Posted: 9/4/2015 10:36:34 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/4/2015 10:38:20 PM EDT by GrahamD]
I'd be fucking pissed if I was the guy that caught the pot charge.
Most of the time, it is all in good fun. But in Illinois, a Twitter account mocking the mayor of Peoria turned what was apparently intended to be a running joke into a real problem, starting
warrants, a raid and arrests, and ending this week with an out-of-court settlement involving the Peoria man who created the account.
The case started when the man, Jonathan Daniel, created the Twitter account @peoriamayor, in March 2014, using a picture of the mayor, Jim Ardis, and linking to the city website.
Mr. Daniel created a parody Twitter account using the identity of the mayor of Peoria, Ill.
Mr. Daniel labeled the account a parody several days after it was created and after tweets had been sent out. The account has since been deleted, but The Journal Star of Peoria
reported at the time that it had references to sex and drug use.
Soon after the Twitter account appeared, Mr. Ardis told other city officials in an email, “i absolutely will prosecute. bring it on,” according to the newspaper.
In April 2014, warrants to obtain the name behind the account and to search Mr. Daniel’s residence were obtained. Up to seven officers raided the house.
The account had already been suspended by then, but three people were taken in for questioning.
Mr. Daniel was not home at the time of the raid, but he was arrested at the restaurant where he worked as a short-order cook. He and the others were never charged
in connection with the online account, but Mr. Daniel’s roommate, Jacob L. Elliott, was later charged with marijuana possession.
“I always thought that the Twitter account was a joke for me and for my friends,” Mr. Daniel said in a statement provided by the American Civil Liberties Union.
So Mr. Daniel sued in federal court, claiming civil rights violations. A copy of the complaint published by Arstechnica said that Mr. Daniel, 30, tweeted from the
account from March 9 through March 19, 2014.
This week, the case was settled. On Wednesday, the city of Peoria announced it had agreed to pay $125,000. The city said it believed that it would have ultimately won in court
but decided to settle because it would have cost several times that amount to continue the litigation.