back to article IT worker sued over ‘vengeful’ cyber harassment of policeman who issued a jaywalking ticket

In an ongoing civil lawsuit, an IT worker is accused of launching a "destructive cyber campaign of hate and revenge" against a police officer and his family after being issued a ticket for jaywalking. The allegations against John Christopher Spatafore – who at the time worked for the US city of Fresno's Community Hospitals of …

  1. MJI Silver badge

    Strange thing to do someone for

    Looked it up and is just crossing a road.

    The police should be arresting criminals not pedestrians

    1. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

      Re: Strange thing to do someone for

      Merica

      1. Marty McFly Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Strange thing to do someone for

        No, not 'Merica'.

        Definitely Kalifornia though.

    2. miken101

      Re: Strange thing to do someone for

      Maybe jaywalking should be redefined as 'crossing the road without due care and attention' as opposed to 'not being on a dedicated crossing'.

      1. Steve Button Silver badge

        Re: Strange thing to do someone for

        Nah, sorry. Here in the UK even if you attempt to cross even a motorway I don't think the Police will actually arrest you. They'll just tell you to move away for your own safety. (unless you are actually blocking it to "save the planet", in which case they will ask if you'd like some refreshments)

        I remember crossing the road in Germany "not on a designated crossing" and got gasps from the locals. It was a quietish road in Franfurt where I was going for a job interview, and I didn't realise until afterwards what the fuss was all about.

        It's a stupid law from the land of "Car is King" and I believe the term Jaywalking was even invented by car companies IIRC. This law should be scrapped, and do it like we do here in the UK which pretty much works OK for the vast majority of the time.

        But just because it's a stupid law, you still pay the fine or whatever. This guy clearly has serious mental issues and needs help.

        1. sabroni Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: in which case they will ask if you'd like some refreshments

          Yeah, before they cave your head in with in baton.

          FFS, how out of touch with reality are you Steve? Read that in the Daily Mail?

          1. Steve Button Silver badge

            Re: in which case they will ask if you'd like some refreshments

            That was a YouTube video from a couple of years back when a police officer asked some JSO protesters "Can I get you anything? Some water? Suntan lotion?". Seems to have disappeared now.

            https://www.lbc.co.uk/radio/presenters/nick-ferrari/police-officer-embarrassed-just-stop-oil/

            I've never once seen any video of them caving heads in with batons at JSO protests. Other protests may vary though.

        2. PRR Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: Strange thing to do someone for

          > ..It's a stupid law from the land of "Car is King"

          When I was a very small boy, too small to jaywalk, 1950s California, a pedestrian had absolute right of way. Car drivers had to yield as hard as they could. Even on the then-new Freeways. This of course led to troubles.

          Apparently this has been recast as "crosswalk" (and sidewalk). If you get your foot (or wheelchair) in the crosswalk, you use it. If you make it OK; if someone gets hurt the lawyers and judges will sort out who did who wrong.

        3. Grinning Bandicoot

          Re: Strange things

          My years back now I was in a class on traffic control or maybe defensive driving and University Avenue was brought into the discussion. It appears after an overlay and stripping, an extended period without other markings, speed, pedestrian crossings, lane restrictions. When the accident data was analyzed, it was found that both the fatality and the hospitalized non-fatal rates went down. The effect was explained away by saying both opposing sides started taking things seriously.

      2. cookieMonster Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Strange thing to do someone for

        Don’t condone his actions at all. I was visiting a client in Boston in the 90’s, found a hotel about 500 meters from the office. Taxi from airport to hotel Sunday night. Walked to the office, I got about 50 meters up the street and was stopped by a cop. He told me I was jaywalking, there were no foot paths, I was on the verge beside the road. Did not get arrested, but was driven back to the hotel and told I either get a taxi or rent a car. Thankfully when I explained this to the receptionist she just told me to hang on a second while she went and got her car, she drove me to the office both days I was there and the client dropped me back.

        Still can’t believe this actually happened to me.

        Pint, cause I needed a few after the first day, and it’s Thursday now.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Strange thing to do someone for

          Reminds me of the time I made a short (2 day) visit to a supplier in Lafayette, Louisiana (also in the 90's). I flew in on the Sunday and was collected from the airport by the supplier's CEO and taken to a local motel. The CEO collected me the following morning to take me to the factory (to troubleshoot a problem they were having), then back to the motel for the Monday night; finally, he drove me to the airport on the Tuesday. I had no car and discovered I was actually stranded in the motel each night as there was no pedestrian access. There was a large shopping mall on the other side of the highway, but it might as well have been on the Moon as far as me being able to get to it.

    3. JoeCool Silver badge

      Re: Strange thing to do someone for

      In practice, jaywalking is usually charged when the pedestrian actions are impeding traffic (illegally).

      Those cases need to be ticketed.

    4. Falmari Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Strange thing to do someone for

      @MJI "The police should be arresting criminals not pedestrians"

      That's ok then no pedestrians were arrested in the article just a criminal.

      Spatafore the pedestrian was issued a ticket for jaywalking. It was Spatafore the criminal that was arrested for cyber harassment and assorted other crimes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Strange thing to do someone for

        Jaywalking is definitely a gateway crime, and this proves it.

        Crack down early, and crack down hard!

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Strange thing to do someone for

          To stop them jaywalking, off with their legs!

    5. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Strange thing to do someone for

      Germans get all bent out of shape about it too. I enjoy crossing at a Red Man there, just to see the locals twitch. Not with cops around, though, in case they don't have that famous German sense of humour.

      1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        Re: Strange thing to do someone for

        My experience in various European countries is that (a) you're supposed to cross the road at designated crossing points only, (b) drivers pay no regard for anyone crossing the road at designated crossing points.

        I think Bill Bryson said something along the lines of European streets being marked out so that the people know where the dead bodies are going to stack up.

        1. Primus Secundus Tertius

          Re: Strange thing to do someone for

          I once spent a holiday in Morocco. There, they paint zebra crossings on the road but neither pedestrians nor motorists pay any attention to them. Sometimes I wondered whether motorists there knew the difference between right and left.

      2. Robin

        Re: Strange thing to do someone for

        "Germans get all bent out of shape about it too. I enjoy crossing at a Red Man there, just to see the locals twitch."

        Surely if you cross the road in Ampel time it's fine?

    6. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Strange thing to do someone for

      The concept of 'jaywalking' was invented in the USA in the 1920s by automobile clubs and manufacturers to designate roads as a place for cars and not other road users. One PR tactic was a song to suggest that pedestrians who didn't give way to cars were merely unsophisticated country yokels.

      The damage that cars have done to Americans (46,000 road deaths on US roads in 2022) and American communities is just staggering.

      Meanwhile, back in the land of the free (rural England), coppers won't arrest you if you risk damaging a large truck with your fragile body by crossing a road where you want to.

      1. Catkin Silver badge

        Re: Strange thing to do someone for

        Promoted, not invented (it originated from the term 'Jay Driver' meaning one who drives on the wrong side of the road) and is at least a decade older. Before it was codified, it more referred to pedestrians taking a route that spent excessive time outside of pedestrian areas.

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Strange thing to do someone for

          If I understand properly what you are saying, all the Colonials are Jay Drivers?

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Strange thing to do someone for

        >” Meanwhile, back in the land of the free (rural England), coppers won't arrest you if you risk damaging a large truck with your fragile body by crossing a road where you want to.”

        under the revised Highway Code (Jan 2022) and the ‘hierarchy of road users’ and revisions to rights of way, they may ticket the truck driver…

        1. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch Silver badge

          Re: Strange thing to do someone for

          - Have you any idea of how much damage that bulldozer would suffer if I just let it roll straight over you?

          - How much?

          - None at all.

          1. mobailey

            Re: Strange thing to do someone for

            Highway Code rule number 42.

    7. goblinski

      Re: Strange thing to do someone for

      Well, sounds very much like this one turned out to be criminal first, pedestrian or not ?!?

    8. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Strange thing to do someone for

      Well I'd be mighty pissed if I was actually ticketed for jaywalking unless I was walking right in front of cars and almost caused (or did cause) an accident. But I'd confine my complaining to venting to my friends and probably a profanity laced Facebook post, not to the cop's face and definitely not harassing them online.

      I think this guy already had a few screws loose, and the cop knocked the last one out that day.

    9. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Re: Strange thing to do someone for

      >just crossing a road

      I suspect another Americanism applies here:

      "Throwing the book at him"

      Every charge they can lay their rightly irate hands on.

      (But, yes, the yank cops are notoriously persnickety about jaywalking. Catches tourists out all the time.)

      1. disgruntled yank

        Re: Strange thing to do someone for

        @W.S. Gosset

        In the course of fifty-five years of habitual jaywalking in America, I have never been ticketed, and I don't think I know anyone who has.

        About half a mile from me, people habitually cross a busy street between lights to save about eighty yards of walking, with maybe a potential ninety-second wait for a light. They do this late at night while wearing dark clothing, leading me to wonder whether they know a) how numerous the baby-boomers remain, and b) what age does to night vision. But I doubt they ever getting ticketed.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Strange thing to do someone for

        I remember watching some of the Cops On Camera type shows. On a US series, I remember a cop pulling a guy over for "picking his nose", ie not having both hands on the steering wheel. Even then it seemed a bit of weak excuse to pull someone over and was just to increase his "ticket metrics".

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Stop

    "It ruined his life"

    It bloody well should.

    Even if you believe that your ticket was unjust, that does absolutely not excuse a campaign of privacy-invading slander and trouble.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: "It ruined his life"

      Reading the story, I'm starting to question whether this guy was a hospital employee, or a patient from the psych unit that is "good with computers".

      Dude got ticketed crossing the road wrongly. Just say "aw crap", pay a fine, life continues. This reaction was...extraordinary.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: "It ruined his life"

        "Dude got ticketed crossing the road wrongly. Just say "aw crap", pay a fine, life continues."

        I'd love to see some bodycam footage of the encounter. Most officers won't write a ticket for jaywalking unless somebody has crossed in a way that was very dangerous or the person has talked themselves into the citation. I'm guessing it was the latter in this case.

        There can be a good reason such as limited sight lines and a road where the average speeds won't give a driver enough time to brake safely. It might also be in a busy area where plenty of people are crossing with the lights, but many others are just barging across any ol' place with their heads buried in their phones. Think of big crowds in San Diego during Comicon all migrating hither and thither all day. If there isn't some sort of legal limitation in place, vehicle traffic would be at a standstill.

        1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

          Re: "It ruined his life"

          It could also be one of those escalation things:

          "Sir, do not cross here. Use that crosswalk there"

          "No! I'm a free man! You can't make me walk anywhere, Asshole!"

          ... and then descends from there.

  3. KittenHuffer Silver badge

    In next weeks episode of ....

    .... When BOFHs attack!

  4. H. sapien Floridanus

    What people are saying…

    As someone who has been run over multiple times, I advocate for pedestrian friendly laws, regardless of whether or not I, err I mean they are in the crosswalk.

    -Wyle E Coyote, Pedestrian Rights Activist

    In my day, jaywalking meant potentially getting trampled by a woolly mammoth . Getting run over by a car is much less dignified.

    -Thag, Wheel Crafter

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Autisticky, good enough at his computer job but not a manager, irritable, zero social skills

    That's my guess, anyway. I hope the justice system finds a way to keep him gainfully employed while ensuring his activity is sufficiently monitored and no more damage incurred. Prison followed by homeless street life would probably be more costly and possibly worse for everybody. I doubt he is capable of learning social lessons - probably he has a kind of mental handicap.

  6. Blackjack Silver badge

    [According to the complaint, all three reports were traced back to an IP address at CHCC, which the plaintiff claims suggests Spatafore had used his employer's computers to file the reports.]

    Wow this "IT worker" was an idiot. Not onky he did stuff from work but also didn't bother to try to hide the IP address.

  7. sarusa Silver badge
    Devil

    Typical Techbro

    Are we sure this guy isn't related to Elmo?

  8. nintendoeats Silver badge

    This is all just really sad. Clearly this man is mentally ill. His behaviour is so obsessive and extreme that I have trouble even being angry at him, as he clearly lacks normal capacity for self-control.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Much as we like to think people are all pretty average, there are some who "just don't get it" in the same way as the rest of us. We now have all these DEI neurodivergent HR rules where once we'd just follow George Carlin and say "What are you, f**kin' stupid?" we now have to let them wreck stuff, ruin lives then excuse them and offer them $1000/hr therapy sessions on company time.

      1. nintendoeats Silver badge

        The thing is, this behaviour is irrational. It is actively harmful to the person doing it. That is a defining characteristic of mental illness. It's one thing for somebody to do things that are poorly thought out or socially unacceptable, it's another for them to behave in a manner that is blatantly self-destructive for no potential benefit. One is being an asshole, the other is having a malfunctioning brain. It's unfortunate that third parties are hardmed by mental illness, but that's hardly a new thing.

        I should think the fact that people who knew him considered him to be mentally ill, and that he seemed to be a generally function human being otherwise, would lend some credence to this view.

    2. Blackjack Silver badge

      And is not even qualified for the work he has since most people at least know to not do illegal stuff using your work computers or Internet.

  9. Bebu Silver badge
    Windows

    Unlawfully accessing patient's medical records?

    In most jurisdiction this is a serious offence which in an aggravated case such as this would invariably involve a custodial sentence.

    The scale of the harm the officer, who was just doing his job, and his family subsequently suffered at the hands of this lunatic cannot be pushed aside with "the poor bastard was a wee bit off in the head but is ok now."

    Clearly the employer was negligent in not enforcing its medical records access controls or negligent in not having any.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Unlawfully accessing patient's medical records?

      Absolutely correct. On the other hand, The family is seeking $16.5 million in damages and fees.". Did they suffer so much harm they are entitled to enough cash to sell up, move house and retire?

      1. nintendoeats Silver badge

        Re: Unlawfully accessing patient's medical records?

        People rarely get what they are asking for. They basically make up numbers and then accept something lower down the line.

        A notable exception was the hot coffee lady who just asked for her medical bills to be paid and was awarded some crazy number by the jury.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Unlawfully accessing patient's medical records?

        "Did they suffer so much harm they are entitled to enough cash to sell up, move house and retire?"

        With data breaches and identify theft, the long term damage is hard to quantify. This is much like that and it can mean a lot of grief trying to get things repaired that never seem to stay repaired. There's the psychological impact of having somebody maliciously give your most private data a good ol' rummage and show you what they know about you. A big hint that you should never share more than you'd put on a billboard if you have any say in the matter. With medical records, you don't have much say so breaches of those should be met with serious penalties. Anybody that works with that sort of data should be vetted, watched and reminded that "sharing" that information is a whopping big no-no.

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