Anthony M. Salerno

Attorney At Law

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Anthony M. Salerno

Attorney At Law

Federal judge rules deputy cannot pull over someone for obscene gesture

On Behalf of | Sep 17, 2018 | Criminal Defense

A Virginia man will see his case go to trial after he flipped the bird to a Patrick County deputy. A federal judge recently determined that the deputy had no business pulling over the man in 2016 when he was an occupant in a car driven by his sister.

Well known to the local law enforcement and judicial community for an anti-authority streak, the man had been prohibited from entering the local courthouse clerk’s office without legal representation. On this day, he waited outside while his sister and a friend filed papers for him on an unrelated case. He then flipped off the deputy, who had been following the car after they left the clerk’s office.

The case

According to the deputy, who has now been promoted to captain, the premise for being pulled over was that the man made a gesture that he interpreted as a call for help. However, the deputy did not inquire about the well-being of the man or other occupants in the car during the traffic stop.

The man intended to sue the deputy and seven others who showed up at the scene, although the judge found that the other law enforcement personnel did nothing more than show up at a traffic stop.

Overstepping the boundaries of the law

The judge ruled that “The vehicle was stopped without probable cause or reasonable suspicion, and [the deputy] expressed reason for stopping the vehicle is belied by plaintiff’s testimony, which I accept as true. Clearly, plaintiff has presented sufficient evidence to show that [the deputy], acting under color of law, violated plaintiff’s right to be free from unreasonable seizures.”

The judge is now looking at the case as a violation of the plaintiff’s First and Fourth Amendment rights.

Not everyone pulled over is guilty

While this man is certainly interested in causing trouble for law enforcement, it is a potent reminder that the law is supposed to protect the rights of everyone. Regardless of who you are, law enforcement needs probable cause to pull you over or to go through your car.

If you feel these rights have been violated, it is advisable to contact an attorney with experience handling criminal defense and traffic stops. They can go through the details of an arrest or stop and help ensure that an individual’s rights are fully protected under the law.