CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit claiming that a man was unlawfully arrested after insulting a Cape Girardeau police officer.
The suit was filed Friday in federal court on behalf of David Clary and names the city of Cape Girardeau and officer Matthew Peters as defendants, The Southeast Missourian (http://bit.ly/1u9C1ha ) reported. The suit says that Clary was driving in Cape Girardeau in August 2013 when he was pulled over and cited for making a prohibited turn.
Clary began insulting Peters and continued to do so after the officer attempted to end the confrontation and leave the scene, according to the suit. Peters warned Clary that he would be arrested for violating a city ordinance if he could be heard at more than 50 feet, the suit says.
Clary ultimately was detained for about an hour and claims he was arrested for no reason other than his “expressive activity.” The city says the issue is being handled by its insurance company so it can’t release any information. Phone messages that The Associated Press left at numbers believed to be Peters’ weren’t immediately returned Saturday.
Tony Rothert, Clary’s ACLU lawyer, said Clary was speaking at a normal volume at 10:45 a.m. on the day of his arrest and that he was on a public street. According to the suit, Clary’s actions were protected by the First Amendment and did not violate any law.
Clary alleges that the officer was not adequately trained regarding the First Amendment.
Public information officer Darin Hickey said Cape Girardeau officers abide by the Missouri Department of Public Safety’s Peace Officer Standards and Training Program, which requires officers to receive 48 hours of mandated training every three years.
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