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$2.7 million lawsuit targets police, prosecutor

The lawsuit involves two separate asset forfeiture cases.

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Cait Campbell/Graphic Designer

Feb. 19, 2013

Two father-son pairs are in the midst of a $2.7 million lawsuit with city and county officials after their guns were taken away.

Four plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against Boone County Prosecutor Daniel Knight, Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton and others, accusing officials of violating second amendment rights.

An anonymous call to the police department said Boone County resident Gregory Rodgers threatened to blow up the Columbia Police Department and open fire on police if they tried to arrest him, according to court documents.

At the time of his arrest, Rodgers was charged with illegally carrying a firearm, although he claimed he had a valid Florida concealed carry permit. The charge was dismissed in trial court and then amended by the prosecution.

The case, involving father and son Allan and Gregory Rodgers, claimed that Gregory Rodgers was wrongfully charged for illegally carrying a firearm and that it took 14 months for law enforcement to return the guns. The Rodgers also claim to be victims of malicious prosecution and police misconduct, according to court records.

Assistant Boone County Prosecutor Cassandra Rogers said Gregory Rodgers was a fugitive from justice at the time of arrest for missing a court date. Rogers is also named as a defendant in the $2.7 million lawsuit.

Father and son Robert and Raymond Franklin also claimed that it took law enforcement nearly four years to return the 10 weapons seized, although only one was connected to a crime.

Stephen Wyse, a former military police sergeant, is representing all plaintiffs. Case information was obtained from the U.S. District Court for the Western District Court of Missouri.

The Columbia Citizens Police Review Board dedicates its time to review complaints that first went to the police department's Internal Affairs Department and to the police chief. If the police department decides the complaint does not meet the definition of a complaint, then it does not go to the board.

"To me it doesn't sit well that complaints first go to the police department and it could happen — I don't think it happens — that police officers are looking out for one another," board member Daniel Jacob said. "Some cities are starting to get independent investigative departments and that's something we should consider."

The board has looked at using forfeiture money to fund a mediation program that would provide a more accountable complaint system, but the board can only recommend the program to the police department.

"We don't have much power," Jacob said. "All we can do is suggest that the police uses forfeiture funds to support the mediation program that we think they need."

Jacob is working on getting a city ordinance that will require the board to look at all complaints.

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