Roanoke police actions spark lawsuit
A Roanoke man says officers violated his rights during a dispute about his gun license.
By Mike Gangloff
A Roanoke man is suing city police over an altercation with officers that he said began as an argument about his permit to carry a concealed firearm.
Aaron A. Stevenson filed a lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Roanoke alleging that his constitutional rights were violated during a May 6 traffic stop. He named two officers, Chief Joe Gaskins and the city as defendants.
On Wednesday, police spokeswoman Aisha Johnson referred questions to City Attorney Bill Hackworth, who was out of town and could not be contacted. Stevenson also could not be immediately contacted Wednesday.
The lawsuit gives this account of Stevenson's encounter with police:
Stevenson was driving along Williamson Road to pick up his daughter from church when Roanoke police Officer Jamie A. Kwiecinski stopped him. Stevenson was given a summons because his registration had expired.
Kwiecinski learned that Stevenson had a concealed carry permit and asked if he had a gun. Stevenson declined to answer.
Kwiecinski called for backup, and Officer Dwight W. Ayers arrived on the scene. Stevenson said the officers ignored his repeated invocation of his right to remain silent, and to have an attorney present during questioning.
The officers pulled Stevenson from his vehicle, the lawsuit said, took the .45-caliber handgun he wore in a belt holster, and put him in handcuffs in the back of a police car. Stevenson said he was threatened with loss of his permit, confiscation of his gun and indefinite detention while police investigated whether he was involved in anything criminal.
Officers never read Stevenson his Miranda rights, the lawsuit said, and Ayers told Stevenson the questioning would stop if he would admit to some criminal action.
As the incident continued, some of Stevenson's co-workers drove past and his employer stopped to see what was happening. The officers asked the employer if Stevenson had mental problems.
Stevenson said the tight handcuffs injured his wrists.
Eventually, Sgt. Sandy Duffey, a police supervisor, said to release Stevenson.
In the lawsuit, Stevenson asked for unspecified monetary damages, injunctions to prevent future incidents and a declaration that his civil rights had been violated.
Online court records indicated that the expired registration charge against Stevenson was dismissed in June.