(Photo: Screen Grab via First Coast News)
A Florida man who claims he was assaulted by a local police officer and arrested for walking on the wrong side of the road is getting ready to file a civil lawsuit after a judge threw out the case midway through a trial for the charge.
The man, Bobby Wingate, told First Coast News that the officer allegedly attacked him with a vicious "football tackle" for no reason while he walked along Oliver Street in the Arlington neighborhood of Jacksonville.
He said he was so surprised by the incident he was forced to call 911 for help.
"He's gonna get out his car, running up and grabbed me and punched me in my f*****g jaw," Wingate could be heard saying on a recording of his 911 call. "He said do I really want to fight him? I haven't done anything wrong."
Court documents revealed that the officer stopped Wingate as he was walking down the road in December last year and asked to talk. Wingate told the officer that he was running late for an appointment and the officer responded by ticketing him for walking on the wrong side of the street. The officer then allegedly hit Wingate in the face and used his Taser on him, forcing Wingate's 911 call.
Wingate ended up spending the night in jail on charges of resisting arrest without violence and walking down the wrong side of the road.
The state attorney's office took Wingate's case to trial but the arresting officer could not ascertain which side of the road Wingate was on. After that, the judge decided to not hear from the defense and ruled that there wasn't enough evidence to proceed.
Andrew Bonderud, Wingate's civil attorney, said his client was a victim of racial discrimination.
"The conduct that is outlined in the transcript and the 9-1-1 call is not only breathtaking, it's outrageous, it's disgraceful," he said.
Wingate explained that he is mounting the lawsuit as a matter of principle, but won't hold a grudge against the police officer for the assault.
"If I ever see him again, and he needs my help for something, I'll help him," said Wingate.
He noted that he is also hoping to get a public apology from the police department.