Judge Tosses Artist’s Constitutional Claims

     WASHINGTON (CN) – A federal judge dismissed the remaining claims of David Olabayo Olaniyi, who was arrested in 2003 while touring the Capitol wearing a costume of newspapers, shampoo bottles and honey jars held together with duct tape.



     U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton dismissed most, but not all of Olaniyi’s claims last year, ruling that his rights may have been violated when he was injected with an unknown drug following his arrest in the mental health unit of D.C. jail and again during a separate traffic stop during which Olaniyi says he was unlawfully detained.
     Olaniyi, a native of Nigeria, says he’s “an artist, philosopher, scholar, performer and director.” He claimed he was conducting research for his stage play in the Capitol when police arrested him and searched his car on suspicion that he was going to bomb the Capitol. He claimed the costume he wore was “an artistic garment” composed of trash found around the city. According to the ruling, Olaniyi’s singing and dancing in the Capitol attracted police attention.
     In his complaint, he says that Capitol police officers smashed a hand-carved mask sculpture he carried and cut off his costume because they said it resembled vests worn by suicide bombers.
     The search of his car did not turn up any explosives, only glass jars filled with urine.
     He was detained in the mental health unit of jail where he says he was “forcibly injected with a drug that caused him to lose consciousness” by a city employee, who told Olaniyi that it was diabetes medicine.
     In 2004, Olaniyi’s van was pulled over by police near the Capitol because the van’s license plate was obscured by dirt and there was snow on the roof. Police conducted a canine search of the vehicle while Olaniyi’s wife and two children were inside, but found no contraband.
     “In short, Olaniyi has failed to produce any evidence from which a reasonable jury could find that the Capitol Police unlawfully detained him during the January 2004 traffic stop,” ruled the judge.
     Judge Walton also dismissed Olaniyi’s claim that the city’s deliberate indifference and poor training led to him being drugged against his will in jail, stating that “the evidence offered by Olaniyi concerning deficiencies at the D.C. Jail ‘with respect to patient care in general,’ … is insufficient to establish deliberate indifference in this case. Showing a history of general problems with medical care at the D.C. Jail does not suffice.”The ruling marks an end to Olaniyi’s law suit against 37 federal defendants and city officials.

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