Monday, November 8, 2010
Help Me Howard: Return My Guns
How would you feel if a police officer took a piece of your property? Well they can but what if the city refused to return it and told you, if you want it go to court. Is that legal? Its why one man called Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Ralph Troutman knows his guns. He should the staff sergeant has been to Afghanistan defending his country. Before he left he went to watch a Dolphin game at a restaurant. On the way home, a few blocks from the restaurant a police officer pulled him over.
Ralph Troutman: "Basically the story was an undercover cop or a plane-clothed cop saw me point a gun out the window at someone."
Ralph had just left the restaurant and says that would have been impossible
Ralph Troutman: "The funny thing about that was my guns were in the trunk."
Ralph told the officer he had been with friend at the gun range that day and the weapons were in the trunk of his car.
Ralph Troutman: "They're legal. I have a concealed weapons permit. I showed them everything, showed them my permit, showed them my drivers license. Everything that he needed to know."
But in the police report the officer said Ralph was not truthful and not respectful to him.
Ralph Troutman: "They threatened to take me to jail. Long story short, I didn't go to jail they gave me an incident report, but they took my weapons and said they needed them for ballistic testing."
Ralph was told the tests would take three months to make sure the guns were never used in a crime, and then if he wanted the guns back, he would have to go to court to get them.
Ralph Troutman: "They're giving me the run-around like I'm a criminal."
Ralph went to Afghanistan when he got back, he tried to get his guns back, but two years have passed and the City of North Miami Beach has not returned them.
Ralph Troutman: "I took several routes. I tried to do it myself, obviously that's not working. I went to three lawyers the lowest price I got was $3,000, which is more than the value of my own guns."
Ralph is amazed that a soldier can't get his legal weapons back and even more amazed that he was accused of waving them at people in a restaurant parking lot.
Ralph Troutman: "I'm no lawyer but if I were to do what was said that I done on that incident report I would have been either shot or in jail. There's no way I would have been a free man if I had been waiving a gun in public at a police officer."
Well Howard you are a lawyer, so can a police officer take your legal registered weapon? And for two years can the city refuse to return it?
Howard Finkelstein: "The police can take your weapon only if they believe it was used in a crime. In this case it was not and the police should return Ralph weapons without forcing him to sue them and go to court."
When we talked to North Miami Beach Police at first they said they would return the guns without making Ralph go to court, but then said because Ralph had already filed in court to get the guns back, they were going to just let it "play out."
They did however say they would review their policy to determine whether they should be making anyone who turns over a gun go to court to get it back.
Howard Finkelstein: "North Miami Beach made a mistake in taking the weapons and a mistake by not returning, but even if the police are wrong when they demand your property whether its a gun or a cellphone, you have to give it to them. You just hope they follow the law and return your property promptly and two years is not prompt."
If you dont think its fair what the city has put Ralph thru is response, join the crowd.
Ralph Troutman: "The main stress is that it's my personal property. I bought it with my money. I didn't do anything wrong and, I can't get it back."
Patrick Fraser: "Well, on December the 6th Ralph will be in court to ask a judge to give him his guns back. North Miami Beach has us they wont fight his request. And remember if a cop asks you for your property, give it up. If its not related to a crime you should get it back quickly. If it is related to a crime you may have to wait till the case is over or a judge orders the police to give it back to you."
Facing a range of rough times? Feel like people are gunning for you? Dont go ballistic, target us for a solution. We have a secret weapon. No not Howard, his lawbook.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD: