FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Bond court was abruptly halted Friday morning after the judge discovered the arrest report of an inmate showed he claimed that he had the Ebola virus.
As part of the first-appearance process, inmates are held in a room at the main county jail while the judge is in the courthouse. The proceedings take place via closed-circuit television.
"This gentleman has claimed he has Ebola," Broward County Judge John Hurley told a deputy in the room with the other inmates. "Now, I believe you should clear the courtroom of all the prisoners. Can you send them out in the hallway?"
Hurley then called the Broward Sheriff's Office.
Joseph Britton, 42, was facing charges of battery, disorderly conduct and resisting a law enforcement officer without violence. He later told Hurley the Ebola reference in the report was taken out of context.
The Fort Lauderdale Police Department released Britton's arrest report later Friday. It stated that Britton had licked his hand and wiped it on the manager of the bar, 15th St. Fisheries, telling him, "I have Ebola."
Police said Britton was upset that an employee at the bar told him he was not allowed to smoke on the fuel docks because it could cause an explosion. The manager was called to help after Britton became belligerent and threatened to blow up the place.
The manager said Britton struck him on the back with his hand several times, telling him, "You think you're a man?" before the Ebola-threat occurred.
Although Hurley acknowledged the claim was likely a hoax, the judge said he had to take it seriously.
"I just thought it's better to be safe than sorry," Hurley told Local 10 News.
Bond court resumed via closed-circuit TV from another jail location.
Deputies said Britton was taken to Broward Health Medical Center, where it was determined he did not have Ebola.
Still, a hazardous materials team was called to the jail as a precaution.
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