Retired California Officer Sues Over Destroyed Guns

April 30, 2014
A former Modesto police officer has filed a $25,150 claim against the city, claiming that the police removed his personal firearms from his locker and had them destroyed.

MODESTO, Calif. -- A former Modesto police officer has filed a $25,150 claim against the city, claiming that the police removed his personal firearms from his locker and had them destroyed.

Scott Ussery, 48, declined to comment about his claim and referred questions to his attorney, Dave Garcia, who did not return phone calls seeking comment. Ussery retired from the Police Department in January 2013, after nearly 21 years with the agency.

The claim includes an appraisal by Cencal Tactical in Ceres based on Ussery's description of the firearms. It's not clear how many firearms were taken and destroyed, but nine types of shotguns and rifles are listed. Some of them are more than a century old, such as a Winchester rifle from the 1890s, and appear to be heirlooms.

"In your descriptions, you indicated your grandfather kept his weapons in near pristine condition," wrote Cencal Tactical's Patrick Sullivan in his appraisal to Ussery. "I can give you a fair estimate based on the current market value. I cannot add the sentimental value of these family weapons."

Sullivan, who could not be reached for comment, valued the firearms at $18,525 to $25,150.

Police Chief Galen Carroll said the firearms were found in an unassigned locker during a routine check of such lockers in December 2012. He said Ussery was on extended workers' compensation leave during this time and did not try to retrieve his firearms until after they had been destroyed.

Carroll said the guns were not registered, but officials spent several months trying to find the owner. He said officials conducted an internal affairs investigation to determine if the guns were connected to a crime, and that the investigation showed that was not the case. The guns were destroyed in July.

"That's what we do with excess guns," Carroll said. "We take in so many guns. We send them to a company that destroys them."

He said guns are destroyed when they have been used in a crime and the case has been resolved, the owner can't be identified, or the owner is prohibited from getting the guns back.

Carroll said department employees are not supposed to store their personal property at work, especially in lockers they have not been assigned. The chief said he has not been involved in or heard of a similar case in his roughly 20 years in law enforcement.

Ussery also is suing Stanislaus County and several other defendants related to injuries he received while practicing vehicle pursuit maneuvers at a county training facility in Crows Landing in January 2010. He was a passenger in a car being driven by another Modesto police officer when they were struck by another vehicle driven by a Modesto police officer, according to court records.

The lawsuit was filed in February 2011 in Stanislaus Superior Court. In a claim filed before the lawsuit, Ussery said the car that struck the one in which he was riding had a defective transmission or another mechanical defect. A jury trial is scheduled for January.

Copyright 2014 - The Modesto Bee

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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