Open carry is legal in Michigan, but that did not prevent the stunning detention of a law-abiding gun owner who was forced to the ground.
A city of Grand Rapids police officer responded to a call about a man walking down the street while openly carrying a handgun in a holster. When law enforcement officers arrived on the scene, they witnessed the man doing exactly what was described on the phone and immediately ordered him to the ground.
The man, Johann Deffert, has filed a federal lawsuit over the open carry detention in Michigan, which was all caught on video. The recording will most likely be used as evidence in the civil case against Grand Rapids Police Chief Kevin Belk, Officer William Moe, and two other police officers named as defendants in the lawsuit, local media reported. While the video only recorded a portion of the encounter, the officer’s dash cam captured multiple minutes of audio during the “suspicious person” investigation.
Officer Moe is heard relaying to police dispatch that the suspect appears to have a handgun and that it looked like he was “talking to nobody.” Deffert, 28, was ordered to the ground at gunpoint. The Grand Rapids law enforcement officer is then heard saying, “Do not move. Why do you have a handgun on you?”
The Michigan man answered, “It’s my constitutional right to defend myself.” The gun owner stated that such an inquiry was not necessary under the state penal code. “Yes it is,” the officer said. When the police officer asked Deffert if strolling down the road with a gun was what he enjoyed doing on a Sunday afternoon, Deffert replied simply, “It’s not against the law.” Deffert stated multiple times that he was just walking and had not broken any laws. He was on his way home from the New Beginnings restaurant.
Said Moe during the open carry stop:
You’re talking to yourself. You’re going down the road here with a loaded handgun. Could I just think, maybe, you might be some kind of a nut? You’ve got everybody fired up around here today.
The law enforcement officer went on to state that he needs to review Deffert’s mental health and criminal history before letting him go. Of course, if annoying people is cause for even temporary detention, then America’s First Amendment rights could be in as much jeopardy as are their Second Amendment rights.
As previously reported by Off The Grid News, a war veteran was wrongfully arrested in Colorado for openly carry his handgun in a public park. A settlement was reached in the lawsuit sparked by the arrest, but the terms of the agreement were not disclosed to the public. A Texas veteran was also arrested last year for legally openly carrying a rifle while on a hike near a roadway with his son.
The Grand Rapids police officers ultimately released Deffert and no charges were levied. City Attorney Catherine Mish supported the actions of the law enforcement officer. She called his response to the open carry stop “very reasonable” and argued that the gun owner was “talking to himself near a church service.”
Steven Dulan, Deffert’s attorney, stated during an MLive interview that the gun owner’s Second Amendment rights were violated when he was unlawfully detained by the Grand Rapids police officers. The city of Grand Rapids wants the open carry lawsuit dismissed based on the “reasonable suspicion” argument of the police officer.
The Second Amendment will quickly become meaningless if law-abiding citizens are stopped, searched and investigated on a whim simply because they exercised their right-to-bear arms.