DENVER – A man who has been arrested multiple times in Buena Vista and jailed for 10 days after flipping off the town and police is suing two officers and the municipality.
Richard Lipton, who says he is a dissident, homeless and indigent, claims the officers and the town government violated his constitutional rights and wants a judge to order the defendants to issue a formal written apology to him.
The defendants are officers Randall Hancock and Amber Lee, in addition to the government.
The 27-page lawsuit was filed Monday at the U.S. District Court for Colorado in Denver.
Lipton is represented by one of Colorado’s highest-profile civil rights law firms, Killmer, Lane & Newman of Denver, which has won millions of dollars for its clients who have sued municipalities for violating constitutional rights.
In addition to an apology, Lipton wants a jury to award him an unspecified amount of money from the defendants to compensate him and punish them for what occurred.
His lawsuit claims the officers and the government violated his right of free speech and right, as a court defendant, to have legal counsel. The lawsuit also claims the defendants violated his rights against retaliation for exercising free speech, unreasonable seizures and malicious prosecution.
Lipton asserts that extending a middle finger in public is “classic free speech,” as defined in court decision across the United States.
The defendants will be required to file an answer, stating their side of the disputes, after the lawsuit is served on them.
The incidents cited in the lawsuit occurred in 2016 and 2017. The lawsuit states that some or all of the officers’ citations and arrest warrants have been thrown out in court.
The lawsuit asserts that Municipal Judge Neil Reynolds sent Lipton to jail for 10 days on one occasion.
Judge Patrick W. Murphy of the Chaffee County District Court subsequently, “in a blistering” decision, held that Reynolds deprived Lipton of his constitutional right to counsel in court, according to the lawsuit.
It states that Lipton, who lives near Buena Vista, flips off the entire town when he is there because he “has had previous negative interactions” with the town. The lawsuit does not specify what those interactions were.