Bob Hope once charged that “people who throw kisses are . . . hopelessly lazy.” Former Bradenton Beach (Florida) Police Officer Tim Matthews thinks that they are also forms of battery. Matthews is the subject of a lawsuit after he arrested a 14-year-old bloy who blew a kiss at him.
Matthews was hit by the flying kiss when he was patrolling near Coquina Beach in his car. It was a nightmare. One second everything was normal and then suddenly Lance Lewis, 14, and Veronica Lewis, 18, turned and sent Lewis fired off the kiss. At least one of the air kisses penetrated the car (presumably the window was open) and hit Matthews. One of my longest standing complaints is that bullet-proof vests leave the neck and face exposed — prime targets historically for blown or delivered kisses.
Previously, we saw how a hug was charged as a felony. We have also seen an officer claim battery when a bubble touched him. Then there is the officer who charged battery when a suspect released gas in his presence. These all pale in comparison to being hit by a flying pillow, of course.
In this case, Matthews was able to keep control of the vehicle after being hit by the kiss and jumped out — demanding to know if Lewis was retarded.
His sister, Veronica, said that she stepped in front of her younger brother because she said Matthews was storming toward them and her brother had an arm in a cast. Matthews alleged shoved her aside and put Lance Lewis in a choke hold. A choke hold is viewed as the most effective way to stopping air kisses. By denying the subject air, he cannot produce additional air kisses.
Veronica Lewis reportedly stepped forward and grabbed Matthews’ arm while protesting that he was hurting her brother.
Matthews arrested both individuals and charged them with battery on a police officer on April 20, 2008. Now here is the amazing thing. Prosecutors in Bradenton Beach did not turn around and drop both cases — and insist that Matthews be fired. Lance Lewis went to verdict and was acquitted and then Veronica Lewis’s case was dismissed. That makes the list longer of people who should be fired. I suppose the prosecutors felt that it could have been worse, Lance Lewis could have been charged with rape. Moreover, Just One Fool Thing After Another: A Cowfolks’ Guide to Romance expressly states “Stolen kisses require an accomplice.”
The lawsuit correctly charges that Matthews had no probable cause and violated the Fourth Amendment. If these facts are correct, an officer essentially jumped out of a car and for no reason through a minor with a broken arm into a choke hold.
Matthews wrote in his police report that Lance Lewis was using foul language near young children and that he was pushed by Veronica and may have been kicked by Lance during the choke hold.
Matthews resigned after the arrest.
But here is the real kicker. He was hired by the Palmetto Police Department. People in Palmetto, it appears, don’t like kiss and tell types.