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OpenCarry.org's John Pierce blasts Flint. Michigan police over open carry arrest

Mike

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http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2014/03/lawsuit_flint_township_man_cla.html

SNIP

Open-carry gun lawsuit claims Flint Township police improperly jailed man Christmas Eve

Watch Christmas Eve police arrest of man over open carry gun dispute, Part 1

Flint Township man claims he was legally openly carrying his pistol when he was stopped and arrested by police while walking along Torrey Road near Bishop Airport on Christmas Eve.

Gary Ridley | gridley@mlive.com By Gary Ridley | gridley@mlive.com

on March 27, 2014 at 7:00 AM, updated March 28, 2014 at 8:32 AM FLINT TWP, MI -- A Flint Township man has filed a lawsuit on claims he had to spend Christmas in jail when he was stopped by police while legally openly carrying his pistol.

Flint Township police argue the man's gun was concealed when he was stopped and the officer was within his rights to detain the man.

John David McMorris filed the lawsuit in February in Genesee County Circuit Court against Flint Township police. The case was moved to Detroit U.S. District Court March 17 by Troy-based attorney G. Gus Morris, who is representing police in the case.

McMorris, 21, claims that he was walking alongside Torrey Road near Bishop International Airport around 11:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve with his .40-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol openly carried in a holster on the outside of his clothing and coat when he was stopped by a Flint Township police officer.

Grand Blanc-based attorney Craig L. McAra, who represents McMorris, said his client lives near where he was stopped and was walking to the store.

"He had (the gun) for his personal protection," McAra said.

The officer was traveling northbound on Torrey Road in a marked police cruiser when he spotted McMorris, according to the lawsuit. The officer pulled his vehicle onto the shoulder of the road and activated his vehicle's emergency lights.

John David McMorris, who was arrested in this video, was given a breathalyzer test after police smelled alcohol on his breath.
McMorris claims that he immediately turned to face the cruiser and raised his hands into the air to ensure that the officer could see the firearm.

The police department, in a response to the allegations filed by Morris, claims that the gun was illegally concealed under his coat prior to McMorris raising his arms.

A police dashcam recorded the stop and arrest. McMorris can be seen stopping when the police car lights activated and puts his hands over his head. The gun is visible on his right hip.

The officer removes the gun from its holster and has McMorris place his hands on the front of the police car.

The township's attorney defended the stop, saying the officer passed McMorris about 15 minutes prior to the meeting on his way to another call. Morris said the officer flashed his bright lights at McMorris and could clearly see his right side but did not observe any gun.

. . .

The officer concluded that McMorris had concealed the gun under his coat since he did not see it when he initially passed the man and placed him under arrest since McMorris wasn't licensed to carry a concealed pistol, the township's attorney said.

The first time the officer passed McMorris was not included on the dashcam recording of the stop.

. . .

John Pierce, an attorney and advocate with Virginia-based OpenCarry.org, questioned the validity of the arrest, saying that it appears McMorris was arrested after the officer failed to notice that McMorris may have been engaged in legally open carrying of the firearm when the officer passed him the first time.

"I think the township is in real trouble with this one," Pierce said, noting that the gun was visible when the officer actually made the arrest.

Pierce said that for a gun to be considered openly carried it has to be visible to someone approaching the side of the person where the gun is holstered. He added that in cold-weather states like Michigan, where jackets and coats are the norm for large portions of the year, it may make sense for those wishing to open carry to obtain their concealed pistol license to prevent a situation such as this from happening.

Overall, Pierce said, litigation over this type of incident is rare across the country.

"This is a fairly uncommon situation," Pierce said, noting that a majority of cases stem from officers not being familiar with open carry laws or racist actions when minorities are arrested for open carrying.

The lawsuit is seeking more than $25,000 in actual and punitive damages for civil rights violations, false arrest and malicious prosecution.

The case is pending in federal court. A trial is not expected until late 2014.

Flint Township police Chief George Sippert could not be reached for comment on the allegations.
 
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Grapeshot

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Loosely applied, I think "time is of the essence."

If the subject was seen a year ago or 30 minutes ago and no gun was seen by the officer, it hadly seems relevant to the condition in which the man was carrying at the time of the official detainment - that specific manner of carry is documented via the dash cam.

That the officer didn't see it before or doesn't remember it means naught.



I'm missing something here. Why would attorney G. Gus Morris, who is representing police in the case, have this civil case moved from Genesee County Circuit Court to Detroit U.S. District Court and what was the disposition of the criminal case regarding OC?
 

BB62

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I don't understand John's reasoning. Assuming the officer is telling the truth, which I know may require a leap of faith, why would the township be in "real trouble"?

IF the gun was concealed when the officer first passed the gentleman, then viewable later, it seems the officer has a point.

What am I missing?
 

Gallowmere

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I don't understand John's reasoning. Assuming the officer is telling the truth, which I know may require a leap of faith, why would the township be in "real trouble"?

IF the gun was concealed when the officer first passed the gentleman, then viewable later, it seems the officer has a point.

What am I missing?
You're missing the point of the fact that there is absolutely no evidence that the gun was ever concealed. It was an assumption by the officer, based entirely on his own possible lack of perception during the first passing.

Edit to add: the evidence that does exist, appears to point to the exact opposite, which doesn't exactly help the officer's case.
 
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BB62

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You're missing the point of the fact that there is absolutely no evidence that the gun was ever concealed. It was an assumption by the officer, based entirely on his own possible lack of perception during the first passing.

Edit to add: the evidence that does exist, appears to point to the exact opposite, which doesn't exactly help the officer's case.
Obviously - but that doesn't answer my question about the township being in "real trouble".

Neither side can prove their assertions, so I can see how the prosecution might have some trouble getting a conviction - or maybe not since the guy said "Sorry Officer" or something to that effect.

But again, "real trouble" for any other reason? It doesn't make sense to me.
 
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Gallowmere

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Obviously - but that doesn't answer my question about the township being in "real trouble".

Neither side can prove their assertions, so I can see how the prosecution might have some trouble getting a conviction - or maybe not since the guy said "Sorry Officer" or something to that effect.

But again, "real trouble" for any other reason? It doesn't make sense to me.
I believe he was pointing toward civil ramifications.
 

sudden valley gunner

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I don't understand John's reasoning. Assuming the officer is telling the truth, which I know may require a leap of faith, why would the township be in "real trouble"?

IF the gun was concealed when the officer first passed the gentleman, then viewable later, it seems the officer has a point.

What am I missing?
How does the officer know he didn't have a permit by driving by?
 

stealthyeliminator

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Saw this in the news elsewhere. Thought, hey! there's opencarry.org in the news! :)

May just be me, but there appears to be several issues with this. First of all, it was after the detention began (cops pulls up, puts on his overheads) that he saw the pistol (when OCer raised his arms). So what is the justification for the stop? To check on him? Pretty sure detention isn't justified just to be able to check on someone to make sure they're ok.

Secondly, is the obvious one. The officer didn't see the pistol when he drove by previously. So what?

And just a final thought... Why is it that cops seem to always feel as thought they have to talk to everyone they detain like they're children?
 

stealthyeliminator

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If it wasn't seen on first sighting how does the officer even know it wasn't acquired between the two sightings?
He doesn't. The officer did not know beyond a reasonable doubt that the man was carrying a concealed pistol without a permit, nor can the prosecution prove it.
 

F350

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I don't understand John's reasoning. Assuming the officer is telling the truth, which I know may require a leap of faith, why would the township be in "real trouble"?

IF the gun was concealed when the officer first passed the gentleman, then viewable later, it seems the officer has a point.

What am I missing?
You mean the simple fact that if the gun was concealed.... HOW DID THE COP SEE IT IN THE FIRST PLACE?????
 

davidmcbeth

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"I didn't know the front of my coat was covering it, sir," McMorris could be heard saying on the video. "I'm very sorry."


This seems to be an admission ~ or at least that's how some will see that statement...

Why he talked with the cops? Stupidity. This statement does not help his case. At all.
 

BB62

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You mean the simple fact that if the gun was concealed.... HOW DID THE COP SEE IT IN THE FIRST PLACE?????
Did you even read the story, or watch the videotape? The cop's claim is that the man had a pistol on, concealed, when the cop first passed him, then it was visible the second time the cop saw him.

One question is: "How long between the times the cop passed him and came back?" The videotaped time, the headlights do not even show the man yet the car is pulling off to the side of the road.
 

Grapeshot

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When one has an agenda and establishes a conclusion before the fact, then the die is cast. All else is but filler or fodder as the case may be.

It is going from 1 to 10, while skipping the numbers/steps in between, but claiming a full arithmatical progression.
 

sudden valley gunner

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Did you even read the story, or watch the videotape? The cop's claim is that the man had a pistol on, concealed, when the cop first passed him, then it was visible the second time the cop saw him.

One question is: "How long between the times the cop passed him and came back?" The videotaped time, the headlights do not even show the man yet the car is pulling off to the side of the road.
So? Where's the PC the RAS?
 
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