Judge recommends dismissing lawsuit by man whose guns were seized

A federal judge has recommended dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a former Oregon Department of Transportation planner who alleged that local officials violated his civil rights in 2010 by seizing his guns and taking him to a mental ward.

In his May 13 recommendation for dismissal, U.S. District Court Judge Mark D. Clarke said the police and all involved "acted in good faith" to protect David J. Pyles and the public on March 8, 2010, when they temporarily placed him in protective custody at a local hospital and confiscated his guns.

"Based on the information available, the defendants reasonably determined that the risk of doing nothing was simply too great," Clarke wrote. "This Court will not second-guess that decision."

Pyles, who did not return phone calls from the Mail Tribune, has until June 24 to respond.

Pyles' civil lawsuit names as defendants the city of Medford and Jackson County, as well as Sheriff Mike Winters, Deputy Philip Cicero and Medford Police Sgt. Scott Clauson.

Police reports at the time depicted Pyles as a disgruntled ODOT employee prone to verbal outbursts and in "a declining state of mental health." ODOT supervisors cited Pyles' slipping personal hygiene and appearance when they placed him on administrative leave on March 4. They said Pyles' "somewhat disorderly and uncooperative" exit prompted fears of retaliation.

Pyles was told to work from home until he could undergo a full psychiatric evaluation. But officials became concerned when the suspended planner bought three handguns, a 12-gauge shotgun and a semi-automatic AK-47 rifle over the next three days.

Pyles' civil lawsuit, which alleges his Second, Fourth and 14th amendment rights were violated, was filed on Feb. 27, 2012.

In his recommendation for dismissal, Clarke said police had reason to believe there was probably cause for a "peace officer hold" on Pyles, and noted that once it was determined he was not a threat, he was released and his weapons were returned.

The officers involved "risk their lives every day, and they have to err on the side of safety for themselves and the public. No evidence in the record suggests that the defendants acted with ill will or as part of a conspiracy to target the plaintiff," Clarke wrote, stating he recommended the motions of dismissal filed by the city and county be granted.

"Defendants acted in good faith to protect the plaintiff and the public, and overall, did so in a lawful, fair and courteous manner," he wrote.

— Sanne Specht

Share This Story