Lawsuit: “F-word” not a crime

Lawsuit: “F-word” not a crime

The word is used in many situations by a variety of people. It can accentuate anger, excitement or a feeling of boredom. On occasion people just scatter it randomly throughout the course of a conversation. Sometimes it is used with an inflection giving it the tone of a question, such as “What the [f…]?”. Which may be your reaction regarding a lawsuit recently filed in Berkeley County.

The suit, filed on Jan. 30 names the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office as the defendant. The complaint alleges during a conversation between a deputy and the plaintiff — that was calm and non-confrontational — the plaintiff was arrested for using the four-letter-word.

Court papers stated that on or about Jan. 30, 2018, deputies got a call about a person driving erratically near Goose Creek High School. When deputies arrived they made a traffic stop and began a sobriety test on the plaintiff’s girlfriend, according to court records.

Court Documents state while the test was going on the plaintiff and a deputy were a short distance away involved in casual conversation when the deputy commented, “That he [plaintiff] was on thin ice for his use of the F-word” and he would be arrested if he used that word again.

The complaint stated the plaintiff was surprised to hear this and challenged the deputy’s statement that using the “F-word,” or any cuss word generally, could somehow be against the law and even offered to “Google it.”

Court documents stated, as the discussion — said to be calm and non-confrontational — continued the deputy said, “If you want, I can just go ahead and charge you with it.”

The complaint stated that is indeed what happened. The suit claimed the plaintiff was placed in handcuffs, illegally arrested and falsely imprisoned.

The lawsuit stated, “The defendant [deputy] failed to conduct his sworn duties to uphold the law, instead insisting that a new law existed which prevented someone from exercising their right to free speech in a quiet personal conversation with a police officer.”

Court papers stated three main causes of action: false arrest and imprisonment, malicious prosecution (because judicial proceedings following the incident against the plaintiff ended in his favor) and defamation of character.

Regarding the defamation, court documents stated that because the plaintiff was arrested, handcuffed and walked to the deputy’s vehicle in front of various members of the public, it indicated the plaintiff was criminally arrested.

The lawsuit stated the defendant’s actions of walking the plaintiff in handcuffs, taking him to the detention center, and making his mugshot available for publication in the mugshot newspaper and online have all defamed the character of the plaintiff.

The court documents state the plaintiff seeks damages for things that include: anxiety issues, public shame, loss of freedom, loss of employment and wages, mental pain and emotional distress.

If there is more to the incident, no one is talking yet.

The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

The department did confirm the deputy involved in the incident from 2018, is still employed with the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office.

The Berkeley Independent tried to contact counsel for the plaintiff, but no comment has yet been made.