CALEXICO — This city paid $35,800 as part of a lawsuit settlement that alleged a Calexico police officer improperly arrested a man and seized his firearm more than two years ago.
The Southern District of California U.S. District court closed the case May 1 and as part of the settlement agreement, a training program on firearm-related criminal laws has been instituted in the department in addition to the payment.
A training bulletin was created by the man’s lawyer, Jason Davis, and covers topics including search and seizure, firearm laws, the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act as well as the information on the recently passed “Open Carry Ban” bill.
“The training bulletin is designed to educate the department on California’s complex and convoluted firearm laws,” Davis said.
Ian James Farias was pulled over by Calexico police Officer Mario Alcaraz in January 2010 for an alleged traffic violation and then consented for the officer to search his vehicle during which the officer saw an unloaded and exposed shotgun.
Farias was then arrested on the alleged violation of the unlicensed carrying of a concealed handgun and booked into Imperial County jail where he stayed for nine hours before bailing out.
He contacted The Calguns Foundation, a California gun-rights nonprofit, and Calguns attorney Davis defended him in the case, Ian James Farias v. City of Calexico, et al., alleging that Farias’ Fourth Amendment rights were violated and the Calexico Police Department didn’t properly train officers on firearm issues, according to a Calguns Foundation press release.
Defendants included Calexico, its Police Department, its chief and the officer.
The criminal case against Farias was rejected by the District Attorney’s Office, and Farias then sued in federal court, according to the release.
“This case is a reminder that exercising one’s right to keep and bear arms is not a waiver of their right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures,” Calguns Foundation President Gene Hoffman wrote. “The more that California and local governments regulate firearms, the more they will have to train their law enforcement officers — or be held accountable in the courts.”
In 1976 the Legislature enacted a law making carrying a loaded firearm in public, concealed or not, restricted by law, but people could still carry an unloaded firearm in plain view or in a holster.
After this, “carrying firearms in plain view rarely occurred until 2004, when the Web site OpenCarry.org, was established,” the training bulletin by Davis wrote.
“With increasing frequency, officers are encountering individuals carrying holstered pistols and long-guns in plain view on a gun belt. Individuals participating in these actions have dubbed their actions the ‘open carry’ movement,” the bulletin reads.
While open carrying of firearms in California has not been practiced in recent years, it is regulated under California law … Officers need to be fully knowledgeable and tactically prepared to safely and legally address these issues.”
Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Join the discussion and add your comments to this story! Scroll down or click here and tell us what you think.