A North Carolina man was arrested during a trip to Helen after police accused him of using profanity near children.
Morgan Wilson, 26, was in North Georgia for a car show last week when police stopped him for drinking a beer on the sidewalk, authorities said.
Surprised, Wilson began to record the encounter and stream it to his Instagram account, saying he didn’t know it was against city ordinance to carry an open container around.
“If you drink in public, you will be cited,” he said in the video as officers wrote him a citation. “They don’t tell you, but ignorance of the law is no excuse so I will side with them on that. I do think it’s kind of lame, but at the end of they day they have a job to do ... It’s one of those deals that really (expletive) sucks, but I’ll come down and pay it later, I guess.”
At that point, an officer placed Wilson in handcuffs and arrested him for cursing in public.
“The subject was stopped, directed into the parking lot for his safety and cited for the open container of alcohol,” Helen investigator Justin Cook said in a statement Tuesday. “When the citation was being issued, (Wilson) decided to express his disgust for the citation and use foul language.”
Police said they made the arrest because there were families and children nearby, though authorities acknowledged that officers could have just issued Wilson a second citation for profanity instead of hauling him off to jail.
“It’s officer discretion whether to make an arrest or issue a citation,” Cook told AJC.com. He was charged with open container and disorderly conduct.
Wilson said he spent about 18 hours in jail. He was released the next day after putting up a $2,700 cash bond.
He said Tuesday he never expected to get arrested for profanity. He also challenged the officers’ claims that he dropped the “f-bomb” within earshot of children.
“There is no way at the volume that I uttered that word that anybody under the age of 14 would have heard that at all,” Wilson said. “It was absolutely comical that out of all the times I’ve been involved with law enforcement in the past that something as seemingly as minuscule as this would actually get me arrested. It was just bizarre.”
Wilson, an aspiring automotive journalist who works putting wraps and graphics on vehicles, said he plans to fight the charges and has already found an attorney willing to represent him at no cost.
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