A Kentucky resident implicated in an incident that took place in May 2012 at a public Party in the Park event is now suing the city of Cincinnati for false arrest, malicious prosecution and deprivation of his constitutional rights after nearly a year of legal entanglements with the city in court.
Plaintiff Forest Thomer was arrested last year on May 23 when he employed guerilla marketing to purport the comedic career of his friend, Ally Bruener, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair. The two worked together approaching groups; Thomer would lead with, “Do you want to laugh at the crippled girl?” to direct attention toward Bruener, who’d then tell a joke.
According to the lawsuit, an unnamed woman complained about Thomer to two off-duty police officers, who then asked him to leave the park without explanation. She later testified that she complained because she “didn’t like what [Thomer] was saying.”
When Thomer repeatedly asked why he was told to leave, officers allegedly grabbed Thomer, seized his video camera, handcuffed him and threatened to taze him. He was placed under arrest and was cited for disorderly conduct for using “grossly abusive language.”
An additional criminal complaint was later filed against him for making “unreasonable noise”; he was taken to court on Oct. 22, 2012, after the city had previously told Thomer the accusations would be based solely on his volume as disruptive, not the content of his speech. The city altered the charges numerous times, finally settling on a violation of the Ohio Revised Code which restricts disruption caused by violent or aggressive behavior.
When Thomer was tried before a jury on Oct. 29, 2012, no witnesses testified he’d been violent or aggressive, including Bruener. He was acquitted.
The lawsuit alleges that the city’s floundering in pressing charges is evidence of direct malice and a flagrant disregard of Thomer’s First Amendment rights.