Jon Daniel, 30, the man behind a parody Twitter account with the handle @peoriamayor, was accused of “impersonating a public official,” after mayor Jim Ardis became upset about the mockery.
“Im bout to climb the civic center and do some lines on the roof who’s in,” one tweet read. Another questioned, “Who stole my crackpipe?”
Ardis argued that these tweets sounded reasonable enough that it sullied his reputation, as people might not be able to tell the account was fake.
“Hurt feelings do not free government from the responsibility of respecting Mr. Daniel’s freedom of speech and freedom from being arrested for that speech,” ACLU attorney Karen Sheley said in a statement.
The settlement also includes the agreement that the town of Peoria will send a directive to the police department reminding them that parody and satire is excluded from criminalization under the impersonation of a public figure law.
“The directive makes it clear that parody should never be the predicate for a criminal investigation and that the action against Mr. Daniel should never be repeated again,” Sheley stated.
The agreement with the city will also cover legal fees, bringing the total taxpayer-funded cost of the raid to around $250,000.
“I’m really satisfied with the outcome in this case,” Daniel said in a statement. “I always thought the Twitter account was a joke for me and my friends. I never dreamed that it would result in my home being raided and me being placed under arrest.”
During the raid of Daniel’s home last April, four computers, four iPhones, an iPad and two Xboxes were seized as part of the investigation. Daniel was taken into custody and released, and was never charged with a crime.
Despite the big win in court, the Twitter account in question remains suspended.