DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - A local businessman is outraged after being thrown in jail for loitering and carrying a gun on his own property.
Eric Lee, who owns a furniture story on Covington Highway in Lithonia, says thieves have targeted him several times.
“They recommended us have a gun. The police officer said the crime rate is one of the worst,” Lee told Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman.
So he bought a gun and also got a concealed carry permit.
One night, Lee went outside to check on some people making noise on his property.
“They (the police) just pulled in and said, ‘What is going on? What is going on? Hands up, Anybody have any weapon?’ I said I have a gun. They just grabbed me, took my gun and threw me in the car,” Lee said.
Lee said he told the officer he had the permit on him. He was cited for loitering and his truck was towed from his private property.
In a police report, an officer wrote: “While taking Mr. Lee into custody, I could smell a strong smell of an alcoholic beverage.’
Lee said the odor was from the homeless people on his property who were taken into custody next to him. He said they were so drunk they were throwing up.
A judge dismissed the case at his initial appearance and apologized. For more than a year, Lee has been trying to get his gun back, get an apology from police and get reimbursed for the cost of getting his car towed.
“They gave me the run around. I went to every precinct over here. Not here, try this one, Not here, try this one,” Lee said.
Shortly after the incident, he wrote a letter to DeKalb County Internal Affairs and asked for the officers who arrested him to be investigated.
“I am not sure how one can be loitering on property that they own. I am also not sure how one can be carrying a weapon without a permit when they do indeed have a permit for the weapon at issue. I believe my Fourth and Second Amendment rights were violated.”
Within the last month, Lee filed a federal lawsuit claiming his constitutional rights were violated.
“He’s not looking to retire off this or harm the taxpayers, he is looking for some kind of accountability,” attorney Shannon Briley-Holmes said.
A spokesman for DeKalb County police said they cannot comment because of pending litigation.