A Cleveland gun owner got his gun back, along with a settlement of $6,750, nine months after his gun was taken away and he was locked in jail for three days for reporting a shooting.
On Feb. 10, Derrick Washington called to alert police about a shooting that he had no connection to. Washington, a concealed carry permit-holder, had a .38-caliber weapon in his car.
Police arrived on the scene and began questioned Washington. They claimed in their report that he had admitted to having two vodka drinks that night, which Washington denies. When they found out that Washington had a weapon in the car, they arrested him on charges of using weapons while intoxicated and illegally carrying a concealed weapon. Officers say that Washington did not tell them immediately that he had a concealed weapons permit, though Washington says he did.
Washington was taken to jail, where he spent three days behind bars before a prosecutor dropped the charges due to lack of evidence.
The gun, however, was not returned to Washington.
A Cleveland ordinance states that when a weapon is present in a threatening situation, or when a person has been drinking, it can only be “released by an order of a court of competent jurisdiction.''
Washington sued the city in a U.S. District Court. This week, the court agreed to return Washington’s firearm and pay a settlement of several thousand dollars, most of which went to attorney’s fees.
Washington’s attorney and gun-rights advocates agree that the courthouse win is qualified.
“I don’t know about calling it a ‘win,’ but concluding it is usually positive,” said Washington's attorney, J. Gary Seewald. “I got no complaints.”
"Of course, it is wrong,'' attorney and a gun-rights advocate James W. Tekavec told the Plain Dealer. "This is personal property that belongs to a person who has never been charged. The city of Cleveland is holding it and causing this individual to spend money to pay an attorney to file something in court to get his legal property back.''