Nicholas J.C. Pistor
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
December 31, 2008
A Belleville Police officer arrested a St. Charles man for wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the word “POLICE.”
Now, Adam C. Weinstein, of St. Charles, has sued the department for what he calls a violation of his constitutional rights.
According to police documents, Weinstein was arrested in 2006 outside a bar in Belleville for “impersonating officers.” He was wearing a black t-shirt with the word police striped across the front and back under a sweater. The t-shirt became exposed when he removed the sweater because he was hot.
“Those t-shirts are a sign of solidarity,” said Howard A. Shalowitz, an attorney representing Weinstein. “How many people wear NYPD caps? Are they impersonating police?”
According to the lawsuit, a waitress told Weinstein that some police officers wanted to speak with him outside the bar. Weinstein went outside, he said, and was greeted by Belleville Police Officer Jeff Vernatti.
Vernatti, Weinstein alleges, asked him for his police credentials. Weinstein says he told the officer he didn’t have any credentials because he wasn’t a police officer.
That’s when, according to Weinstein, the police officer started screaming curse words and became physically and verbally abusive. Weinstein says he was cuffed and later released by the officer, but made to take the t-shirt off while standing in the cold.