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Gun-Toting Vice Principal Sues the Police

FRESNO, Calif. (CN) - Bakersfield police arrested a junior high school vice principal on campus and confiscated his gun, though he had a concealed weapons permit, the man claims in court.

Kent Williams, vice principal at Tevis Junior High School, sued Bakersfield, Officer Coleman and Officer McCarthy, on Dec. 8 in Federal Court. Williams seeks damages on 13 causes of action, including assault and battery, excessive force, constitutional violations, conversion, false arrest, civil rights violations and other charges.

Williams, 51, was arrested on the junior high campus on Aug. 28 after officials at the Panama Buena Vista Union School District informed a Bakersfield police school resource officer that a staff member had a firearm on campus, according to an Aug. 28 police department press release.

(Williams' complaint states that the incident happened on Sept. 8.)

He says he admitted had had a gun when Officers Coleman and McCarthy asked him. He told them he was licensed to carry a concealed weapon, and showed them his permit, he says in the complaint.

Williams says the officers took his gun and his permit, and have not returned them. He claims they went to his home and confiscated the rest of his legally registered guns, and haven't returned them either.

He says the officers arrested him "without probable cause" and put him in the back of a police car.

Williams claims that his diabetes was exacerbated and he required medical care based on the incident. After being held for several hours, he was released and told he had not committed a crime, he says in the complaint.

Barry Klein, with the Kern County District Attorney's Office, said that the case was never submitted to the DA's office with a request that charges be filed.

California's Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1995 prohibits possession or discharge of a firearm in a school zone, which is defined as within 1,000 feet of public or private school grounds.

The law carries an exemption for law enforcement officers and valid California concealed-carry permit holders.

Police said in the statement that the permit held by Williams, who had been carrying the gun in a backpack in his office, does not extend onto a school campus that requires authorization for such weapons.

Gerrie Kincaid, assistant superintendent of Panama Buena Vista Union School District, said that concealed weapons are not permitted on school sites without prior approval from the superintendent, under school board policy.

Williams, who did not have permission from the district to have his concealed gun on campus, "was placed on administrative leave while an investigation was conducted," Kincaid said.

Williams seeks statutory damages, treble damages, punitive damages, and he wants his gun back.

He is represented by Daniel Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, the City of Bakersfield and the Bakersfield Police Department did not immediately return requests for comment.

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