The disorderly conduct case against a man who dropped the F-bomb at an Aurora Sam's Club has been dropped. Russell Blackburn, the 59-year-old computer programmer ticketed for the offense, says he showed up for his July 15 jury trial only to hear the prosecuting attorney tell the judge that the case was being dismissed due to a lack of witnesses.
Blackburn says he's both pleased and disappointed with the outcome. While he's happy that the charge was dropped, he says he would have liked to see the issue play out in court. He's particularly interested in how the judge would have reacted to a motion filed by his attorney claiming that use of the F-word is protected under the First Amendment.
The incident at Sam's Club happened back in January. Blackburn, who has diabetes, had paid for his groceries and was waiting in a long line for a second Sam's Club employee to check his receipt against the items in his cart when he realized that his blood sugar was dangerously low. "Fuck it," he said, and he steered his cart toward the front of the line.
An off-duty Aurora police officer who was working as a security guard at Sam's Club shouted for him to get back in line. Their interaction turned confrontational when Blackburn repeatedly asked if he was being arrested or detained and the officer refused to answer. According to Blackburn, the officer also refused to provide his name and badge number, and he twisted Blackburn's arm when Blackburn went to reach for his ID.
According to the police report, Blackburn also said, "This is fucking ridiculous. I am not standing in fucking line again," and called the officer "a real asshole." Blackburn says he only remembers saying the F-word once.
The officer ended up ticketing Blackburn for violating the city ordinance that prohibits disorderly conduct. Specifically, Blackburn was cited for "using abusive language or threats to any person present which creates a clear and present danger of violence."
Blackburn says he has filed a complaint against the officer with the Aurora police internal affairs division; he has also filed a complaint against an Aurora lieutenant who refused to allow him to file a complaint the first time he tried to do so.
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"I said what I wanted was for that not to occur again," Blackburn says.Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org