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Rhode Island Resident Loses Gun Rights Lawsuit But Believes It Was Still A “Decisive Win”

November 23, 2016

A Rhode Island resident lost his lawsuit against the city last week over an unlawful arrest. John Miner says the city won “the first round” when a jury ruled against him and decided not to award him any money on Nov. 14, but said the fight “has only just begun.”

He plans to continue his fight to maintain gun rights for average citizens. Miner had sought $2.2 million from the city, but when he turned down a settlement offer of $25,000, he ended up with nothing.  Miner’s arrest came during a confrontation over a city-ordered cleanup at the property. Miner claimed that police arrested and detained him in December of 2013 after seeing him carrying a gun in his holster even though he was allowed to carry the weapon on the property he was renting.

Miner and landlord Dmitri Lyssikatos don’t see this as a loss though and believe the court decision “was a decisive win” for those who choose to exercise their rights to bear arms in Rhode Island. Miner and Lyssikatos say they plan to hold periodic “armed yard cleanups” to promote the rights of citizens to be openly armed on their property. Rhode Island law is clear that a homeowner or tenant has a right to carry a gun in and around their property and at their place of business.

Miner said, “The law backs up the Second Amendment, U.S. Constitution and Rhode Island Constitution in giving residents the right to not only defend themselves against intruders but to freely carry a gun around if he so desires. One of the positive aspects of this case that came to light during the trial is that our local law enforcement are now becoming aware of their duty to protect and defend the right of the people in this state to not only own a firearm for defensive purposes, but also to exercise that right without being assaulted by police. There is no law against defending yourself or your property; in fact it is the most basic law of nature.”

Miner and Lyssikatos have hopes the case will make local police departments take a closer look at policies and procedures when it comes to home invasion and trespass. The pair said, “There certainly seems to be a great need for training and correction in these areas to make sure that officers in the line of duty do not infringe upon the right of the people to openly carry firearms in their homes or on their property without the fear of being killed on sight or arrested without probable cause.”

District Court Judge John McConnell said the city was “clearly wrong on the law,” and called it a “major problem” for the defense. Marc DeSisto, attorney for the officers, said last year that the incident involving Miner was a reasonable “Terry stop,” or detention of a person based on reasonable suspicion of involvement with a criminal activity. Lyssikatos and Miner are both members of Community Response Rhode Island, a group with a goal of keeping police accountable for their actions. Miner called Lyssikatos when he saw the contractors. Lyssikatos then showed up with another man, Travis Shackelford, who filmed the incident in question.

Police officers Jared Boudreault and Norman Valade said Valade yelled that Miner had a gun and then drew his own weapon. Miner then allowed the officers to disarm him, search him, handcuff him and place him in a cruiser. Miner was driven to police headquarters where he was processed and held in a cell for more than four hours. After questioning Miner, reading him his Miranda rights, and getting the witness statements from the contractors, police released him without charges. Miner’s lawsuit alleged that officers arrested him without probable cause and falsely imprisoned him, violating his rights.