Illinois man with fake Twitter account suing after police raid

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

PEORIA, IL (WMBD/CNN) – An Illinois man who created a fake Twitter account using the name of Peoria’s mayor has filed a lawsuit.

Jon Daniel says it sparked a police raid and search on his home.

Now, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, Daniel is suing the city, the mayor and several other officials over the raid.

“I was very scared and helpless. I could not sleep. I had a sense of impending doom,” Daniel said.

It was an April 15 raid that prompted Daniel’s lawsuit against Peoria and about half a dozen officials- including the mayor.

Peoria police detained him and took his computer, along with some other personal belongings.

“The conduct of that these officials engaged was not just unconstitutional. It did not just violate the constitution. They treated him like a felon,” Daniel’s lead attorney Harvey Grossman said.

The ACLU of Illinois’ legal director is helping Daniel in his fight.

They want the court to declare Daniel’s rights violated and a federal judge to say Peoria violated the constitution.

They also seek an injunction against the city for suppressing his free speech and monetary damages.

“I just want the right thing to happen. I got caught in the middle of it,” Daniel said.

Grossman claims the Twitter page was a parody and protected by the First Amendment.

“The moment I thought there were ten, fifteen followers that weren’t my friends, I put parody,” Daniel said.

The mayor didn’t comment on the lawsuit in a press conference Thursday afternoon, but did argue against the parody claims.

“There’s no way for someone to know that what was being said under my name, my picture and my contact information was not coming from the mayor,” Mayor Jim Ardis said.

He also read some of the page’s Tweets verbatim.

Quote: “I’m thinking it’s a tequila and stripper night.”

And that was the only one clean enough for us to air.

Mayor Ardis said he might fight back.

“I’m exploring false light and defamation as well as other actions against those responsible for placing and hosting of libelous comments,” Mayor Ardis said.

Daniel’s lawsuit was filed in federal district court on Wednesday.

It’s unclear when and if the mayor might file a countersuit.

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