North Carolina

Court OKs Stanly County traffic stop after middle-finger to trooper

RALEIGH, N.C. — 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.

[ALSO READ: 3 dead, 1 injured after shooting in Stanly County home, deputies say]

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

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.

>> Reading this story in our app? The new "Follow the Lead" feature allows you to tap the blue tag indicated with a '+' to subscribe to alerts on the very latest breaking news updates.