Delaware State Police have agreed to pay $50,000 to resolve a federal lawsuit filed by a man who alleged Troopers violated his constitutional rights when they prevented him from warning motorists about an upcoming speed trap. The settlement brings an end to a case that has garnered significant attention and raised questions about the balance between law enforcement practices and individual rights.
Jonathan Guessford, 54, who won the lawsuit contended he was unlawfully prevented from peaceful protest. He was holding a small cardboard sign that read “Radar Ahead!” while standing on the shoulder of the road.
Police claimed Guessford that he was “disrupting traffic,” and was “jumping into traffic,” however cell phone and dashcam video showed Troopers approaching Guessford who was standing in a grassy area beyond the shoulder of Route 13 north in Dover. Dashcam video then shows an Officer twice lunging at Guessford preventing him from raising his sign to motorists. The Officer then ripped the sign from Guessford’s hands and tore it up in front of him. Video then recorded an Officer saying, “could you stop playing in traffic now?”
While driving away Guessford raised a middle finger to the Troopers. Police then pursued Guessford travelling in excess of 100 mph (in a 55 mph zone) to catch up. Guessford was pulled over and cited for “improper use of a hand signal.” Police dashcam audio captured the Troopers laughing and making jokes about citing Guessford for using an “improper hand signal” due to the hand gesture.
One Officer threatened to charge Guessford with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
Dashcam audio also captured one Officer calling his Lieutenant to discuss the incident admitting the hand gesture charge was “pushing it.” The Lieutenant stated “you can’t do that,” and “that will be dropped.”
Another officer is heard saying that even if the charge would be dropped, it at least “inconvenienced” Guessford.
The charges were eventually dropped.
Here is commentary from Steve Lehto’s YouTube channel: