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Published August 21, 2013, 10:50 AM

Valley City man files lawsuit over seized guns

Valley City, ND (WDAY TV) - A Valley City man is suing the city for $25,000, saying police officers violated his right to defend himself. It all stems from an incident last month - when 24-year old Nathan Preston says he shot at two pit bulls in self-defense.

Valley City, ND (WDAY TV) - A Valley City man is suing the city for $25,000, saying police officers violated his right to defend himself. It all stems from an incident last month - when 24-year old Nathan Preston says he shot at two pit bulls in self-defense.

We not only spoke to Preston about what happened, but also the Chief of Police, Fred Thompson. Thompson says the investigation isn't complete, but at this time there's no proof the dogs Preston fired at were threatening him - let alone, that they were Pit Bulls.

Nathan Preston and his girlfriend were enjoying an evening outdoors.

Nathan Preston – Filed Lawsuit: "The dogs started coming around after we sat for a fire."

Preston says two growling pit bulls came into his yard. He'd go in the house and grab his guns, before dozing off.

Nathan Preston: "Then I heard my girlfriend screaming and my dog barking."

For a second time that evening, Preston says the dogs were back.

Nathan Preston: "I yelled, ‘Gun – gun, they got me pinned.’ My girlfriend said, ‘I can't, I've got the dogs.’ I repeated, ‘They got me pinned.’"

His girlfriend finally reached him with his gun.

Nathan Preston: "I turned around to look and the dogs were right on me. So I spun around and I touched the first one pretty much with the pistol and shot him twice, and then shot at the other one."

Preston would then call 911. Chief Thompson says they would search for the pit bulls and evidence.

Chief Fred Thompson – Valley City Police Department: "If we respond to an incident where there has been a gun fired - any type of incident - we would typically impound all the weapons that were there as part of the evidentiary finding process. Because, you don't know which guns actually fired the rounds - if any."

That's what upset Preston. He says officers didn't just take the 40 caliber he admitted to shooting the dogs with, but also his 45, and it hasn't been returned.

Nathan Preston: "At that point and time they only had cause to take that one. They also searched for evidence which was found as 40 caliber cartridges."

Chief Fred Thompson: "Using a firearm for any purpose to defend yourself, you have to be able to convince a jury of your peers that you were in fear of your life."

Chief Thompson says the investigation is ongoing, and it will be up to the county attorney to decide if charges are filed. If so, Preston won't be getting his guns back anytime soon.

Preston says he had to shoot at the pit bulls. If he hadn't his girlfriend, himself or his dogs could have been bitten.

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