Courts & Crime

Thong-wearing tattooed bicyclist says police mistreated him

There is the mundane side of Larry Keith:

He is a 59-year-old great-grandfather, retired truck driver and survivor of open-heart surgeries who lives in a tidy home in north Wichita.

And there is Keith's expressive side:

He has tattoos from the top of his head to the last digits of his toes and everywhere in between. Everywhere.

Since the 1960s, Keith has been covering his body with up to $35,000 worth of tattoos showing a variety of things, such as American Indian images, sports logos and women in sexual poses.

Before his 59th birthday last May, Keith and his buddies thought it would be funny if he showed off his skin while riding a bicycle past City Hall and the Sedgwick County Courthouse — wearing only a thong.

The material would cover his crotch and a narrow strip on his backside, but much of his tattooed buttocks would show. He thought it was legal to dress that way in public, and apparently he is right.

Still, it didn't keep him from being detained by law enforcement on one of Wichita's busiest streets.

Nearly a year later, he remains peeved about that.

According to Wichita police Deputy Chief Tom Stolz, it is legal for someone to wear a thong in public if it covers the genitals and other body parts regulated by the city's nudity ordinance.

But Sedgwick County sheriff's Sgt. Oscar Thomasson says the reason he pulled Keith over that day is not because he wore a thong but because he unsafely affected the traffic flow by going less than 5 mph on his bicycle on busy Main Street downtown.

Keith, who contends he should not have been stopped and notes that his traffic ticket was dismissed, says he recently decided to speak out about the incident.

With his 60th birthday approaching, he is still stewing over what happened just before his last birthday.

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