NEW ORLEANS — William Aubin Jr. was at home when a sheriff’s deputy arrived on his street looking for a reckless driver. The deputy was not looking for Aubin, but he ended up getting arrested anyway.
According to a report by Injustice Today, Aubin was arrested after he threatened to call the deputy's supervisor because the deputy allegedly addressed him with coarse language.
Aubin allegedly took out his cell phone and started walking back toward his house, but he was arrested before he made it inside, according to the report.
“I’m calling your supervisor,” Aubin reportedly said. “I’m gonna get you fired.”
Aubin was charged with intimidating a public official, a felony in Louisiana that is punishable with up to five years in prison. Specifically, the law bars "the use of violence, force or threats… with the intent to influence [an official’s] conduct in relation to his position, employment or duty.”
Aubin was never prosecuted for his alleged crime, but now a lawsuit over his arrest is currently in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans.
“It's absolutely unconstitutional,” Kearney Loughlin, Aubin's attorney, told the Louisiana Record, referring to his client's arrest.
Loughlin, who also represents other people who are in similar situations, said that courts need to be able to distinguish between what he calls a “true threat of unlawful violence” and a whole broad category of other threats that do not rise to the same level.
“There are all kinds of rude and offensive things that you can say to a police officer or anybody else, and they have no recourse,” Loughlin said.
Loughlin added that some types of foul language, and even giving police the finger, are examples of protected speech.
Loughlin said that his client's lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the law. Currently, he is waiting for the Fifth Circuit to hand down its decision.