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DE Cops Issue Unlawful Charge Against Man Who Flipped Them Off

Newly released body camera footage shows that Delaware police seemed to know issuing a citation to a man who flipped them off was unlawful, but they decided to punish him anyway, Reason reports. In March 2022, Jonathan Guessford, 54, of Smyrna, Del., was confronted by police as he stood on the side of a road, holding a sign that read "radar ahead." Two state police officers, Stephen Douglas and Nicholas Gallo, seized Guessford's sign and ripped it up. As Guessford drove away, he flipped off the pair who pursued him. After stopping Guessford and being joined by a third officer, Raiford Box, body camera footage shows the officers planning how to justify punishing Guessford. "We can lock him up for disorderly conduct," Box told colleagues over a phone call captured by the camera footage. "It might not go anywhere, but we can definitely lock him up for disorderly conduct."

"After a while, he 'll do something stupid," Box added. "We can lock him up, take his kid, put his dog in the impound…for now it is what it is," Eventually, Guessford was cited for breaking a law regulating hand signals for bicycles and other non-motorized vehicles. However, body camera footage shows that Box knew the citation wasn't lawful. While the citation against Guessford was later dropped, he filed a lawsuit in February, alleging that police violated his First Amendment rights. Since the incident, one unnamed officer has been disciplined.


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