Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona has a new thing going, a “Mug Shot of the Day” website. I have no issue with doing a little public shaming of convicted criminals, but these people have not been convicted of anything, just merely charged. What happens if an innocent person ends up as the “Mug Shot of the Day”?
Lets look at a situation. Deputies arrive at a scene one Saturday night and see one guy is laying down in the street, covered in blood” and another guy is standing against a truck, also bloody. The deputies start questioning the guy standing and because of the adrenaline rush and catching a blow to the side of the side, he isn’t too coherent. The best deputies can make out at that time is something about “decking the guy”. The other guys plays the innocent victim (once the deputies wake him up) and says the guy jumped him and started beating him for no reason. Given this information and no other witnesses being present the deputies arrest the guy that was standing up and charge him with assault. The blood, cuts, and bruises make for a pretty site and he ends up as the “winner” for the “Mug Shot of the Day”. And now, the rest of the story.
A bank across the street has video cameras in their parking lot and a bank employee looking at some of the film from the weekend catches what happens and calls the sheriff’s department to turn over the film as evidence. What the film shows was the person charged with assault walking done the street and being confronted by the other man. He tries to back away, hands up in a submissive posture, when the man confronting him launches the big overhand haymaker at him, followed up with a blitz of punches. The film shows the man at first being startled by what happens and then defending himself. He manages to land a clean punch to the other guy’s head, dropping him, with the deputies on patrol showing up right after that. With this evidence the assault charges are dropped as it was determined it was self-defense, as the man claimed once he re0vered his senses.
Maybe this could happen, maybe it won’t, but an innocent person could see his picture plastered all over the internet. Friends and family members could be calling him about it. His employer could call him into the office for a discussion. Should he be able to sue for damages? Going to be interesting to see how this plays out.