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A Florida man cited for allegedly defecating in the woods near a bar has filed a lawsuit claiming the city's enforcement of a "careless and reckless policy" violated his civil rights and got him fired from his job at Merrill Lynch.
Elvan Moore filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Mount Dora and the police officer who cited him for disorderly conduct in 2010, reports the Daily Commercial. The officer reported that he followed Moore from a bar into the woods, where he observed him squatting and next to broken-down car and noted the strong odor of feces.
According to Moore, however, the only thing that publicly stinks in this case is the police officer's actions.
Disorderly conduct is a criminal charge that encompasses a wide variety of prohibited behavior. Depending on the jurisdiction, it can include loitering, disturbing the peace, and being drunk in public.
Florida's disorderly conduct statute includes acts that "corrupt the public morals or outrage the sense of public decency, or affect the peace and quiet of persons who may witness them."
According to police, the officer observed Moore running from a bar into a wooded area. When the officer approached, he saw that Moore had his pants down and noticed, in addition to the odor of feces, that Moore had a handful of napkins. Moore was cited for disorderly conduct and told to come back later and clean up his... "conduct" in a sanitary manner.
Section 1983 Lawsuits
Moore's lawsuit claims that he was actually in the woods vomiting, not defecating. (He blames vitamins that supposedly messed with his digestive system.) And though the charges against him were eventually dismissed, the public record of the officer's allegations caused Moore to lose his job at Merrill Lynch, where he worked as a financial adviser.
In addition, Moore claims he suffered damages to his reputation, embarrassment, and humiliation.
When a person's civil rights are violated by a public official or law enforcement officer, a lawsuit under Section 1983 of the U.S. Code permits recovery. The statute is commonly used for police brutality lawsuits, though it can generally be applied to any police misconduct that results in a deprivation of constitutional rights.
From news reports, it's not clear how the police department plans to defend itself from Moore's allegations. Moore's lawsuit seeks more than $15,000 in damages, according to the Daily Commercial.