UNITED STATES NEWS

Tennessee officials to pay $125K to settle claim they arrested a man for meme about fallen officer

Oct 30, 2023, 4:49 PM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Authorities in Tennessee have settled a First Amendment lawsuit for $125,000, the plaintiff’s attorneys said Monday. The suit was filed by a man who said he was arrested over a disparaging social media post about a law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty.

Joshua Andrew Garton was arrested in January 2021 after posting a meme depicting two people urinating on a gravestone with a photo of a Dickson County sheriff’s officer who was fatally shot in 2018 pasted into the image. Garton’s attorneys filed a federal lawsuit in Nashville, saying their client’s First Amendment right to free speech was violated.

Garton’s post was captioned, “Just showing my respect to deputy Daniel Baker from the #dicksoncountypolicedepartment.”

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was called in at the request of District Attorney Ray Crouch. Investigators determined the photo was taken from an album cover with a copy of Baker’s official work portrait “crudely” edited onto the grave, court documents show.

Garton was charged with harassment and jailed for nearly two weeks on a $76,000 bond until a Dickson County judge dismissed the charges.

“First Amendment retaliation is illegal, and law enforcement officials who arrest people for offending them will pay heavy consequences,” Garton’s lead counsel, Daniel Horwitz, said in a news release Monday. “Misbehaving government officials apologize with money, and Mr. Garton considers more than $10,000.00 per day that he was illegally incarcerated to be an acceptable apology.”

A copy of the notarized settlement signed by Garton was included in the news release, showing he agreed to accept $125,000 from the state to settle claims against two Tennessee Bureau of Investigation officials and Crouch, the district attorney. The agreement also says the government defendants are not admitting wrongdoing, liability or concession by settling, but instead are seeking to “avoid the burden and expense of continuing this litigation.”

A court filing Monday by Garton’s attorneys notified the judge of the settlement and said the lawsuit should be dismissed.

A Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokesperson declined to comment. Crouch did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Documents released under a public records request filed by Horwitz show investigators believed Garton’s social media post could be perceived as threatening or intimidating to Baker’s surviving relatives — even though he did not send it to them.

“The trolls will do what trolls do. It appears they and the lawyers forget that there are surviving family members who have rights as well,” TBI Director David Rausch said in a text conversation included in the records.

The lawsuit argued Garton was the victim of “false arrest and malicious prosecution” with authorities “incarcerating him for weeks and broadcasting his mugshot and the fact of his arrest to news media and the public in retaliation for disrespecting police.”

United States News

Associated Press

Parts of Washington state parental rights law criticized as a ‘forced outing’ placed on hold

SEATTLE (AP) — A judge has paused parts of a new Washington state parental rights law derided by critics as a “forced outing” measure. King County Superior Court Judge Michael Scott on Friday paused portions of the law while a lawsuit brought by civil liberties groups and others is pending, The Seattle Times reported. The […]

5 minutes ago

Associated Press

Ex-CEO of Nevada-based health care company Ontrak convicted of $12.5 million insider trading scheme

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The former CEO and chairman of Ontrak, a publicly traded health care company based in Nevada, was found guilty Friday of a multimillion-dollar insider trading scheme. A federal jury in Los Angeles convicted Terren Scott Peizer, a resident of Puerto Rico and Santa Monica, California, of one count of securities fraud […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Lockheed Martin subsidiaries reach $70 million settlement for claims they overcharged Navy for parts

STRATFORD, Conn. (AP) — Two Lockheed Martin subsidiaries have agreed to pay the federal government $70 million for overcharging the Navy for aircraft parts, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday. The federal agency says Sikorsky Support Services, based in Stratford, Connecticut, and Derco Aerospace, headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, knowingly entered into an improper subcontract […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Man accused in killing and kidnappings in Louisiana waives extradition

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A man arrested in the slaying of a Louisiana woman and abduction of her two daughters and subsequent death of one of them waived extradition Friday in federal court in Mississippi, clearing the way for his return to Louisiana to face trial. During his court appearance in Jackson, Daniel Callihan, 36, […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

88-year-old Montana man who was getaway driver in bank robberies sentenced to 2 years in prison

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — An 88-year-old Montana man has been sentenced to two years in a federal prison medical facility for being the getaway driver in two bank robberies in Billings last summer, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Montana said. The man was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty in February to two counts of bank […]

4 hours ago

...

KTAR Video

Video: What makes Arizona roads so dangerous?

New numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows Arizona as one of the most dangerous states for deadly crashes involving red-light runners. Chris & Joe dive deeper into what could be the leading cause behind the newly released stats. Video: Jeremy Schnell and Felisa Cárdenas/KTAR News

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Tennessee officials to pay $125K to settle claim they arrested a man for meme about fallen officer