A Michigan hunter has been arrested for openly carrying an unloaded shotgun on his own property.
The Crawford County man was arrested after he called law enforcement officers about a man trespassing on his own land. Thomas Donald and his wife, Heather, maintain that the sheriff’s deputy demanded that all video footage of the arrest be deleted.
Donald, a hunter and veteran, was on a hunting excursion with his 11-year-old boy prior to his arrest and was carrying a single-shot and unloaded .410-gauge shotgun and his son was packing a crossbow. The father-son hunting trip was interrupted when the pair reportedly encountered a trespasser riding a dirt bike on their property. Thomas Donald said he escorted the unknown man to the front of the 10 acres and asked his wife to call the state Department of Natural Resources so a recreational trespass complaint could be filed.
Heather Donald did not being filming the incident until it became apparent that her husband was going to be arrested. Crawford Country Sheriff Kirk Wakefield disputes Donald’s version of the first few moments of the encounter.
According to the Michigan property owners, Thomas was standing with his unloaded and open shotgun in one hand and shells in the other to indicate that he was not a threat when the officer he had called for arrived at the residence.
Sheriff’s Deputy Shawn Schnoor allegedly fumbled with his firearm and then trained it on Thomas, ordering the man to the ground. Donald supposedly drew the deputy’s ire because he did not belly-up to the dirt quickly enough – the veteran reportedly suffers from a badly injured back. The Michigan hunter was handcuffed prior to the deputy turning his attention to the trespassing dirt biker.
When Heather Donald is heard on video asking the Crawford County sheriff’s deputy why her husband was handcuffed, the law enforcement officer can be heard saying, “Because we pulled up and he had a handgun – or excuse me, a rifle.” From the ground Thomas corrects the deputy and informs him that he was actually holding a shotgun. Sheriff Wakefield told journalists from The Blaze that his deputy acted properly because if was unknown “who was who” at the time.
When Heather Donald asks if her husband’s handcuffs could be removed once the deputy knew he was the homeowner, the law enforcement official can be heard saying, “Not right now. He’s under … for our protection.” The Michigan deputy also is heard telling the woman that she “can stop filming.” Mrs. Donald refuses and is then told that her cellphone must be confiscated as evidence and the deputies move toward her to take the phone she had been using to videotape the scene.
Still cuffed on the ground, the Michigan veteran shouts, “No you won’t” when the men attempt to take his wife’s phone. The Crawford County deputy then says, “Yep. Ma’am you’re going to be under …” and then the videotaping ceases. Heather Donald said that after she was threatened with obstruction of justice charges, she placed her cellphone on a porch railing and walked away. The woman added that when she was later told to delete the video of her husband’s arrest, she complied. Using recovery software, the Donalds were able to once again view the footage.
Sheriff Wakefield believes his deputies version of the story, which includes a claim that Heather was not threatened with charges or ordered to delete the video. The trespasser claims that Thomas Donald pointed a loaded shotgun at him and detained him at gunpoint until the deputies arrived. Sheriff Wakefield admits the dirt biker was trespassing, but says the biker did not know that the trail he was on led to the Donald property. The couple claims they had reported trespassers to the sheriff’s office in the past.
The sheriff’s office believes the trespasser was actually the victim of the incident. Heather Donald maintains there a no trespassing signs on three sides of her property and she provided footage of the postings.
Do you think the Michigan man’s Second Amendment rights were violated?