Mullet Roe at Panama City Beach

by Daniel Johnson

> On March 16, 2001 officers of the Panama City Beach police force, following their shutdown of a charity band concert, illegally detained my clients and I. I was representing a band called Mullet Roe, who were to take part in a charity event for the local lifeguard service. Live bands had been legally performing at this location everyday, weather permitting, for the entire month of March until 9:00 PM, but not that night. Unfortunately, the police shut down the event while Mullet Roe was performing their allotted forty-five minute set well before the 9:00 PM stop time. Although these officers were apparently acting on orders from their superior, the manner in which they carried out those orders was, I hope, not the standard practice for Florida law enforcement. In short, we were as a group and individually subjected to profane language, told that we were facing all manner of criminal charges, and general rude behavior. As several officers and a narcotics dog milled about, looked over our belongings, and continued their comments, we packed up our gear and left for our nearby hotel. The U-haul was almost immediately pulled over for suspicion of drunken driving and the driver was asked to allow the vehicle to be searched. He allowed the search to take place and was soon released to continue onto the hotel. While searching the vehicle and trailer the officers jokingly commented on having just taken part in the raid on the concert.

Shortly thereafter, a band member and I arrived at the hotel in a second vehicle. An officer immediately approached and we were detained. He said we both matched the description of an escaped prisoner and that we would have to keep our hands on the trunk of his car until back up could arrive. We look nothing alike and neither of us resembled the description of the escaped prisoner given to us by the police officer. Another officer arrived and immediately started berating my client for thinking he could get away. After finishing, the officer turns to the other and says this is not the runner and we are free to go.

Extremely displeased at having been publicly humiliated and cursed in front of thousands of people we asked for the officers’ names and badge numbers. One officer complied, while the second officer, John Deegins #37, refused and said "you don’t need to see our badge numbers, you need to get the hell out of here." My client refused to leave without the requested public information and the officer hand cuffed him and ticketed him for blocking a public road. Again, he would have been in his room had we not been detained there. While writing the ticket, the officer made several comments about shutting down my clients’ concert earlier and how my client was getting off easy. In addition to a fine he was ordered to appear the following morning in “Spring Break Court” at 8:00 AM Saturday March 17, 2001.

I am an honest businessman and taxpayer. My clients, Mullet Roe, are licensed entertainers. We came over fifteen hours to your state to perform charitable work for a good cause with no promise of compensation. Aside from the benefits of exposure a new audience, potential sponsors, record label representatives and venue owners present at the concert there was prize money to be awarded based on the live performance. By not being able to complete an uninterrupted show we lost the chance to perform for these important industry contacts and the chance at any financial compensation. It is not often that people go to great lengths to organize and support an alcohol free charity event in a tourism-based economy. I have never had such a distasteful experience with a community’s government and law enforcement as I encountered in Panama City Beach. Aside from the fines and bail, we spent several thousand dollars in your state and it appears as though it was an expensive mistake. In writing this letter I am asking for some action to be taken to prevent future injustices as well and make amends for those already committed. I hope that this is not how Florida treats all small businesses and that we are just the targets of a few undisciplined police officers.

. . .
This letter was sent before the charity event was complete and before they disconnected their phone. If you have questions or comments, please send them to me. If you are interested in the rest of the details and the final outcome with the event itself, I will let you know as I do.

Daniel Johnson
Innovative Artist Management, LLC.
PO Box 37265
Raleigh, NC 27627
(919) 859-5514

Innovative Artist Management, LLC.
Mullet Roe

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