A truck driver has been awarded $500,000 for a wrongful arrest during a delivery to a grocery store.
San Bernardino County, California supervisors agreed to the settlement on Tuesday, February 7th for the February 2019 incident.
According to the San Bernadino Sun, truck driver Tommy Franks Jr. was making a delivery to a WinCo supermarket in Apple Valley, so he parked his rig behind the building at the loading dock and went inside to inform management of the delivery and buy some muffins as a snack. As Franks was walking back to his truck, San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies tried to stop Franks to question him.
When officers asked what he was doing, Franks responded only “walking.” The officers then asked Franks for identification but he refused and stated that he was being illegally detained. Franks was then placed under arrest for “loitering” despite holding the manifest for the delivery in his hand, and wearing a uniform with a logo matching the logo on the semi truck.
Franks asked officers “how can I be loitering if I’m walking?” and asked multiple times to speak to a supervisor, but officers told Franks that he was being hostile and had taken a fighting stance, leading to his arrest.
Once placed in the back of the patrol car, Franks asked the deputy “is it hard to breathe with your head that far up your ass?” and the deputy grabbed Franks’ beanie off of his head in response. Franks spent that night in jail and was released the next day. He was then charged with resisting arrest, but the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office dropped the case because of insufficient evidence.
Franks’ attorney, Jerry Steering, says that legally, the trucker did nothing wrong.
“It was apparent to Mr. Franks that both (the deputy’s) decision to arrest him, and to apply the handcuffs in an excessively tight manner, were in retaliation for Mr. Franks’ verbal protests … and for Mr. Franks’ requests to speak with (a) supervisor,” said a court document filed by Steering.
“My guy is dumb enough to think he has rights,” Steering said. “It is not a crime in the state of California to refuse to identify yourself to a cop (even if) they have a legal reason to detain you.”
The Sheriff’s Department declined to comment on the incident on Tuesday.