The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union today filed suit in U.S. District Court against the Cranston Police Department for refusing to return legally-owned firearms to a Cranston man.
The ACLU said in a release that it filed the suit on behalf of Robert Machado, who was transported to the hospital last September after police were called by one of his friends who told them that Marchado might be suicidal.
At the scene, Machado told police that his friend "misconstrued a conversation that they had had, but he agreed to be transported to Our Lady of Fatima Hospital for a mental health evaluation," the ACLU said. "The examination found no problems and he was promptly released from the hospital."
While Machado was at the hopsital, police seized "varous weaopns he lawufully possessed," the ACLU alleges, including guns and a collection of samurai swords.
Cranston Police have refused to return the weapons, the ACLU said, despite Machado getting a letter from a psychotherapist that he never demonstrated suicidal tendencies and "there should be no concern" returning his weapons.
Police told Macahdo he would need a court order to get them back.
Machado contacted the ACLU after "further unsuccessful efforts to get his items returned," the ACLU said.
Cranston Police policy is that weapon owners not charged with a crime must "engage in formal litigation in order to recover their seized property."
The ACLU alleges that policy violates Macahdo's due process rights in addition to his Second Amendment rights.
The suit asks for a federal judge to declare the police policy unconstitutional and order the immediate return of the guns.
“We hope this suit will ensure that Mr. Machado and his fellow citizens will no longer be exposed to violations of their constitutional rights," said ACLU volunteer lawyer Thomas W. Lyons.
Because other police departments may have similar policies, the ACLU expressed hope that the lawsuit would force other departments to reexamine them.
Machado is a Vietnam War veteran being treated for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
A copy of the lawsuit is attached to this story.