A Lincoln man could have a confiscated shotgun returned to him almost two years after he accomplished probation for a non-violent and non-gun-related offense.
The Nebraska Supreme Court docket, in an opinion revealed Friday, decided a decrease courtroom erred when it denied Matthew Zimmer’s request to have his shotgun returned. Zimmer, 37, had made a number of makes an attempt to get the firearm again after he pleaded responsible to a misdemeanor stemming from an incident in November 2018.
That is when police had been referred to as to Zimmer’s Lincoln residence in response to a disturbance between Zimmer and an ex-girlfriend, in response to courtroom paperwork. No arrests had been made and officers left the scene.
Officers had been dispatched to the identical space minutes later when 5 separate neighbors referred to as police to report listening to three gunshots, in response to the possible trigger affidavit. After they returned to the residence, officers characterised Zimmer as uncooperative, intoxicated and hostile. He was positioned into emergency protecting custody and housed at a psychological well being facility.
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The ex-girlfriend allowed police to look the house as soon as Zimmer was in custody. Police discovered a shotgun, ammunition and a spent shell casing. Zimmer denied that he had fired a gun, however he was initially charged with and brought into custody for discharging a firearm inside Lincoln metropolis limits.
Prosecutors didn’t pursue the firearm cost. As a substitute, Zimmer was charged with refusing to adjust to police orders, a misdemeanor. He pleaded responsible and was sentenced to 6 months of probation.
At sentencing, legal professionals for Zimmer argued that the shotgun must be returned to Zimmer or his mom. The firearm was one of many solely issues that Zimmer had inherited from his deceased father, in response to the courtroom opinion.
The courtroom determined that it will maintain the weapon till Zimmer’s profitable completion of probation, at which level they’d think about releasing it to him or his mom.
After finishing probation in April 2020, Zimmer filed a movement to have his property returned, which was twice denied by the Lancaster County Court docket. At each hearings, prosecutors argued that Zimmer had made feedback about retrieving his gun throughout the confrontation with police, and said that the firearm “fashioned the premise for the police officer’s orders to Zimmer.”
Zimmer appealed to the district courtroom, which affirmed the county courtroom’s choice. He then appealed to the Nebraska Court docket of Appeals, at which level the Nebraska Supreme Court docket put the case on its docket.
In reviewing the case, the Supreme Court docket famous the final rule is that seized property, aside from contraband, must be launched to the rightful proprietor as soon as prison proceedings end. If the federal government needs to maintain the property, it should show a compelling and bonafide motive.
The Supreme Court docket discovered that the state did not current a authentic motive for persevering with to grab the property.
The courtroom’s evaluation notes that a number of pictures had been reportedly fired, however just one shell casing was present in Zimmer’s house. Zimmer constantly denied firing a weapon and no proof was introduced to recommend that his gun had been fired. He didn’t have the firearm on his particular person throughout the confrontation with police.
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