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Judge rules Parma man who was charged with disrupting public service can sue police and city

Parma police
Posted at 10:45 PM, Aug 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-02 23:20:07-04

PARMA, Ohio — A parody Facebook page mocking the Parma Police Department was meant to be funny, but Anthony Novak's fake social media account could have landed him in jail and his attorney thinks that's ridiculous.

"This kind of conduct is the kind of conduct that goes to the heart of what it means to be an American. We are permitted to make fun of our government, its what makes us Americans," said Subodh Chandra of the Chandra Law Firm.

Novak said his page was live for a mere 12 hours back in March 2016 and had about 100 followers.

Chandra says Novak's posts about pedophiles training to become police officers and abortion vans for teens were clearly satire.

"Anyone with a reasonable brain who looks at it would realize that this is satire, that this is parody and somebody is mocking the police," Chandra said.

The Parma Police Department said it received some confused phone calls so it was forced to post to the department's official page, warning people about the spoof account.

Police arrested Novak and charged him with disrupting public service.

"If these officers and the city of Parma's decision to retaliate against a citizen for making fun of them stands, what we do is fundamentally undermine what it means to be an American and that's a dangerous road to go down," Chandra said.

Not only was Novak acquitted of the criminal charge, but most recently a federal appeals court ruled in his favor too. He can now move forward with a lawsuit against the city of Parma and the arresting officer— the ruling says Novak is protected under the first amendment.

The city is still fighting this lawsuit and backing its officers.

"We are encouraged the court dismissed parts of the complaint. At this early stage in the case, the court was required to take all of Mr. Novak's allegations as true, and discovery will show they are not. We continue to believe our officers were justified in this arrest and are confident the court will ultimately dismiss the entire case," said Steve Strang of Gallagher Sharp Law Firm in an emailed statement.