"I didn't even know he was in town," Howards says. "He was walking through the area shaking hands. Initially, I walked past him. Then I said to myself, `I can't in good conscience let this opportunity pass by.' So I approached him, I got about two feet away, and I said in a very calm tone of voice, `Your policies in Iraq are reprehensible.' And then I walked away."
But the Secret Service did not take kindly to his comment. "About ten minutes later, I came back through the mall with my eight-year-old son in tow," Howards recalls, "and this Secret Service man came out of the shadows, and his exact words were, `Did you assault the Vice President?' "
Here's how Howards says he responded: "No, but I did tell Mr. Cheney the way I felt about the war in Iraq, and if Mr. Cheney wants to be shielded from public criticism, he should avoid public places. If exercising my constitutional rights to free speech is against the law, then you should arrest me."
Which is just what the agent, Virgil D. "Gus" Reichle Jr, proceeded to do.
At the jail, the charge against him was reduced to harassment, he says, and he was released on $500 bond. The Eagle County DA's office eventually dropped that charge.
On October 3, Howards sued Reichle for depriving him of his First Amendment right of free speech and his Fourth Amendment right to be protected from illegal seizure.