Tuesday, March 22, 2011

CO: Loveland police settle suit with gun-carrying man

You've got to sue the SoBs

A 2008 incident in which police disarmed a man walking in a Loveland park, resulting in a civil rights lawsuit against the city, has been settled for $15,000.

Bill Miller sued in 2010 after police responded in 2008 to a report of a man at South Shore Scenic Park carrying an openly displayed handgun around his waistband. According to a news release, officers made consensual contact with Miller to determine if he had any intention of harming himself or someone else with the weapon.

Citing the safety of the citizens in the park, Miller and police, the release said officers disarmed Miller and unloaded his pistol and returned the gun and ammunition to him after determining he was not a danger.

According to police, the city's motivation for settling "for a nominal amount" is to avoid the cost of ongoing litigation.

Police Chief Luke Hecker said he supports the actions of the involved officers and believes they acted exactly as they should have. "I think they acted professionally and responsibly to see if he was suicidal or homicidal," looking after the safety of Miller, others in the park and the police. "The officers did what reasonable people would expect them to do."

Miller's attorney, Nelson Boyle, maintains his client simply was enjoying the sunset in the park and none of his actions suggested criminal activity. "Without a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity that the officer could articulate when he acted, the police officer could not legally stop and search Mr. Miller or seize Mr. Miller's property," Boyle said in a news release. "The stop was not lawful."

"Mr. Miller was not breaking any laws. He didn't even appear to be breaking any laws." Boyle said. "Bill Miller was simply eating an apple and promoting both his homemade holster business and public awareness of the constitutional right to openly carry a gun."

The settlement stipulates that officers will receive training on the Second and Fourth amendments of the U.S. Constitution, addressing the right to bear arms and search and seizure.

"Recognizing that ongoing, verifiable training is always desirable in law enforcement, and that such training is normally provided to Loveland police officers as part of their general continuing education, the police chief and the department readily agreed to the stipulation," the police news release said.

"Some people may be uncomfortable having Bill Miller carry a gun on his hip in public places, but our federal and state constitutions guarantee Mr. Miller's right to carry that gun and to show and tell people about their right to bear arms," Boyle said. "This settlement, obtaining proper police training related to the right to keep and bear arms is a victory for Mr. Miller. It's a shame that it took a lawsuit to get there."

Original report here

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