Dallas - A 36-year-old US man has been found not guilty of property theft, after he was arrested and charged for taking away his daughter’s cell phone in an act of discipline, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.
Ronald Jackson took away his daughter’s cell phone over a Whatsapp message she had sent to her friend.
“I don’t like his ratchet girlfriend or her kids,” the message read.
The message was referring to Ronald's new girlfriend.
Ronald and the daughter’s mom, Michelle Steppe, had been separated for some time, but shared custody of their 12-year-old girl.
The phone was bought for their daughter by Steppe and her new fiancé, but was paid for on Jackson’s cellular plan.
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According to local TV station WFAA, Jackson confiscated the cell phone after seeing the message. His daughter then went to a friend’s house and called her mom.
Police were sent to Jackson’s home and, while there, they tried to get the phone back, to which Jackson refused.
“I decided the police don’t interfere with my ability to parent my daughter,” he told the TV station.
The mom said she respected Jackson’s decision in parenting his daughter, but felt he should have given his daughter the phone back eventually.
She would later send a demand letter after he refused a second time.
Taken to court
After a few months, Jackson was sent a letter of petty theft, which was later upgraded to a Class B misdemeanour, court documents showed.
Jackson opted to decline and get a lawyer, choosing to argue the case in municipal court, WFAA reported.
In April 2015, Jackson was awoken by police at 02:00 in the morning, and arrested for his crime.
“Why would you arrest someone for something like that?” he retold to TV station CBS-DFW.
“Don’t you have better things to do as a police officer? Aren’t there bigger crimes in the city that you need to take care of?”
Jackson also expressed concern that Steppe’s new fiancé was a police officer, but that fact was not mentioned in any of the proceedings.
Jackson’s trial last two days, and he was eventually found not guilty by the Dallas County Criminal Court, due to insufficient evidence.
Jackson’s lawyer told WFAA that he was planning to file a federal civil rights claim against the police and the city attorney’s office over the way his client was treated.