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A jaywalker launched a campaign of revenge against a cop who gave him a $196 ticket, lawsuit says

Joshua Zitser   

A jaywalker launched a campaign of revenge against a cop who gave him a $196 ticket, lawsuit says
  • A man waged a revenge campaign against an officer over a $196 jaywalking ticket, a lawsuit says.
  • The officer and his family are suing for $16.5 million, citing distress and privacy invasion.

A Fresno police officer issued a California man a ticket for jaywalking in 2019.

But instead of taking the fine on the chin, John Christopher Spatafore launched a campaign of revenge against the cop, which included filing false police reports about him, a civil lawsuit says.

The officer, identified only as John Doe, is seeking $16.5 million in damages for himself and his family.

The Fresno Bee was the first to report on the lawsuit, which is expected to go to trial later this year.

According to the local outlet, the officer's lawyer, Brian Whelan, described the lawsuit as addressing a "cyber campaign of hate and revenge" waged against the officer and his family.

A complaint filed by the officer, his wife, and his daughter in 2021 said the officer witnessed Spatafore jaywalking near Fresno City Hall and along railroad tracks on October 25, 2019.

The officer issued Spatafore with a ticket for violating a section of California's vehicle code. Under the code, jaywalking carries a fine of up to $196, plus court administrative fees and assessments.

Spatafore was "visibly upset" while being detained, the lawsuit says, and asked "strange personal and vaguely threatening questions" about the officer's address and whether he had kids.

Four days later, the lawsuit adds, the officer started receiving password-reset codes, which suggested attempts were being made to hack into his personal email account.

The lawsuit says this was followed by a flood of texts, calls, and emails from car dealerships "responding" to information requests about purchasing cars that the officer had never made.

It adds that on November 6, 2019, the officer had more than 100 texts on his personal phone concerning inquiries he had never initiated.

The lawsuit says Spatafore then filed two false police reports against the officer.

In the first, he accused him of being involved in a hit-and-run. An investigation by Fresno police found that this wasn't true, The Fresno Bee reported.

In the second, Spatafore alleged that the officer's wife was a victim of domestic violence, the lawsuit says. The police also found this report to be false, The Fresno Bee said.

According to the lawsuit, the officer and his wife also received a message claiming that their computer camera had been hacked and compromising videos of them would be released unless they met certain demands.

Spatafore is also accused of trying to get the officer's water and trash services turned off on Thanksgiving Day, The Fresno Bee reported.

Spatafore was arrested on November 21, 2019, nearly a month after the harassment campaign began.

He was pulled over within 1 mile of the officer's home with a loaded .38-caliber revolver that was not registered, and for which he did not have a license to carry, The Fresno Bee reported.

The local outlet said the hospital he worked at fired him that same day after finding that he had used his work laptop to carry out the revenge campaign.

The officer is now seeking $5.5 million each for himself, his wife, and his daughter, accusing Spatafore and the hospital of invasion of privacy, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other claims.

During an interview with police, Spatafore admitted to harassing the officer online, adding that he used Facebook, not hospital records, to find information on him, according to The Fresno Bee.

He was charged with two counts of unauthorized use of personal identifying information and one count of having a concealed firearm, alongside misdemeanor charges, but the criminal case was suspended after his lawyer got him into a mental-health diversion program.

Spatafore's lawyer, the lawyer for the officer, and the hospital did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Business Insider.

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