LAWRENCEVILLE -- The attorney for a Stone Mountain man arrested after wearing an unusual, electronics-laden outfit to Discover Mills Mall calls the charges "appalling" and an affront to her client's freedom of expression.
Police questioned Daniel Tudela, 32, near a movie theater inside the Lawrenceville mall on Sept. 13 after he walked in wearing a trench coat loaded with gadgets and wires. His appearance had alarmed employees of a clothing store, who called police.
Gwinnett police lodged charges against Tudela under a law that prohibits making look-alike bombs, and he was arrested this week.
Atlanta attorney Regina Matthews on Thursday said Tudela was merely dressing in the "cyber punk" style made popular in Japan.
Tudela was booked at the Gwinnett County Jail on Tuesday and released on $5,700 bond the following day. He's charged with a misdemeanor count of unlawful manufacturing of a destructive device.
"The device (police) are referring to contains electronic equipment that people carry every day -- a phone, an MP3 player and a GPS unit," Matthews said. "Simply put, this man was arrested for displaying his gadgets in an unconventional manner."
A photo police took for evidence at the mall shows Tudela clad in black, his forearms packed with gadgets, with wires running to his chest, around his belt and to his left ear. Before releasing him, police told Tudela he was being questioned only because he had alarmed mall patrons.
Investigators later consulted with Homeland Security. Four days after confronting Tudela, they took out warrants for his arrest.
Matthews called her client an educated, working citizen who doesn't take allusion to terrorism lightly. She plans to fight the charges in court.
"I don't condone terrorism, Daniel doesn't condone terrorism, and I'm saddened that our country is so plagued by terrorist activity that it causes people to live in constant fear of anyone who is different from them," she said.
On Thursday, Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith said the department stands behind the charges and the work of investigators.
According to Georgia code, it's unlawful to have a hoax device or replica of a destructive device or detonator with the intent to make another person believe it is real.