DENVER (CN) – A Las Cruces man who was arrested after calling a woman a “bitch” for taking his parking space may proceed with a lawsuit accusing police officers of using excessive force and violating his constitutional rights, the 10th Circuit ruled.
Officer Chris Gallegos heard driver James York say “bitch” or “what a bitch” after a woman pulled her car into a spot in the Target parking lot that York had been waiting to nab.
Gallegos pulled up behind York and confronted him as he got out of the car, asking, “Who were you calling a bitch back there?” York told Gallegos that it was “none of his business” and allegedly became increasingly belligerent.
Gallegos called for backup, and officers Frank Lucero and Greg Martinez arrived and helped Gallegos arrest the plaintiff. York was charged with disorderly conduct and evading an officer.
He challenged his arrest and the way in which it was carried out.
“Although the word ‘bitch’ may be offensive to some, any reasonable police officer should have known that he could not arrest Mr. York for loudly saying this word under the circumstances,” Judge Anderson wrote.
The court added that the officers probably overreacted, as “there is no evidence that any reasonable person would react violently to hearing this word.”