BUFFALO, NY-- NYS Assemblyman Ray Walter wants an investigation into the NYS Department of Criminal Justice Service and New York State Police regarding the mistake that led to an Amherst man's guns being taken away.
"There is a failure on behalf of DCJS and the Superintendent to understand the provisions of the Act, which negatively affects their ability to properly implement its provisions," Walter said in his letter. "The Act makes no reference to the County Clerk's Office conducting an investigation and such an investigation would be outside of the powers and duties of the Clerk. This failure has had severe consequences in the well-documented case of Mr. Lewis, whose property was erroneously seized. We have heard similar stories throughout the state and are concerned that our citizens are being deprived of their civil rights. In addition, there have been reports that improper searches of individuals' medical records have been taking place, including Mr. Lewis'. These accusations represent a serious breach of our residents' constitutional rights and deserve a thorough investigation."
Authorities ordered David Lewis to hand over his guns based on a provision of the New York SAFE act, which is Governor Cuomo's signature gun control law. It requires mental health professionals to report a patient whom they believe is likely to seriously harm himself or others.
State Police said they simply notified the wrong David Lewis. But Lewis's attorney says that's not true, and that the state is somehow scouring the medical records of people.
The State Police say that is not true. They issued this statement on Wednesday:
"At no time did State Police have access to medical records. On the question of what information State Police did have on David Lewis, State Police had a name and age range. State Police used that information to locate two pistol permits and notified the clerks in each individual county that "a" David Lewis in their county had a pistol permit but that more information needed to be gathered to determine if it was "the" David Lewis who was the subject on the 9.46 notification.
"We would not have a comment on a lawmaker calling for an investigation.
In an interview with Two On Your Side earlier this month, State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico also insisted that all state police gave the clerk was a "name and an age range" of a person who might not qualify to have guns under the Safe Act, due to concerns being raised over their mental health status.
However, lawyers representing Lewis, after getting a subpoena for records held by the County Clerk's office on, say those documents reveal an entirely different story.
The notification sent by State Police to the clerk contained Lewis' name, address, date of birth, pistol permit number, a copy of his pistol permit, his signature, and an indication that police had his fingerprints on file.
"What Superintendent D'Amico said was patently false, and these document prove this," said Max Tresmond, an assistant with the Tresmond law firm.
"What they ( the state police) said was not factually accurate and now I think that is clear now that this subpoena happened," said Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs.
Lewis has since picked up his guns from police.