A judge this week raised the case of a former Rancho Cucamonga High School teacher who claimed he was wrongfully detained and searched after being arrested for bringing a loaded gun onto campus.
US District Court Judge Stephen V. Wilson dismissed the case on Tuesday, November 30 — the first day of trial — saying there was not enough evidence to support the claims.
“Members of the Jury, the Court has decided that on the basis of the evidence presented, the Jury does not have sufficient evidence to decide the case in favor of the plaintiff; therefore, I have dismissed the case,” Wilson told a court. Said according to the transcript.
The judge’s ruling rejected Joseph Nguyen’s claim, which was taken from his classroom on May 17, 2019, after school officials and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputy received a tip about a loaded gun on campus.
Nguyen confirmed that he had a loaded gun in his bag, which was kept in a locked cabinet in the classroom. As a sworn reserve police officer, he claimed he could carry a firearm while off-duty, according to a civil suit filed in the US District Court for the Central District in Los Angeles on April 24, 2020.
Chaffee Joint Union High School District, a defendant in the lawsuit, said in a response filed in court, that no one, except campus security officers, may carry a loaded gun on a school campus. “The California Gun-Free School Zone Act makes it an offense for a person to have a firearm at or within 1,000 feet of a school campus,” the district said in a statement shortly after the incident.
The case was based on Nguyen’s claim that he was detained illegally and that school officials had “ruined” him because of his conservative, political beliefs. He was put on administrative leave. A group of parents and residents supported a science teacher at a rally in May 2019.
The defendants included Principal Carrie Wilbourne; Chaffee Joint Union High School District Superintendent Matthew Holton; Kern Oduro, assistant superintendent and San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Representatives Ana Mata and Kristin Garcia.
“The district is pleased with the results of the test. We look forward to closing the case and moving forward with our mission of providing the highest quality education to our students and preparing them for college and careers,” said Holton. Said in the email statement.
School District Attorney Daniel S. Modafari successfully argued in a legal brief filed on November 28, 2021 that the district detained Nguyen and took his gun because it was in violation of school policy, not because of his political beliefs and, therefore, his Civil rights were never violated.
Wilson explained in court that although politics had come to the fore, notably by Oduro asking Nguyen if he had a Ronald Reagan license plate, it had played any role in the district’s decision to detain him, take his gun, and transfer him. Didn’t play Colony High School.
The judge said the decisions taken by Holton as district superintendent were “based on events, not politics.”
Lawyers for Chaffee Joint Union High School District also argued that the district’s policy against bringing guns onto campus applied to everyone, with the exception of district security officer Robert McCoy, who filed exemptions and was permitted by the district. was given. carry a gun
Furthermore, documents show that after Nguyen was brought to the school district office and questioned, he “profoundly apologized to the district administrators, apparently admitting that he had made a mistake by bringing the firearm to the school.”
Later, he filed a lawsuit stating that it was not a mistake, but his right to carry a concealed carry weapon on the high school campus, as he was also a Level I reserve police officer for the city of Irwindale.
The district said Nguyen, a 21-year-old employee, had neither sought permission nor requested an exemption to the policy since 2001.
Nguyen said in his complaint that he brought the gun to his classroom in a bag and stored it in a closed filing cabinet. However, the district argued that the cabinet could be opened by anyone with a master key on the premises.
In the end, the district argued that it had broad powers to ban and enforce weapons, which exceed any peace officer’s right to carry weapons on school grounds.
The attorney representing Nguyen, Brandi L. Harper did not return multiple phone calls and emails requesting comment. Harper is an attorney for the Peace Officers Research Association of the California Legal Defense Fund, according to his website.
Modaferi, along with Meyers, Fozzie and Dwork, based in Carlsbad, did not return phone calls seeking comment, but in an email, directed all inquiries to Holton.