Lawsuit Filed After Open Carry Incident

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Johann Deffert is saying in his lawsuit that police had no right to stop him under Michigan’s open carry laws. Deffert’s suing for $600,000, alleging he was physically assaulted by police.

“Get on the ground. On the ground,” an officer can be heard saying on the newly relseased dash cam video of the March 2013 incident.

Johann Deffert was walking to his Grand Rapids home last March when police stopped him after receiving reports a man was walking down the street armed with a gun and talking to himself.

When police approached him, they asked why he has a gun.

“Lawful possession of a fire arm is not against the law,” Deffert is heard on the video saying to the officer.

Police conducted a background check which came up clean.

His lawyer, who’s on the board for an open carry advocacy group, said the cops were in the wrong.

“The officers acted improperly that my client Mr. Deffert was not engaged in any unlawful activity. There was no reason for him to be detained, much less having loaded guns pointed at him,” said Deffert’s attorney Steven Dulan.

“Last one we had was right down here like three blocks down on Michigan and that guy was on his way to kill his girlfriend that worked down there. If we wouldn’t have stopped him, she’d be dead,” an officer is heard telling Deffert.

Bobby Wilmoth from Centershot Gun Range in Dorr watched video of the confrontation for the first time. He said that it seemed Deffert was minding his own business when he was stopped.

“The fact that he said he wasn’t doing anything unlawful, and the officer saying yes you are until I prove otherwise, that goes against our state constitutional right open carry a fire arm in public,” said Wilmoth.

Wilmoth also said it’s the responsibility for any gun owner to comply with law enforcement completely if their open carry is questioned.

Michigan law states any legal gun owner can openly carry their weapon with restrictions at places like churches and daycare centers.

According to MLive, Grand Rapid’s City Attorney Catherine Mish said that police responded reasonably in this situation.

Deffert was eventually detained and released.

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  • Tracy

    I am all for the gun law but it puts people and the police in a very serious situation. And to Peter it is the right of the person making the call also so get your facts right.I will make a call every time I see some person carrying a gun on their side because we never know. The police do not know who has the permit or not and you cant just allow anyone to say hey I have a permit and the [police to say ok stand there with your gun and get your papers out. No it is a risk a person takes wearing a gun on their side ! And also remember just because you carry a gun on your side it could mean another weapon ending up in the wrong hands.A criminal sees a person carrying a gun on their side a person can walk up smack them in the back of the head and take their gun.I had a friend Robbed at gun point with his own gun !

      • Pre law girl!

        You don’t need a permit to open carry long guns anyone with a hand gun in general needs a permit to have it (which is not a concealed permit) there is a difference you should probably get your facts straight before you make a rude comment!

    • sense in common

      do you sit outside a bar every night, and call the cops because the cars leaving the place contain "potential" drunk drivers and may kill someone and should be checked out? Your argument is pithy…..carrying a gun on your belt is NO different that having your cell phone on your belt, and when you people begin to accept that thing on the belt as normal and legal, all the better we will all be.

    • John

      The fact being, Tracy, a person's Civil Rights completely superseded your concerns. You cannot view a person as a suspect of a POTENTIAL crime, JUST because they have a firearm; having the firearm itself is not a crime or even reasonable suspicion to detain a person. That being said, you and other people like you, really to to be educated on what a person's right are. Your opinions and perceptions don't superseded Constitutional rights, either.

    • Jack

      Nice try with the made up friend story there. And, if that really did happen, (which it didn't) that person (who doesn't exist) deserved to be robbed for not maintaining control of his weapon at all times. Citizens who are legally carrying a firearm are well aware of their surroundings and have a better situational awareness of people around them at all times.

      Hopefully, when you're making all of your phone calls about these lawful citizens with an open carry, a real criminal breaks into your house and steals your car. The cops will show up once they've finished violating the rights of another legal gun owner you've called whining about. I'm sure your vehicle will be in Canada by then.

      Keep on keepin' on with your liberal hippie B.S., you're doing a great job at making the rest of us reasonable folks look good.

  • Bruce

    Seriously, you would impose on the rights of law abiding american because a criminal might commit a crime and steal the lawful persons property ?

    Would you deny me the right to drive my car because a car jacker might steal it and run someone over ?

    Not to mention you've just denied the lawful american his civil right to self defense for the sake of the criminal.
    Chicago, the murder capital of the world tried your theory and it failed. but it did create the worlds largest criminal empowerment zone.
    Criminals are responsible for their criminal acts, not lawful citizens

    • mike88

      Bruce, apparently you yourself are not familiar with the Right to Travel either in thinking that you Drive your car. If you are a Driver, legally you are engaging in Commercial Activity for profit or gain, if you are using your car in a Non- Commercial manner using the roads you are simply Traveling. Research Travel: Right vs Privilege. Every court in every State has recognized our natural Right to Travel and the mode of Travel is not relevant.
      Oh by the way "a exercise of a Right cannot be made into a crime" which is one of the Supreme Court summaries on the issue of Traveling, meaning that a Drivers License is not needed to simply use your personal vehicle for traveling for pleasure . Another Supreme Court decision of another State is State Legislatures do not have the authority to take a Right, transform that Right into a Privilege, Issue a License, and Charge a Fee, for the exercise of that Right. so as you can see many people don't know their natural rights and pay the State for a License that is not necessary.

      Now back to the issue of a citizen carrying a gun for self defense, that is his/her Right to do so, as long as they are not engaging in any criminal activity. The more people exercise their natural Rights and engage in the exercise of those Rights, the more people as well as Police Officers will be used to the sight of seeing this and the idea as well.

  • Alive and Well (no thanks to them)

    This cop noting “on the last case” should get his facts straight. And not use one bad incident as a reason to treat others in such a manner, I am alive, well, and the police took 30+ minutes to respond to the call he is talking about, if he was going to kill me I think I woulda been dead, not truly the HERO he portrays them to be in this story ! Makes me sick when they use a case to justify their own wrong doings!

  • Tom Lambert

    There is a lot wrong with this report.

    The police did not receive a report of a man talking to himself. They received a call from someone who didn't know that open carry was legal and emphatically agreed that the carrier was not threatening anyone. Despite a report of legal activity, the dispatcher sent two officers to investigate a "suspicious person".

    Deffert's lawyer is not on the board of an open carry advocacy group.

    Depending on the jurisdiction, many/most officers are not pro-gun. The GRPD has a history of being confrontational with gun carriers.

  • Thomas C

    Other inaccuracies: only 1 (not plural) 911 call. The Police officer was the one to bring up "talking to himself" and at that point the Officer was approx. 1/4 block away with Mr Deffert walking away from his car. In my eyes Mr Deffert was detained as soon as the officer drew his handgun and aimed it at Mr Deffert while yelling at him to get on the ground. (first contact) not "eventually detained and released"

  • trob6969

    This situation goes on all of the time and in different states yet it could be EASILY avoided by the 911 dispatchers simply asking 1 question: “is the person with the gun acting in a threatening manner?” If the answer is “no” then the dispatchers should tell the caller that the person is legally permitted to do so. Its ridiculous that open-carry has been legal for YEARS but police STILL don’t know how it works! We should all know the laws of our areas but its law enforcement’s job to know. If there were tough disciplinary consequences to face, these cops would straighten up there act quick.

  • Jacques

    I sincerely hope douche-badge is brought up for aggravated assault. Ive often heard that ignorance of the law is no excuse, so if douche-badge is ignorant that open carry is legal in Michigan, he isn't enforcing the law, is he?

  • Caleb

    With the ongoing discussions about gun laws, situations like these will continue to make big news. Police officers have such a hard job and I think that acted reasonably in this situation.