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Judge rejects ex-Boston police officer’s bid for gun permit

Lawsuit alleged rights violation

By Travis Andersen
Globe Staff / September 30, 2011

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A federal judge has ruled against a former Boston police officer who sued the police commissioner and other parties after her application to renew a license to carry a concealed firearm was denied in 2008 because she reportedly lied on her application, court records show.

Stacey Hightower, 46, of Dorchester, a 10-year veteran of the force who resigned in 2008 after being questioned in an internal affairs investigation, argued in her lawsuit in federal court in Boston that authorities violated her constitutional rights by denying her application and ordering her to relinquish her personal handgun.

She had sought the return of her weapon and the restoration of her license, as well as attorney’s fees and other costs.

But in a ruling filed yesterday, US District Court Judge Denise J. Casper rejected Hightower’s suit on the grounds that she can reapply for the concealed license or another permit as a civilian and that her due process rights were not violated, among other factors.

Hightower did not return a phone message seeking comment last night.

Her attorney - Alan Gura of Washington, D.C. - said she will appeal the decision.

“Stacey is a longtime law enforcement officer . . . and is definitely a responsible, law-abiding citizen who has a real quality-of-life issue when she can’t have a gun to defend herself,’’ Gura said last night.

In a deposition, Hightower testified that she needed the license to protect herself after arresting dangerous suspects.

“I mean, what was all this craziness of taking my license and take my firearm and leaving me unprotected in a house that already had been broken into while I was a police officer?’’ Hightower said, according to a filing. “It’s scary.’’

According to court documents, Hightower was granted a concealed weapons license in 1999 and kept a privately owned revolver, as well as the gun issued by the department.

Her troubles began in July 2008, records show, when she sought to renew the license and completed an application for sworn officers, in which she denied that any complaints or charges were pending against her.

At the time of her application, Hightower was appealing an internal affairs finding that she violated department rules in connection with a 2004 arrest of a suspect who had asserted that he had been assaulted by an officer, records show.

Hightower was not alleged to have committed the assault.

Investigators found that she violated department rules in connection with the incident, according to court documents. Gura said the violation involved Hightower being accused of concealing what she knew about the incident, which she denied.

Hightower submitted her resignation on July 31, 2008.

Three weeks later, Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis, one of the named defendants in the suit, informed her in a letter that her license to carry a weapon had been revoked because she completed her application untruthfully, according to court documents.

However, Hightower argued in court documents that she thought the question about pending complaints referred to criminal charges. She was ordered to turn over all weapons and ammunition in her possession to police, records show.

Gura said Hightower resigned because she had a computer science background and wanted to pursue a career in teaching.

Elaine Driscoll, a spokeswoman for Boston police, declined to comment on the ruling.

Travis Andersen can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.