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A Delaware man who was not warned by police before a speed trap wins a $50,000 judgment

(AP) — Delaware State Police has agreed to pay $50,000 to resolve a federal lawsuit brought by a man who said troopers violated his constitutional rights by preventing him from warning motorists about a speed trap.

A verdict was reached on Friday in favor of 54-year-old Jonathan Guessford, who said in the lawsuit that police illegally prevented him from participating in peaceful protests by standing at the side of the road and holding a small holding up a cardboard sign that reads “Radar Ahead!”

After giving a middle finger to the troopers as he drove away from an initial encounter, Guessford was pulled over and cited for “inappropriate use of a hand signal”. The charges were later dropped.

The March 11, 2022 episode was captured on cell phone videos taken by Guessford and included in his complaint, as well as dashboard cameras in the vehicles of Corporal Stephen Douglas, trooper Nicholas Gallo, and Chief Corporal Raiford Box.

Police dash cam audio captures the troopers laughing and giggling at the idea of ​​citing Guessford for using an inappropriate turn signal over the obscene gesture. “He didn’t make a turn,” says Douglas.

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The cell phone video shows troopers approaching Guessford, which was standing in a grassy field next to the shoulder of Route 13 north of Dover. Douglas told Guessford he was “disrupting traffic”, while Gallo, based on a witness report, said Guessford “jumped into traffic”.

“You’re a liar,” Guessford told Gallo.

“I’m on the side of the road, parked legally, with a sign protected by the First Amendment,” he told the troopers.

Dascham’s video shows Douglas jumping out on Guessford twice to keep him from lifting his board. Gallo then snatched it from his hands and tore it up.

“Can you stop playing in traffic now?” Gallo asked Guessford sarcastically.

As Guessford drove off, he made an obscene hand gesture at the troopers. A dash cam video shows Douglas racing behind him at speeds in excess of 100 mph in a 55 mph zone, closely followed by Gallo and Box.

“Is there a reason why you did that?” Douglas asked Guessford after apprehending him.

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Box told Guessford he was engaging in “disorderly conduct” and opened the passenger door of Guessford’s car.

“Take it to court. That’s what I want you to do,” Box replied after Guessford told the troopers he would take legal action. Box also threatened to charge Guessford with resisting arrest.

‘We’re going to take you. We’re going to tow the car and we’re calling social services for the child,” Box said, referring to Guessford’s young son, who was with Guessford and witnessed his profanity. diatribe against the officers. “It’s not a threat, it’s a promise,” Box added.

Box’s dashcam audio also captures his subsequent phone conversation with a supervisor, Lieutenant Christopher Popp, in which Box acknowledges that citing Guessford because of his hand gesture is “pushing.”

“You can’t do that,” Popp tells Box. “That will be scrapped.”

“Yes, it will fall,” Box replies. “I told (Douglas) it’s definitely going to be thrown out. … I said, ‘Ah, that’s not really going to fly, buddy.'”

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Douglas is heard to say that even if the charges were dropped, it would at the very least make Guessford “a nuisance”.

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