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on July 10, 2015 at 5:49 PM, updated July 10, 2015 at 9:17 PM
A Superior Court judge on Friday dismissed charges against a Tinton Falls man whose Facebook posts in the wake of two New York City police shootings last year said cops deserved to die.
Saying his online speech is constitutionally protected, Assignment Judge Lisa Thornton cleared Matthew Reardon, 29, of all charges, said his attorney, Richard Lomurro of Freehold.
Reardon was arrested Dec. 22 for comments on a Facebook post that railed against police officers following the execution-style shootings of New York City police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjan Liu in Brooklyn two days earlier. Those officers’ shooter had said he was angry at the deaths of unarmed men by police last year.
Police say Reardon wrote on Facebook, “Don’t wanna get clipped while sitting in your squad car?? Don’t be a (expletives deleted) pig who’s looking to get killed…Everyone who goes out of their way to (expletive deleted) with other people should get executed in cold blood.”
Lomurro said Reardon was initially charged with aggravated assault and making terroristic threats but those charges were downgraded to harassment and obstruction of justice after he filed in May to have all the charges dismissed.
“We weren’t going to accept anything other than a complete dismissal,” Lomurro said. “The judge agreed his speech was protected and all the charges were dismissed.”
Lomurro said his client was engaged in an online conversation about police conduct in America but that his message was not threatening.
“Although speech can be offensive, it is still protected and we can’t allow people to be jailed for expressing an opinion when no crime has occurred,” Lomurro said. “The judge’s decision today emphasizes that First Amendment rights apply to all platforms including Facebook and social media. This was a true victory for the First Amendment in its modern application.”
Prosecutors argued the case should have gone to trial for a jury to decide, he said.
Reardon was arrested after someone brought those Facebook comments to the attention of Tinton Falls police, Lomurro said.
Held on $75,000 cash bail, Reardon spent eight days in 23-hour lockdown at the Monmouth County jail before being released on a reduced bail of $15,000 Lomurro said.
He said he has filed a notice of claim against the Tinton Falls Police Department preserving Reardon’s right to sue.