant Exposed”, and “Karen Loses Her Mind”.

Or, as Alvarez describes it, a “popular Youtube page” where Gutterman “highlights and educates the public about the rights we all enjoy under the First Amendment.”

The Bay County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on the ongoing litigation.


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