A Mobile man claims polices searched and arrested him without any reasonable cause, and now Mobile Police say they are investigating his arrest.
Tom Herder, 58, says Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson even called him after what Herder calls a crazy Saturday afternoon.
Herder says he was picking up trash in his Midtown neighborhood with his dogs when two Mobile Police officers approached him.
Herder says the officers told him there had been a number of burglaries in the area, and they were looking for suspicious activity.
Herder says when the officers originally approached him, they asked for his ID. Herder claims he did not have identification on him because he was just a few blocks from his house.
He says he gave the police his name, address and other personal information.
That’s when he said the police asked him to put his hands on the car to be patted down for a search.
Herder admits he was sarcastic with police, even cursing, but says he was not belligerent.
“I was appalled, and I protested, but I never, ever resisted,” Herder says, “Everything they asked me to do, I did it then. And, I wasn’t particularly vulgar, it was like you would probably curse with your golfing buddy. But I was pretty appalled so I used some adjectives. It wasn’t particularly obnoxious, and it was not outside of my constitutional rights.”
He says the police handcuffed him and detained him in the back of the squad car. He said once police ran his background and found he had a clean record, the officers let him go.
But, Herder said he saw another pedestrian across the street, so he called out to them to beware of the officers in a sarcastic manner. That’s when Herder said he was arrested for disorderly conduct.
FOX10 asked criminal defense lawyer Ginger Poynter if it is illegal to curse at police. She says no.
“Our supreme court has stated that in order to be charged with disorderly conduct, you have to incite somebody to violence,” says Poynter, “Police officers are actually held to an even higher standard, you can cuss out a police officer, I’m not recommending that you do so, but legally you can cuss out a police officer and not be charged with disorderly conduct.”
Herder says he enjoys picking up trash, and does it regularly around his neighborhood, it’s part of his personal life and his profession.
“I’m the Watershed Protection Coordinator for the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program. The best job in the world,” says Herder, “And my job is to work with the city, and promote the wise stewardship of the water quality and resources of Mobile Bay and the Tensaw Delta. I was out doing what I do for a living without pay. I do that, I love what I do.”
Herder says after he bailed out of jail, he received a call from Colby Cooper, Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s Chief of Staff.
“He knows what I do, and who I am. It was kind, he didn’t throw any of his people under the bus, but he told me that the chief of police would be looking at it. It was a great phone call. Then Mayor Sandy Stimpson called me.”
Poynter says another Midtown man contacted her on Saturday saying he had also been stopped by the same two officers that arrested Herder.
He told Poynter he was on his bike, minding his own business, when he was searched against his will and detained.
“He said he was riding his bike down Emogene Street when these two police officers stopped him,” Poynter explains, “He got out off the bike, he asked if he’d done anything illegal, they said no, but they were going to search him. Christopher said he didn’t consent to the search, but they said they were going to search him anyway, and if he didn’t consent they were going to take him to jail.”
A post about the incident was originally posted on the Mod Mobilian Facebook page this weekend. To see the post, click here.