Dumpster diver sues Maplewood cop over arrest

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MAPLEWOOD, MO (AP) – A St. Louis County man who says he sorts through trash bins to help feed the homeless is suing a Maplewood police sergeant over what he calls the use of excessive force in an early-morning arrest.

See video of the incident from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that 35-year-old Timothy Peterka of Ballwin says in federal lawsuit filed in St. Louis that he suffered a sprain wrist, cracked ribs and a cut on his chin requiring 11 stitches when he was arrested after 1 a.m. in late February behind the Deer Creek shopping plaza on Laclede Station Road.

An attorney for the city of Maplewood says Sgt. Tony Cavanaugh acted properly. The suit also accuses the city of failing to properly train its police officers and seeks unspecified financial damages.


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com


  • danforth73

    I didn’t see him make an aggressive move in the video. He didn’t swing at or lunge at or push the officer. He probably just said something the cop didn’t like such as objecting to the arrest or actually suggesting he had some rights so the cop had to show him some “authoritah”. No audio to the video, so I can only speculate, but I bet if I’m not spot on, I’m not far off. He shouldn’t have been arrested in the first place. I couldn’t find any language in the Maplewood code prohibiting dumpster diving or scavenging and unless there was nearby posting or the dumpster was in a fenced-in or enclosed area, I highly doubt they could get him on trespassing. I hope he wins & gets a decent settlement. Just another of many examples of why so many citizens have such contempt for the police.


    Look we live in a totally nanny city, and now because of that we have a police state. Me and fellow democrats can’t wait for the whole state to become this way.

  • Pat Gray

    Why? Why was the cop doing this? Salvaging food is that big of a deal?? Law enforcement needs some retraining.

  • Steven

    Serve and protect was gone long ago. That was a typical dirt bag move on the officers side. Then the slimy attorney for Maplehood defends him. Bet he would sing a different tune if it was his son trying to feed the homeless and that happened. Police are acting like they are at war and getting away with it.

  • danforth73

    Dumpster diving and scavenging is such a dangerous threat to the welfare of society that the police need to declare war on it. They should form special scavenging task forces & perhaps form a multi-agency metro-wide Scavenging Case Squad (after the Major Case Squad) where police from many departments can get together and conspire to take down those vile criminals who dare to sort thru and (gasp!) actually take items that other people obviously didn’t want to keep.

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