A homeless man in Sarasota had to spend the night in jail after being arrested for charging his old cell phone in a public picnic shelter. Twenty-eight year old Darren Kersey may be homeless but he still has a cell phone and an obvious dilemma for him is where to go in order to charge it.
Kersey went to a public picnic shelter located in Gillespie Park, which has its own charging station, only to be arrested on charges of “theft of city utilities” by overzealous local police officer Sgt Anthony Frangioni at 9:20 pm.
Frangioni allegedly added a comment to his police report that ‘theft’ of this nature would “not be tolerated during this bad economy.” Because he is homeless, Kersey inevitably did not have the exorbitant fee of $500 he would have needed to bail himself out and thus had to spend the night in jail.
If Kersey was taken aback by the arrest however, the good news is that so was Judge Charles Williams, who immediately threw the case out the moment it turned up in his court. Williams noted that given it was a public charging station there was no legal basis whatsoever for the arrest to have taken place.
The public charging stations in Sarasota serve the community in a number of ways, with one woman charging her electric wheelchair there and there are no signs saying that the use is restricted.