NEW YORK (AP) —A Vietnam veteran and retired airline pilot arrested after giving the finger to a police officer can sue police for malicious prosecution, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday as it reversed a lower-court judge who found the actions of officers reasonable.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals noted that the act of giving the finger was “a gesture of insult known for centuries” and restored the claim brought by John Swartz and his wife after their May 2006 encounter with police as they drove through the upstate New York village of St. Johnsville, 50 miles west of Albany.

A lower-court judge in Albany had tossed out the couple’s claim prior to trial after police maintained they stopped Swartz’s car, which his wife was driving, because they feared the finger gesture was a sign of a domestic dispute.

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