Local police help manager and arrest owner!

An Opinion By Jan Bergemann 
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc. 

Published July 11, 2007

 Watch VIDEO

What started as a peaceful meeting of condo owners ended in disaster!


On Saturday, June 9, 2007 in the FONTAINEBLEAU TERRACE OWNERS ASSOCIATION, INC. in Panama City Beach a meeting for “owners only” turned ugly.   Community association manager, Ray McDonald (License: CAM 30257), didn't want to understand the meaning of OWNERS ONLY and busted into the meeting.


When the condo owners, who held a noticed meeting in the community room, refused him access to the meeting, McDonald called the Panama City Beach Police Department and bullied his way -- with the police aggressive help -- into the meeting room, based upon the false idea of (quote): "I am the community manager, I can come anywhere I want!"

This statement shows clearly a total lack of understanding of the situation. McDonald is the manager, a hired hand -- nothing else! The owners, who he successfully bullied into stopping the meeting, are the ones paying his salary -- that's it! What letter of "OWNERS ONLY" didn't he understand? Obviously, his training necessary to get the CAM license didn't include this important fact!

And if the owners hold a meeting announcing on a sign: "Owners Only!" he has no business in being in that room. It was very obvious that the owners didn't want him at the meeting -- for a 

Community Association Manager

Ray McDonald

(CAM 30257)

specific reason: They were holding a meeting to recall the board, according to Florida Statutes.   And everybody in the community -- including Ray McDonald -- knew that he was the next to go if this recall attempt was successful. Clearly he tried everything to bust this meeting with the help of a pushy police officer, who claimed that nobody can prohibit him from entering the private meeting room. Seems he missed some important lessons during his education, too?  Pushed aside at the door were the owners, who calmly stated that this is a meeting "For Owners Only".


From viewing the videotape it seems that the police acted more as if they were involved in a drug bust than in a peaceful meeting of condo owners.

The result of the police intrusion into this meeting:
The lady holding the video camera was thrown across the room, ending up with a concussion -- but her camera kept rolling. Another lady suffered an injury to her knee. And one owner was arrested and spent 7 hours without food or water in the Panama City Jail until he was finally bonded out by fellow owners -- his neighbors. As a result of the arrest he even lost his job!

The video tells most of the story and is self-explanatory.

A peaceful gathering of condo owners exercising their right to

Panama City Beach Police

Officer OFC Donald Nichols

hold a meeting to recall their Board of Directors, as guaranteed by Florida Statutes, was obviously stopped by unlawful means.  I couldn't find anywhere laws that would justify the interference of police officers in this meeting.


They surely have some explaining to do: PCBPD OFC Donald Nichols and CAM Ray McDonald.

CAM Ray McDonald surely achieved his goal of stopping the meeting that most likely would have cost him his job. With the help of his "friendly" colleagues from the Panama City Beach Police Department -- Ray McDonald is a former Georgia State Trooper -- he busted the meeting and stopped the owners from doing what they planned to do: Fire the community manager and some board members.

But I guess the two "buddies in arms" (OFC Donald Nichols and CAM Ray McDonald) will have quite some explaining to do.  

Not only have law-abiding owners been physically injured due to the actions of McDonald and Nichols, another owner lost his freedom for about 7 hours -- and was fired from his job because of this arrest. 


And to add insult to injury: When the ladies, who were hurt in the scuffle caused by the police interference, went to the Police Station to report the incident later that day, they were told by Sgt. Jeffrey Heath, the Duty Officer, that their comments would not be welcome or even heard: "The only comments that matter are what the officers have to say," was Officer Heath's response to these ladies. 


After you watch  the video, you may be really interested to read the AFFIDAVIT COMPLAINT officially filed by OFC Donald Nichols. Especially the NARRATIVE OF THE BASIS FOR PROBABLE CAUSE 

really seems to differ from the events seen on the video and the statements of witnesses. Sorry, if what we see on this video is (quote) "a lawful execution of a legal duty,” then I surely seem to misunderstand civil rights. And calling the private meeting room of a condominium a "Common Access Area" is definitely stretching it very far. In my opinion neither CAM McDonald nor OFC Nichols had any right to bust into this private meeting. Officer Nichols surely couldn't claim that he suspected any criminal activity in this room -- or could he? His actions seen on the tape surely give that impression.

Ongoing investigations will definitely show more light into this incident that seems to include all the makings of an interesting story: Violation of civil rights, police brutality, and further proof that our statutes claiming to protect the rights of owners in mandatory associations are ineffective and have no teeth.

For many years we have tried to convince our legislators that statutes are useless if the people in charge and the professionals can't be held accountable.

This incident teaches another lesson for owners: Use the written petition for recall as provided in the Florida Statutes [ Condo FS 718.112(2)(j) + HOA FS 720.303(10) ]. It's easier to use; it is much more difficult for the sitting board and their attorneys to oppose it; and it surely avoids nasty confrontations as seen on the video. Please contact CCFJ, Inc. at for detailed instructions about the recall process!


This incident shows clearly that the laws fail our citizens. When will our legislature finally stop playing around -- to the detriment of the owners -- and create laws with real teeth? Laws that take away licenses from so-called professionals and put a stop to these shenanigans?



Condo Owners Cry Police Brutality

Probe of scuffle urged