CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (CN) - A California man who went to a small South Texas town to visit a woman he'd met on Facebook claims he was detained for no reason by the town's police chief, who put him on a bus back to California after telling him, "You are not welcome here, you gotta go."
Devon Armstrong sued the city of Taft, Texas and Police Chief Klaus Mansion on Tuesday in Corpus Christi federal court.
The self-styled "Friendliest Cotton-Pickin' Town in Texas," Taft, population 3,000, is 18 miles north of Corpus Christi.
Armstrong says in his lawsuit that he went to the Taft Police Department's headquarters in November 2016 and reported that he was being threatened by his ex-girlfriend's family.
"Mansion told plaintiff that he had two options: that either plaintiff could leave or he will arrest his ex-girlfriend’s mother," the complaint states.
Armstrong, who was homeless at the time, says he still had feelings for his ex-girlfriend and didn't want her mother to be arrested, so he agreed to leave Taft.
"Mansion had a police officer escort plaintiff to a shelter in Corpus Christi and sent plaintiff a bus ticket," the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit does not name Armstrong's ex-girlfriend, but local media reported that Armstrong had traveled to Taft from California in autumn 2016 to visit Taft resident Amber Aranda after meeting her on Facebook.
Armstrong's attorney, Christopher Gale, said in a phone interview Wednesday that Mansion or Taft police officers put Armstrong on a bus bound for California two or three times.
Gale said Armstrong is no longer homeless.
"He's living in California and doing well...I think he might be attending school," Gale said.
According to the lawsuit, after Taft police dropped Armstrong off at the Corpus Christi shelter, Armstrong's ex-girlfriend contacted him and told him a business in Taft had offered him a job and scheduled him to work the next day.
So Armstrong returned to Taft to take the job, he says.
Armstrong says shortly thereafter, a Taft policeman approached him in the city’s public library, told him to step outside, handcuffed him and took him to the police station.
"Plaintiff was informed that he had been issued a criminal trespass warning for the city of Taft and could not return. Apparently, the criminal trespass warning had been issued by Chief Mansion," the complaint states.
Armstrong says Mansion told him at the police station that he was banned from the town and if Mansion saw him there again he would be arrested.
"There is a big sign when you came into town didn’t it, it said Taft that means stay the hell away, you are not welcome here, you gotta go, turn around, go back, however you want to interpret it, it’s the same thing, you are not welcome here.” Mansion told Armstrong, according to the lawsuit.
Mansion told a Taft policeman to take Armstrong to the bus stop and "make sure this boy gets on the bus," the lawsuit states.