ACLU Sues Town of Smyrna

The American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware filed a law suit today against the Town of Smyrna and a town police officer for the unreasonable arrest of a man who went to the aid of a homeless man being attacked by a group of teenagers.

In August of 2013, Ronald Miles of Smyrna was walking with a friend when he saw a group of teenage boys physically attacking a homeless man in an alley. Miles approached the teens in an attempt to get them to stop their attack and in turn was attacked, suffering a broken wrist, a shoulder injury and cuts and abrasions. When the police arrived, Miles said that they should pursue the teens who were leaving the scene in a car. Smyrna police officer Brien Street responded, “Don’t tell me how to do my f**ing job.” Miles’ response was, “This is bullsh*t.” Miles repeated that sentiment as he began walking away, at which point Officer Street immediately arrested Miles and charged him with disorderly conduct.

Other police officers at the scene did nothing to intervene. No one ever read Miles his Miranda rights.

These actions by Officer Street violate the Fourth Amendment of the U. S. Constitution and Article 1, Section 6 of the Delaware Constitution,” said Richard Morse, ACLU-DE Legal Director. “Street did not have probable cause to arrest Miles. Merely cursing at a police officer is not against the law. This was an unreasonable seizure and the deprivation of liberty without due process of law.”

Several months after the arrest, the prosecution voluntarily dismissed the criminal charges against Miles.

A primary goal of this lawsuit is to ask the court to order the Smyrna Police Department to vastly improve their training, supervision and internal review procedures. Individual officers cannot be permitted to abuse their authority and police departments must hold them accountable when they do so,” said Kathleen MacRae, ACLU-DE Executive Director.

The suit also asks the court to award compensatory damages to Miles and for payment of attorney’s fees.

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