Will Walters claims he was discriminated against when San Diego Police asked him to cover up during Pride 2011.
A federal jury sided with the San Diego Police Department on Tuesday, saying the organization did not discriminate against a San Diego Pride goer after they arrested him for public nudity back in 2011.
Will Walters, the man in question, had worn a revealing gladiator costume to the Pride parade on July 16, 2011, he was stopped by police, ushered away from the festivities and arrested reports say.
This caused Walters to file a lawsuit against San Diego Police for “selectively enforcing” its nudity laws. The argument being that women are allowed to wear revealing clothes and therefore Walters was not breaking any laws.
On Tuesday a federal jury heard the case and after eight hours of deliberation found that San Diego Police did not violate Walter’s civil rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, reports the San Diego Union Tribune.
“The jury confirmed what we’ve always known, which is that San Diego does not discriminate in its enforcement of nudity laws," City Attorney’s Office spokesman Gerry Braun said in a statement. “Our office would not tolerate discrimination against the LGBT community or any other group.”
Deputy City Attorney Stacy Plotkin-Wolff said in the hearing that San Diego Police treat all events equally and do not discriminate because of gender or sexual identity.
Further, any events such as Comic-Con, Mardi Gras, or the Over the Line tournament, where people are more likely to wear revealing clothing, they comply when asked to cover up, but Walters boisterously refused according to police reports.
“The same rules apply to everyone, but Mr. Walters didn’t want to follow those rules,” Plotkin-Wolff told the jury on Tuesday. “They gave him chance after chance after chance to comply with the rules. He refused stubbornly.”
San Diego Police Chef Shelley Zimmerman said she was pleased with the verdict, saying her officers acted appropriately in the way they handled the situation and, “addressed the municipal code regarding nudity at special events throughout our city.”
However,Walter’s attorney, Chris Morris was not as pleased with the outcome.
"Victories are often preceded by defeats,” Morris said. “While we may have lost this battle, I can’t imagine the city will ever engage in this type of unequal enforcement of the nudity statute again in the future.”
The three judges overseeing the trial were very concerned about Walter’s accusations that the arresting officer Ramirez called him a “drama queen,” and left him in a hot squad car.
Ramirez admits to having to stop during and emergency while transporting Walters, but he left the air conditioning running.
The officer denies calling Walters a “drama queen.”
You can read the full Union Tribune article HERE.
See also (from March 2016): Appeal in Pride leather loincloth case set for this week
Additonal photo courtesy of back2stonewall