A Tennessee man was arrested Friday for alleged harassment after authorities said he distributed a disrespectful photo of a law enforcement officer’s grave on social media.
Joshua Andrew Garton, 28, was arrested on suspicion of harassment and jailed in Dickson County, Tennessee, on $76,000 bond, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.
The bureau said Garton recently produced and distributed a doctored photo of two men urinating on the grave of Dickson County sheriff’s Sgt. Daniel Baker, who was fatally shot in the line of duty in 2018.
“Just showing my respect to deputy Daniel Baker,” text accompanying the image said.
State detectives visited the gravesite and determined the photo did not depict an actual desecration, according to the bureau.
Nashville lawyer Daniel Horwitz, who does not represent Garton, said by email that the arrest appeared to be a violation of the Constitution.
“The First Amendment clearly and unmistakably protects this man’s right to post an offensive photo about a police officer,” he said. “The only people who broke the law here were the police officers and TBI agents who participated in this flagrantly unconstitutional arrest.”
The bureau said by email that the investigation and arrest were done at the behest of District Attorney General Ray Crouch.
“When requested to investigate an incident by a District Attorney General, TBI agents serve as fact-finders,” said bureau spokeswoman Leslie Earhart. “The D.A. determines what, if any, charges are placed.”
Crouch did not respond to a request for his comment Saturday. A county public defender also did not respond.
On Twitter, Horwitz, who specializes in constitutional law, criticized law enforcement for the arrest.
“I am riled up about the government imprisoning someone for disrespecting them,” he said.
Dennis Romero writes for NBC News and is based in Los Angeles.