Cleveland settles, pays gun owner for weapon seizure

Derrick Washington is a law-abiding gun owner with a valid concealed-carry permit.

Last February, Washington called local police to report a shooting near his home in Cleveland, Ohio. When police arrived on the scene, they began questioning Washington about the incident.

Although he didn’t tell them initially, probably because it wasn’t germane to the investigation, Washington later admitted that he was a licensed gun owner and that he had a firearm stored in his parked car. The firearm was not linked to the shooting in any way.

According to police reports, officers claim that Washington said he had two vodka drinks that night– a claim that Washington vehemently denies.

Since Washington had been allegedly drinking and because he waited to tell the officers that he was a law-abiding gun owner with a carry permit, the officers put him in cuffs, confiscated his .38-caliber Taurus from inside his vehicle and charged him with using weapons while intoxicated and illegally carrying a concealed weapon.

Washington would spend three days in jail before an assistant city prosecutor decided to drop the charges because there “was not enough evidence,” as the The Plain Dealer reported.

As for Washington’s firearm, well, that was not returned because of a law that permits police to hold weapons until a “court of competent jurisdiction” rules that one can have them back.

Washington did what any reasonable person would do, he hired an attorney and sued the city.

In November, a settlement was reached and Washington’s firearm would be returned to him. However, the exact details weren’t made pubic until this week.

The Plain Dealer reported that in addition to getting back his Taurus, the city would pay Washington $1,000. The city would also reimburse Washington for his attorney fees, a total of $5,500 paid to his lawyer J. Gary Seewald. Lastly, there would also be an additional $250 paid out for additional court costs.

Though, as part of the settlement, the city would not have to admit it was at fault or liable for damages.

While some may see it as a clear victory for Washington, others were less optimistic.

“I think this was an unfortunate win,” Jeff Garvas, the president and founder of Ohioans for Concealed Carry,” told the Plain Dealer. “(Washington) had to go through all that effort to get the gun back, and he shouldn’t have been arrested in the first place, as he was the party who called police. Anyone less committed would have gone out and bought a new firearm.”