Hackbart v. City of Pittsburgh

Man cited for flipping off police officer

Court/Assoc.: US District Court - Western District

Attorneys/Firms: Thomas J. Farrell, Valerie M. Antonette (Reich, Alexander, Reisinger & Farrell); Sara Rose, Vic Walczak (ACLU-PA)

The ACLU of PA filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit on February 8, 2007, against the City of Pittsburgh and one of its police officers on behalf of David Hackbart, who received a disorderly conduct citation for using his middle finger in an expressive manner. Mr. Hackbart was attempting to parallel park when he used his middle finger to express his frustration at a driver who pulled up behind him and blocked his entry into his desired spot. Upon hearing a voice instruct him not to "flip off" the driver, Mr. Hackbart directed his middle finger at the person speaking, who turned out to be Sgt. Brian Elledge of the Pittsburgh Police Department. Sgt. Elledge ordered Mr. Hackbart to stop his vehicle and cited him for violating a Pennsylvania statute prohibiting the use of obscene language and obscene gestures with the intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm.

On March 23, 2009, U.S. District Court Judge David Cercone granted summary judgment on behalf of Mr. Hackbart, ruling that the police violated his rights by citing him with disorderly conduct for showing the officer his middle finger.

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