ACLU Sues City of Philadelphia on Behalf of Gun Rights Activist
Here’s something you weren’t expecting: The ACLU, along with the law firm of McCausland Keen and Buckman have filed a federal lawsuit today against the City of Philadelphia on behalf of Mark Fiorino, a Lansdale resident who was allegedly harassed by Philly cops for carrying a gun, despite his license to carry. Last time Philadelphia Weekly wrote about Fiorino and his ordeals with Philadelphia Police, he noted he was most offended by the officers’ not understanding their own city and state’s gun laws, which state one can obtain an unconcealed weapon license.
“In my experience, in the city, it’s always been negative,” Fiorino told PW of his interaction with Philly cops. “There’s always a lot of attention with the police because they know you’re armed and they automatically perceive you as a threat.”
The incident in question for which the ACLU is suing happened on February 13, 2011, five months after the Philadelphia Police Department issued a revised policy, Directive 137, which states that holders of a License to Carry Firearms can legally carry an unconcealed weapon. Fiorino walked out of a Frankford Avenue auto parts store and when he did, his open carry holster got the attention of passing police officer Sgt. Michael Dougherty, who, according to a press release, pointed his service weapon at Fiorino’s chest. Fiorino posted an audio recording of the altercation with the officer and others to YouTube a month and a half later. You can hear it here:
When the Philadelphia Police Department became aware of that, and that Fiorino was considering a civil rights suit, a new investigation was ordered into his conduct. According to the ACLU press release, “The investigation resulted in charges against Fiorino for disorderly conduct and recklessly endangering another person. Fiorino learned there was a warrant for his arrest after five Media officers came to his place of work in Delaware County while he was away. He turned himself in and spent sixteen hours in jail before being released on bail. He was arrested again a week later because the Police Department failed to clear the warrant for his arrest. On October 27, 2011, Fiorino was cleared of all charges.”
The lawsuit alleges Fiorino’s rights were violated when he was repeatedly detained longer than necessary to make sure he had a license to carry. His weapon was also confiscated and not returned for five months; it’s also alleged the police used excessive force against him.
According to the aforementioned PW report, Lt. Fran Healy openly admitted that city cops are “often ignorant on the open-carry law.”