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Monday, May 20, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

City Not Liable for Arrest of Mouthy Diner Patron

ORLANDO (CN) - A federal judge has dismissed claims from a couple who say officers arrested them because the wife told a not-pregnant female officer that her belly made it look as though she was "having a baby."

In a February 2012 complaint against Officers Kelly Williams, Jennifer Shaffer, Kevin Theriault, Michael Brouillette and the city of New Smyrna Beach, Polly and Thomas Granger said they suffered physical and emotional harm because of an allegedly false arrest.

On Nov. 21, 2010, New Smyrna police responded to a local restaurant where a "minor dispute" had occurred.

The Grangers, who were sitting in the restaurant, told officers that they were not involved but a dispute had occurred. Allegedly convinced that another patron was involved in the conflict, Officer Theriault threatened to arrest everyone for disorderly intoxication, according to the complaint.

After no one complained of being victimized or hurt, the officers allegedly told the group to go home.

But instead of going home, Polly Granger says she made rude comments to Willimas, such as, "Are you having a baby?" and "I thought her belly looked like she might be pregnant. Sorry."

After heated words, the officers arrested the Grangers for disorderly intoxication, according to the complaint.

A restaurant manager has characterized the incident differently, saying the Grangers were belligerent and started a fight.

Polly Granger says police dropped the bogus charges, but that she lost her job as a nurse because of the arrest.

She and her husband claim New Smyrna never disciplined the officers, who were negligently hired and trained.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell dismissed the city as a defendant Monday, finding that the Grangers' claims rely solely on the officers' conduct and the city's failure to punish them.

Their claim for failure to train is not sufficient because they cannot show deliberate indifference on the part of the city, the decision states.

Without a pattern of constitutional violations, the Grangers cannot allege that the city deliberately avoided training officers in this area, Presnell said.

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