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Tuesday, May 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Instagram-Linked Arrest May Have Been Libelous

MIAMI (CN) - Accusing a Florida man of threatening police after he posted "Diary of a Cop Killa" on Instagram may amount to defamation, a federal judge ruled.

Daniel Larosa said the controversy stemmed from some comments he posted on his Instagram account next to album art for the song titled "Diary of a Cop Killa."

Larosa allegedly wrote "It's sweetwater pd that's gotta die!!! Lol."

Police in Sweetwater, Fla., soon arrested Larosa at his job, a school for the disabled. He was charged with threatening a public servant with the intent to influence the public servant's performance of official duties.

Larosa sued the city, the arresting officers, mayor Manuel Morono and Police Chief Roberto Fulgueira for falsely arresting him and violating his rights.

Sweetwater countered that it is an immune sovereign, and that a negligence claim against a police department is not an actionable cause of action under Florida law.

U.S. District Judge Robert Scola found neither argument persuasive.

"The city seems to fundamentally misunderstand the law regarding bringing a negligence suit against a municipality," Scola wrote. "In this lawsuit, Larosa is not a crime victim claiming that the police were negligent in stopping his assailant. Larosa has plainly alleged that City of Sweetwater police officers unlawfully restrained him against his will and that the detention was unreasonable and unwarranted under the circumstances. Even when alleged against law enforcement officials, these allegations are enough to make out a claim for false arrest."

Sweetwater also failed to challenge Larosa's complaint as a "shotgun" pleading, which is a pleading that points at several defendants where the plaintiff is imprecise in asserting which actions are attributable to which defendants.

Scola said the complaint details a precise set of facts, and then alleges several theories of liability against the several defendants.

Larosa cannot, however, allege that the city failed to train and supervise its officers.

"Larosa has not adequately asserted the connection between the constitutional violation that he allegedly suffered and the deficiencies in the City of Sweetwater's training or supervision policies that are attributable to Fulgueira and Marono," Scola said.

Though he dismissed the claims against Morono and Fulgueira, Scola denied motions to dismiss Laronsa's claims of defamation and false arrest.

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