THIRD STREET PROMENADE — A street performer has filed suit against three Santa Monica police officers and a former police chief alleging an officer arrested him without cause and then falsified a report to cover up the misdeed.
According to the complaint filed in federal court, Alan Feiman was impersonating comedian Groucho Marx on the Third Street Promenade on Aug. 3, 2011 when he was approached by officers Louis Marioni and Russell Grimmond.
Feiman, pretending to be Marx, asked the two officers, “So where’s your work permit?” at which point Grimmond took Feiman’s performer’s permit from him. When Feiman demanded it back, Marioni handcuffed him and arrested him, according to the complaint.
Feiman later discovered that he had been booked on suspicion of being drunk in public.
That would be a difficult thing to claim, said Thomas Beck, Feiman’s attorney.
“He’s never consumed alcohol in his adult life,” Beck said.
According to the complaint, it’s been 20 years since Feiman last took a drink, but in his report, Marioni wrote that Feiman had “objective symptoms of alcohol,” including bloodshot eyes, thick and slurred speech and aggressive behavior.
Absent from the report is any mention of Grimmond, according to the complaint.
Feiman was held for six hours in Santa Monica Jail, during which time he was not allowed to make a phone call. It took four hours for him to get photographed and fingerprinted, according to the complaint.
That was done to excuse the fact that Feiman’s eyes were not bloodshot as Marioni claimed in the report, Beck said.
“It’s a ‘contempt of cop’ arrest,” Beck said. “It happens if the cop disapproves of something you do or say and finds some reason to arrest you … The easiest one to claim is that he was drunk, he hit me, or he resisted arrest. It’s a common trilogy.”
Former police Chief Timothy Jackman and a third officer, Michelle Dimas, were named in the complaint for less direct roles than Grimmond and Marioni.
The complaint accuses Jackman of ignoring the behavior of his officers, despite video evidence provided by Feiman that he was not staggering or acting intoxicated near the time of the arrest.
Dimas, according to the complaint, was the officer that refused to allow Feiman to make a phone call.
The City Attorney’s Office has not yet been served with the complaint, and could not comment on the case.
Beck does not plan to serve the complaint until July, and expects that the case will go to trial sometime next year.
Feiman is seeking damages, attorney’s fees and the cost of the lawsuit.