The panel reversed and remanded summary judgment for the three police officers who arrested plaintiff Michele Santopietro, who claims Las Vegas Metropolitan police Officers Clayborn Howell, Kristine Crawford and Francisco Lopez-Rosende violated her right to free speech.
The plainclothes officers arrested Santopietro and Lea Patrick on Las Vegas Strip on May 28, 2011, and charged them with seeking payment for services without a business license.
The two California women were dressed as “sexy cops” and sought tips for tourists to take a photo with them.
Officer Howell had Officer Crawford take a photo of him with the two women.
Santopietro told the plainclothes officers it did not cost anything to take a photo with her and her partner, but they accept tips, Ninth Circuit Judge Marsha Berzon wrote for the panel.
When they refused to tip, Patrick told them to delete the photo, and they were arrested.
The case was dismissed, but Santopietro sued the officers in Federal Court.
U.S. District Judge James Mahan granted the officers summary judgment, finding they had probable cause to arrest her and were not liable for civil rights violations. Santopietro appealed.
“The central dispute is whether Santopietro’s actions went beyond protected expression and moved into the realm of business activity,” Berzon wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel.
“Like the sale of an artist’s paintings, the sale of a snapshot of a performer’s protected street performance is likely protected in itself. Although the ‘customer’ is involved in the process of creating the work at issue here, because Crawford took the photo of Howell interacting with the ‘sexy cops,’ there is no dispute that Santopietro and Patrick ‘applie[d their] creative talents.’” (Citations omitted.)
For the the full article please visit : http://www.courthousenews.com/sexy-cop-impersonator-will-get-day-court/