LOS ANGELES (CN) – The Los Angeles Police Department unconstitutionally uses decoys to arrest gay men for the bogus crime of soliciting “nonmonetary intimate association with other men,” a man claims in a federal class action.
Eric St. Mark Christie seeks to represent a class of men “arrested for soliciting or engaging in lewd conduct by Los Angeles Police acting as decoys.”
Christie claims the LAPD targets the men because “they are perceived to be interested in meeting, in public, men interested in nonmonetary intimate association with other men.”
Christie says he was arrested after he unwittingly solicited an undercover cop.
He claims the LAPD has a “policy and custom” of sending decoys into areas where men solicit sex from one another, and that this policy violates constitutional guarantees of free speech, equal protection, and protection from search and seizure.
He sued the City of Los Angeles, Chief Charlie Beck and the four officers who allegedly arrested him in Hollenbeck Park on May 6, 2011.
Christie says that on that day he encountered a male plainclothes officer who “pretended to be sexually interested” in him.
“After a short conversation, the two adults agreed to engage in oral sex to take place inside a totally enclosed restroom stall whose door could be locked from the inside,” according to the complaint.
Christie says the decoy-cop signaled to his three fellow officers to initiate an arrest, though Christie had not broken any law, and the agreement to have sex in a stall was a “legal solicitation.”
As the plainclothes officers moved in, Christie says, he “ran in terror” believing he was about to be mugged. He claims the cops ran him down and assaulted him.
“(T)he LAPD never arrest men by women decoy officers for nonmonetary sexual solicitations nor do they arrest women by male decoy officers for nonmonetary sexual solicitations,” the complaint states.
Christie says criminal charges against him were dropped in April.
He seeks a jury trial, an injunction and class damages for excessive force, discriminatory arrest, false arrest and conspiracy.
He is represented by Bruce Nickerson of San Carlos.
The LAPD declined to comment.