NC court OKs traffic stop after middle-finger wave

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina appeals court says a state trooper acted appropriately when he chased and stopped a vehicle after its passenger flashed an obscene hand gesture at the law officer.

A divided panel of the state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday there was no legal error in charging Shawn Patrick Ellis with resisting or delaying the trooper during the Stanley County stop. Ellis initially refused to turn over identification. He argued in court the traffic stop was illegal.

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Judge Chris Dillon wrote for the court that while Ellis’s middle-finger wave was protected free speech, the trooper had reason to believe that the crime of disorderly conduct was being committed. Dillon wrote that it’s illegal to make gestures plainly intended to provoke violent retaliation and cause a breach of the peace.