State attorney refuses to prosecute a college student who was arrested after taping Tarpon Springs Police

7:29 PM, Feb 18, 2011   |    comments
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Tarpon Springs, Florida -- William Kilgore says he believes the Tarpon Springs Police Department wanted to intimidate him with his arrest in January when he and his friend, Tommy Frain, were taping a Tarpon Springs Police officer on the street.

Frain says he believes there is no question the Tarpon Springs Police did something wrong.

Pinellas State Attorney Bernie McCabe apparently agrees. His office refused to prosecute Kilgore, who refused to turn over his video camera.

Kilgore says if he hadn't been more savvy about his rights, the police department may have scared him out of ever taping police again.

But Tommy Fain and William Kilgore say the Tarpon Springs Police report contains a blatant lie when it says Kilgore was told he could legally record a traffic stop. It is not a matter of the boys' word against the department, because the entire incident was caught on tape and didn't happen the way the police report says it did.

On tape, Corporal Steve Gassen tells Kilgore, "Just so you know, if you have the audio on without our consent, that is a felony. "

Kilgore  tells the corporal he is wrong and Gassen says, " That's Maryland, this is a federal issue still supported by the Florida Supreme Court and it states you could get wrapped up in a $5,000 bond."

Kilgore tells Gassen he has read the law and the police officer asks if he is a lawyer, saying," I have arrested numerous people for it in public."

Tarpon Springs Captain Jeff Young says he is not aware that his officer didn't do anything wrong. Even though we reminded him the report says Gassen said it was legal to video tape but, in fact, he is saying Kilgore is committing a felony, violating wiretap law and that he could be arrested. Young says he hasn't seen the tape.

Meanwhile, the two college students say this reminds them of what's going on in the Middle East. Frain says when you see it happening in America, the land of the free, how much further is it going to go?

For now, the State Attorney's Office  won't let Tarpon Springs go any further.

Mike Deeson, 10 News

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