A veteran who was arrested for buying and carrying bug spray and light bulbs in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, is suing local and state police for their actions, claiming they violated the Fourth Amendment.
The case is being handled by the Rutherford Institute.
John Miska, 64, a veteran, was arrested last year for “lawfully purchasing canned iced tea, bug spray, light bulbs and razor blades” in the town’s downtown area on the anniversary of the 2017 racial riot.
Police had closed off the downtown area, and he had to pass through security to go there.
Oddly, he was not challenged for the two legal guns he was carrying.
But after he was inside the secure area, he made the purchases.
Shortly later he was confronted by police, who had declared all items that could be an “implement of a riot” off-limits, and arrested.
Charges were thrown out in a few weeks.
“Talk about overkill: government officials spent more than $3 million on security for the August 12 anniversary events, only to have a dozen police swarm a disabled veteran with a walker buying cans of iced tea and bug spray from a CVS,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute.
“Unfortunately, this case is far from the only example of a dysfunctional, excessive government that overreaches, overspends, and is completely out of sync with the spirit of the Constitution,” he said.
The confrontation developed a year after the Aug. 12, 2017, clash over the city’s decision to remove a Confederate statue from a public park.
Over the anniversary weekend, government officials declared a pre-emptive “state of emergency” and deployed 700 police, some in riot gear, at an expense of more than $3 million. As part of the city’s emergency measures, police established a “security area” around the downtown mall, restricting access and prohibiting the possession of numerous objects.
Lawyers for Miska said their Fourth Amendment lawsuit names government officials who arrested him.
“A district court judge later dismissed the charges … ruling that the ordinance used to justify the veteran’s arrest was overbroad and unreasonable and, therefore, unenforceable,” Rutherford said.
The emergency was declared by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who lately has been embroiled in a controversy over his comments about abortion after birth and a racist photo in his medical-school yearbook.
Some 700 officers, many in riot gear, were deployed and, Rutherford said, restricted the free movement of persons “on public streets, and imposed a broad ban on innocuous items such as metal food and beverage containers, aerosol sprays, glass bottles, skateboards, masks and hoods at a cost of several million dollars.”
Whitehead previously explained his client, using a walker, was “buying cans of iced tea and bug spray from a CVS” when he was swarmed by officers and arrested.
“Miska was then handcuffed, arrested and charged with violating Section 18-25 of the City Code and a draconian ’emergency’ declaration that prohibited anyone from entering the mall in possession of common household items, including metal beverage and food cans, glass bottles, skateboards, aerosol sprays and any other item police considered an ‘implement of a riot,'” Rutherford said.
WND reported Miska was facing a fine of up to $250, had the charges not been dropped.