A Lakeland man was arrested early Wednesday morning with spitting on the sidewalk after he said he got into a heated argument with a pair of police officers.
Joseph Stoiber was charged with spitting on a public sidewalk and released on $250 bond.
Stoiber, 28, said he was walking in his neighborhood near Florida Southern College around 2:30 a.m. when he was approached by officers at the corner of South Ingraham Avenue and Lexington Street.
"I'm an insomniac and honestly I like staying up later," Stoiber said.
Lakeland assistant police chief Larry Giddons said, a recent rash of burglaries have prompted police to step up patrols in the area.
According to Giddons, police said Stoiber appeared to be loitering and under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and didn't provide a reasonable explanation when asked what he was doing in the area. He then refused a legal request to be patted down – which, by law, is within his rights.
"He said, 'Can I pat you down,' and at that point I said, 'No, you cannot," said Stoiber, adding he does not use drugs or alcohol.
Stoiber said an argument ensued, and an officer handcuffed him.
Stoiber, who was chewing snuff, leaned over to spit on the sidewalk, and was taken into custody.
"I bent over slightly into the grass area and spit slightly without any audible noise," Stoiber said. "The police officer then looked at me and he asked me 'Did you spit on the curb?' And I responded, 'Yes I did.' "
Giddons said police officials plan to speak with the officer involved. Stoiber says he has hired an attorney to investigate possible legal action.