A Kearney man who accidentally shot himself in November is now suing the Kearney Police Department.
Kearney police responded to Terry Coleman’s residence at 110 W. Washington St. at 4:20 p.m. Nov. 18, 2013, on a report of an accidental gunshot. Coleman, who was having cabling installed by Fairpoint Communications, accidentally discharged a rifle in a closet, wounding himself. The Fairpoint employee onsite called 911 and assisted Coleman until medical personnel arrived.
The police report states that Officer Daniel McGinnis and Police Chief Tom Carey secured the firearms in the house while medical personnel were treating Coleman. Coleman’s lawsuit alleges that the officers had no right to seize his property, and that the search and seizure of these weapons was disruptive to the medical treatment he was receiving at the time.
The suit also alleges that officers held Coleman’s wife outside the home and would not allow her to be by her husband’s side while paramedics prepared to take him to the hospital.
According to the police report, five guns were seized and kept at the Kearney Police Station for safe keeping until Coleman requested them back. Walter Simpson, Coleman’s attorney, said that Coleman’s firearms had not been returned to him.
“I know that a friend of Mr. Coleman’s contacted the police department, and he would like to come by and pick up his guns. He was told that Mr. Coleman had to provide proof of ownership of the guns, which seems ridiculous to me,” Simpson said. “They know where they got them. They took them from his house.”
Simpson said he did not know whether his client had a bill of sale or any physical proof that the firearms belonged to Coleman.
Mayor Bill Dane said the firearms would be returned to Coleman once the resident had gone through the correct procedure with the city’s attorney to ensure that Coleman had the legal right to own firearms.
Dane also said the police department followed standard rules for this type of situation. The officers’ actions when they responded to the gunshot call were not based on whether they thought a crime had been committed. The police report indicates it was a non-criminal investigation.
“The police have always taken any weapon, because it is a crime,” Dane said. “That’s standard procedure, and it will always be standard procedure. So the police didn’t do anything wrong. All they did was follow policy and procedure.”
The suit also alleges that the officers’ actions aggravated Coleman’s post traumatic stress disorder, for which he has been required to obtain psychological treatment and will continue to do so. The police report indicates that officers were in Coleman’s home for two hours.
Dane wouldn’t comment on Coleman’s condition because he believes Coleman’s mental illness has yet to be determined.
“I’m talking about anyone who suffers from mental illness, in my opinion, should not be in possession of firearms,” Dane said.
Coleman has previously filed grievance with the city. On Oct. 3, 2010, Coleman alleged that the city was at fault when he stepped off his porch and into an unmarked construction zone, injuring himself. No suit was filed in connection to this incident. Coleman was notified by the city’s insurance company, OneBeacon, that the city was not at fault and that if he was awarded money, the states of Missouri and Texas would be notified because he owed $43,220 in child support.
Coleman currently doesn't owe back child support to either custodial party.
Kearney Editor Dave Hon can be reached at 903-6001 or at email@example.com.