Florida Carry Inc. and member George Freeman filed suit Friday against five Tampa police officers, one police sergeant, the Tampa Police Chief, the city’s mayor and the city itself over the June 13 detention, search and trespassing of Freeman, who was fishing at Tampa’s Ballast Point Pier.
The 41-page lawsuit points out that “Florida Carry exists for the purpose of representing the rights of Florida firearms owners, and their interests, especially in the existence of uniform firearms laws throughout the state.”
Therefore, the nonprofit “has statutory authority pursuant to Sec. 790.33, as an organization representing its members who are adversely affected to bring actions for violations of Sec. 790.33 by entities and individuals.”
“George Freeman, was detained for over an hour after a Tampa Police Officer unsuccessfully attempted sneak up behind him while fishing and grab his holstered handgun,” Florida Carry executive director Sean Caranna said in a previous statement. “George turned immediately when he felt an unknown person grab for his gun while reaching for a concealed backup gun. As soon as he saw the uniformed officer George stopped before he drew his backup and did not resist the seizure of his handguns. He also presented his valid Florida Concealed Carry License to the officer. This extremely dangerous and uncalled-for move by the police officer to seize George’s legal handgun didn’t end once the officer found out that Mr. Freeman was not doing anything wrong. After detaining our member for over an hour the police realized that they could not find any crime to charge him with. So they issued him an order, a trespass notice that prevents him from going to the public pier at Ballast Point for one year. George Freeman was NOT breaking any law but he was banned from the city pier for exercising his Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms.”
According to the court documents, “Defendant Officers also seized Freeman’s cell phone, wallet and keys, and conducted a search of the phone, including Freeman’s contacts list and GPS data, and activated the GPS setting that Freeman normally leaves disabled. As he was seizing Freeman’s property, Freeman attempted to inform Defendant Officers of Freeman’s right to openly carry a firearm while fishing as provided in Sec. 790.25, one of Defendant Officers’ response to Freeman was: “I don’t want to hear that shit.'”
The complaint also alleges that the officers “conducted an illegal search by running the serial numbers on Freeman’s firearms through a database.”
The lawsuit accuses all of the defendants, from the initial officers to the city’s mayor, of violating Section 790.
It claims the officers also violated Freeman’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and his liberty interest, as well as depriving him of his Second Amendment Right to bear arms.
These actions, the suit alleges, occurred “under color of law as Defendant Officers were officers of the TPD and were in uniform.”
The plaintiffs are seeking monetary damages, attorney’s fees and a court order prohibiting officers from running the serial numbers of lawfully owned firearms without reasonable and articuable suspicion of a crime.