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Reader BH writes:

The Waukegan, Illinois Police Department received a telephone call on February, 2, 2015. The female caller, later identified as “Roselynn” stated that her boyfriend, former US Army tanker veteran, Alfred DeVost, had threatened to commit suicide. The Waukegan PD sprang into action and immediately showed up at veteran DeVost’s apartment where he allowed them to enter. He denied stating anything concerning his possible suicide and that’s when Officer Pantoja decided to try tact, asking DeVost to voluntarily submit to a mental evaluation, which he agreed to do. You see where this is headed, right? . . .

Not according to Mr. DeVost’s attorney:

The responding police officer asked if Alfred would VOLUNTEER to be transported to the local hospital for a mental health evaluation.  Alfred AGREED and was transported without being handcuffed or ever being in the custody of Waukegan Police.  Officer Pantoja clearly writes in her official police report that “Alfred agreed to be transported to Vista West (a local hospital) for a psychological evaluation.”

Without a due process hearing or probable cause, Officer Pantoja then admits in writing that “At Vista West, I completed an involuntary committal form and turned it over to Vista medical staff.”  When exactly did Alfred’s volunteering to be evaluated become grounds for an involuntary committal?  What medical license does Officer Pantoja hold that empowers her to diagnose and conclude that a man cooperating in every way with a police officer is now subject to involuntary committal at a hospital?

Officer Pantoja returns to Alfred’s home and obtains the consent of Alfred’s girlfriend, again not his wife to search the home for Alfred’s lawfully owned firearm.

Once at the hospital, DeVost was examined by a physician was medically cleared and released to his own care and custody.

But his firearms? Seized by the police without benefit of consent of the owner or as a result of a search warrant, they are in the custody of the Waukegan PD who refuse to give them back. They have even suggested that he get a lawyer and sue to get them.

That’s where Attorney David A. Zipp comes in. He was outraged by the jack-booted practices of the Waukegan PD and has sued on DeVost’s behalf and started a GoFundMe account to help pay for the lawsuit. If you have a couple of bucks to help a never before arrested, partially disabled vet who served all of us for ten years in the US Army, stop by and throw some bucks his way.

 

69 Responses to How the Law Protects and Serves in Illinois

  1. Due to the new, loosey-goosey terms of use from GoFundMe, that account will be shut down in 5….4….3….2…

    • One gun? The article mentioned one gun that was stolen by the police. The man can fight to get it back on principle, or he can just go buy some more guns. Buying more will be faster and cheaper. Unless it is a family heirloom, the loss of one gun is no big deal. Get more than one this time! The $50,000 they want to raise to hire a shyster lawyer could be used to buy a couple hundred guns.

      • whether it’s 1 gun or 100 guns they seized, the simple fact is that they unlawfully seized it; as well as the other nefarious acts committed by that officer. suing them to get it back and then some serves good and bad. it would put the pd on notice that this is something civies won’t stand for. but if he wins the suit and is awarded money, then the tax payers foot the bill. i would think a gun owner would understand that the man had his rights trampled upon.

        • The man’s rights were definitely trampled on, and he should fight back on principle, to defend liberty. I was noting that from a strictly “financial” perspective, the loss wasn’t that great. It may not make financial sense to fight back, but sometimes it is just the right thing to do. This does seem to be one of those times.

    • Lawsuits cost money. Filing fees, motion fees, experts, court reporter’s fees, etc. etc. Some lawsuits cost a little, some cost tens, even hundreds of thousands. Are you suggesting that the lawyer should fund these out of his pocket as well?

  2. I’m sorry, I can’t have much sympathy for this guy. First, what the heck was going on that his girlfriend called the cops and said he was suicidal? If it happened to me and I was not suicidal, I would be turning her in for a false police report, ending the relationship on the spot and ending this story. Second, if the cops showed up at my door and asked me to volunteer for a psyc. eval. I would tell them to pack sand and demand that they leave. Third, now we have some shyster lawyer who says he’s “outraged” and wants to raise money for the lawsuit, money that will mostly go to pay his fees. If it’s a good case, he would take in on contingency and get his money out of the city of Waukegan when he wins.

    • I am reader “BH”

      Waukegan PD has a long history of trampling on citizen’s rights. They will get away with this if no one doesn’t stand up beside this disabled vet and helps him out. I don’t know him but I am a retired Illinois police officer and I will guarantee you that this an every day occurrence in the Land of Lincoln

      • I think if this situation had played out in a lot of jurisdictions, it would have turned out the same way or worse. Think of what would have happened in NY, NJ or MA. He would be in jail or committed to a mental institution and the gun would already be melted down. I have a rule about jurisdictions like that: I don’t live in them!

    • Yes, he was too trusting and made a series of critical mistakes in dealing with LEOs. However, why punish him by letting the powers that be further erode all of our rights? That’s just stupid.

    • 2. Yes, he should have told them to leave, but that’s something that most people don’t realize they can do when it comes to police. Not being aware of your rights, doesn’t mean you deserve to have them trampled.

      3. More money into 2nd Amendment campaigns –> more lawyers (shyster or not) looking for 2nd Amendment cases to take on –> more overzealous governments can be put in check –> more people can be informed of their rights before they get them trampled (see #2).

      Good cause or not, the outcome is not guaranteed and they still take time away from other potential income generating cases.

    • Those were almost exactly my thoughts. The last psyche eval I did was in late ’00 or early ’01, which I needed due to a job requirement as a police officer. The shrink was clearly upset that my father was (and still is) a clinical psychologist, and if he had “coached” my responses. My father is ethical, and would not due such a thing. I basically wound up telling the psychologist that he needed to judge me and not my father. I passed, but I don’t ever want to do a psyche eval again.

      Besides, a lot of shrinks are nuts themselves.

      And this poor sap might be better off filing a formal complaint with the police department, or enlisting the help of the NRA or SAF. The GoFundme account has a $50,000 goal. That seems pretty dang high for me – even for an opportunistic lawyer.

      • Fortunately, lawyers don’t need psyche evals. We are assumed to be nuts and if we pass a psyche eval, we are disbarred.

      • Yes, many people in mental health professions have their own issues. It is how they got interested in the field in the first place. Working in, and then running away from, this field, I’d say a solid 50% of mental health professionals have stuff going on “upstairs”.

      • When I lived in California, I reckoned that 9 out of 10 pshrinks were full-on loons, and they got into the “profession” because they’d get a cut rate on their own psych counseling.

    • And should have instructed the cop to arrest the “girlfriend” for trespass.

      Robert – you didn’t get the memo. There is no more “wife” etc only significant other/others of the moment.

      • Might want to verify those memos before you take it to the internet and risk looking silly. My wife, for one, is perfectly fine.

        • I think his point was a little more subtle than that.

          He’s kinda saying that even if the title is “wife,” there are sure a whole bunch of them that don’t take the real essence of lifelong commitment seriously.

          Men have become one of society’s acceptable punching bags to the tune of some serious damage, even to the degree of harming boys growing up in a confusing world.

          I don’t know you or your wife, so I’m not making a comment about your situation specifically. There are “good women.” But, there are some truly evil ones, too.

    • Or raised and conditioned to trust authority. Such as having a sheltered conservative upbringing and military service.

      Some times it takes a bit of reality to realize that not all cops are your friends.

      • Mistake 1: Opening the door to the cops
        Mistake 2: Talking to the cops without a lawyer
        Mistake 3: Letting the cops in
        Mistake 4: Agreeing to anything with the cops

        Cops are trained liars and deceivers, always remember that.

  3. True, what the last two comments said. It sucks that the cops have the guns but what if this is a legitimate seizure? We don’t have all the facts and he did fully submit. He didn’t have to.

    • True, but not quite accurate. He voluntarily submitted to an evaluation, most likely to demonstrate that he was not suicidal. And he did exactly that, i.e., demonstrated his lack of suicidality to a qualified mental-health professional who cleared him.

      Having just been found to be nonsuicidal by a medical professional, he then returned home to find that his property had been seized by someone who was in no way qualified as a mental health practitioner.

      Police officers generally cannot determine someone’s suicidality or nonsuicidality; they can only place someone on hold for evaluation by qualified professionals (because it’s outside an LEO’s qualifications — duh).

      The irony here is that the individual whose firearm was seized was the only person involved in the entire incident (girlfriend, LEO) who had recently been examined and determined to be nonsuicidal. Neither the girlfriend nor the LEO had been determined not to be at risk of self-harm. Of the three of them, he represented the lowest known risk for self-harm.

      But whose firearm was seized?

      • A police officer does not determine if you are a threat to yourself or others. But a police officer is allowed to involuntarily detain for an evaluation and treatment upon probable cause to believe…and in some states, that is enough to suspend your right to keep firearms. Here in California, a “5150” will cause you to lose your rights for ten years–even if the medical professional upon evaluation determines you are not crazy or suicidal.

    • The courts would rule it was a legitimate SEARCH, though I would disagree. Somebody who had permission to be there let the cops in for the search.

      I can’t see how in the world it could be a legitimate SEIZURE. Either they found something illegal in their quasi-legal search, or they didn’t. If the guy had a FOID, it wasn’t illegal for him to have that gun and the copette is nothing but a common thief, with the department knowingly receiving and retaining stolen property. I think the attorney should be going for RICO in addition to the usual 42 USC §1983 stuff.

      • Unless of curse the law provides for an immediate suspension of gun rights upon the issuance of the involuntary hold. I don’t know Illinois law on the subject, but that is the case in California.

        • Was an involuntary hold issued?
          Hard to tell from what I’ve read, unless the copette had the power to do it all on her own. It is clear she tried, but it sounds like she was the only person on the planet aside from the girlfriend who wanted it.

          At any rate, he was immediately cleared, so I can’t come up with a legal excuse for the gun to spend a single night away from home.

  4. I lived in Waukegan from 5th grade through Senior year. When I live there,cops and politicians always prided themselves as a smaller version of the Chicago Political Machine.
    Looks like nothing has changed. I am so happy to live anywhere but there.

  5. A sad reminder of why I refuse to let the police into my home and I will refuse any questioning without a lawyer present. The police, when questioning you, are not looking to help you, aid you, clear you, they are looking for clearances, arrests and any way possible to jack you up, especially in Illinois. I hope he gets his guns back and wins a huge settlement.

  6. If you own guns, that proves you are insane. Case closed. Sane people do not need guns, especially in our super safe cities with militarized high speed low drag public servants patrolling them. #everymoronforgunnonsense.

  7. One of the other veterans in my group up here had that exact same thing done to him recently; a way-old ex-girlfriend called him out of the blue (he’s been married with three little sons for a few years now) and they had a reasonable but distant conversation, i.e. he’s happily married with children now, bye, see ya, have a nice life. She called the state police and claimed he talked about killing himself, which he did not; and he’s not anywhere near suicidal. So they showed up at his door and there began a lengthy conversation which also involved his wife coming out and stipulating that he wouldn’t have said such a thing, etc. But meanwhile this gets him jammed up with his wife somewhat anyway, and now the cops have this on record if there are any future contacts with them about anything at all. They did not go in the house or conduct any searches, and he does own and use firearms, so at least he didn’t get hit with that.

    But it goes to show, along with those swatting incidents around the country, that anyone can call the cops now and claim whatever and they’re gonna show up and the burden is kinda on YOU to show they don’t need to be there. Which sucks.

    • Laws need to be changed to require a sworn statement (with photo ID) prior to ANY action on the part of police. If it turns out to be a pure-ass lie, 5 years in prison for perjury. That would, as they say, “nip it! nip it in the bud!”

      Otherwise, this will remain “just good, clean fun!”

  8. Well this is some BS. Never volunteer anything. And get rid of the gal friend. I’m with Ralph on this one.

  9. I knew a judge who, as a DA prior to becoming a judge, would tell acquitted defendants to “sue me” to get their firearms back. He knew they would win, but rightly figured they wouldn’t sue. I expect the Waukegan folks will rapidly settle if an actual suit is filed. Just my guess.

  10. Attorney seems like a good man. Retired Marine, a Mason, and apparently referred by other lawyers.
    Smart man to get PR and plea for funding from Illinois gun-rights groups.

    This would be a good situation for NRA supported local gun-rights lawyer to give the Attorney some advice. I’d like to see SAF step in to help, if this needs to go to Federal district court.

    Here’s a clip from the GoFund.me explanation.

    “Thus we created the “DeVost 2nd Amendment Defense Fund” here at GoFundMe.com. Our initial goal is $50,000.00 of which no matter what happens in Alfred’s case, Attorney McCormick and I have agreed to take no more than $10,000.00 as reimbursement for legal fees. The remainder of any funds raised will be utilized to fund other victims of unlawful assaults on the 2nd Amendment in Illinois. Our hope and plan is to partner with the Illinois Rifle Association or other state-wide reputable Second Amendment rights organization so that they may best ensure that no citizen is denied access to justice as it comes to your Second Amendment rights due to lack of funds. I can think of no better way to honor Alfred DeVost’s heroic stand than by helping to ensure that he never stands alone. You can speak your mind and your convictions by even the smallest of donations.”

    City of Waukegan should be ashamed of the high-handed and possibly illegal abuse of power by the cops and City Attorney. I’d like to see how much POST training is documented for arresting officer on training to evaluate and handle mentally ill arrestee’s, as it looks like the officer abused his authority on the referral, and the City Attorney is doubling down in his arrogance. On the face of the facts here, I’d guess the City of Waukegan is looking at a civil lawsuit to recoup costs, and perhaps a civil rights violation.

  11. I’d dump some of my tax refund towards the cause, but i’m hoarding money in case some shit like this happens to me.

    Welcome to Illinois.

  12. Police take advantage of law abiding citizens. Law abiders think they are assisting officers when if fact they want to screw them for no other purpose than to collect revenue for the Triad.

  13. Under the “law of agency”, if an agent (warranted police officer) commits an act exceeding the authority of agency/position, that agent can be sued personally. Most unlikely the PD or city would offer to defend the officer in such case.

  14. Many salient points here. But I think one that is often over-looked is how the system is designed to hurt the victim even when they’re in the right. His property was seized, maybe illegally, maybe there’s some BS loophole. Either way, this is just another example of how broken it is yet nothing will change. The people might, but the process is still there.

  15. Well, I’ll contribute to this kind thing in aid of getting an airing of the issues, which we seem not to do unless someone pushes back. Let’s have the conversation … about summary punishment, the imposed costs of legal access, and transparency into what is done by agents acting on our behalf.

    I’m a civil libertarian kind of guy. I’m uncomfortable with summary “enforcement” of anything, including when I agree with what’s being enforced(*), and doubly so with enforcement agents using the authority we delegate to them, for our ends, to implement their own preferences.

    The paltry funding so far suggests that the NRA, veterans’ rights organizations, civil rights advocates, “good government” folks, civil libertarians, and various folks who “support our troops”, aren’t so much in support of what they claim to advocate. Or maybe only sometimes. I wish they’d be more precise in what they are for, and not.

    (*) In this case, on the surface, I do not agree with what appears to being enforced. More accurately “imposed”, as to be enforced it has to be legal.

  16. Not “a never before arrested, partially disabled vet”, a “a never arrested, partially disabled vet”. He was never arrested.

  17. A lot of the commenters here are missing the biggest point. The LEO didn’t just take his gun, she has tried to take his entire 2A right. With the involuntary committment form in existence, depending on how far into The System it got, there is potentially a massive octopus of b.s. to be tracked down and eradicated before he can answer “no” on Form 4473, question 11f without someone trying to accuse him of a new crime. And it’s likely to keep coming up. Over. And over. And over.

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