(NationalUSNews.com) — A Vermont state trooper is facing a lawsuit from a driver who claims the trooper pulled him over because he believed the driver flipped him off. According to Gregory Bombard, Vermont State Trooper Jay Riggen violated his constitutional rights and falsely arrested him during a traffic stop in 2018. The lawsuit from Bombard seeks undisclosed damages and accuses Riggen of committing unreasonable seizure, retaliation for constitutionally protected speech, and false arrest.
Bombard claims to respect members of law enforcement but clarifies that he doesn’t respect officers who violate their constitutional duties. According to Bombard, Riggen betrayed his oath to the United States Constitution by arresting him without a valid reason. Bombard said that Riggen only stopped him because he allegedly flipped off the state trooper, a claim echoed by Bombard’s attorney, Jay Diaz.
Diaz addressed the lawsuit against Riggen and said police bodycam footage of the interaction between Riggen and Bombard proves the traffic stop’s unconstitutionality. Diaz is a senior lawyer working with the ACLU on the lawsuit and claims that Riggen initiated the traffic stop due to a “bruised ego.” Diaz said that the footage proves that Riggen stopped Bombard due to being angry at the driver and that Riggen wasn’t concerned about upholding the law or ensuring Bombard’s safety. According to Diaz, Riggen wanted to punish Bombard for allegedly making a rude gesture.
Despite the controversy surrounding Riggen, the Vermont State Police and Riggen’s attorneys aren’t commenting on the lawsuit. However, the dashcam video of the traffic stop is available, seemingly showcasing Riggen’s inappropriate behavior. In the video, Riggen greets Bombard with hostility upon initiating the traffic stop. The video also features Riggen accusing Bombard of flipping him off, an accusation that Bombard vehemently denies. After their initial encounter, Riggen begins questioning Bombard relentlessly, which Diaz claims was an attempt by Riggen to justify stopping Bombard.
After failing to find a valid reason to keep Bombard, the driver began questioning the legality of the traffic stop, prompting Riggen to end the encounter abruptly. While Riggen walked back to his car, Bombard began using profanity aimed at the trooper and flipped the trooper off. Riggen followed Bombard, pulled him over again, and arrested him for disorderly conduct.
Authorities dropped the disorderly conduct charge against Bombard following the arrest since Bombard never obstructed traffic with his behavior. In the statement from prosecutors, they acknowledge that Bombard simply insulted Riggen, which isn’t a criminal offense.
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