FRESNO (CBS13/AP) — The California Department of Justice says it returned 500 firearms to a man who had them seized after authorities realized he was barred from possessing weapons for mental illness reasons.

The Fresno Bee reports Tuesday that after a lengthy court battle, the firearms that were taken in 2015 were returned to 59-year-old Albert Sheakalee of Clovis. Lawyer Mark Coleman says although no charges were ever filed against Sheakalee, his firearms were not returned until he took the matter to court.

Coleman says DOJ agents told him they had 180 days after the charges were resolved to ask for the weapons. After several unsuccessful attempts to reach the agents, Coleman says he was told weapons would not be returned.

Then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced the seizure of Sheakalee’s guns in a press release, saying in a statement: “Removing firearms from dangerous and violent individuals who pose a threat to themselves and the public is a top priority for the California Department of Justice”

Sheakalee’s lawyer said the seizure and ensuing media coverage was just politics as Harris aimed for the US Senate.

“As far as I am concerned, it was a real political deal. Harris was running for senator,” Coleman told the Fresno Bee.

A Fresno court judge ordered the guns to be turned over to a local firearms dealer on behalf of the family in December.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.


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