Colo. Man Paid $15K After Police Challenged Gun in Park

LOVELAND, Colo. --

The city of Loveland will pay a $15,000 settlement to a man who said his civil rights rights were violated when police briefly seized a handgun he was openly carrying at a park.

However, a Loveland Police Department statement on Wednesday said, "Police Chief Luke Hecker has supported the actions of the involved officers and expressed that, given the public location of the contact, in conjunction with the presence of other people in the park, the officers acted professionally and reasonably."

"In settling the lawsuit, the police chief steadfastly maintains that perspective," the statement said.

The statement said the city and Police Department settled the civil rights lawsuit that gun owner Bill Miller filed last year "to avoid the excessive cost of ongoing litigation at the expense of Loveland’s taxpaying residents."

The lawsuit arose from an October 2008 incident when a resident reported to police that a man was openly displaying a gun holstered on his waist at South Shore Scenic Park.

Responding officers contacted the gun owner to "determine if Mr. Miller had any intention of harming himself or someone else with the weapon," the police statement said. "For the safety of the citizens in the park, Mr. Miller, and for themselves, the officers momentarily disarmed Mr. Miller and unloaded his pistol.

"After determining that Mr. Miller was not a danger to himself or anyone else, the police officers returned the pistol and ammunition to Mr. Miller, and ended the contact," the statement said.

In his lawsuit, Miller accused police of violating his constitutional right to be armed with a licensed gun and conducting an illegal search and seizure. Miller hadn't committed a firearm violation, because he wasn't illegally concealing the weapon.

In the settlement, the Police Department agreed that its police officers will receive additional training about the Constitution's Second Amendment, which protects the "right of the people to keep and bear arms," and Fourth Amendment protections "against unreasonable searches and seizures."

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