A former Tisbury resident filed a lawsuit against the town and several of its officers earlier this month, claiming police violated his civil rights when he was arrested in 2022.  

Brian Langhammer, who has since moved to Colorado, filed the complaint in U.S. District Court in Boston on Oct. 4. He contends the department maliciously arrested him without cause after he made a 2022 Facebook post that depicted a pig in the crosshairs of a rifle scope. 

The post read “Warm up those bagpipes, #Marthasvineyard. Justice is coming.” 

The charge was later dismissed by a judge and in the suit, which Mr. Langhammer filed himself, he asks for $6.5 million in damages.

The town and officers Jeff Day, Charles Duquette, Scott Ogden, and Max Sherman were all named in the complaint, but have not yet officially responded in court. 

The case centers around Mr. Langhammer’s arrest in June, 2022 for a charge of threat to commit a crime, to wit murder. Officers, were alerted to the Facebook post, as well as texts from Mr. Langhammer to a concerned citizen in which Mr. Langhammer allegedly said he wanted to “take some pigs with [him].”

In police reports, Det. Duquette said that pigs are often used as a derogatory name for police and that bagpipes are often played at officer funerals. 

“In the above messages, I believe that Langhammer is insinuating and relaying to this concerned citizen that he wants to plan to kill police officers,” Det. Duquette wrote in his police report at the time. 

Based on the texts, Facebook post, and past incidents where Mr. Langhammer was arrested for assault, police detained Mr. Langhammer and took him to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital for a mental health evaluation, according to the report. They also opened an investigation into the texts and post, executing a search warrant at Mr. Langhammer’s home.

The case, which was eventually moved to Barnstable District Court to avoid the potential or appearance of a conflict of interest, was dismissed by judge Theresa Wright in October 2022. The judge, in her order, wrote that there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Mr. Langhammer. 

“Where there is no evidence that the threat was conveyed to a particular person or persons, nor evidence that the defendant intended for the threat to be conveyed to a particular person, this court finds that there was insufficient evidence presented to the clerk to support each and every element of the offense,” she wrote. 

In a statement over the weekend, police said the department received approval for an arrest warrant from Edgartown District Court and was approved for prosecution by the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office. 

The arrest warrant application was also reviewed by the clerk magistrate in Falmouth District Court “to avoid any perceived conflict of interest,” Chief Christopher Habekost said in a statement.

Mr. Langhammer was held on bail following the arrest, which he said led to him losing his job, severe anxiety and becoming homeless. 

Department spokesperson Lt. William Brigham declined to comment further on the case, citing the pending litigation. 

“There are always two sides to every story and unfortunately, as much as I would like to, I cannot comment more on our side of the story at this time,” he wrote in an email. 

In a statement to the press, Mr. Langhammer said police arrested him due to his past criticism of the department and violated his First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights based on a Facebook post, which resulted in him being held for 134 days. 

“Mr. Langhammer contends that he has been the target of a pattern and practice of abuse at the hands of the Tisbury Police in retaliation for his public criticism of the department and certain of its members in local community online forums and elsewhere, and that in addition to Tisbury officers violating his civil rights, members of the Tisbury Police department (and possibly others, who may be added as defendants later) conspired to do so,” Mr. Langhammer wrote in his statement.