CLEVELAND - The FOX 8 I-TEAM has found a man was caught with a loaded gun at the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, yet authorities did not arrest him.
According to a Cleveland police report, a TSA agent found the man, who is a city firefighter, had a loaded weapon in his backpack on March 15.
"The weapon was loaded, four rounds in the magazine with one round in the chamber," the report states.
The man had a valid Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) license so he was not arrested, but the gun was confiscated.
Airport officials said they have a policy not to arrest CCW license holders who are found to have a gun in their carry on luggage, but stressed the guns will be confiscated.
"If you are a concealed carry permit holder and you come to the airport with a weapon and try to go through the screening process you are stopped, the weapon is taken away, we take down the information and you are sent on your way, but there is further investigation that we do. Multiple agencies become involved at that point just to make sure everything is on the up and up," said Khalid Bahhur, Commissioner of Airports.
In the case of the firefighter the report was sent to detectives in the city's first district. Bahhur said the man may also get a call from the FBI.
He said if someone who does not have a CCW license is found with a weapon in their carry on luggage at the airport they will be arrested.
But, Atty. David Malik, a local civil rights attorney, said he was stunned to hear about the city's policy. He was arrested and jailed in 2015 after airport security found an unloaded .22 caliber handgun and a box of ammunition in his carry-on bag. Malik said at the time he took a target shooting class and had forgotten to remove the items from his bag. He also has a CCW license.
"Being a civil rights lawyer in Cleveland means you have a target on your back when it comes to the Cleveland police," said Malik, "We all know what the police like to do with targets. Yes, there is a double standard within the police department. The police have a code whereby they protect their own and others like them, but often fail to provide the public the same protections. Yet, getting arrested for a mistake and having the police make sure the media knew about my arrest, was a small price to pay for all of the good Malik Law has done in the community these past 38 years. Putting up with the double standard is a small price to pay for protecting the civil rights of the community. I don't lose sleep when it comes to small minded people".
Bahhur said Malik's arrest came before the policy was in place. Bahhur did not know exactly when the policy was enacted but said sometime in 2017.
A spokesperson with the TSA said they leave it up to local law enforcement to determine if criminal charges are filed, but they will impose a civil fine of up to $13,000.
TSA reminds passengers, firearms may be transported in checked baggage as long as they are declared to the airline, in a proper carrying case and unloaded. They are forbidden in a carry-on bag.