Police, ACLU Settle Suit over Guns Seized from Cranston Man

Robert Machado got his guns. And $2,500 in damages.

A Cranston gun owner will have his weapons returned to him along with $2,500 in damages and $2,000 for attorneys' fees after a settlement between the City of Cranston and the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU today announced that it has settled its lawsuit against the City of Cranston on behalf of Robert Machado, whose guns were seized by police last September after a rescue call to his house. A friend called 911 to report that Machado might be suicidal. Machado agreed to go to the hospital for a mental health evaluation, but insisted that his friend had misconstrued a conversation he had. He was subsequently released from the hospital and no problems were found.

Meanwhile police seized for safekeeping a variety of weapons from Machado's house, the ACLU said in a release, including firearms and a collection of samurai swords.

Eager to have his possessions returned, Machado followed up by obtaining a letter from his psychotherapist that he had never “demonstrated suicidal tendencies or thoughts,” and “there should be no concern” returning his weapons. The police still refused to release them and advised Machado that he would need to obtain a court order to get them back. After further unsuccessful efforts to get his items returned, Machado contacted the ACLU, leading to the lawsuit which had challenged the police department’s practices on constitutional grounds, the ACLU said.

"We were very happy to have gotten a relatively quick and favorable result for Mr. Machado.," said ACLU Lawyer Thomas W. Lyons. "However, the resolution of this case does not address whether there are any circumstances under which police departments may legally cease and retain weapons held by law-abiding citizens. That issue may have to be resolved in another case.” 

Bill Santagata October 13, 2012 at 11:40 AM
No one can sue the ACLU for anything because they aren't doing anything wrong. Lawyers perform a service and for this service they receive compensation, just like any other profession. It is a condition of *federal law* that attorneys' fees in civil rights matters are paid by the losing party. The Cranston Police Department had no right to continue detaining this man's weapons after a licensed psychologist attested that he posed no threat to himself. In continuing to hold his weapons, the CPD violated his 2nd and 4th Amendment rights (right to bear arms and freedom from unreasonable seizures). To settle the case, they just gave the man back his weapons but have not formally revised the policy. I suggest you contact them advocating them to revise it to bring it within constitutional guidelines or eventually they will be sued for real.
gwbnyc October 13, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Is that a map of where the guns are?
Mark Schieldrop October 13, 2012 at 02:52 PM
No, the map points to the Cranston Police Department headquarters. It is automatically generated because I linked to our directory listing for the station in the article.
gwbnyc October 13, 2012 at 08:25 PM
the coppers have no guns in your town?
Joe Richer October 14, 2012 at 06:11 PM
I find I must agree with Bill on this. It's the police who would need a court order in order to keep the weapons (unless the person in question is a felon - not this case). The police cannot take upon themselves the role of judiciary as well as well as that of police. It troubles me greatly that they did not know this or have access to legal advice telling them such is the case. Perhaps they are taking a note on the practices of the President of the US who has decided which congressionally approved immigration laws his police forces will enforce, We have a separation of powers in this nation in this state that is mandated by both Constitutions. That separation MUST be respected or all freedom is in jeopardy.


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