Tattoo shop owner: The city owes me
by Lindsey Erin Kroskob
Published : May 20, 2011
CHEYENNE, WY – A local tattoo artist filed a $500,000 claim against the city Wednesday, saying that its failure to approve his individual body artist permit was a violation of his 14th Amendment rights.
Steven J. Martinez also claims that the seizure of several computers in his home and business, Bad Ass Tattoo, was a violation of his constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure.
Martinez was accused of illegally videotaping female clients without their consent while piercing their genitalia. He was charged with felony voyeurism.
He was acquitted of the charge in July 2010 when Laramie County District Judge Thomas Campbell determined that the warrants used to obtain evidence lacked probable cause and were therefore invalid.
In February 2010, while the charges were still pending, Mayor Rick Kaysen and the Cheyenne City Council denied his request for a body art permit, citing concerns for community welfare.
The claim alleges that Kaysen and the acting chief of police at the time, Capt. Jeff Schulz, based their denial of the permit on the four affidavits of probable cause and the pending criminal charges.
Martinez claims that he suffered a loss of reputation and business because of the denial of his right to due process and equal protection under the law.
“It’s hard to put a dollar amount on that,” Martinez said Thursday. “A lot of it is principle. They violated my civil rights in numerous ways. ”
According to the claim, Martinez was out of work for eight months, used all of his savings, maxed out his credit cards, sold personal belongings and borrowed money.
Once Martinez was acquitted of the charges, he again filed for a body art permit, which was approved.
He is demanding $250,000 for the illegal searches and another $250,000 for the “arbitrary and capricious actions of the entities” that denied his constitutional rights.
He specified that the claim is against the city of Cheyenne, Cheyenne Police Department, Cheyenne City Council, Kaysen, Schulz, and Cheyenne Police detective Boyd Wrede.
“You’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, and the mayor and the city council didn’t do that,” Martinez said. “It did a lot of damage to my business and my reputation.
“I think what we are asking for is more than fair.”
City attorney Dan White declined to comment because it is pending litigation.
Source : Wyoming News