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."

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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.

Complete Coverage

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.

Craig Hennigan October 18, 2012 at 03:07 AM
I don't care for this kid doing a frivolous lawsuit. But then, it's against Birmingham. This is like the Yankees playing the Green Bay Packers. I just want both of them to lose.
free thinker October 18, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Craig - I wonder how you would feel if you got tossed in jail for nothing? Would you think that was frivolous? Funny how that works, isn't it?
canseeallsides October 18, 2012 at 04:57 AM
Suing the city doesn't help though when they can hide behind immunity. We need to negate qualified immunity by also suing the individual's actions, and he is. They should pay with their jobs and out of their own pockets instead of misusing our taxes to pay for their mistakes, misuse and ignorance. No one should be so constitutionally ignorant as to be dangerous, especially any group that officially takes an oath to uphold the Constitution. Anyone that transgresses rights should and will be held accountable, this is not new. This should serve as another example of no tolerance for misuse of power and ignorance of rights. Know that Birmingham is not the only city facing civil rights law suits. Another local city/inc. has a wall of them pending and/or settling.
Bob October 18, 2012 at 10:29 AM
To all you folks backing this idiot. You are hypocrytes thru and thru. If he had been one of the nuts jobs and opened fire killing innocent people you would ALL be screaming at the top of your lungs how the police saw this armed man and did nothing. Then you would all sue. Definitely right wing christian conservatives.
DanM October 18, 2012 at 12:13 PM
Illegal arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution. You consider those "frivolous" issues?
DanM October 18, 2012 at 12:20 PM
"Suing the city doesn't help though when they can hide behind immunity. We need to negate qualified immunity by also suing the individual's actions, and he is." --canseeallsides Qualified immunity does not shield a government agent if that agent is found to have violated policy, law, or constitutional rights. Contrary to your misconception, such immunity is conditional and many officials have lost that immunity in legal proceedings. While you feel you can see all sides, it appears you were blind to this side of the issue.
canseeallsides October 18, 2012 at 12:58 PM
I agree with your letters and words but I can't find it in practice, I would have listed them in the opposite order, Policy first? Like the Blue Brotherhood Policy? Many have still falsely used immunity and gotten away with up to murder. My point was exactly yours that that shouldn't stop retribution attempts. Just concentrate on the individual's decisions and actions. Read about qualified immunity in the Michigan Constitution and how it's used (abused) for about the last 100 years. Could you show where rights violations (not bodily harm) caused an official to be punished equally to a non-protected non sworn officer, I would be almost pleased to see this. To reiterate, I feel the laws should be of a higher standard (not lower or immune) when misuse is possible.
canseeallsides October 18, 2012 at 01:02 PM
I'll feed it. "If he had been..." but he wasn't. You're argument is stop whining or we should all be locked up because anyone of us "could be" something. That's crazy talk. Why the bigoted, stereo-type sign off? It's redundant as we already see your ignorance from the first paragraph. (You can look up redundant.)
Craig Hennigan October 18, 2012 at 01:03 PM
He's a little kid smiling his smarmy little smile and never even saw a jail cell. Ya, this is frivolous. He went looking for trouble, found it, never actually got harmed because he expected this response, and now wants to get paid for it. This is the definition of frivolous. As I said though, it's Birmingham, so they deserve what's comin to them too. DanM, lol.. puleeze. Hyperbole much?
GambitofTroy October 18, 2012 at 02:35 PM
LOL - Well said Canseeallsides.
Cody October 18, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Bob, how are we hypocrites? Because we understand our constitutional rights? I will say it again, criminals just don't openly display their firearms because of unwanted attention just as we see here with this law abiding citizen.
Jen Anesi (Editor) October 18, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Two comments were removed for violating our Terms of Use. http://troy.patch.com/terms
GambitofTroy October 18, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Seriously? and how old are you? How would you know he needs one anyway...you been stalking the kid?
Truepatriot Constitution October 18, 2012 at 04:13 PM
It's easy to see the sheep. However, I am glad they are in the minority here.
Alan Stamm October 18, 2012 at 04:33 PM
From Deadline Detroit news site column today: "Plenty of people contend that Combs was being an ass by needlessly toting a rifle through town. But a nation of laws is obligated to protect asses and non-asses alike, especially when they're exercising rights that, like speech, are supposed to be guaranteed." -- Darrell Dawsey, http://bit.ly/S5ofJq
K. Niner October 18, 2012 at 04:45 PM
The boy wasn't arrested until he refused to cooperate with the police and give any identification.
GambitofTroy October 18, 2012 at 05:05 PM
On another note...99.999% of boats needlessly carry floatation devices.
Tom Sparrow October 18, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Please keep your firearms away from my family and myself. Thank you.
GambitofTroy October 18, 2012 at 06:46 PM
I understand the need to remove comments but when you post that you did it I WANT TO SEE THEM!!!!!! LOL
free thinker October 18, 2012 at 08:09 PM
@ Tom Sparrow, Tom you can keep yourself and your family away from firearms, well maybe? Do you know that over 350,000 people in MI. carry a pistol discreetly on a daily basis? Chances are if you are at a gas station, store or restaurant there is a law abiding citizen carrying a pistol. Since you cannot see them you are okay with them right? If you choose not to take responsibility for the defence of your life & your families that's on you. The Police can only be in so many places at once. Often they arrive too late. The choice is yours, it's personal, I respect your choice not to carry. Please respect ours to defend ourselves and our families.
Clementine October 18, 2012 at 08:29 PM
So, he was taking his loaded weapon (slung over his shoulder) to a movie theatre... this is nothing more than attention seeking behavior.
M&P9 Pro October 19, 2012 at 04:46 PM
K. Niner: the "boy" doesnt have to show ID or cooperate with police because they didnt have RAS to stop him in the first place. Just because they police tell you to jump, doesnt mean you have to say how high.
M&P9 Pro October 19, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Don't worry Glenn, he already has some.
M&P9 Pro October 19, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Clementine: He got to his movie EARLY and went to kill some time. Sean is more than aware that it is illegal to carry in a movie theatre without a CPL. And his weapon was across his back. if you are going to knock him knock him with correct facts please.
Johny Gee November 01, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Yeah- except they did take his gun Jocko e troll.
Johny Gee November 01, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Gary of Troy- If the police believe you have a penis do you think they should arrest you before you rape someone?
Johny Gee November 01, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Bob- Youre showing your progressive left-wing thuggery. Maybe you should put something over it.
Thomas Gagne April 29, 2013 at 12:28 AM
Is there a follow-up to this lawsuit? Did it get a hearing?
Lianne Mathie April 29, 2013 at 01:04 AM
Hey Mike Hunt, we used to call the bar and ask to have you paged. Finally found you. Thank God!
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