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Man detained while legally carrying a gun files federal lawsuit

Holstered gun
Photo credit: mLive.com

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A Michigan man has filed a federal lawsuit against police after he was detained while carrying a holstered gun – a legal act under the state’s open-carry laws.

The March incident occurred when a woman called 911 to report a man with a gun. The dispatcher at first appeared to dismiss the complaint, telling the caller the gun was legal, but then called police immediately after hanging up, referring to the man as a “suspicious person,” according to an audio recording obtained by mLive.com.

“Well, you’ll probably see more and more of it,” the dispatcher told the caller, according to the audio recording quoted by mLive.com. “Since all the school shootings and such, people are exercising their open-carry [rights].”

When police arrived, they ordered Johann Deffert, 28, to the ground at gunpoint because of his “odd” behavior, then handcuffed him and took his gun, according to the police report.

“Deffert was alone, and was loudly talking to himself,” Officer William Moe wrote in the police report, according to mLive. “Based on the area, and Deffert’s unusual behavior, R/O [responding officer] was concerned Deffert may have mental issues and was about to commit a violent crime.”

Police released Deffert after discovering he had no criminal record or psychological issues. They returned his gun to him but kept the ammunition.

Deffert’s lawsuit claims police “violated his constitutional rights, assaulted him and falsely imprisoned him,” according to mLive. Steven Dulan, Deffert’s attorney and a spokesman for Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners, filed the lawsuit on his behalf.

“[Deffert] repeatedly offered his identification to [police], who refused to retrieve it for several minutes, instead choosing to debate public policy with plaintiff,” Dulan wrote in the lawsuit.

The officers had verified Deffert was carrying the firearm legally, and met the criteria set by open-carry laws.

“[The] act of openly carrying a pistol in public was intended, in part, to increase awareness that open carry is lawful in Michigan and to rally public support, therefore qualifying it as symbolic political speech,”Dulan said in the lawsuit.

Deffert, he said, was “talking or singing as he walked down the street,” adding, “that’s not unlawful.”

Listen to the 911 dispatcher and police radio audio here via mLive.com:

H/T: Guns Save Lives

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