The Providence Journal: Cranston will pay $250K to man for warrantless home search, gun seizure Mark Reynolds, The Providence Journal
CRANSTON, RI— The city will pay almost $250,000 in damages and attorneys fees to a Cranston gun owner who prevailed in a legal battle that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 2021, the high court rejected Cranston's argument that police could search Edward Caniglia's home without a warrant, and also without his consent, as part of a "wellness check."
Police had searched Caniglia's home in 2015 and seized two guns after his wife told them she had concerns about his mental health.
Edward Caniglia with lawyers Rhiannon Selina Huffman and Thomas W. Lyons III, whom he refers to as his "heroes."Police held the guns for 'safe keeping'
Caniglia received a mental-health evaluation at Kent Hospital and he was released, but police held onto the guns for "safe keeping" and they told Caniglia he would need a court order to get them back.
In 2019, a judge in U.S. District Court, Providence, found that the confiscation of the guns violated Caniglia's due-process rights.
Then, in May of last year, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected Cranston's arguments that the Police Department's search of Caniglia's home was legal as a "community caretaking" function.Supreme Court findings
The Fourth Amendment includes an exception with that language. But the high court has determined that it only applies to searches of cars impounded by police and it does not allow a warrantless search of a person's home.
Based on that decision, Caniglia's lawyers negotiated a $250,000 settlement with Cranston. The vast majority of the money will cover attorneys' fees and costs, but the arrangement entitles Caniglia to a $31,000 check.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island argued the case on Caniglia's behalf. The ACLU's executive director, Steven Brown, said Monday that Caniglia's legal battle "has ended up protecting privacy rights across the country.”
"This was a case going to the very core of the Fourth Amendment’s protection of privacy in the home from police intrusion," Brown said. "The city’s position, if it prevailed, could have given police free rein to enter homes without probable cause or a warrant, whenever they deemed it ‘reasonable’ to do so."