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Gadfly Sues City Officials Over Arrest

November 05, 1989

DOWNEY — Gadfly Stanley Wantuch has filed a lawsuit in Norwalk Superior Court against Downey Councilman Robert G. Cormack and other city officials, accusing them of false arrest, assault and battery and of depriving him of his First Amendment rights.

Police dragged Wantuch out of the Downey City Council chamber and arrested him last November after Cormack and other officials claimed he was disrupting a council meeting. Wantuch had been ejected from a council meeting the month before for videotaping from an aisle in violation of a city ordinance.

Last May, a Municipal Court jury found Wantuch innocent of disrupting the council meetings and obstructing a police officer. The judge in the case criticized Cormack for depriving Wantuch of his freedom to speak and called the arrest unlawful and unconstitutional.

Wantuch said he suffered neck, shoulder and back injuries when he was removed.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. It also seeks an injunction to prohibit armed, uniformed police officers from serving as sergeants-at-arms at the council meetings--the city's current practice. The lawsuit alleges that the presence of an armed police officer inhibits free speech during council meetings.

Downey City Atty. Peter Thorson could not be reached for comment.

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