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Official files suit over police stop

Complaint: Rights were violated in ’08

 
POSTED: December 25, 2010 7:00 p.m.


A Forsyth County planning commissioner and retired dentist has filed a federal civil rights suit against a small northeast Georgia town.

Joe Moses contends a city of Arcade police officer violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights in 2008 when he was stopped on U.S. 129.

According to Gerry Weber, Moses’ attorney, the suit alleges “false imprisonment and harassment by the city of Arcade police during an illegal and unwarranted traffic stop.”

Moses, who is seeking a jury trial and compensatory and punitive damages, said in a statement that the lawsuit is “not about money.”

“Someone had to finally take a stand for all those who have been targeted by the city of Arcade police,” Moses said.

Arcade is a town of about 1,800 in Jackson County, between Gainesville and Athens on U.S. 129.

Jody Campbell, the attorney who represents the city, declined to comment on the matter. The city has not filed a response to the complaint.

The lawsuit stems from an incident that occurred Dec. 10, 2008.

Moses, who was on his way home after visiting his daughter in Athens, pulled off the road to allow an Arcade police car to pass. According to Weber, Moses noticed the car was “following dangerously close on a foggy night.”

The vehicle pulled in behind Moses and Officer Blake Yeargin approached and told Moses he was driving too slowly.

Moses objected to the officer’s claims, the complaint shows, and after about 20 minutes, Yeargin detained and cited Moses for having a non-functioning tag light. Moses was also cited for failure to maintain lane.

According to the complaint, less than 30 minutes after leaving the traffic stop, Moses asked two police officers in nearby Jefferson to check his tag lights. They reportedly found and confirmed in writing that the lights complied with state
requirements.

Weber said the Arcade Police Department, which has received several complaints, “aimed at really just running up the tab on traffic violators in order to fund city operations.”

“There wasn’t any reason to stop Dr. Moses and we really believe, as the lawsuit states, that the officer brought charges against him because he stood up for himself,” Weber said. “There was no reason to stop him.”

The complaint asserts that Yeargin has “earned a reputation for overly aggressive tactics and a propensity to make ‘illegal stops.’”

Moses also contends his right to free speech was violated because he was cited in retaliation for expressing his views.

The suit maintains his rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures were violated and that he was falsely imprisoned when Yeargin detained him.

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