Fresno Officer Seeks $5.5 Million in Lawsuit Over Month-long Cyber Harassment after He Issued Jaywalking Ticket to a Man

Fresno Officer Seeks $5.5 Million in Lawsuit Over Month-long Cyber Harassment after He Issued Jaywalking Ticket to a Man

A civil lawsuit says that a man who was angry about getting a ticket for jaywalking relentlessly harassed and set out to get payback on a Fresno police officer and his family for almost a month.

The officer, whose name is in the lawsuit as “John Doe,” was on duty on October 25, 2019, around 2 p.m., when he saw a man, later identified as “John Christopher Spatafore,” crossing the street illegally in downtown Fresno near Fresno City Hall and the train tracks.

The 55-year-old Spatafore worked as an IT specialist for Community Regional Medical Center and lived just one block from where he worked. Spatafore was “extremely confrontational” when he was being questioned by police, but he took the ticket and both men were on their way.

At that point, the encounter should have been over. But what happened next was so strange that the officer’s lawyer, Brian Whelan, called it a “cyber campaign of hate and revenge” against the officer, his wife, and his daughter.

One of the things the officer is suing Spatafore and the hospital for is invasion of privacy. Other things are intentional infliction of mental distress and negligent supervision of an employee.

The police officer wants at least $5.5 million for himself, his wife, and their daughter. A jury will decide what kind of punitive damages to give at trial.

On June 6, there will be a discovery meeting before the trial, and the trial could happen later this year.

The lengths Spatafore went to carry out his plan for revenge are shown in court papers and police reports. A few days after giving the person a ticket for jaywalking, the police officer started getting password change codes in his email, which meant someone was trying to get into his account.

At least 10 more times over the next few days, the attempts were made. The calls, emails, and texts then started coming in.

The claim says that Spatafore sent out thousands of requests for information to stores, solar companies, and car dealers. The cop got 100 texts on his personal phone in one day.

During his statement, Spatafore denied that he had hacked into the officer’s email account. Still, the abuse got worse.

He lied to the cops and said the officer was involved in a hit-and-run on October 1, 2019. Spatafore wrote in the account part of the police report, “Police motorcycle riding on sidewalk without lights or sirens.” Looked like they were high on drugs while laughing out loud.

Fresno police looked into what happened and found that it didn’t happen. Later, a search warrant showed that the online report was linked to Spatafore’s IP address at the hospital.

Spatafore made a second false report, this time saying that the officer’s wife had been abused by her husband. He also told the cops that the officer’s sister-in-law had pictures of the abuse. Police looked into the claim and found it to be false, but it hurt the couple.

Some of the abuse was scary, and other times it was just annoying. Spatafore is said to have tried on Thanksgiving Day to have the officer’s trash and water turned off. The cop had to step in and stop it with the help of city staff.

After harassing people online for almost a month, Spatafore was caught by Fresno police on November 21, 2019. Police pulled him over because he was going less than a mile from the officer’s house. A loaded.38 caliber handgun that wasn’t registered was in his car. Spatafore also didn’t have a permit to carry the gun and said he wasn’t the owner.

The hospital fired Spatafore on November 21, 2019, because they found out he used their tools, like a laptop computer, to carry out his plan to get back at them.

Spatafore was charged with two counts of using personal information without permission, one count of having a gun hidden in a car, getting stolen property, and making a false report. All of these charges are misdemeanors.

The court also put out a restraining order against him that said he couldn’t talk to the cop or his family.

Spatafore’s criminal case was put on hold, though, after his lawyer, Corina Burchfield, was able to get him into a mental health rehabilitation program.

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