Pittsburgh will pay $50,000 to a man who sued after being issued a disorderly conduct citation for gesturing offensively at a police officer, reports the New York Times. The settlement, in which the city agreed to retrain its officers in the limits of disorderly conduct law, was reached with Dave Hackbart, 35, after his attorneys found that police citations for swearing or offensive gestures were common in the city: 198 citations over four years.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has found such citations unlawful on free speech grounds. “Hopefully we'll send a message to other police officers across the state, where this is a consistent problem, that this is not legal,” said Sara Rose of the American Civil Liberties Union. Hackbart was charged in 2006 while trying to parallel-park. Another car pulled up and blocked him from parking, prompting Hackbart to gesture with his middle finger at the other driver. When a third driver objected to the gesture, Hackbart delivered it to him as well. That driver turned out to be a police officer, who wrote a citation.