DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Lawrence Gauthier, the 61-year old arrested Sunday by Volusia County, Fla., sheriff’s deputies for calling 911 and demanding that the media be arrested, has a simple explanation for his actions: “I fucked up.” The emergency services call had nothing to do with politics, though. Gauthier rarely watches the news, and when he does, it isn’t national cable news, he told The Daily Caller.
Orlando and Daytona Beach newspapers and television stations jumped at the story, reporting that Gauthier had called the police 16 times since the “arrest the media” incident in November. Some national outlets, such as Slate, linked Gauthier to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement. He says he’s not political.
The reports didn’t specify whether those 16 calls were 911 calls or non-emergency line calls. Gauthier said he doesn’t think they were 911 calls — but, then again, he doesn’t quite remember. In any case, he said TheDC was the only news outlet that contacted him for his side of the story.
Gauthier, whose friends call him “Gator,” told TheDC that his history of calling 911 isn’t as straightforward as the sheriff’s office would like people to believe. At least some of the calls, he said, were warranted. It started one day last month when he called 911 to ask why several police cars were outside his property and who the sheriff’s deputies on the scene were. It turned out they were there drug-busting the tenant in the trailer he rents out next to his residence.
The situation escalated when the sheriff’s office wouldn’t give out deputies’ names. Gauthier said he doesn’t remember how many times he called 911 after that, but can recall at least three or four.
“I just want to know who was on my property,” Gauthier said. “And why they were here. It’s easier to talk to the person that was here when something else comes up than to try calling the regular telephone line.”
He has business cards stuck to a bulletin board from every law enforcement and other visitor to his property since he bought it in the early 1990s. He’s lived in the same house since then, save a two-year stint in prison for multiple DUIs.
After the 911 operators had heard Gauthier’s voice enough times, a sheriff’s deputy came and told him he would be criminally charged if he didn’t stop. Gauthier says he took the threat seriously.
“Nobody wants to go to jail, right? I listened to the deputy,” Gauthier said. “Then, I fucked up.”
Gauthier called 911 again. He said he never called the media biased, and the police report doesn’t say he did either.
Gauthier told TheDC that the audio of that 911 call is unintelligible or inaudible because he knew he had made a mistake and was trying to wriggle out of the situation. He said he told the 911 operator he meant to dial 611 to be connected to a phone book listing. The 6 on his cell phone is really close to the 9, he said.
Gauthier said he was planning to ask the ATT operator to connect him to Orlando’s WESH-2 affiliate so he could suggest the newsdesk to look into why sheriff’s deputies weren’t giving out business cards anymore — like they used to.