A Riviera Beach, Florida police officer in now on paid administrative leave after a video recorded on a mobile phone showed him confronting a disabled U.S. Army veteran parked in a parking space reserved for individuals with disabilities.
Although the veteran had a properly displayed handicapped parking permit, the police officer confronted him because, according to the officer, the veteran didn’t look disabled. The veteran began recording the incident and says that the officer slapped the phone out of his hand, damaging it. The police department says the incident is being investigated.
In July 2014, we obtained a successful trial verdict against a Metro Transit Police officer for similar conduct. The officer confronted our client on the Metro Transit light rail and asked for his train fare and identification. When our client provided both, and the officer then questioned the legitimacy of our client’s disability, asking “What’s the matter with you? You don’t seem disabled to me?” The jury found that the officer violated the 4th Amendment’s guarantee of freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.
Joshua Newville is a Minnesota employment lawyer, civil rights attorney, and mediator. Josh litigates and advises on such matters as wrongful termination, whistleblowers, discrimination, police misconduct, and more. He offers paid legal consultations and free online case reviews regarding employment law and civil rights.