The next time a police officer upsets you, you are welcome to express your displeasure by giving him a middle-finger salute -- as long as you wave first.
That's the message being conveyed by a North Carolina Supreme Court judge, who on Friday overturned a lower court's decision and ruled a police officer had no right to stop a vehicle after its driver flipped him off. The incident in question happened in January 2017 when Trooper Paul Stevens pulled over Shawn Patrick Ellis in Stanly County for giving him the bird. After being found guilty on three charges, Ellis lost an appeal before taking his case to the Supreme Court.
The third time proved to be a charm. Associate Justice Robin Hudson ruled because Ellis' gesture began as a wave that morphed into an obscene gesture, it couldn't be certain who the finger was meant for. "The mere fact that defendant’s gesture changed from waving to ‘flipping the bird’ is insufficient to conclude defendant’s conduct was likely to cause a breach of the peace," Hudson wrote in the decision.