ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A man sued police in New Mexico, claiming officers arrested him in June 2013 for using an offensive word at a restaurant.
Lawyers for 32-year-old Tye Trujillo filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque last month and say the unusual arrest by Farmington police violated the free speech rights of Trujillo.
The lawsuit says Trujillo was having lunch with three men near a table of three officers. When the officers heard the men repeatedly use an expletive, one officer went to the table and warned them not to use it again, court documents say.
The officer "gave them a direct order if I hear any one at this table say the f word one more time in the presence of customers, then that person will go to jail," according to a criminal complaint.
The lawsuit says Trujillo was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct when officers heard the word again. Trujillo was handcuffed and escorted from the restaurant.
A woman sitting at a table with children told police that she heard the men use the vulgarity but kept the children busy to distract them and she didn't want to get involved with the arrest, the lawsuit said.
Trujillo was later acquitted.
Lawyers for Trujillo said the use of vulgarity "is not sufficient to arise to the crime of disorderly conduct," and the city of Farmington failed to train its officers on basic constitutional safeguards enjoyed by residents.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and legal fees.
David A. Roman, a lawyer for the officers, said police did nothing wrong and the case should be dismissed.
"None of the actions described in Trujillo's complaint constitute a violation of (his) constitutional rights by the officers," Roman wrote in response to the lawsuit.
Farmington is located about 280 miles northwest of Albuquerque.
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