FARMINGTON, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico man was arrested for swearing in a restaurant. Now he’s suing police.
In June 2013, Farmington Police officers had just sat down to a late-night meal break at IHOP when a group of four guys came in, sat down and started using the f-word.
It wasn’t “flapjacks.”
There were kids around so the officer walked over to the table and warned them, saying, “…if I hear anyone at this table say the f word one more time in the presence of customers, then that person will go to jail,” according to the criminal complaint.
Tye Trujillo, 30, couldn’t resist dropping another f-bomb, and when the officer heard it, Trujillo was arrested for disorderly conduct.
“They have a personal preference for people, apparently, to not use the f-word in public and that’s not a standard under the law,” said Trujillo’s lawyer, Joe Kennedy.
On appeal, a judge agreed, and Trujillo’s charges were dropped.
Trujillo is suing the City of Farmington, saying the city failed to train its officers in constitutionally protected speech and in this case, the right to use vulgar language.
“We go down a slippery slope when we allow police officers to decide what is and isn’t appropriate behavior,” Kennedy said. “They’re there to decide what’s lawful behavior.”
Kennedy says managers have the right to ask customers to leave restaurants for using vulgar language. If a customer refuses, an officer could arrest that person for trespassing. But in this case, that didn’t happen.
“I think all of us at times can use some language that we might not use in church,” he said.
Trujillo’s lawsuit against the City of Farmington asks for damages for deprivation of civil rights.