By Robert Jordan
Contra Costa Times
A member of the Livermore Police Department looks through a motorcycle on First Street after an...
A member of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club has sued Livermore for $1 million, claiming police violated his civil rights by falsely accusing him of carrying a handgun.Joel Silva filed suit against the city in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Friday. The Sonoma County resident claims the false handgun claim stemmed from a Sept. 5, 2008, incident when another club member was involved in an altercation with an off-duty air marshal.
Livermore has not yet responded to the claim.
According to court records, the incident occurred after Silva and a group of 11 other riders on Interstate 580 exited onto First Street to stop for gas. While filling up, member Michael Fenton got into an altercation with Shawn Futrell, an off-duty air marshal, who accused Fenton of trying to force him off the freeway, which caused him to lose control of his motorcycle.
Futrell called Livermore police, who detained Silva and the 11 other members. Silva said he was handcuffed, searched and detained twice by police before being let go. Fenton was arrested.
As Silva was preparing to leave, officers surrounded him and demanded to search his motorcycle. According to the suit, Silva refused but police searched anyway and claimed to find a .38 caliber handgun.
Silva was arrested on suspicion of being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm. He spent 24 hours in jail but no charges were filed in Alameda County. Silva was later charged in federal court
based on the claim that he had a handgun.
A federal judge later ruled that whether or not Silva had a handgun, his Fourth Amendment rights were violated and suppressed the evidence, according to the suit.