Washington County man sues Canonsburg police after arrest for swearing

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A man from the Washington County town of Houston who repeatedly swore in front of Canonsburg police, and was arrested and charged for it, sued today alleging that the borough maliciously prosecuted him and violated his constitutional rights, including the right to free speech.

Richard Pustovrh, 24, was arguing with his employers in September 2012, when they called the police. After an officer arrived, Mr. Pustovrh repeatedly used an obscenity, "to vocalize his feelings and frustration that the situation was" messed up, according to the complaint by Washington, Pa., attorneys Keith Owen Campbell and Travis J. Dunn.

Officer James Spingola warned Mr. Pustovrh not to use the word, but he continued to do so, according to the complaint. The officer then handcuffed Mr. Pustovrh, took him to the station, detained him in a holding cell and charged him, according to the complaint.

Online docket records show that a district judge found Mr. Pustovrh guilty of disorderly conduct and obscene language, but that the charge was withdrawn when he appealed.

Mr. Pustovrh seeks a judicial declaration that the police acted in an unconstitutional fashion, compensation for his distress and punitive damages of $100,000.

Canonsburg Police Chief R.T. Bell could not be reached.


Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord.


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