A federal civil rights lawsuit that alleged Torrance police unconstitutionally had a blanket policy of denying all concealed weapons permits has been dismissed.

The suit, filed last June by Huntington Beach attorney Terry A. Nelson on behalf of client David W. Spears, was dismissed in January at the request of both parties in the dispute.

Nelson brought the suit after Spears, a revenue investigator for the city of Lynwood who lives in Torrance, was denied a permit in September 2006.

A Police Department letter denying Spears the permit noted "it has been the long-standing practice of our chiefs of police not to issue such permits to citizens."

In the lawsuit, Nelson claimed that statement proved an unconstitutional blanket policy existed of routinely denying permits without even investigating whether an applicant had a legitimate reason to request one.

Nelson said his client needed to carry a gun because during the course of his job he is often accosted by "would-be criminals" who believe he is carrying money. He included a letter in the suit from one of Spears' supervisors supporting his permit request.

However, the Torrance Police Department apparently had investigated Spears' need for a concealed weapon, although Nelson said he was unaware of that until he had filed suit.

"Mr. Spears was under the misapprehension that the city did not investigate his need for the permit and simply had a blanket policy of

not issuing concealed-carry weapons permits," said Rob Bower of the Costa Mesa-based firm of Rutan & Tucker. "The city does not have the policy and did check with Mr. Spears' employer.

"It turns out the direct supervisor we talked to says, `No, he does not need a permit,"' Bower added. "In fact, the city would not allow him to carry a gun for liability (reasons)."

Nelson said that because an investigation occurred, his client lacks legal standing to bring the suit.

However, Nelson said the letter his client received suggested the department might indeed have a blanket policy of declining to issue concealed weapons permits.

nick.green@dailybreeze.com