Town of Littleton to pay $17,500 to man arrested for allegedly swearing at officer
LITTLETON - The town of Littleton will pay $17,500 to a man who was arrested after allegedly swearing at a parking enforcement officer.
Police arrested Richard Kearns, 72, of Bethlehem for harassment and disorderly conduct after he allegedly called a parking enforcement officer a name using an expletive.
Police said the name calling happened in January.
Kearns denied the name calling but said he did express his view that downtown parking should be free. He said his views are protected by free speech and that his arrest violated his rights.
On June 11, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire asked the Littleton Police Department to dismiss all charges. In response to the ACLU-NH's letter, the state dismissed the charges on June 16 - one day before the scheduled trial.
The ACLU-NH then threatened to sue the town for violating Kearns' First Amendment rights.
The town agreed to the $17,500 settlement and to training for its officers. The town denies wrongdoing in the settlement agreement.
Kearns is a National Guard veteran with no criminal history.