Bill Rolland, a professional videographer from California, said all he was doing was videotaping the outside of a building in downtown Miami for a client last month when he was arrested on terrorism charges.
But a security guard claims Rolland vowed to blow up the building, which houses the Israeli and German consulates.
Police were called and shut down the area, arresting Rolland and finding no explosives on him.
But now, almost three weeks after the July 25 incident, a federal grand jury indicted Rolland on one count of conveying a false bomb threat. He could face up to five years in prison.
In an interview with Photography is Not a Crime Saturday, his attorney said Rolland is innocent.
“My client was there on legitimate business to interview the CEO of a company that is also housed in that building,” said Robert Stickney.
“He was on the street videotaping the front of the building when a security guard came running towards him and told him he was not allowed to videotape the building.
“My client corrected him and told him he was allowed to videotape the building from the street.
“The security guard said if he didn’t stop, he would call police.
“My client told him he was not going to stop videotaping, that he was only doing his job.”
The security guard then walked back inside, apparently to call police.
Meanwhile, Rolland finished his shot and walked back towards the building, informing the security guard that he did not have time to wait around, but if police wanted to talk to him, they were welcome to come to his hotel which was only a couple of blocks away.
Rolland then went on his way, stopping into a Walgreen’s to purchase a few items.
Stickney said a security guard came running after him yelling profanities.
When Rolland emerged from the store, he was surrounded by Miami police who ordered him to drop all his belongings.
Even though they didn’t find explosives on him, streets were shut down, the bomb squad was called in, traffic was backed up and news stations warned locals to stay away from the area.
The Associated Press based its report on the FBI affidavit:
Investigators said that on July 25, Rolland walked into a lobby of an office building on North Biscayne Boulevard and began talking loudly on a cell phone while videotaping the lobby with a camera.
A security guard approached him and asked if he needed anything. Rolland initially ignored the guard, then later confronted him and asked if he had a problem with him talking on his phone, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit. The guard said he didn’t have a problem.
Rolland then went outside and started videotaping the outside of the building. He then came back into the lobby and told the security guard and a building engineer, “Listen, I am going to blow up the building tomorrow,” the affidavit said.
Rolland’s website indicates he’s nothing but a professional videographer who specializes in corporate video.
Bill Rolland, Inc. specializes in writing, directing, and producing corporate “interview-style” videos. With its worldwide partnerships and global reach, Bill Rolland, Inc. is able to provide video production resources wherever they are needed. As importantly, Bill Rolland, Inc. is in demand by clients who want their project handled virtually “touchless” – independently, professionally, and successfully.
Clients include such Fortune 100™ companies as Apple, Chevron, Cisco, ConocoPhillips, Infinera, US Signal, Verizon, XO Communications, and many more.
He has several clips on his site, including the above tutorial on how to shoot with a Flip camera where he doesn’t exactly fit the profile of a domestic terrorist, whatever that would be.
Stickney said Rolland had the cameras rolling when he was harassed by the security guard across the street, but had turned them off when he walked back towards them and told them he was leaving, which was when he allegedly threatened to blow up the building.
Stickney said the building’s surveillance video, which has no sound, shows Rolland pointing to his hotel during this brief conversation.
He said it is just a matter of overbearing security guards who are fabricating the story because he defied their initial orders.
“The security guards got upset with him because he defied their authority,” Stickney said.
“But their authority does not extend to the street. My client has been doing this for 25 years. He knows what his rights are.”
Rolland is back home in California after being released on a $300,000 bond.