Sunday, January 28, 2001

Man arrested in protest sues officer

Found not guilty, he says right to free speech violated

By Patrick Stack
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A man arrested in the November protests of the Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue is suing the arresting officer, saying the officer impeded his right to free speech.

        Ethan Spier, 19, of Philadelphia, filed suit Friday in U.S. District Court, alleging that his First Amendment right to free speech was violated when he was arrested for disorderly conduct Nov. 18 by Officer Donald Elsaesser. He was later acquitted of the charges.

        Mr. Spier is not suing the Cincinnati Police Division, only Officer Elsaesser, said Robert B. Newman, Mr. Spier's attorney.

        “You have a right to complain about police conduct on the street, and (Mr. Spier) was doing that” during the protests, he said.

        Attempts to reach Officer Elsaesser through relatives were unsuccessful Saturday.

        Civil lawsuits against police officers are common throughout the country, and the majority are dismissed, said Keith Fangman, president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Cincinnati.

        “Anybody can find an attorney and file a lawsuit,” he said. “That doesn't mean the officer did anything wrong.”

        Mr. Newman did not seek a specific amount in damages.

        According to Mr. Newman, Mr. Spier was outside Fountain Square as Cincinnati police in riot gear were searching people trying to enter the area. Mr. Spier began to chant against the police searches and was arrested by Officer Elsaesser, he said.

        Officer Elsaesser testified Jan. 11 in court that he arrested Mr. Spier only after Mr. Spier refused a police order to disperse.

       The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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