Vermont to Pay $175,000 in Settlement After Man Arrested for Giving Trooper the Middle Finger in 2018

Vermont to Pay $175,000 in Settlement After Man Arrested for Giving Trooper the Middle Finger in 2018

ST. ALBANS, Vt. — A man was charged with a crime for giving a state trooper the middle finger in 2018. The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday that Vermont has agreed to pay $175,000 to settle a case on his behalf.

The case was brought in 2021 by the ACLU of Vermont on behalf of St. Albans resident Gregory Bombard. It says Bombard’s First Amendment rights were broken in 2018 when he was arrested for making a false arrest during an unneeded traffic stop.

The claim says that on February 9, 2018, Trooper Jay Riggen pulled over Bombard’s car in St. Albans because he thought Bombard had given him the middle finger. Bombard said that wasn’t true, but he did swear and give the middle finger after the first stop.

Again, Bombard was pulled over and charged with disorderly behavior. His car was then towed away. The ACLU says he was jailed for more than an hour and given a ticket to go to criminal court. In the end, the charge was dropped.

Bombard will get $100,000 from the state, and the ACLU of Vermont and the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression will each get $75,000. This is part of a deal that was signed this month.

A lawyer for the ACLU of Vermont, Hillary Rich, said in a statement, “While our client is happy with this outcome, this incident should never have happened in the first place.” “Police should respect everyone’s rights under the First Amendment, even if it means letting people say things they find offensive or insulting.”

The Vermont State Police did not have anything to say about the deal. As part of the deal, Vermont did not say they did anything wrong.

Bombard told the ACLU in a statement that he hopes the Vermont State Police will teach their officers “not to shut down criticism or stop cars for no reason.”

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