BSO Deputies Beat Up Partiers for Throwing an Orange, Lawsuit Claims

Categories: Crime
orange-fruit.jpg
Delicious treat and/or annoying projectile.
Pro tip: if you're hosting a party, avoid chucking oranges at the neighbors after they complain about how much noise you're making. You might end up with BSO deputies screaming and throwing you into the ficus hedge.

That's what Eric Spalding of Cooper City says happened, in a lawsuit filed in federal court last week against Sheriff Al Lamberti and three BSO deputies. He claims he was hosting a lively backyard party that was going just fine... until somebody called in an "anonymous noise complaint."

The cops said he was just being a drunk asshole.  

Spalding was hosting an engagement party for his friends on the night of February 20, 2010. He says Deputy Andrew Taylor arrived twice after 10 p.m. in response to complaints and left without making any arrests.

Early in the morning, Spalding says, the next-door neighbor called BSO again and "alleged that an unknown assailant threw an egg and/or orange at her residence."

Soon, guests started seeing flashlights sweeping around the neighbor's backyard and heard someone yelling, "The party's over. Everybody fucking go home."

Then, the suit says, Spalding's wife opened the front door and saw three deputies. One of them, Andrew Rodriguez, allegedly reached inside and grabbed a guest, Jon Onainda. Quoth the lawsuit:

As Onaindia stood with his hands in the air, Rodriguez pointed his index finger very close to Onaindia's face, and screamed: "Who fucking threw the orange?," whereupon Rodriguez ordered Onaindia to get on the ground.

Rodriguez allegedly began punching Onainda in the chest, saying, "You're not so tough now, motherfucker."

Then, the suit alleged, Deputies Taylor, Juan Hernandez, and Marc Soto entered the house without a warrant, grabbed Spalding, threw him over a couch, and handcuffed him. Spalding says they then threw him out the front door, where he tripped on a light fixture and landed face-down in a ficus hedge.

Both Onainda and Spalding were arrested for resisting arrest without violence and obstruction of justice. The lawsuit says neither was found guilty. The probable-cause affidavits prepared by the BSO deputies tell a slightly different story, saying that Spalding refused to put out his hands for the cuffs -- something the suit denies, in addition to claiming that the deputies entered improperly without permission or a warrant.

Deputies said Spalding was rip-roaring drunk and belligerent at the time of the arrest -- which might explain why he ended up in the ficus hedge. From his arrest report:

I spoke with Eric Spalding regarding this matter. Spalding is the current home owner of the above location. Whilespeaking with Spalding, he became belligerent by shouting obscenities and flailing his hands/arms at me and backup Deputies. He was extremely intoxicated, which was indicated by his failure to maintain a steady balance, slurred speech, glassy blood-shot eyes and a strong odor of alcohol on his breath. Due to his behavior, Spalding was given verbal commands to place his hands behind his back for officer safety, at which time, he refused and was taken to the ground and handcuffed. Spalding stated, "I really don't know what has been going on between him and [neighbor] Colombo." He also referred to Colombo as, "A single mother and a renter, who's home brings down the value of mine." Spalding further stated he is "well educated" and "she needs to get out of my neighborhood."

Spalding was charged with resisting officer without violence. While in the back seat of my car Spalding passed out. He was transported to the district office. While inside the holding cell, Spalding continually hit the cell glass with his hands and yelled obscenities at me and other Deputies. Colombo provided a taped statement regarding this case.Statements were submitted into evidence. Colombo was not injured, but states there was minor damage to her screen door, approx. $25.00. Colombo also advised she would not be able to identify who threw the orange of the eggs.

Another officer's report says that after he fell down, Spalding yelled, "You don't know who you're fucking with." A guy with a lawyer, apparently.

The lawsuit is seeking damages and a trial by jury for unlawful search, false arrests, and other claims.

View the complaint and the probable-cause affidavit for Spalding.



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