Retired ASH officer was denied a concealed carry permit. Now he’s suing the state

A retired Atascadero State Hospital police officer who was denied a concealed weapons permit says in a lawsuit filed last week that the state violated his rights.

In the complaint filed in San Luis Obispo Superior Court Friday, Sacramento-area attorney Richard Fisher wrote that his client, Troy Parker, was wrongfully denied a “CCW Off Duty Authorized” concealed weapons permit after retiring from the California Department of State Hospitals (DSH), where he worked as an ASH police officer.

According to the complaint, Parker worked for the DHS for more than 26 years before retiring honorably from service in September 2017.

“This petition seeks to enforce the plain language of the implicated federal and state statutes, and (DSH’s) own policies, so that Parker and all similarly situated retired peace officers may rightly receive a CCW (conceal carry weapons) card upon honorable retirement, as the law commands,” the complaint reads.

Fisher did not return several requests for comment Monday or Tuesday.

Ken August, spokesman for the Department of State Hospitals, confirmed by email Tuesday that Parker was employed at Atascadero State Hospital from January 1991 to August 2017, starting as a hospital police officer and eventually retiring as a lieutenant.

However, August declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying the department does not comment on pending litigation. August similarly wouldn’t answer a followup question about the department’s general policy regarding supplying or assisting in its retired officers’ receiving the permits.

The retired officer’s complaint lists not only the Department of State Hospitals but also David Landrum, the Department of State Hospitals’ Chief of Law Enforcement, who the lawsuit says is “responsible for issuing CCW cards to honorably retired peace officers at (DSH). ...“

The complaint lists Parker’s supposed experience and training involving firearms, including completing a 40-hour Police Officers Standards and Training “firearms instructor course,” and “training some 300 DSH peace officers, all while personally armed.”

The lawsuit claims that while working at Atascadero State Hospital, Parker developed “a rapport with the Range Masters at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant that culminated in DSH being the only state agency allowed to use the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant’s million-dollar firearms range.”

State law prohibits carrying a concealed firearm on one’s person or in a vehicle in which the person is an occupant. The law holds exceptions for peace officers, however, “whether active or honorably retired.”

The complaint cites an exemption in law for “(any) other honorably retired peace officer who during the course and scope of his or her appointment as a peace officer was authorized to, and did, carry a firearm.”

About six months after filling out and submitting DSH’s required paperwork in December 2017, Parker says that Landrum wrote to inform him that, “The Department of State Hospitals, hospital police officers, do not carry a firearm during the course and scope of their duties (sic) therefore, the department does not issue or endorse retirement credentials for employees appointed (per state law section that defines a peace officer).”

“The blanket denial to issue Parker a CCW card violates federal and state law and the DSH’s own (policy),” the complaint reads.

Parker is asking the court step in and order DSH to issue he and other qualified retired peace officers with “CCW cards,” issue a declaratory judgment that DSH violated Parker’s rights, and award him the cost of his legal fees.

A case management conference is scheduled for April 8 in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.

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Matt Fountain is The San Luis Obispo Tribune’s courts and investigations reporter. A San Diego native, Fountain graduated from Cal Poly’s journalism department in 2009 and cut his teeth at the San Luis Obispo New Times before joining The Tribune as a crime and breaking news reporter in 2014.