ADAMS COUNTY, Iowa — The Adams County Sheriff’s Office is paying a Red Oak man $10,000 after wrongfully arresting him for criticizing officers.
Jon Goldsmith was arrested last year and charged with a simple misdemeanor harassment after he criticized the actions of a deputy at a festival in Corning.
At the festival, Goldsmith said he saw Adams County Sheriff’s Deputy Cory Dorsey body slam someone and pull over a motorist for a brake light and conduct a drug dog search of the man’s car. No drugs were found, and Goldsmith felt the man was mistreated.
Goldsmith shared the mugshot of the man he said was body slammed and criticized the deputy on Facebook. The post contained a lot of curse words, but the ACLU says no threats were made.
Goldsmith and the ACLU filed a lawsuit in May accusing the sheriff’s department of violating his first amendment rights.
“It’s not a fine line between protected free speech and harassment. There is strong protection under the First Amendment to criticize police or other government officials and to do that even in ways that are annoying, offensive, vulgar, use curse words; all of that is protected by the First Amendment,” said Rita Bettis Austen, legal director for the ACLU of Iowa.
This week the sheriff’s department agreed to pay Goldsmith $10,000 in damages as well as his attorney fees. The department must also take part in a free speech training and adopt a social media policy that will be approved by the ACLU.