Bicyclist sues Bellingham, saying arrest violated rights

It happened after he complained about a parking enforcement officer who blocked a bike lane.

Associated Press

SEATTLE — A bicyclist is suing the city of Bellingham, saying he was arrested for trying to complain about a parking enforcement officer who blocked a bike lane.

David Morales filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Monday. He said he was riding in the bike lane on North State Street in January 2017 when he came upon the parking enforcement officer’s vehicle.

He rapped on the window to try to ask her not to park in the bike lane because it endangers cyclists. She refused to roll it down, and he rode off, he said.

Two days later, as he was riding at about the same time of day and the same location, Bellingham police officer Joshua Danke pulled him over. The lawsuit said two other police vehicles also arrived, and the same parking enforcement officer was nearby.

Morales says Danke arrested him and then drove him around town for about an hour. The lawsuit says that forced Morales to spend two nights in jail: He missed the Friday afternoon court calendar and didn’t have another chance to appear before a judge and post bail until Sunday.

“Defendant Danke took all steps necessary to insure Plaintiff would be forced to spend two days in jail before appearing before a judge,” the lawsuit said.

The charge against Danke, intimidating a public servant, was later dismissed.

The assistant city attorney representing Bellingham did not immediately return a message seeking comment Monday.

The lawsuit names the city and the officers involved as defendants. It alleges the arrest violated Morales’ constitutional right to be free from unreasonable seizure.

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