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Ex-sheriff David Clarke heads to court over Facebook post

  • Former Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke will head to trial on Monday over a run-in with a 25-year-old who shook his head at him
  • Daniel Black sued Clarke for having deputies detain and question him in Jan 2017
  • He'd run into Clarke at the Milwaukee airport and shook his head over something the former sheriff said
  • Clarke took it as a threat and had him detained, then mocked him on Facebook

By Associated Press and Abigail Miller For Dailymail.com

Published: 00:54 EST, 22 January 2018 | Updated: 00:56 EST, 22 January 2018

Former Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke's run-in with a 25-year-old man who shook his head at him while boarding a flight last year is headed to trial on Monday.

Daniel Black sued Clarke for having deputies detain and question him at the Milwaukee airport on January 15, 2017, but Clarke's taunting social media posts remain the focus of the case.

The confrontation happened when Black and Clarke were both boarding a flight from Dallas to Milwaukee – the day Clarke's beloved Dallas Cowboys were facing the Green Bay packers in the playoffs.

Former Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke's run-in with a 25-year-old man who shook his head at him while boarding a flight last year is headed to trial on MondayDaniel Black sued Clarke for having deputies detain and question him at the Milwaukee airport on January 15, 2017, but Clarke's taunting social media posts remain the focus of the caseDaniel Black sued Clarke for having deputies detain and question him at the Milwaukee airport on January 15, 2017, but Clarke's taunting social media posts remain the focus of the case

Former Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke's run-in with 25-year-old Daniel Black, who shook his head at him while boarding a flight last year is headed to trial on Monday

The sheriff was clad in Dallas gear without his trademark cowboy hat and Black said he didn't immediately recognize him because of that.

When Black shook his head at something Clarke said, the sheriff took it as a threat and had him questioned by deputies. Clarke then posted multiple times on Facebook, mocking Black and saying the next time someone pulled the same 'stunt on a plane they may get knocked out'When Black shook his head at something Clarke said, the sheriff took it as a threat and had him questioned by deputies. Clarke then posted multiple times on Facebook, mocking Black and saying the next time someone pulled the same 'stunt on a plane they may get knocked out'

When Black shook his head at something Clarke said, the sheriff took it as a threat and had him questioned by deputies. Clarke then posted multiple times on Facebook, mocking Black and saying the next time someone pulled the same 'stunt on a plane they may get knocked out'

He asked Clarke if he was Milwaukee's sheriff, according to the lawsuit, and when Clarke said yes, Black shook his head disapprovingly, claiming he did so because he was supporting a rival team.

Clarke, who attracts controversy because of his provocative and brash personality, didn't see the gesture as harmless and asked deputies to meet Black at the airport and question him.

Black said deputies questioned him for about 15 minutes but didn't cite or arrest him.

When Black publicized the encounter and filed his lawsuit, Clarke responded with a series of Facebook posts.

Clarke said at the time he 'reserves the reasonable right to pre-empt a possible assault,' and also posted that the next time someone pulled the same 'stunt on a plane they may get knocked out.'

Later, making fun of Black, Clarke wrote on Facebook: 'Cheer up, snowflake … if Sheriff Clarke were to really harass you, you wouldn't be around to whine about it.'

The lawsuit initially made several claims – that Clarke's directive for his deputies to detain him amounted to unconstitutional search and seizure, and that the sheriff's actions violated his due-process rights and infringed on his free speech.

But earlier this month, Judge JP Stadtmueller dismissed all but one of the claims – whether Clarke's Facebook posts were threatening enough to be considered a deterrent to future speech.

Stadtmueller said the posts could be interpreted in different ways.

The lawsuit initially made several claims - that Clarke's directive for his deputies to detain him amounted to unconstitutional search and seizure, and that the sheriff's actions violated his due-process rights and infringed on his free speech. Clarke is pictured April 2017The lawsuit initially made several claims - that Clarke's directive for his deputies to detain him amounted to unconstitutional search and seizure, and that the sheriff's actions violated his due-process rights and infringed on his free speech. Clarke is pictured April 2017

The lawsuit initially made several claims – that Clarke's directive for his deputies to detain him amounted to unconstitutional search and seizure, and that the sheriff's actions violated his due-process rights and infringed on his free speech. Clarke is pictured April 2017

But earlier this month, Judge JP Stadtmueller dismissed all but one of the claims - whether Clarke's Facebook posts were threatening enough to be considered a deterrent to future speech. Clarke resigned August 31 to join a political action committee that supports President Donald Trump, who he has been an avid proponent of since early in his campaign. He is pictured with Trump in 2016But earlier this month, Judge JP Stadtmueller dismissed all but one of the claims - whether Clarke's Facebook posts were threatening enough to be considered a deterrent to future speech. Clarke resigned August 31 to join a political action committee that supports President Donald Trump, who he has been an avid proponent of since early in his campaign. He is pictured with Trump in 2016

But earlier this month, Judge JP Stadtmueller dismissed all but one of the claims – whether Clarke's Facebook posts were threatening enough to be considered a deterrent to future speech. Clarke resigned August 31 to join a political action committee that supports President Donald Trump, who he has been an avid proponent of since early in his campaign. He is pictured with Trump in 2016

On one hand, the posts could be seen as 'intentionally hyperbolic (and juvenile) attempts at mockery and self-promotion' and not intimidating.

But, he also said 'the Court cannot say Clarke's posts were so trivial that no jury could find them to be sufficiently threatening.'

The trial is expected to last all day Monday. While Black is likely to testify, it's less clear whether Clarke will take the stand.

Black wants a jury to award him a compensation amount that they choose for emotional distress and other damages, as well as attorneys' fees.

Although Clarke is no longer sheriff, the county is paying his legal bills and ultimately will be liable for any damages.

Clarke resigned August 31 to join a political action committee that supports President Donald Trump, who he has been an avid proponent of since early in his campaign.

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