WOODLAND PARK, Colo. — The City of Woodland Park paid $65,000 to settle claims after a former Woodland Park Police Chief violated First Amendment rights.

Delbert Sgaggio was paid $65,000 after he was personally blocked on Facebook by former Woodland Park Police Chief Miles De Young. Sgaggio criticized a raid by Woodland Park police officers in a video that was later deleted by Police Chief De Young.

Sgaggio then criticized the removal of his comment, which was deleted once again. After his comments were removed, Sggagio was blocked from commenting on the Facebook pages of both the Police Department and the City itself.

“This case sends a message to every public official in the country: respect the free speech rights of your constituents online or pay the price,” said Andy McNulty of Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP. “Woodland Park and its officials are acting like their counterparts in Russia, China, and North Korea that censor their citizens online. Luckily, in this country, we have the First Amendment and brave citizens like Delbert Sgaggio to protect us from oppressive government officials like Chief De Young otherwise, clearly, he would act just like Vladimir Putin without any repercussions.”

The City of Woodland Park says this was the largest settlement ever reached in a case stemming from a Facebook blocking by a public official.