by Karen Ocamb
The shocking loss of his federal discrimination case against the San Diego Police Department may have been too much for Will X. Walters to handle. Since Gay Pride in 2011, he fought against his arrest on charges of public nudity, racking up about $1 million in legal costs over the years, only to have a federal jury rule in favor of the police on December 13. On Wednesday night (December 28), police found his body in his Hillcrest apartment, an apparent suicide, the San Diego Union Tribune reported (http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/courts/sd-me-walters-death-20161229-story.html).
Chris Morris, Walters’ attorney, said the gay man was “shocked” by the verdict on the April appeal of his original case (http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/ca9/14-55495/14-55495-2016-04-05.html). He immediately left the federal courthouse in downtown San Diego and did not respond to Morris or friends’ attempts to contact him. Police told the Union Tribune that the exact time of his death is not known; the medical examiner’s office is investigating.
Just days before the verdict, on December 10 in the afternoon, Walters posted a “Thank you” to the community on The Pride LA Facebook page, after the most recent report on his case: https://thepridela.com/2016/12/trial-starts-san-diego-pride-nudity-case/.
“Will Walters Everyone thank you so much for your support, being in the trenches of this court case is very hard and I really appreciate everyone’s kind words,” the post reads. “I also want to thank Jeffrey Davidson for his comment as well, because my case is not only about the 14th amendment, it’s about defending the entire Constitution. The reason I continue this fight is so that we all can continue giving our opinions and we can enjoy the luxury of equal enforcement as well as freedom of speech. We need to remember that EVERY freedom in the Bill of Rights are rights that so many people around the world do not enjoy. I continue this fight not because of myself, but for everyone and I want to thank everyone for allowing me to represent them in this struggle. Regardless win or lose, it’s been a really long journey and myself, my friends and my legal team have fought as hard as we could, but it’s all to support my fellow Americans and again I want to thank everyone. You all are so amazing and God Bless America!”
The case was a real stunner, considering other Pride and LGBT events, including Halloween in West Hollywood. His complaint, filed in federal court in March 2012, (http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/03/13/44633.htm), alleged selective enforcement of the unused public nudity municipal code by officers of the San Diego Police Department.
“Will Walters is a Hispanic, gay man who owns the dubious distinction of being the only person in the history of the city of San Diego to be arrested and booked on a charge of public nudity,” the complaint states. “Mr. Walters was arrested for public nudity at the 2011 Lesbian Gay Bi-Sexual Transgender Pride (‘Pride’) event while wearing an opaque gladiator type kilt over black underwear. Under any definition, he was not nude, as his buttocks and genitalia were fully covered. Nevertheless, he was ushered out of the event, humiliated, arrested, and incarcerated.”
Walters alleged that the city’s enforcement of its public nudity law “essentially allows thongs, G-strings, and other skimpy bathing suits to be worn by participants and attendees at straight special events, but not by attendees and participants at the one gay special event, Pride.”
To read the full story, visit https://thepridela.com/2016/12/will-walters-gay-man-lost-san-diego-pride-nudity-case-dies-apparent-suicide/.