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Federal Court Clears DC In Sexting Traffic Cop Case
Police department in Washington, DC will not be held accountable after officer caught snooping through motorist phone looking for nude photos.

Judge Rosemary M. Collyer
Washington DC and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) were given a free pass by a federal judge on Friday after a traffic cop helped himself to the racy photographs he found on a phone he seized from a female driver. US District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer dismissed all but one count in the lawsuit motorist Natalia Argote, claiming she had no redress against the city.

Argote, an Alexandria, Virginia resident, was stopped in the District by two MPD officers on March 3, 2012. While one officer had her perform sobriety tests, another, Officer Terrence Richardson, seized her cellphone and began looking through it. Officer Richardson found a nude image of Argote and texted it to himself.

After discovering what had happened by looking through the phone's history, Argote decided to sue the District, the MPD, Police Chief Cathy Lanier and Officer Richardson. Judge Collyer gave all but Richardson a free pass.

"Ms. Argote has not adequately pleaded a custom, policy or practice on the District's part," Judge Collyer wrote. "To be sure, she alleges that MPD officers 'regularly' commit the sort of violations alleged here. She also includes 'failure to properly train' and 'failure to monitor and manage' allegations. But none of those allegations is supported by a single pleaded fact. Ms. Argote makes a wholly unsupported leap from the premise of her own ordeal to the conclusion that this must be happening everywhere."

The only count in the lawsuit that remains would hold Officer Richardson personally liable for a Fourth Amendment violation. He was cleared of liability for "converting" for his own use the property belonging to Argote without her consent and without legal justification.

"Officer Richardson may have unlawfully accessed Ms. Argote's phone and committed the despicable act of texting her nude picture to himself, but that was not conversion because it did not seriously interfere with Ms. Argote's ownership or control of her picture," Judge Collyer concluded. "The actions may be redressable through other means, but not the tort of conversion."

A copy of the ruling is available in a 100k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Argote v. DC (US District Court, District of Columbia, 1/8/2016)

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