MANSFIELD TOWNSHIP, NEW JERSEY – The attorney for a New Jersey man dressed in a superhero outfit when he was arrested last Wednesday thinks police overreacted.
William Ware characterized the arrest of Matthew Argintar as “a classic case of overkill.”
Police said Argintar, 23, was wearing a mask, a bulletproof vest, elbow and arm pads, a cape and carrying handcuffs when he was arrested July 31 outside the Home Depot on Route 57.
“I’m not aware of anything in the law that would prohibit anyone from dressing how they choose to dress,” William Ware told CBSNewYork.com. Ware is representing Argintar.
“Whether he was in a tuxedo, scuba outfit, or however he was dressed that day, there’s nothing preventing anyone from dressing how they choose.”
Police charged Argintar with disorderly conduct and unlawful possession of handcuffs. If convicted, Argintar could face up to seven months in county jail.
Matthew Argintar is shown in a mask on his arrest on Aug. 1, 2012. (credit: Mansfield Township Police)
“There is nothing illegal about what he did that day,” Ware said. “I’m of the opinion police acted prematurely.”
Argintar, an Army veteran, said he was trying to inspire hope by dressing like a superhero. He told the Lehigh Valley Express-Times he had been “doing this for months” at night. “We are out there to try and inspire hope because that’s what the people need right now: Hope.”
“His entire intention was to be someone to help people,” Ware said. “We may not necessarily take that road. His intentions were all good. His intentions were pure. I think the police seized on this opportunity and I think it is a classic case of overkill.”
Ware disputed previous reporting suggesting Argintar was approaching people in the parking lot. Ware said instead “people were walking up to him” and “the last thing he wanted to do was cause any public alarm.”
Mansfield Township police declined to speak with CBSNewYork.com about the arrest.
Ware acknowledged people are on edge after James Holmes allegedly opened fire on a crowded theater in Aurora, Colo. during a showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.”
“The timing is unfortunate,” Ware said. “Some people might disagree with the timing, but from his viewpoint it was perfect timing, because he thought he was trying to turn it on his head.”