Rifle-Toting Troy Teen Sues City of Birmingham for Violating His Civil Rights
Sean Combs, 18, was arrested for carrying a rifle in downtown Birmingham in April; he was found not guilty of disturbing the peace and brandishing a firearm in July.
Sean Combs, the 18-year-old Troy resident who was arrested in April for openly carrying his loaded rifle through downtown Birmingham, filed a lawsuit Friday at Michigan Eastern District Court in Detroit alleging the City of Birmingham and three officers from the Birmingham Police Department violated his civil rights when they arrested him in April.
Combs was found not guilty of brandishing a firearm and disturbing the peace by a seven-member jury on July 12 at 48th District Court in Bloomfield Township. A third charge of obstructing an officer was dismissed during trial due to lack of evidence.
"I tried being nice," said Combs, a recent Troy High School graduate who currently attends Oakland Community College. "They turned down the initial settlement."
The lawsuit was filed Friday against the City of Birmingham as well as Birmingham Police Lt. Michael Albrecht and officers Rebekah Springer and Gina Potts, who arrested Combs in April.
City attorney Tim Currier told the Detroit Free Press the complaint will be fought, adding that police didn’t do anything wrong. City Manager Bob Bruner declined to comment Wednesday morning, except to say "the City will vigorously defend this lawsuit."
Combs said that though he and his lawyer, Matthew Kolodziejski, have not yet decided on an official dollar amount in the lawsuit, he plans on suing for around $40,000. He added that fees for his previous attorney, Jim Makowski, a Dearborn-based attorney who specializes in Second Amendment issues, amounted to roughly $6,000, which was not reimbursed by the City of Birmingham.
"I just want them to admit guilt," Combs said. "I just want them to say, 'we screwed up.'" He added that an apology now would be "too little, too late."
A court date has not yet been set.
Combs was arrested on April 13 after he was stopped by two Birmingham Police officers while he had his loaded M1 Garand rifle slung over his shoulder. When officers asked for identification, Combs refused.
As an adult, Combs was legally able to carry the rifle — a birthday present from an older brother — and under Michigan law, he wasn't required to show police ID.
Combs' arrest caused an uproar in the open carry community, which has since rallied around Combs to show support.
Open carry advocates, many of whom learned about Combs' case on opencarry.org, have gathered as a group in Birmingham's Shain Park twice now — once in June and again in July — while openly carrying rifles and pistols in support of Combs. In late July, Combs gathered with fellow open carry advocates at Shain Park while openly carrying his rifle for the first time since his trial.
For complete coverage of the Combs case, visit our special topic page.