This one isn’t one of our cases, but worth a post.
Bless them. The folks in the upstate NY town of St. Johnsville have never been exposed to such things, at least according to the local police. You see, when Jon Swartz, a Vietnam veteran, was driving past a speed trap, he gave them the middle finger, incensed that the cops don’t do enough to fight crime but just try to raise money for the town with speeding tickets.
Rude? Maybe. Illegal? Absolutely not.
I have to admit, I don’t like being flipped the bird. These cops don’t like it either, apparently. The difference is I grumble and walk away, maybe give it back. These cops though, feeling above the law, decided to make it a crime and follow Swartz, pulling the car over and falsely arresting him. Police Officer Richard Insogna justified the stop by saying he thought Swartz was “trying to get my attention for some reason” and he “wanted to assure the safety of the passengers.” The cop’s lawyer said they’re not from the Bronx, Brooklyn or Manhattan. This is a small town and they don’t see that kind of thing.
The charges were dismissed and he sued the cops. Unfortunately, an upstate judge dismissed the complaint, but it was reinstated on appeal. The Appellate judges pointed out how implausible it was for cops to claim that the middle finger was a signal for help, their small town naivete notwithstanding.
So the case against Police Officer Richard Insogna and his fellow officers continues.