Verdict against city cop upheld
A U.S. Middle District Court judge Friday affirmed a jury verdict against a city police officer who wrongfully seized a local couple’s Little League pin collection five years ago.
U.S. Middle District Court Judge Matthew W. Brann denied a motion by Capt. Raymond O. Kontz III filed on behalf of David J. MacMain, his attorney, asking for a a retrial, reduction of damages or the verdict to thrown out.
Jurors found Kontz abused his authority and violated Randy and Janete Shrey’s Fourth Amendment rights to be secure in their own home when he bullied them into turning over their pin collection.
“This is exactly the type of behavior the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is designed to protect,” Brann wrote. The amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, but isn’t a guarantee against all searches and seizures, only those that are deemed unreasonable under the law.
Brann concluded the seized objects were merely trading pins and not contraband that Kontz could have a legal reason to seize.
Kontz failed to create an incident report to document the seized items, never gave the couple a receipt for the pins and didn’t behave in a manner acceptable to the department or the community, according to Brann.
Kontz also had enough time to get a warrant but didn’t, according to Brann, who presumed that was because the officer knew no judge would have found a case of probable cause with no evidence of a crime being committed.
Brann also said he couldn’t grasp Kontz’ motivation for seizing the pins without legal justification.
He concluded enough time, money and resources on the federal and city level have been spent on what amounts to “trifling sporting memorabilia.”