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Norfolk to pay $15,000 in Harborfest gun arrest case

December 18, 2008
The Virginian-Pilot
Source …..

A Yorktown gun-rights advocate who sued Norfolk after his arrest at Town Point Park for openly carrying a handgun will receive a $15,000 payout to settle the federal lawsuit.

Chester “Chet” Szymecki Jr. sued the city after his arrest in June 2007 on a charge of violating a city ordinance prohibiting firearms at Harborfest. The city later learned that the ordinance is unenforceable because state law prohibits localities from regulating firearms.

Szymecki sued in U.S. District Court claiming violations of his Second Amendment right to bear arms, but a judge threw out that part of the case. The judge ruled, however, that city police may have violated Szymecki’s privacy rights by demanding his Social Security number.

The case was scheduled for trial Tuesday.

City Attorney Bernard A. Pishko said the settlement avoids the high price of going to trial. The city did not admit any wrongdoing, he said.

Pishko said the police are aware of the rights of gun owners, largely because of several high-profile disputes involving gun-rights activists in Norfolk.

“I think the police are very aware, more aware than they might have been before,” he said.

A federal judge threw out a related suit by Szymecki’s wife, who claimed a sheriff’s deputy violated her rights during her husband’s arrest.

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