Home News Retired CHP officer sues Sheriff’s Department for $20 million over gun arrest

Retired CHP officer sues Sheriff’s Department for $20 million over gun arrest

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Santana High School. Credit: Wikipedia
Santana High School. Credit: Wikipedia


A retired CHP officer is suing the San Diego County Sheriff’s Dept for falsely arresting him at a high school last year.

59-year old Robert Pitt served with the California Hwy. Patrol for more than three decades. On Monday, he filed a lawsuit in San Diego federal court seeking $20 million in damages – claiming that he was wrongfully arrested at Santana High School on Jan. 21, 2015.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Pitt was at the school that day dropping off his girlfriend’s daughter. They were waiting to speak with school administrators about threats being made against the 15-year-old girl.

Pitt was carrying a fanny pack with him at the time, and inside, was his CHP-issued .40 caliber Sig Sauer–which he had a concealed permit for in his wallet.

Santana HS Principal Tim Schwuchow. Credit: Facebook
Santana HS Principal Tim Schwuchow. Credit: Facebook

The school principal reportedly requested to speak with Pitt privately, at which point, he asked Pitt if he had a gun in his fanny pack, what his law enforcement status was, and if he had a permit.  The retired law enforcement officer said he had a permit to carry a concealed gun but Principal Tim Schwuchow said, “the school does not honor such permits,” the Tribune reported.

Schwuchow ordered the arrest after a sheriff’s deputy searched Pitt and found the pistol in his fanny pack.

He was then thrown in with the general population at the local jail, for at least several hours, before being told he was ‘free to go’ and no charges would be filed against him.

Pitt’s attorney says, “The wrongfulness of the arrest is so blatant in this case.”

Under state law, firearms are not allowed on school campuses. However, there are exemptions to the law. One of them says that “honorably retired peace officers” are authorized under a permit to carry a concealed or loaded gun.

A spokesperson for the Sheriff did not comment as they are not able to talk about pending litigation.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. It’s a sad day for policing when a school principal can tell a police officer what to do and they actually listen to him. I’m pretty sure the retired officer in this story is about to get a pretty hefty retirement bonus. And rightfully so.

    • I hope the principal is looking for a new job because he doesn’t have the sense God gave a gnat! How dare he question the man about anything? The Retired officer had done nothing to merit being interrogated! He should be named first in the lawsuit! He was just being malicious! Throwing the officer into general population in the jail was also very dangerous for him! I hope he gets a lot of his settlement! He deserves it and the principal deserves to pay!

  2. I used to serve together with the CHP as a former SDSD deputy out of Vista, CA. In the late 1980’s we depended upon each other and any other back up we could get. It seems to me, ridiculous that such an incident could be so blown out of proportion. We, who serve regardless of agency are unified by our oath of service. Above all, we stand together to enforce the law.
    I believe it best that the CHP, SDSO; the Santana HS Principal Schwuchow and all others personally involved sit down and negotiate a mutually agreed upon settlement. There is no way $20 million is needed here.

    • Of course $20 million isn’t “needed”. $10 million would be perfectly adequate. As for a sitdown, why would CHP need to get involved? Not their bad, not their problem, though putting the retired officer in genpophints to me that there is some animosity between Police Departments that isn’t covered here. This is a good example of politically correct overreach by the principal, unless there are details that were omitted in the article, for instance, if the retired officer displayed the gun in the school, or threatened to use it. Ignorance of the law by the principal and the arresting Deputy caused this incident, and “ignorance of the law is no excuse”. The large money amount is and should be a deterrent to something like this happening again.

  3. Perhaps after the $20million lawsuit is settled, those who think of causing incidents like this will pull their heads out of dark places and think before they act. The Deputy should have called on a supervisor, cited and released the retired CHP Officer AT WORST. This retired officer was placed in unnecessary danger because of this alleged false arrest.

  4. Who does the principle or deputy think are the ones who respond to emergency calls, or are the back up officers when there is an active shooter situation at that or any other school? Answer: honorably retired officers such as in this case. They are armed, trained, and willing to run towards the fire when needed and put their lives on the line when others are running from it. And who does the principle think he is thinking he can supersede the law by saying they don’t accept his permit? He’s going to have to answer a lot of questions in this litigation. If the deputy/principle had a question about the issue, that’s what supervisors are for. A simple phone call could have cleared up this whole question before the retired CHP officer was detained and arrested and his rights violated say nothing of being put through the humiliation with this apparent illegal arrest. Any citizen would want the same exercise of due process and rightly so.

  5. This is the dumbest story I have ever heard of a law enforcement officer’s actions against another. If you put a badge on a person to perform cop duties, that person had better know the law. And then to put a ex-cop in general population was really stupid on the part of the jailers. They tried to get that retired officer killed. Guest they wanted him dead so they could stop paying him his retirement checks. Dumb all around. Now pay the man dummies.

  6. I am a retired CHP Sergeant and something smells fishy here. On the web page that shows all retired CHP officers, it has him listed as serving 8 years. Usually that means a disability retirement. Second issue is that the CHP does not issue guns to retirees and the CHP does not even use Sig Sauer guns. Third thing is that honorably retired CHP officers do not carry permits to carry concealed weapons. They have state issued identification cards with pictures and BIG RED letters saying they can CCW. It identifies them as retired peace officers in no uncertain terms. Must guys carry it with a flat badge. I keep waiting for more to come out on this story.

    • From one retired Sergeant to another, I have to say you nailed it right on the head. Same questions came to my mind.

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