A man in Jacksonville, Fla., is suing the sheriff’s office there after a Kafkaesque encounter with an officer who hit him in the face, arrested him and put him in jail before he was put on trial — all for no apparent reason and with no evidence.
Bobby Wingate, 36, and his attorney Andrew Bonderud filed the suit on Aug. 2, alleging that Wingate was stopped by an officer while walking on a quiet street last December and asked to respond to some questions, First Coast News reports.
When Wingate responded that he didn’t have time to talk, the officer moved in.
The incident took place on Oliver Street in the Jacksonville neighborhood of Arlington. In the legal complaint, Wingate charges that the officer parked, got out if his cruiser and assaulted him.
The only charge the officer could muster: walking on the wrong side of the road.
Wingate (pictured) says that the officer struck him in the face and reached for his taser weapon. Wingate was also charged with resisting arrest without violence. The confrontation was recorded in a 911 call made by Wingate when the officer approached him.
In the call, Wingate alleges that the officer challenged him to a fight.
“He said, do I really want to fight him?” a frantic Wingate tells the 911 dispatcher. “I haven’t done anything wrong.”
When Wingate went on trial, a judge threw the case out for lack of evidence.
Bonderud believes that Wingate was targeted simply because of his race. He is African American. The lawsuit also alleges that the state attorney for Florida’s Fourth Judicial District, Angela Corey, has a policy of bringing cases to trail despite lack of evidence simply to get “valuable trial experience” for attorneys in her office’s employ.
Corey was the special prosecutor who investigated the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman last year.
In 2012, a local TV News station found that allegations of misconduct against the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office were increasing, with seven charges in three years that included soliciting prostitutes, selling drugs and threatening President Barack Obama.