Matt Akins, local activist and founder of Citizens for Justice, could join plaintiffs in a multi-million dollar lawsuit against members of the Columbia Police Department and Boone County prosecuting attorney Dan Knight.
The $2.7 million lawsuit accuses the city and county officials of violating Second Amendment rights. Akins claims officers illegally seized his handgun when he was stopped at a checkpoint on Forum Boulevard in May of 2010.
Akins said police officers arrested him because he was carrying a handgun without a Missouri concealed carry permit. Missouri gun owners, however, are legally permitted to carry their firearm anywhere in their vehicle under Missouri's Peaceable Journey Statute. Akins was arrested at the checkpoint, where his handgun was seized and his car was impounded.
Akins sent out an email last week asking Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton and Boone County Prosecutor Dan Knight to bring forth any ordinance or law that permits them to continue to retain his firearm.
“If (no ordinance or law) exists, I request that my firearm be promptly returned to me,” Akins wrote in the email.
Attorney Stephen Wyse of Wyse Law Firm currently represents the four plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Wyse said Akins would make a good plaintiff, but the decision to add him to the lawsuit has not yet been made.
Wyse’s client and current plaintiff on the lawsuit, Gregory Rodgers, was deemed to be a fugitive from justice after missing a court date for a traffic violation. Wyse is currently looking into the Boone County legislature’s definition of a fugitive from justice.
“According to the prosecution, anyone who misses a court date is a fugitive from justice, even if it is for something like a parking ticket,” Wyse said. “A fugitive from justice cannot possess firearms. I was in contact with the state representatives and state senator from Boone County to the Missouri General Assembly to revise the state statute defining 'fugitive from justice' in chapter 571 (weapons) to reflect the definition in chapter 319 (explosives).”
Rodgers was arrested by CPD and charged with illegally carrying a firearm, although he had a valid Florida concealed carry permit that has reciprocity in Missouri. The charge was dismissed in trial court and then amended by the prosecution.
Wyse is sending out a messages encouraging victims of unlawful gun confiscation to come forward.
Wyse said his case does not involve asset forfeiture, but instead unreasonable seizure of firearms.
Akins and Rodgers are still waiting for the return of their firearms.