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The lawsuit stems from a chance meeting on an outdoors mall in Beaver Creek on June 16, when Howards and his wife were walking their two sons to a piano camp.
They were surprised to see Cheney there, posing for pictures and shaking hands with members of the public.
"Many of us fantasize what would we do if we had the opportunity to really tell Mr. Bush or Mr. Cheney how we feel," said Howards, 54, of Golden.
"And to be honest, when I passed him, my initial thought was to keep walking. And then I said, I couldn't with a clear conscience let this opportunity pass."
So Howards approached the vice president and told him, " 'Your policies in Iraq are reprehensible.' And I moved on. I didn't want to give anybody any excuses to come after me."
But a few minutes later, according to Howards, he was walking back across the mall with his younger son, Jonah, then 8, when he was approached by an agent identified in the lawsuit as Virgil D. "Gus" Reichle Jr.
The agent, Howards said, "came out of the shadows and literally said, 'Did you assault the vice president?'
"If this had happened, I would think if they were doing their job, I would have been face-down in the concrete five or 10 minutes earlier," said Howards. "To me, this was just absolute, transparent harassment."
Howards denied touching Cheney, repeated for the agent what he had said to the vice president, and promptly found himself being handcuffed and taken to the Eagle County Jail, where he said he remained cuffed for three hours prior to being bailed out by his wife.
Howards' lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Denver and requesting unspecified damages and a jury trial, states that he was told by Reichle he would be charged federally with assaulting the vice president.