Dominick L. Verducci, 69, may be the first person arrested for an aggravated raspberry. Verducci was arguing with his apartment manager when he say he would would “knock the nose” off his face and then blew a raspberry. The Gainesville police officer determined that a particle of spit hit Sunrise Villas Apartments property manager Thomas Stommel’s face. Accordingly, he was charged with battery.
We have previously seen officers charged people with battery or assault over air kisses, bubbles, hugs, pillow fights, errant french fries, and even flatulence. It is part of a lowering of criminal standards that has led to the increasing criminalization of society. Rather than treating this as an argument between a tenant and landlord, the officer agreed to racket it up to a battery criminal charge.
Officer Ben Tobias insisted that a spittle particle constitutes actually or intentionally touching or striking another person.
For some reason, Verducci was dripping wet when he went to the office. Stommel intervened to object to Verducci using a loud voice and leaving a puddle in the office. In addition to the raspberry, Verducci stuck his tongue out. There appears nothing in the criminal code that Tobias could find to charge on the tongue extension — something the department may want to address with the legislature.
How is this for an idea? Cancel Verducci’s lease if he is a disruptive or abusive presence. The use of a criminal charge in this case is a waste of public resources and a criminalization of boorish conduct. It also makes citizens into emotional hemophiliacs. Now every time someone is touched, they treat it was a matter for a 911 call or a criminal charge. It is not good for society as these matters are turned over to police when they were once treated as part of life. Gainesville must have no crime left to pursue to enter a criminal crime on raspberry assaults.
Notably, the Gainesville police are effectively criminalizing this classic display of contempt since it is virtually impossible to do a raspberry without the release of some spittle. The question become forensics. Did Stommel retain the incriminating spittle and was it preserved with sufficient chain of custody documentation? Given his wet condition, is it possible that he was hit by surface water from Verducci’s body? If so, such water transfer might not have been intentional. At a minimum, the court should order an extensive forensic examination with supporting computer modeling and DNA research.