An unidentified man filed a suit in federal court Tuesday against two West Valley police officers, accusing them of violating his privacy when they told his sister, roommates and several strangers that he had AIDS.
According to the suit, the officers announced the man had AIDS several times after discovering a card in the man's wallet that said he tested positive for HIV virus.West Valley police officers identified in the suit only as Johnson and Jones arrested a man identified in the suit as A.L.A. last year in the Valley Fair Mall for passing a bad check, the suit says. While searching A.L.A., Johnson discovered a card in his wallet saying A.L.A. had been exposed to HIV III - a virus believed to cause AIDS.
Brian Barnard, the attorney for A.L.A., does not yet know the first names of Johnson and Jones, he said. "We hope to find that out."
According to the suit, Johnson announced to Jones that A.L.A. had AIDS. Johnson also made the announcement to a store manager and several customers in the store.
Later that day, Jones announced to A.L.A.'s sister and roommates that A.L.A. had AIDS, the suit says.
An HIV positive test usually leads to AIDS, but it cannot be said with certainty that HIV positive people inevitably contract AIDS, the suit says.
A.L.A. had not yet told his family or roommates that he tested positive for HIV. The police officers' announcement caused the man considerable anguish and humiliation, the suit says. He has been shunned by many family members and friends in the months since, according to the suit.
The suit seeks damages to be determined by the court but no less than $50,000.
The suit also names the West Valley City Police Department and West Valley City Police Chief Dennis Nordfelt as defendants for not training police officers on how to sensitively deal with HIV-positive arrestees.
"It is an unusual and new case," Barnard said. "If nothing else, the case will be an educational tool for police officers.
"Police in this day and age should be more sensitive and better trained regarding HIV positive people and AIDS," he said.
"There is no legitimate reason at all for the officers to announce to bystanders, a sister and roommates that the guy had AIDS - which he didn't - or that he was HIV positive. I think it was done out of stupidity."
The arrest occurred last New Year's Eve, he said. "Some members of A.L.A.'s family will still not speak to him," Barnard said. A.L.A. has not developed AIDS.