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Cop Wrongly Fired for Masturbation Video

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A San Diego policeman who sold videos of himself masturbating after removing a police uniform was wrongly dismissed from the force, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Thursday.

An officer named in court documents only as John Roe sold the videos on the Internet vendor eBay Inc., where his hobby was discovered by his supervisor. Roe never identified himself as a San Diego police officer in his sales pitch and gave a fictitious address in northern California.

The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Roe that his dismissal by the San Diego Police Department in 2001 was unjust because his off-duty actions were protected by First Amendment rights to free speech.

"We hold that when the employee's speech is not about his government employer or employment, is directed to a segment of the general public and occurs outside the workplace, that speech satisfies the public concern test," the court found.

Judge Kim Wardlaw, dissenting from the three-judge panel, called the decision absurd, saying his actions were not free speech but conduct violations related to his job.
 
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