11 months ago
Dash cam footage recently obtained by M Live shows the 14-minute confrontation in March between Grand Rapids Police Officers and 28-year-old Johann Deffert over a legally possessed firearm. An incident which has resulted in a federal lawsuit against the city and the officers involved.
Deffert was simply taking a walk down the street on a Sunday morning after he had finished enjoying breakfast at a nearby restaurant when he was stopped and detained by police because he was openly carrying a holstered handgun, which is legal in the state of Michigan.
Officer William Moe was the first to confront Deffert after a woman called 911 to report that she had seen a man walking on the sidewalk with a gun “strapped to his leg.” The woman was surprised when the 911 operator informed her that open carry was legal in the state.
After asking several questions about what is and is not legal when it comes to carrying firearms in the state, the woman insisted that the man looked “scary” because he was wearing camo and carrying a gun.
I see “scary” looking people every day and I don’t call the police to investigate them. There is no law against looking scary.
The dispatcher sent an officer out to investigate the report of a “suspicious person.”
As Moe pulled his patrol car to the area where Deffert was walking, he told the dispatcher that the man did appear to have a holstered weapon and claimed that the man was “talking to nobody.”
As Moe exited the car, with his service pistol drawn and trained on Deffert, he ordered the man to get down on the ground and put his hands up. “Do not move,” he instructed Deffert, asking, “Why do you have a handgun on you?”
Deffert remained calm, cooperative and respectful and replied, “It’s my constitutional right to defend myself.”
But apparently that answer was not sufficient for Moe, who continued to probe the man about why he would be walking down the street openly carrying a firearm and eventually said, “I gotta make sure you’re not a felon, right?” Deffert informed the officer that he actually did not have to check on that and even offered to show him the penal code.
I’ve got a big, big problem here. First of all not only is Michigan an open carry state, it has no stop and identify statute. As far as the police officer is concerned, the person could have been Mutt or Jeff. It doesn’t matter. The officer violated the law by stopping him for the purpose of identifying who he is. Here is the video.
And of course the second and biggest problem is that he unholstered his weapon and aimed it at Deffert. This is an obvious lack of muzzle discipline and highly irresponsible and dangerous. If we do things like that we get arrested on felony charges and go to prison, which is exactly what should happen to this officer.
Deffert has filed a lawsuit against the city. I hope he wins, but more than that, I hope that God visits his wrath on the police department. As for their police department response, they have requested that the case be thrown out. Of course they have. They should mind their manners a little more. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department was rebuked by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals for this very thing.