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Old 01-24-2008, 08:51 PM   #1
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Default Flipping off a cop, legal or no?

I imagine you can already see where this is going. I've been doing some research on the net about it and I've found various cases, some where people were ticketed for doing it, others where they were arrested and still others where either or both happened and the civilian ended up suing and winning. In the cases where the civilian won it was usually on the grounds of free speech.

Here's what happened with me to bring this up:

Two of my brothers and I were in Detroit yesterday for the NAIAS. Upon arrival we found the streets around Cobo Arena to be in somewhat of disarray. There were barriers setup in various places and cops directing traffic at several intersections. My brothers and I got turned around and found ourselves at an intersection where ahead of us the opposite lane was blocked and there was a cop car sitting on the curb with his lights on. Our lane if we wanted to continue straight was wide open or we could turn right. We had a stop sign so after coming to a stop my brother pulled forward in an effort to continue straight because that’s where we thought our parking was. Mind you, we’d seen cops ALL OVER the area sitting on curbs and what not. Just as we’re pulling forward the cop hits the gas, lunges forward a feet and sounds his siren. My brother comes to a stop and indicates, as best he can in mime, that he’s unsure where to go, whether we can turn right or if we have to turn around. The cop responds with the following comment over the loudspeaker, “Don’t give me that confused look.”

It was at this point that my brother flipped the bird. After the bird had flown he turned right and started driving assuming that was the correct direction to be heading. The cop meanwhile turns his siren on, accelerates right up behind us and over the loud speaker screams, “Pull over, pull the f****** car over!” Once pulled over the two officers approach our car, at least one with his hand on his sidearm. At this point I’m thinking there’s someone of great import heading through this area and these guys are part of a security detail. That was the only rational thing I could think of to spark such a drastic response. But that was not the case. Once they were alongside the driver and passenger doors they started berating my brother for flipping him off. They ordered all of us out of the vehicle, had us stand behind it, hands on the trunk. They took my brother’s ID, cuffed him and put him in the back of their cruiser. They told my other brother and me to get back into the car. About 10 minutes later one of the cops approached the driver’s side window which was still down and told us that we should watch who we hang out with, that guys like this will get us into trouble and that in addition to other charges he could charge my brother with vulgarity in front of a minor. The absurdness of that name aside the children the officer was referring to, if they were even present, were on a school bus 50+ yards behind the cop car’s original position. A minute or two later they released my brother and once in the car he told us how they were telling him they were going to have to take him to Dickerson, a prison, because the local lock-up was full and how he’d probably be there through the weekend cause it would take that long to get him out, etc. etc.

I don’t condone what my brother did, it was uncalled for. However, the action of the police, both their comment that prompted my brother’s gesture and their behavior after the gesture was just as uncalled for if not more so. As far as I’m concerned this is a perfect example of two imbeciles drunk on their own power trip. If anyone has any concrete information concerning the legality of flying the bird at a cop I’d love to hear it. I’d also be interested in any thoughts on who might want to hear this story. I have no desire to get the two officers in trouble, given their behavior they have enough problems as it is, but I would like someone in the Detroit police department to know what kind of upstanding individuals they have on their force.

EDIT: Wanted to add that if this isn't the right location for this please feel free to move it. I'm not drunk but I could see where this would be considered rambling.

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Old 01-24-2008, 09:08 PM   #2
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well, I agree, yes your brother's actions weren't smart and shouldn't be condoned... however, the police officer's reaction was less than professional.

being in the public service you have the public eye on you, you may enforce the law, but you are not the law and I think a lot of officers lose sight of this.

your brother's action my have been a little rude, perhaps vulgar, but there was no reason for the harassment the officer gave you... that is downright unprofessional and really puts a sour taste in my mouth.

"to protect and serve", sorry I don't see how them pulling your brother over was any of that.

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Old 01-24-2008, 09:09 PM   #3
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May be legal but...

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Old 01-24-2008, 10:03 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skinfiddler
I call BS on that one. There was like 0 reaction time. However, if it is real that cop should be spending time in prision.
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Old 01-24-2008, 10:45 PM   #5
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I call BS on that one. There was like 0 reaction time. However, if it is real that cop should be spending time in prision.
Lighten up Francis. OTOH, don't flip cops off.
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Old 01-24-2008, 10:47 PM   #6
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I've found out the hard way that what happens and what is legal often don't see each other.

Legally you are innocent until proven guilty. Actually, even if you resist they'll search your car.

There's an age old debate over "how far is too far" in free speech and I'm on the side of "nothing" but I know that Michigan DOES have "vulgarity around minors" laws on the book - a notable case that got to the State supreme court was a man kyacking rolled and yelled the F word. Lady and lil' tike on the sidewalk next to the river got offended and the man was later arrested.

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Old 01-24-2008, 10:57 PM   #7
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I wish the US was like Germany, saw two cops beat a guy up in Germany that flipped off the cops.
When you have a total lack of respect for the law, I think bad things should happen (I am NOT talking about your incident) That being siad, I also believe, however, that it would be impossible in the US, due to the corruption in the police force, the government, and the lawyers.
The cops were also wrong in this incident, and should also be held accountable.

It is also a hefty fine in Germany, about 2000.00.

Gotta love a country that has laws about beer, and cops that carry machine guns.

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Old 01-24-2008, 11:02 PM   #8
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Don't push it mate. They can find 1001 reasons to make your life difficult. They couls decide to drum up charges, lie about what has been said and done and who would the courts believe? Plus there is always the option of talking to all of their cop buddies, some who might live near you or work in your town. Pretty soon you get checked for DUI or they do a safety inspection on our car every time they see you.

Your brother got off light. If he flipped me off, I would probably break his finger for him, so he gave little bit more thought to the repercussions of his actions in the future. And a cop can do it LEGALLY, with a second cop as a witness...

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Old 01-24-2008, 11:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
I wish the US was like Germany, saw two cops beat a guy up in Germany that flipped off the cops.
You believe that physical harm is a just punishment for flipping off a cop? Should people also be physically harmed for other minor offenses? By this logic, speeding tickets should be replaced with state sanctioned whippings.
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When you have a total lack of respect for the law, I think bad things should happen
One must necessarily respect the law? Why? Because the law is always just and moral? Tell that to gay people who can't get married, or women who weren't given the vote until very recently.
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It is also a hefty fine in Germany, about 2000.00.
A fine for expressing your discontent with the government? Sounds like fascism to me.
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Old 01-24-2008, 11:20 PM   #10
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If he swore over the external speaker then surely that would consist of "vulgarity in front of a minor".
Did he get the badge numbers of the police involved?

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