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Flipping off a cop, legal or no?

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Turkeyfoot Jr.

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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.
 

brauhaus

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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.
 

skinfiddler

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adx said:
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.
 

Kevin Dean

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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.
 

Sherpa FE

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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.
 

PeteOz77

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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...
 

beala

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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.
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.
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.
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.
 

dibby33

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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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PeteOz77 said:
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...
Are you kidding me? Absolutely not. Not legally, not in the U.S.

Now he might get AWAY with it, but that wouldn't make it legal.
 

Joker

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Policemen are no different then you or I in my opinion. They shouldn't be able to do anything to you that any other citizen would. Again, the law is there job, they are not the law. If I cannot beat the crap out of someone legally for flipping me off then they should not be able to either. As a matter of fact they should be held more strictly to the letter of the law then the common man because they know the laws better.
 

DeathBrewer

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BlindLemonLars said:
Are you kidding me? Absolutely not. Not legally, not in the U.S.

Now he might get AWAY with it, but that wouldn't make it legal.
no, but his buddy could help him with any story they wanted to come up with.

beala said:
Sounds like fascism to me.
yeah...i'm with ya there.

no reason physical harm should come to you by law enforcement unless you harm or threaten harm on them first.

that aside, i can take a flipping off, no problem...but disrespect my family and i may have to cut ya...i'm not a cop, tho. go ahead, call one.
 

PeteOz77

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BlindLemonLars said:
Are you kidding me? Absolutely not. Not legally, not in the U.S.

Now he might get AWAY with it, but that wouldn't make it legal.

Oh Yeah... I guess I was wrong about that. :confused:

It's not legal for him to do it.. but you would have a hard time prosecuting him.
 
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Sherpa FE said:
Gotta love a country that has laws about beer, and cops that carry machine guns.
I'm not sure I'd hold up Germany as an example of law and order...not just yet! It wasn't all that long ago that they had some (ahem) difficulties handling authority in a responsible and just manner.

I think that comment puts me in the running for the "Understatement of the Year" award!!
 

bigjohnmilford

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Legal or not flipping off a cop is a real stupid thing to do. No matter what type of situation you're in. He's probably lucky they didn't drag him in on some kind of protective custody charge.
 

kornkob

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You flipped off a Detroit cop and didn't take a beating? Looks like your guardian angel was working. Course, I'm just guessing that you are white, whcih helps--- even the black cops are racist pricks.

Those guys work in what amounts to a bombed out shell of a city and frankly, no one in city government actually gives a shiat. LA cops have the rep of being right bastards and Chicago PD is supposed to be corrupt as a 12 day old corpse. However, Detroit PD has them freaking beat hand down--- they just haven't been caught yet. It helps that the cops have a large portion of the city that is abandoned where they can take people to re-educate them.


(yes-- I know they are not all corrupt, unethical pricks.... but enough of them are that odds are good that you'll find a bad apple)
 
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Turkeyfoot Jr.

Turkeyfoot Jr.

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dibby33,

No, we didn't get names or badge numbers. While my brother was in the back of their cruiser my other brother and I discussed asking for names and badge numbers but we figured if we did they'd just cuff whoever asked, make-up some other charge that they're going to arrest us for and hold us up even longer. As it was they kept us there 20 minutes in total. Plus, since they did take my brother's information I'm hesitant to raise too much of a ruckus. I'm sure they could call up a fellow officer where my brother lives and provide no end of grief to him and his family.

One thing that really irked me about the whole situation is if the cops had been out of their car and actually directing traffic like every other cop we saw that day none of this would have happened. Instead they were lazy and decided to use siren whistles and a loudspeaker to try and tell people where they should be heading.

As far as respecting law enforcement is concerned, I don't blindly give my trust and respect to anybody, whether they have a badge and a uniform or not. Just because some city official decides that you meet the bare minimum requirements to carry a sidearm and drive a police car doesn't mean anything. I look at cops the same way I look at any other stranger I meet on the street, they get just as much respect and that level goes up or down depending on what happens when I interact with them. In this case it fell so fast I think I heard a thud as I was sitting in my brother's car.

In fact, police in general should be the last people we trust implicitly. By the make-up of our society they&#8217;re placed in a position of power over other citizens therefore even without our trust or compliance they have the ability to exert control over us. By trusting their actions without question you&#8217;re merely handing over what little control we do have and giving those who would abuse that power a free ride. To put it another way, you can trust all police implicitly and in doing so the good cops will still be good cops but the bad cops will still be bad cops or you can question everything which may make the good cops work a little harder but it will also make it a lot harder for a bad cop to abuse his position.

Sorry, didn't mean to rant, it's the libertarian in me coming out.
 

kornkob

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I'm with you on all that, man. Cops SHOULD be serving the public trust but in fact, many aren't. And given that our police forces are largely tooling up like soldiers, further blurring the lines between military operations and police operations, only makes it worse.
 

Evan!

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PeteOz77 said:
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.
Sounds like someone needs anger management courses. For f*ck's sake, is this the state of our civilization in the 21st century? As much as you might want it to be, this isn't Beyond Thunderdome, and there's no place in civilized society for maniacs who would physically assault another person for flipping them off. When those people are the police, we're in big trouble.

And a cop can do it LEGALLY, with a second cop as a witness...
If everyone there is as crazy as you, remind me to never visit sh*tbag Canberra. "Uh, excuse officer, I'm lost, could you help me find my way?" "Eh, f*ck you, mate, move along before I cave yaw f*ckin skull in, scum!"



No offense, but WTF?!? So what, someone flipped you off. Do you not have enough self-control to either just flip him off right back, or let it go?
 

nyer

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In NY if you flip the bird in public you can be arrested for disorderly conduct (making an obscene gesture in a public place). There is probably a similiar law in Detroit. Now if the story you told is true, and I'm saying "if" because I wasn't there and the entire truth never seems to be told. Your brother not only acted inappropriately, so did the police officer if he really swore over the PA. Using abusive or obscene language is also disorderly conduct. Sounds like a bad situation for everyone involved.
 

RICLARK

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I believe that they can give you a dissorderly conduct ticket or something to that effect, However even if it is legal it gives them various reasons to harass you like pull you over search your car inspect the operating condition of your car pretty much anything they want to screw up your day, I say why bother with the hassle.
 

PeteOz77

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Evan! said:
Sounds like someone needs anger management courses. For f*ck's sake, is this the state of our civilization in the 21st century? As much as you might want it to be, this isn't Beyond Thunderdome, and there's no place in civilized society for maniacs who would physically assault another person for flipping them off. When those people are the police, we're in big trouble.



If everyone there is as crazy as you, remind me to never visit sh*tbag Canberra. "Uh, excuse officer, I'm lost, could you help me find my way?" "Eh, f*ck you, mate, move along before I cave yaw f*ckin skull in, scum!"



No offense, but WTF?!? So what, someone flipped you off. Do you not have enough self-control to either just flip him off right back, or let it go?

Yes, it does sound like someone needs anger management therapy! ;)

Do you think you overreacted a TINY bit to my comments about a fictitious situation?

Seems to me that flpping someone off is the non verbal equivalent of getting right in someone's face and telling them to F*** O**. I wouldn't avise that you or anyone else try that with me. If you verablly assault someone (bit it via hand gesture or the real thing) be prepared to suffer the repurcussions of your actions.

Better yet, keep that finger down with the rest of them, choose NOT to abuse/insult another person, and I'm guessing you won't have a lot of trouble. If you shoose to fly that bird... you might expect a bit of trouble.

It's pretty simple.

Now.. did you happen to notice that I responded to your very excited, abusive post without insulting or abusing you, or your city or your county of residence??
 

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