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On The Front Lines

Oklahoma Police Sued for Wrongfully Subjecting Reserve Police Officer to Warrantless Search, Seizure of Lawful Firearms & Prescription Meds

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute have filed a Fourth Amendment lawsuit against Oklahoma police for wrongfully subjecting a reserve police officer to a warrantless entry and search of his home and seizure of his lawful firearms and prescription medications. The search and seizure happened after the reserve officer called police dispatch to report suspicious drug activity near his apartment only to have police treat him like a suspect.

In coming to the defense of reserve police officer Devon Sullivan, Rutherford Institute attorneys sued officials with the Muskogee Police Department for acting without a warrant and without probable case, entering and searching Sullivan’s home, confiscating and keeping his lawfully owned firearms for an extended amount of time, and forcing Sullivan to engage in protracted legal proceedings in order to have his firearms returned to him. Affiliate attorney Andrea Worden is assisting The Rutherford Institute in representing Sullivan

“This cases epitomizes everything that is wrong with the nation’s system of law enforcement. Here is a man—a reserve police officer, no less—who reported suspicious activity to the police only to find himself being subjected to lawless police state tactics,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “The solution is not to give the police special treatment under the law, but to ensure that all Americans are equally afforded the robust protections afforded by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”

According to the complaint, on the afternoon of July 19, 2016, Devon Sullivan, who was employed as a reserve police officer with the City of Muskogee Police Department, saw suspicious activity in the parking lot of his apartment complex and called police dispatch to report what appeared be a drug deal. An on-duty Muskogee police officer overheard Sullivan’s report, proceeded to the vicinity of Sullivan’s apartment, and radioed Sullivan to call him and provide more information. Although the dispatcher asked Sullivan about shots being fired, Sullivan told both the dispatcher and the officer that no shots had been fired, but that his report was only his suspicion that drug activity was occurring outside his apartment. The officer asked Sullivan to meet him at a convenience store near the apartment and both proceeded to the store.

In the meantime, four other Muskogee police officers heard the report and proceeded to the vicinity. As one officer pulled into a nearby church parking lot, he saw Sullivan, who was heading to the store, running towards him with a backpack. Sullivan entered the officers’ vehicle and the pair drove to the store to meet the other officers. When they arrived at the store, the officers began questioning Sullivan and conducted a pat-down search of him and seized a firearm he was carrying in his capacity as a reserve police officer. The police also discovered pills in Sullivan’s pocket, which they identified as controlled substances. One of the officers then went to Sullivan’s apartment complex, obtained a key to his apartment from the manager, entered the apartment and conducted a search. The other officers then brought Sullivan to the apartment. When he was asked for permission to search the apartment, he gave his consent. The officers then confiscated numerous firearms Sullivan had collected and which he legally owned. Sullivan was eventually charged with illegal possession of controlled substances, but the charges were dismissed when he produced valid prescriptions. However, police refused to return Sullivan’s firearms for an extended amount of time, and only did so after Sullivan retained a lawyer.