Cleveland Gun Owner Sues City & Police Over Wrongful Arrest for Legally Carrying Firearms

Antoine Tolbert, the President of New Era Cleveland, was wrongfully arrested for openly carrying both a shotgun and pistol in the Glenville neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio.

Because Antoine followed all legal gun laws in the state of Ohio, his charges were later thrown out by a grand jury.

He is now suing the city and police for unlawful and false arrest.

New Era Cleveland is a nonprofit organization that focuses on neighborhood clean-ups, after-school Youth clinics, connecting community members with local resources, partnering with businesses to create safe places for those in need, and implementing a community patrol program.

According to IOBY.org, the community patrol program includes legally armed and trained citizens who canvass neighborhoods to deter criminals from targeting communities and offer crisis intervention and medic support if needed.

Glenville crime rates are 207% higher than the national average, with violent crimes 437% higher than the national average, per AreaVibes.

Just recently, a 27-year-old man was shot and killed in the Glenville neighborhood, Cleveland.com reported.

After more violent crimes in the Glenville neighborhood in May, including the fatal shooting of a 14-year-old girl and a shooting at a memorial service, Tolbert took it upon himself to patrol the area to protect the neighborhood against potential threats.

“Imagine as a young small child living in this community and you see black men that live here, patrolling it, taking ownership and keeping these streets safe,” Tolbert told News 5 Cleveland.

As Tolbert was patrolling, officers stopped to question Tolbert about his 12 gauge shotgun and handgun. Tolbert relayed that he had a fundamental right to carry firearms openly, which the officers acknowledged, and Tolbert walked away.

However, when Police Sgt. Lance Henderson arrived on the scene the situation changed. Sgt. Henderson instructed officers to arrest Tolbert for carrying firearms. Officers initially laughed at the orders from Henderson, as Tolbert was not breaking any gun laws.

Eventually, officers capitulated and followed through with Sgt. Henderson’s directive. They drove up and surrounded Tolbert in the Glenville neighborhood.

Thanks to body cam footage (see above), Sgt. Henderson is shown stepping out of his police cruiser, drawing his handgun, and pointing it at Tolbert, while instructing him to put his guns on the ground.

Sgt. Henderson is heard in the camera footage saying: “You can’t walk down the street with a gun in your hand…I’m not going to allow you to do it.”

Officers arrested Tolbert on Henderson’s orders, charging him with the improper handling of a firearm, which only applies to Ohio laws about transporting a gun in a car.

Section 2923.16 | Improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle.

No person shall knowingly transport or have a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle in such a manner that the firearm is accessible to the operator or any passenger without leaving the vehicle.

– Ohio Laws & Administrative Rules

Tolbert spent 36 hours in jail and was eventually released without any charges.

“Officers cannot merely just decide to arrest somebody, detain somebody and take them down to the county jail just because they don’t like something that they’re doing,” said Tolbert’s attorney, Tiana Bohanon in an interview with WKSU.

“He had not been carrying any concealed weapon and he had not been improperly handling a firearm inside any motor vehicle,” she added.

The lawsuit is seeking damages from the city and the 14 officers involved.

Following the arrest, Tolbert lost his job at a community development organization and was forced to move out of his home, temporarily, because his wife’s ex-husband was using the incident as a means to gain full custody of their child.

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About the author: Kenzie Fitzpatrick is the Owner of Reticle Up, LLC, a marketing agency specializing in working with businesses in the outdoor industry. She is a firearms instructor, a professional competitive shooter, a certified AR-15 armorer, and the host of the Reticle Up Podcast. She’s a positive voice in the 2A community, traveling the country to attend firearms events and sharing her passion with others.

{ 31 comments… add one }
  • ClevelandNative August 27, 2022, 3:23 pm

    Just commenting on the commentators; I’d like there to be a basic literacy test applied before y’all carry dangerous ordinance.

    That is all.

    • Donald Crawford August 29, 2022, 8:15 pm

      A dangerous ORDINANCE is one that doesn’t allow law-abiding citizens to carry firearms in order to protect themselves. All ORDNANCE is potentially dangerous.

      Perhaps y’all should have taken that basic literacy test yourself.

    • Hondo August 30, 2022, 6:56 am

      That’s a great idea, we can start with you genius.

  • J.W. August 26, 2022, 6:41 pm

    I don’t have a problem with Tolbert carrying a firearm in policing his community, he has a legal right. What needs to be outlawed is his ATTITUDE! A simple request by the police to stop & talk to them just to check on Tolbert to ask what he is doing and the matter would have been resolved in minutes. All that yelling about some other crime that happened won’t get anything done but delaying an officer AND a citation should have been issued for disturbing the peace due to all that yelling. That does not help the situation, remaining calm & collective does. Tolbert just looked a little suspicious to the police, just calmly explain what you’re doing when asked, then everyone goes about their merry way.

  • kjj August 26, 2022, 2:56 pm

    This guy was legal and treated like a criminal went to jail and yet the criminals with felony’s cannot be stopped and searched for a weapon without a reason? What is wrong with our country?

  • Armed and Dangerous August 26, 2022, 11:49 am

    Even thoughTolbert was within his rights, he should have used better judgement and had his Shockwave on a sling. With single point slings, I don’t know what difference that would have made but would have made him totally legal. His big mistake was not complying. If he had put down his shotgun he would have likely been given a warning and let go. Non-compliance is the reason people get roughed up or killed by police. I was pulled over on my motorcycle because a guy in a local bar had just gotten in a fight and ran out on a motorcycle. I had two firearms on me, both concealed and when the cop asked me if I had any weapons, I said yes. He asked me to hand them to him which I did. He asked any other weapons? I said I have two knives which I handed him also. They even put me in handcuffs. I cooperated which they appreciated and thanked me for and in about 5 minutes after checking me out, they handed me back all my weapons and let me go, thanking me again for my cooperation. If you make the cop’s job easier, believe me, it will be easier on you. Take a lesson from Chris Rock. Google:
    Chris Rock – How not to get your ass kicked by the police!

    • Shanz August 26, 2022, 1:23 pm

      I totally understand what your saying but if a state allows open carry why even confront the person? Unless they are breaking some other law or acting in a threatening way. The first interaction this guy had with the police should have been the end of it. Also I would be willing to bet most if not all bad guys are not gonna open carry while they are gang banging.

    • Jay August 27, 2022, 12:14 pm

      There’s not a single law that says you must comply with all orders from police. The officer said, out loud, “I’m going to unconstitutionally arrest you”, when he stated on the video his unconstitutional reason for pointing his gun at a law abiding citizen. This is no different than if a cop pulled you over for literally no reason just to point their gun at you and demand you get out of the car to go to jail.

    • Mas87 August 27, 2022, 1:11 pm

      Lol, WHAT?? He was ALREADY in compliance. He was in full compliance of the law when he was stopped. The deputies who stopped him let him go after he cooperated with them and provided evidence that he was operating lawfully. It wasn’t until sergeant d**knead showed up and decided to throw out any respect for the law and the constitutional rights of ALL citizens that there was a problem!! Y’know who should’ve ‘just complied’?? THE SERGEANT WHO TOOK AN OATH TO PROTECT AND SERVE ACCORDING TO U.S. LAW. Antoine was doing what he was supposed to do. The sergeant was doing what he was NOT supposed to do. It doesn’t get any simpler than that, and if that isn’t enough information to get you to understand who screwed up in this situation, well……. that’s concerning.

      Citizens should not have to ‘just comply’ with an infringements on their rights. Not now, and now ever.

  • E August 26, 2022, 11:36 am

    People are getting tired of criminals doing what they want in these liberal ran areas. Unfortunately Antoine and others like him are going to be needed to regain control and restore safety to criminal infested warzone like areas. Police can’t do it all nor should they. They are there to help us, not shoulder our responsibility to keep ourselves safe.

    Shame on the officers that knew arresting him was wrong and still went along with it. After Floyd they should think twice and uphold their duty.
    Wish the patrol program had worked with the police as a cohesive unit, but in a liberal ran area such as Cleveland it’s nearly impossible.

  • Henry White August 26, 2022, 10:25 am

    In the state of Florida our Governor has already said that he will siagn th e Gongressional Bill for open carry thru this state before November first and of course the stupid cops here think their rights are being enfrigned up on because they want to try and keep us from having our right back from them.We the people of this great Nation shall let our voices be heard and our rights shall be given back to us and strip the law enforcenment from walking on us for years just because they have a badge and a gun and none of them know just what our rights are.

  • Dogman197 August 26, 2022, 9:19 am

    Just because you can, doesn’t always mean you should. His concealed firearm should have been enough, instead of the “ look at me” penis extension shotgun. Sometimes being the “grey man” has it’s advantages.

    • Allen August 26, 2022, 12:38 pm

      Just because you can is the only part of that statement that matters. Why do we treat firearms differently than anything else we use every day like a car. You can drive your car to get food but should you. You might commit a crime with it. He and his organization used these guns to protect their community and to show others that it’s ok to not just roll over for some scumbag banger and die. Your black so just die. I don’t accept that in my neighborhood, why should they accept it? That dumb ass Sgt has some gun phobia or is a power hungry prick who used his position as a government agent to persecute someone who he knows full well is inside the laws he has sworn to uphold. Not just find crimes so you can arrest someone, but to UPHOLD the laws. That means show affirmation for the guy doing things right and educate those under him and the community. I’m am a retired cop and saw other cops get wrapped around the axle about guns when they were the ones who had no business carrying one. Guns are no different than any other thing a person owns. It takes great responsibility just as a car or owning a home does. Those cops below that Sgt should never have followed that order and should’ve called a Lt to the scene. Cops are going to find themselves with no one on their side if they don’t figure out who they work for and what they get there direction from, The Constitution. It seemed as though the law here followed the Constitution until one man decided otherwise.

  • jd August 26, 2022, 8:42 am

    if police can arrest based on “how you look” then there would be a ton more people in jail. Every citizen has the right to carry a firearm IN PUBLIC its a basic right afforded in the constitution. You big city folks are paranoid each and every time you see someone with a gun. Come out west where many people do it on a regular basis. you can go into macdonalds, KFC, or your local hardware store and see many people strapped on a daily basis. City people and city cops need to get over it and be happy that there are people out there that will help all you defenseless people in your free zones when you cant help yourself. Dont tromp on peoples rights and you will be fine.

  • ej harbet August 26, 2022, 8:22 am

    in a just world Antoine would be given these officers in chains for 2 week and they’d be picking up trash under his supervision. shotgun and all! then a 25% garnishment from all of the officers for 6 months.

    • W August 26, 2022, 11:08 am

      Looks like the whole Cleveland PD needs some training on the law because they violated it; not Mr. Tolbert. Your emotions of what you feel about how he was carrying the weapon are irrelevant.
      The written law is either broken, or it wasn’t. In this case it was not. That means you need to check your emotions!
      I wonder where all these officers were during the riots?

  • Pepe August 26, 2022, 2:33 am

    If the police were right, why would the Grand Jury reject all charges? Your argument is false. Rights are designed to restrain the government, not the people. 2nd Amendment applies to all or none at all. You can’t pick and choose whom it applies to.

  • paul I'll call you what I want/1st Amendment August 24, 2022, 12:21 pm

    Sorry to piss you people off but the guy was brandishing and the police were right! I live in Kleveland and let me tell you if I walked around with gun in hand I would be arrested as a domestic terrorist. If he had the weapon in a sling on his shoulder then yes it would be okay, but he didn’t. He was walking around looking for trouble ready to strike, the exact same thing I and other legal gun owners are accused of wanting to do every time a pro 2A legislation gets passed. This is nothing but an anti gun ploy to get police locked up, support criminals, and win a few mil in the ghetto lotto!

    • Blue Dog (he/him) 🧢 August 25, 2022, 8:02 pm

      I am with paul on this one. This guy was being a knucklehead and this kind of behaviour harms us as a community.

      • Shanz August 26, 2022, 1:31 pm

        I totally agree with Blue and Paul. Only cops and criminals should be able to carry. Oh wait, that’s fucking retarded.

        • Pantexan August 26, 2022, 3:16 pm

          I agree with Shanz!!

      • Hondo August 26, 2022, 6:29 pm

        I disagree it’s idiots like you that harm the 2A community.

        • D.J. August 29, 2022, 1:15 pm

          Agreed . I do believe that is “ its “ intention .

    • Buff Studly August 26, 2022, 7:51 am

      You should learn what brandishing a firearm means, and if you really live in Cleavland, you should learn how to spell it.

      • paul I'll call you what I want/1st Amendment August 26, 2022, 1:45 pm

        Come on down to Kleveland and see how you get treated if you are a law abiding gun owner. Its advantage criminal all the way here. There is a good chance that guy has been arrested before and shouldn’t be allowed to own a gun.

    • Dr Motown August 26, 2022, 8:19 am

      Just because something may be “legal” to do, doesn’t make it “smart” or “sensible.” This reminds me of the guy in Texas who walked into a kids’ clothing show with a rifle and got his ass tackled by an off-duty cop. Lots of 2A guys tried to defend his “right” to open carry but totally ignored the optics of his action

      • Kc August 26, 2022, 9:30 am

        So rights and laws are secondary to “optics” in Ohio? Good to know.

      • E August 26, 2022, 11:23 am

        This wasn’t Walmart, a kids anything, a ball game, a concert, or any other gun free zone. It’s a warzone that he and others like him are willing to put themselves in danger over because the police and lib prosecutors won’t do the job. He was part of a neighborhood patrol program. The police are only there to assist the public in defending themselves, not be our saviors. I have a lot of respect for the police and it’s a rough time to be one,but this Sgt. Needs a refresher on the job he’s sworn to do.

    • Big Al 45 August 26, 2022, 9:40 am

      Presumptive, assumptive, and just plain foolish.
      Can you even offer a legitimate addition to this discussion??

    • imagon August 26, 2022, 11:35 am

      Screw you & Henderson both! Henderson needs to turn in his gun & badge now! Dangerous thug cop w/ a god complex. Those officers that complied w/ ‘little hitler’ Gone as well! 2A -open carry- perfectly LAWFUL! Get a clue ignoramus!

    • Adam August 27, 2022, 11:23 am

      This is the dumbest shit I have ever heard. I’ll put it in bold in case the upper case and lower case letters give you problems.

      OPEN CARRY IS LEGAL IN THAT AREA.

      He wasn’t beaking the law. He was fully in the right. Every cop there knew that. That is why they laughed at the dumbass Sergeant because he should have known better. It even states they thought he was joking because he wasn’t breaking the law. Maybe if you call the PD they might give you his number so you can suck his dick in person.

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