A Texas war veteran was recently arrested for “rudely displaying” his rifle while on a ten-mile hike with his son. Father and son were walking along a rural roadway near their home to complete and document a Boy Scout merit badge project when they were stopped by local police. A video of Army Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham’s encounter with Temple police officers quickly went viral. Nearly all of the exchange between the Texas police officers and the Iraq veteran was captured on video, but all of the details in the case are not currently known. The video appears to have begun rolling about a minute into the veteran’s encounter with the police officer—viewers do not get to see how the incident began. The initial seconds of the meeting were discussed after the Texas man was handcuffed, however. Grisham was ultimately arrested and is awaiting his day in court. The charges pending against the veteran are not gun related.
Grisham, a Bronze Star holder, said he was approached by a Temple police officer after a resident, alarmed by the sight of his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, called 911. While Texas does allow the open carry of long guns, police officers are entitled to stop and question if they have a reasonable suspicion that a crime is either being committed or likely to be committed.
Texas is just not one of those states where gun rights have ever appeared to be in jeopardy. Perhaps that is why the video of Army Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham went viral. I also live in a rural area and routinely see groups of men or a father and son walking with rifles. Oddly, it seems that the black color of some long guns makes the firearms appear more threatening to passersby than the traditional wood-stock hunting rifle. Typically, hunters in Ohio carry their rifles pointing down when walking along the roadway. Grisham had his AR-15 slung across his chest, but he did not have his hands on the rifle throughout the video.
During a recent interview with Glenn Beck, Grisham said he often carries his long gun when hiking the area due to the prevalence of coyotes, wild boars, snakes, and cougars. Temple police officers have stated that citizens became alarmed after seeing Grisham with the AR-15. The local authorities also maintain the war veteran was “rudely displaying” his gun. The Texas man claims that the first officer on the scene “grabbed” at his long gun without first asking him to drop or hand over the weapon. According to Grisham, the officer then pulled his service revolver. The scenario unfolded in complete view of the former soldier’s fifteen-year-old son.
The scene became a bit more intense when Grisham noted that he had both a handgun and a concealed carry permit. When asked about his license and identification, the veteran noted that both were inside his wallet. He became visibly agitated when another officer opted to go through his wallet without permission. Although handcuffed at this point, Grisham appeared to want to remove the information from the wallet himself—video images indicate that he would have been able to retrieve the materials.
Texas firearms attorney Justin Flint had this to say about the C.J. Grisham AR-15 case:
“There are certain things that one might be advised to do when dealing with police officers and you are in possession of a firearm. I always advise people to make an officer feel as safe and comfortable as possible. But just because that’s good advice doesn’t mean that has to be done. Based on the facts themselves, if there’s not evidence that he was resisting in any way or trying to interfere with what they are doing, then this would be a case that would be suitable for getting dismissed, whether based on lack of probable cause or lack of evidence to detain or arrest him.”
Flint went on to note several times that there could be more to the case than what is shown on the video recording. Texas police officers are also allowed the power to disarm citizens during questioning for safety purposes. State law mandates that a weapon be returned unless a crime has been committed. The Iraq war veteran’s guns were not returned after being stopped. Instead, he was placed in the back of a cruiser and charged with resisting arrest. The charge was ultimately reduced to interfering with an officer during the performance of duties.
The video recording of the Texas AR-15 stop runs for about thirteen minutes. Grisham first reportedly thought that the officer stopped to make sure that he and his son were all right and had not broken down along the road. According to the veteran, the officer approached without lights and sirens. He also maintains that after the AR-15 was spotted, the police officer’s entire demeanor changed. When the Temple law enforcement officer allegedly reached out to take the weapon, Grisham maintains that he told the man he was not going to be disarmed.
Grisham had this to say about the police stop:
“He looked at my rifle and he’s like, ‘what are you doing with that rifle?’ Each time I asked a question I was getting more and more frustrated, and there were a few moments where – I’m a devout Christian, Mormon, I said some things I regret. It was just a very frustrating situation because, here we are doing absolutely nothing wrong, just walking down a road… and suddenly I’m in cuffs for absolutely no reason.”
The Texas veteran went on to state that the police officers did not answer his questions when asking why he was being charged. Before being driven away in the back of a police cruiser, Grisham is heard telling his son not to answer any questions until he is with his mom. He also instructs the young man to have his mom call an attorney. Grisham claims that the Temple police officers would not allow the boy to get out of a different cruiser until he answered questions. The veteran stated that the questions were just basic identification queries, but many who have watched the viral video point out that the boy’s rights may have still been violated.
Grisham is scheduled to be in court on May 29. Although the veteran remains extremely upset about the incident involving the AR-15 rifle, he emphatically maintains that most of the police officers in Temple are “great guys” and that he is still baffled about the incident that unfolded during the hike with his son.