Tommy Franks Jr. of Mesa, Arizona has a clear record now that a jury has ruled in his favor in a lawsuit over his arrest by San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department deputies. Franks was placed under arrest on Feb. 6, 2019, at a Winco Foods Grocery in Apple Valley, California that he was delivering to when the deputies thought he was loitering.
BOLs were not enough to prove Franks had reason to be at the store
According to the article on LandLine.com, the deputies were shown the bills of lading proving Franks, a driver for Swift Transportation at the time of the incident, was delivering to the store. The deputies then asked for Franks’ driver’s license, which he refused to give when he asked what he was being arrested for.
California does not currently have “stop and identify” statutes that require individuals to show identification to law enforcement officers in any instance. Officers are unable to legally detain for failure to produce identification without reasonable or plausible criminal suspicion.
The court filing also accused the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department of failing to train their deputies:
The situation then spun out of hand, with verbal alterations between both parties and Franks being placed in handcuffs which he said were “clamped down tight enough to hurt his wrists.” Franks asked for the deputies’ supervisor to come out and unfortunately, that only appeared to make the situation worse.
- Not to handcuff people so tightly as to cause injury.
- That it is not a crime in California for a person to refuse to identify themselves to a police officer.
- Retaliation against civilians for their verbal protest of police actions is proscribed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and cannot be criminalized.
- Failure to immediately comply with police orders is not a violation of California Penal Code 148(a)(1).
The trucker was criminally prosecuted for resisting, delaying, or obstructing a peace officer in the lawful performance of his or her duties, which is only a misdemeanor in California, back in June 2019. On Sept. 27, 2019, the court dismissed the case due to insufficient evidence.
“A very pro-police jury” sides with Franks
Franks’ countersuit against the county began immediately after he was cleared of charges. On Feb. 1, 2023, the jury at the Central District Court of California ruled in his favor for $375,000 for exemplary damages from the wrongful arrest, as well as opening the door for additional damages in other cases.
The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors settled with Franks for $125,000 for punitive damages, after making an initial offer of just $5,000. Jerry Steering, the attorney that represented Franks, admitted that even though his client bore a bad attitude toward the deputies, that is not cause for them to place him under arrest and then harass him through physical and verbal means.
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