Grand Rapids wins lawsuit over open carry stop

Posted at 3:50 PM, Jun 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-02 23:09:55-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A federal court has ruled in favor of the City of Grand Rapids and two Grand Rapids police officers for briefly detaining an armed man on a public sidewalk.

Grand Rapids police officer William Moe was called to Michigan Avenue near Lakeside Drive on the morning of March 3, 2013, on a 911 call about an armed man in the neighborhood.

The man,  Johann Deffert, was found walking on the sidewalk openly carrying a FNP-45 tactical pistol in a leg holster with a TLR-2 rail-mounted tactical light with a laser sight.  Officer Moe found Deffert singing "Hakuna Matata" from The Lion King loudly as he walked down the sidewalk with the gun.  Moe drew his gun, ordered Deffert to the ground and took away the gun.

After Deffert was handcuffed and put in the back of the police cruiser, Moe checked the LEIN system to determine if Deffert was legally in possession of the gun.  The LEIN system said he was legally allowed to carry and Moe returned the gun and ammunition and Deffert was released.

Deffert sued the city for $600,000, alleging he was physically assaulted by police and that police had no right to stop him under Michigan's Open Carry gun laws.

The court ruled that Officer Moe and the police were justified in following up the neighbor's 911 call and quickly resolved the situation.  The entire incident lasted about 13 minutes.  The court said that the stop was "fully justified" because "there was a risk of serious injury posed to himself or his fellow officer or others that required swift action."

Read the entire opinion here:  Johann Deffert Opinion