(CN) – A Minneapolis bridge expert arrested for entering the site of the I-35W bridge collapse in 2007 cannot prove the city retaliated against him for criticizing it on “Geraldo,” a federal judge ruled.
The I-35W bridge collapsed in Minneapolis on Aug. 1, 2007, killing 13 people and injuring 145. Timothy Galarnyk gave interviews to several news stations the next day, offering his expert opinion about the cause of the collapse and criticizing the state transportation department for its handling of bridge inspections prior to the collapse.
Later that day, Galarnyk entered the collapse site command area without proper credentials and arguing with officials in an Occupational Safety and Health Association trailer.
State patrol officers arrested Galarnyk a short time later when he was trying to drive away from the site in his truck.
Galarnyk later filed a federal lawsuit, alleging false arrest, First Amendment retaliation and other claims.
He claimed that State Patrol Capt. Tom Fraser illegally stopped and falsely arrested him, and that Fraser told other officers that Galarnyk was on Geraldo Rivera’s Fox News program, and that they needed to “‘keep him locked up in a deep dark room so he doesn’t get any more information.'”
He also claimed that Minneapolis Police Department Capt. Mike Martin made retaliatory statements about him in a press conference about the collapse and security issues. News outlets used his statements, and WCCO news station claimed Galarnyk “posed as a federal official from Washington D.C.”
U.S. District Judge John Tunheim found, however, that there is no evidence that Martin identified Galarnyk by name.
On Monday, Tunheim granted summary judgment to all the defendants, which included Capt. Fraser, Capt. Martin and the city of Minneapolis.
Officers had probable cause to arrest Galarnyk, who admitted “he was in a secured area without authorization and was disrupting official meetings in the midst of an emergency scene,” according to the 21-page decision.
Tunheim added that the First Amendment retaliation claim “fails as to Fraser for probable cause, as to Martin since the statements would not chill a person of ordinary firmness, and as to both for failure to demonstrate sufficient retaliatory motivation.”
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