Gun owner’s lawsuit against city of Vancouver dismissed

2014 conviction for unlawful display of weapon overturned in 2015

By Katy Sword, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

A lawsuit against the city of Vancouver for allegedly violating Mack Worley’s civil rights has been dismissed.

Worley, a former Vancouver resident, filed suit against the city in July 2016. Worley was arrested in 2013 on suspicion of unlawful handling or display of a weapon after he carried an assault-style rifle around town near Big Al’s bowling alley. He was also arrested on suspicion of second-degree criminal trespassing after Big Al’s asked Worley to leave the property and he returned despite the warning.

Vancouver Police seized his gun at the time of arrest, which Worley alleged was unlawful. He also alleged that the arrest violated his constitutional rights and that he was falsely imprisoned.

Worley was found guilty of unlawful of display of a weapon in June 2014 and ordered to serve a year of probation. His conviction was overturned in 2015 by the Clark County Superior Court.

The lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice on Oct. 16 at the agreement of both parties. The city had previously filed for a summary judgment. Vancouver Assistant City Attorney Dan Lloyd said the key issue in the case was whether the officers had probable cause to arrest. A Washington Supreme Court case from 1993 ruled that probable cause exists as a matter of law if a jury convicts someone, even if that conviction is overturned.

“In Mr. Worley’s case, he was convicted by a jury, so he was precluded from arguing in the lawsuit that the officers lacked probable cause to arrest,” Lloyd said. “This meant that he could not prove any one of his claims.”

A conversation between Lloyd and Worley’s attorney Spencer Freeman led to the dismissal. Freeman told Lloyd they agreed that the law supported the arrest and would agree to dismiss.

“We didn’t have a choice,” Freeman said. “That case law supported the city’s position that it was an absolutive defense.”

Freeman added that Worley still “steadfastly believes” in his Second Amendment rights to bear arms.