A homeless man was just arrested and spent the night in jail after police claim he was charging his cellphone in a public picnic shelter. That, apparently, is a serious, arrestable crime in Sarasota, Florida.
Darren Kersey, 28, was charged with “theft of utilities” after he was spotted charging his cell phone at Gillespie Park by Police Sgt. Anthony Frangioni.
Since he was unable to come up with the $500 bail, Kersey had to spend Sunday night behind bars.
Frangioni claims that he told Kersey that the “theft of city utilities will not be tolerated during this bad economy.”
Circuit Judge Charles Williams threw the case out first thing Monday morning, allowing Kersey to walk free. The judge said the cop basically made the law up and that he lacked any legal justification to make this arrest.
But Frangioni is no rookie. The Sergeant is a 14-year veteran of the Sarasota Police Department.
Captain Paul Sutton is said to be reviewing the arrest, which the American Civil Liberties Union appears to now be interested in.
Michael Barfield, heads the legal panel for the Sarasota chapter of the ACLU. He said, “we have been monitoring the efforts to root the homeless out of the parks, and have several actions planned against the city. So much happens on a daily basis, it’s hard to keep up with it. Every day there’s something new.”
The Sarasota Herald Tribune reports that in 2006, the city was deamed the “meanest city” by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty and the National Coalition for the Homeless.