Man Arrested For Giving The Middle Finger To State Trooper Will Receive $175,000

By Haider Ali in News On 9th July 2024

After receiving an enormous monetary settlement, a driver who was detained for giving an officer the finger is already making plans on how to spend it.

According to The American Civil Liberties Union, Gregory Bombard was arrested back in February 2018. 

He has settled his legal dispute with the state of Vermont and a trooper from the Vermont State Police for $175,000.

In St. Albans, Trooper Jay Riggen stopped Bombard's car on the grounds that he had "extended and displayed his left middle finger over his steering wheel," according to a 2021 lawsuit.

Gregory Bombard was arrested in 2018. FIRE

According to the complaint file, Bombard was questioned for many minutes despite his denial.

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After being detained, Bombard returned to his car and angrily gestured at the state trooper with his middle finger as he drove away.

After this encounter, Riggen pulled Bombard over a second time, placed him under arrest for disorderly conduct, and gave the go-ahead for his car to be towed.

The Vermont guy was subsequently taken into custody and detained for more than an hour at the St. Albans barracks of the Vermont State Police before receiving a criminal court citation.

Bombard's criminal case was dropped about a year after the stop and arrest.

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The guy filed a lawsuit against Vermont and Riggen in 2021, stating that his "rights to be free from unreasonable seizure and false arrest" had been violated by the initial encounter.

Furthermore, he said that "free expression protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article Thirteen of the Vermont Constitution" includes giving the "middle finger" in protest of a police officer's activities.

He claimed that the initial stop violated his ‘rights to be free from unreasonable seizure and false arrest’. FIRE

A $175,000 payment was granted after the court procedures because the 2018 incident violated Bombard's First Amendment rights.

Of the settlement, $100,000 will go toward compensating Bombard for losses, and the remaining $75,000 will fund legal costs.

Regarding the choice, Bombard stated: “With this settlement, I hope the Vermont State Police will train its troopers to avoid silencing criticism or making baseless car stops.”

He also disclosed his plans for the money, which included treating his parent to a well-earned dinner.

“And at least now I can pay my criminal attorney for defending me from the bogus charges and take my 88-year-old mother out for a nice dinner,” he said.

Speaking about her client's victory, ACLU of Vermont staff attorney Hillary Rich stated: “While our client is pleased with this outcome, this incident should never have happened in the first place."

“Police need to respect everyone’s First Amendment rights—even for things they consider offensive or insulting.”

She continued by saying that state lawmakers "need to do more" to "downsize the footprint and broad authority" of police in communities in order to prevent "unnecessary and unjustified police interactions."