The Florida Man Arrested For His "I EAT ASS" Sticker Might Sue The Sheriff's Office
This is the story of a man — a man fighting for his right to tell the world that he eats ass.
A Florida man arrested this week for refusing to remove a sticker on his pickup truck proclaiming that he eats ass will not be prosecuted, officials said Thursday.
Now the man is threatening to sue the sheriff's office for violating his First Amendment rights.
Dillon Shane Webb, 23, was stopped Sunday on a highway in Lake City, west of Jacksonville, by a Columbia County sheriff's deputy who saw a sticker on his rear window that read, "I EAT ASS."
Dashcam footage shows the deputy telling Webb that the reason he was pulled over was "the derogatory sticker" on the back of his truck.
"How is that derogatory?" Webb asks.
"How is it not derogatory?" the deputy responds. "Some 10-year-old little kid sitting in the passenger seat of his momma's vehicle looks over and sees 'I EAT ASS' and asks his mom what it means; how is she going to explain that?"
"That's the parent's job, not my job," Webb responded.
Webb was issued a summons for what the sheriff's deputy said was a misdemeanor violation of Florida's obscene-materials law.
Dashcam footage shows the deputy telling Webb that if one of his four children asked him about the sticker, he "would be furious."
When the deputy told Webb to remove one of the letters from the words "ASS" to read "AS," Webb refused, citing his constitutional right to free speech.
The deputy subsequently arrested Webb and charged him with the additional offense of resisting an officer without violence.
News of Webb's arrest — and his sticker — made news around the country. In a notice filed Thursday, prosecutors announced that they were dropping the charges against him.
"Having evaluated the evidence through the prism of Supreme Court precedent it is determined that the Defendant has a valid defense to be raised under the First Amendment of our United States Constitution," Assistant State's Attorney John Foster Durrett wrote. "Given such, a jury would not convict under these facts."
Webb's lawyer, Andrew Bonderud, told BuzzFeed News they were now considering "a number of potential claims" against the sheriff's office.
Bonderud noted that the dashcam footage shows the deputy at first telling his client that the sticker was "derogatory" instead of "obscene." He also highlighted that at several points, one of the deputy's colleagues can be heard telling him via the radio to "tow his shit."
"Not only were they wrong on the law, but they happen to be hypocrites," he said.
Bonderud said Webb's sticker "didn't satisfy the rigorous standard to be found to be obscene," which he said "typically refers to something that is erotic in nature."
"[The 'I EAT ASS' sticker] could be a euphemism for a number of things," he insisted.
"The bottom line is that he and his friends thought it would be funny," Bonderud said, "and he shouldn't end up in jail for making a joke like that."
Bonderud acknowledged that this free speech case was "unique" compared with the others he has worked on, but said Webb was heroic for fighting for his rights.
"I think it was brave of him to refuse to take down what he thought was protected speech," Bonderud said. "I think it showed courage on his part."
Andrew Bonderud was misquoted in an earlier version of this story. He had said the sticker did not meet "the rigorous standard to be found to be obscene," not "offensive."