Here's how Bradley Justice got paid $25,000 for yelling "F*ck you, copper!"
Attorney David Lane is well known for defending speech, even when it's rude. Note his 2010 advocacy on behalf of a bar owner who faced the prospect of losing his liquor license for singing "Fuck the condo people" to the tune of Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World." The latest example: Lane recently helped win a $25,000 settlement for Bradley Justice over the actions that followed his shout of "Fuck you, copper!" at a Colorado State Patrol trooper. Learn about what Lane calls the "pursuit of Justice" below.
On November 27, 2011, according to the complaint and jury demand on view below in its entirety, Justice was riding his bike westbound on the C-470 bike path in the vicinity of South Quebec Street.
The aforementioned trooper was conducting a traffic stop nearby, and as Justice peddled past, he took "poetic justice" by proclaiming, "Fuck you, copper!" and flipping a bird.
A Google Maps image of the bike path near C-470 and South Quebec Street.
The trooper took umbrage at this display, the complaint maintains, and after finishing up with the motorist, he's said to have trailed after Justice and hassled other bikers -- something Justice saw because, in the words of the humor-infused document, he "is not blind."
Denver Outlaws / Major League Lacrosse All Star Game
TicketsSat., Dec. 29, 6:00pm
At that point, Justice turned around, but the trooper allegedly went after him again, this time engaging his lights and siren en route.
Then, near the intersection of Park Meadows Drive and Acres Green, the trooper "steered his patrol vehicle onto the sidewalk to obstruct Justice," then bailed out of his cruiser and tackled the cyclist.
"Justice was done," the complaint states, and "Justice was hindered" -- because his shoes were clipped into his bike pedals, preventing him from bracing for the crash. He reportedly injured his knee in the process.
At that point, the biker and the trooper exchanged words, and when the former tried to walk away, his pursuer "cried out for Justice" and told him not to leave.
In response, the cyclist called the Lone Tree Police Department, which subsequently charged the trooper with three counts: official oppression, first degree official misconduct and "third degree assault on Justice."
The complaint goes on to accuse the trooper with false arrest, excessive force and First Amendment retaliation for protected speech and demanded a jury trial. But instead, the legal team defending the trooper offered up a $25,000 settlement -- and Lane thinks that was appropriate.
Justice "wasn't hospitalized, he wasn't tased or shot or pepper sprayed," he acknowledges. "But he was tackled and roughed up."
Lane doesn't argue that Justice's invective or his one-finger salute were polite. But both qualify as protected speech, he maintains.
"Even the most repressive governments on earth will allow you to swap chocolate chip recipes with your mother," he notes. "But it is antagonizing speech, speech on the edge of the envelope, speech that stirs passions and emotions that we have to protect. Stupid speech is protected just as intelligent speech is protected, and the government can't be the arbiter of what speech is acceptable in a free society and what speech is not."
Here's the complaint.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our News archive circa December 2010: "'F*ck the condo people' song enough to get bar's liquor license revoked?"
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Denver, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.