$25,000 judgment in suit against Philly over permitted gun
A gun-toting Lansdale man has received a $25,000 judgment in his lawsuit against the city of Philadelphia. The information technology worker says he was tired of being stopped for carrying a holstered gun on his hip. Because he has a permit, it's perfectly legal.
Mark Fiorino said he decided to sue the city after a heated run-in with police last year as he walked along Frankford Avenue wearing his holstered weapon. He was stopped by a police officer. Fiorino used a recorder to document the confrontation:
Fiorino: Sir, you're threatening me with lethal force.
Police: I'm not threatening you.
Fiorino: You're pointing a weapon at me.
Police: I don't know who you are. You've got a gun on you.
Fiorino: Would you like to see my license to carry firearms and my driver's license?
Police: I need backup. I've got a guy with a gun on him. He's giving me a little trouble.
Tensions escalated further after the officer instructed Fiorino to get down on his knees.
Police: Get on the f------ ground!
Fiorino: I am no threat to you. Excuse me.
Officer: Get on the f------ ground!
Fiorino: Why are you threatening me with your Taser, sir? I'm on the ground.
Officer: Put your hands right the f--- out. Right the f--- down.
Fiorino: All right. This is not necessary, gentlemen.
Fiorino was found not guilty on charges related to the incident. Because of previous run-ins with police, he said he'd had enough and decided to file suit.
Fiorino, who declined to say what he plans to do with the $25,000, said the lawsuit was never about money. It was intended, he said, to hold police accountable and to prevent similar incidents.
"It seems like there's been a lot of ignorance of the law on the part of the police department and the city in general," Fiorino said. "People have been treated like criminals when, in fact, they're abiding by the letter of the law and have done the research to make sure that they don't violate that."
Fiorino said he believes police on the streets now are better aware of the law.
Police spokesman Lt. Ray Evers confirmed that since Fiorino's run-ins with the police, things have changed.
"After the three incidents, especially the last one, (Police) Commissioner (Charles) Ramsey instituted an awareness-education campaign with all the officers — plainclothes, uniformed officers — across the city in reference to open-carry permits and, when someone's open-carrying, what the laws are."
As for Fiorino, he doesn't plan to stop carrying his firearm.
This weekend he's headed to a "meet and eat" he organized for people who openly carry their firearms at a Ridley Township restaurant. He expects a few dozen people will show up to exercise their Second Amendment rights.