“Officer William Moe, the first officer on the scene, said in police reports he ordered Deffert to the ground at gunpoint over Deffert’s behavior,” mlive.com reports. “’Deffert was alone, and was loudly talking to himself,’ Moe wrote. ‘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.’ Deffert did not have psychological issues. Nor did he have a criminal record. Police eventually said everything was OK. The man told police he was ‘open carrying.’ Moe released him. Deffert said police violated his constitutional rights, assaulted him and falsely imprisoned him.” A judge will make that call, eventually. Meanwhile, regarding the 911 operator’s response to the call, fair enough?

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61 Responses to Grand Rapids Open Carry 911 Call. Fair Enough?

  1. No she started it all. Had she just said that there was a report of a man legally open carrying and not labeled him as she did it may not have gone the way it did.

    • Yeah, the dispatcher was all reasonable about explaining the legality of open carry to the citizen that reported him. Then she turns right around and jazzes up the cops with that suspicious person stuff.

      • ^ That, right there. Good up to the point where she got on the radio. Why dispatch officers at all? Why call the person ‘suspicious’? That just inflamed a situation that was perfectly legal (as stated by the dispatcher herself).

    • If people want to normalize OC, they should act normal. Walking around in camo and talking to yourself isn’t normal. Add the gun, and it was entirely appropriate for the police to confront him at gunpoint. Look at it from their perspective: guy walking around in camo talking to himself with a gun. ENTIRELY REASONABLE to approach him guns drawn.

      Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

      • 1, The officer had no reason to point his gun at the man.
        2. The officer had no right to make the man lie on the ground.
        3. The officer actually could have incited violent behavior by his actions. The officer created a scene.
        4. The officer needs more training. He is ignorant of the law.

    • Guy calls in reporting seeing a guy with a handgun walking down the street. Dispatcher asks if its in a holster, to which he replies yes. She said that’s called open carry, and it’s legal.The caller said, oh, that’s scary, he asked if they had to have a permit to do that, and she said that he had to have a permit to own the gun. He proceeded to say that he was wearing dark clothes and camo, and that it scared him. She asked if he was threatening anyone, and he said no, that he’s just walking by himself down the road. The caller asked why he would do that, and the dispatcher said that since the school shootings, more people are exercising their 2nd amendment rights. He started to ask about open carrying a rifle, and she said that “brandishing a rifle” and open carrying were two different things. They hang up. Dispatcher notifies an officer and sees if he wants to check it out. Officer replies and said it’s probably an open carrier, but will check him out anyway.

      All while sounding like a chipmunk.

  2. Another ignorant person scared of a gun. Another right trampled by those that swore to uphold them. Another day in Amerikkka.

    • 1721 sounded pissed that he had to roll on this toward the end of the clip. I think he saw a harassment charge coming. The dispatcher was being a jerk. Must have been a slow Sunday.

      Sue the dispatcher; it’s all right there in the recording…

  3. A Michigan governor (democrat yet) made it a requirement for 911 operators to know about and ask callers regarding possible open carry, to avoid these situations. Almost worked, this time…lol
    I guess camo and open carry are a bad combination…and never, ever, make a phone call using Bluetooth while open carrying, lest one be considered a mental health risk.

    • I still get a little weird-ed out by people carrying on conversations (without a visible bluetooth) without a gun. I don’t think I’ll ever get use to seeing someone walking around having full conversations (complete with hand gestures),hysterically laughing with, crying to or shouting in anger at someone who isn’t there without a discernible reason why. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with it by any means, just saying that it’s still strikes me as odd every time I see it.

      • Agreed. I’m an old fart, well oldish, that’s not very well versed on the hi-tech stuff. I probably won’t ever be completely at ease with it. But I recognise my unease and refrain from calling 911 until I see an actual crime in progress.

        Like you, it just looks odd to me.

        • I don’t think it has anything to do with age or technical savy. As I am 23 and fairly computer literate. Humans (and animals) are hardwired to naturally notice anything out of place. Animals try to hide physical infirmity to avoid making themselves a look like an easy target. People notice these things too, anything as subtle as a slightly awkward stride to an obvious physical impairment will immediately cause us to pay more attention to someone than we otherwise would, assuming of course we aren’t too caught up in our job or on the phone. The same applies to an individuals behavior; including, but not limited to, talking to someone who isn’t there. It’s all apart of one’s natural situational awareness. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with it, I don’t believe, but it can get us into trouble if we let it. Personally, I hope that seeing someone hold a conversation without an immediately discernible reason never becomes so common place that we casually ignore it.

          We can blame, however, individuals who are ignorant of the freedoms of others sicking the cops on them because they’re scary. I will call police if a crime hasn’t been committed, but only on a non-emergency number, and only after I’ve carefully evaluated situation and things REALLY don’t add up. There’s no harm in having the police nearby if something goes down. You’d have to be doing something to make me incredibly uncomfortable before I’d get the police in ANY level of involvement. The last thing I want to do is send the police to pester someone out minding their own business.

          That said, the officer was wrong if he automatically assumed that he had issues and began responding to him like he would an active threat. If he noticed something was up, he should have attempted to gain more information, including, but not limited to causally talking to the guy to see if he seems off. He shouldn’t have attempt to force a confrontation with someone who may or may not have issues, and may or may not be doing anything wrong.

        • Joel, you have to consider that people like the caller call 911 if their coffee gets cold. NO sense at all, and afraid of their own shadow.

        • I’m in my mid 30s and it creeps me out too. “Is he on Bluetooth or is he nuts?” is a question I’ve asked myself many times.

      • I still think we should give the older, bigger, more visible Bluetooth units that have broken to the homeless people who are mentally ill. At least it will seem like they’re talking to someone.

  4. rhe RO says on the radio that the carrier isnt talking to anyone, then justifies the treatment of the may by saying he was loudly talking to himself. sounds like a CYA story to CYA a little police harrassment to me .

  5. The AI gave George Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt when he attempted to contact Trayvon Martin. The least we can do is extend the same courtesy to a cop that we do to a vandal watch dude.

    • The cops leveled their guns and proned-out a guy who did nothing wrong. I know he did nothing wrong because he was not arrested and was given his gun back. What doubt is there?

      • Seems to me like this is a good case to apply the federal statute for denial of civil rights under color of law. A personal fine of $10,000 and real jail time for the responding officers should help with their education.

        • My favorite law: section 1983 in legal parlance [42 USC 1983]. However, I don’t see how it provides for personal fines or jail time. Unfortunately. Ultimately, the taxpayer pays.

      • Facts and logic don’t matter. We live in the day and age of feelings. The caller was scared. The officer felt uneasy.

        Apparently, the only feelings that do not matter are the person who was exercising a constitutionally enshrined right.

      • Say there’s an armed bank robbery a block away from you, and you match the description of the suspect. Same basic clothes, same physical traits, now carrying a (holstered) gun. You’re going to get proned out at gunpoint, even though you DID NOTHING WRONG. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Police are not mind-readers, as much as some people would like to believe, and can arrive at reasonable suspicion without there actually being a crime (that’s why we have a higher burden of proof for arrest and then trial). And reasonable suspicion is all it takes when someone is armed, per Terry.

        The fact that the officer knows about open carry leads me to believe this guy did something out of the ordinary. Might have been something innocent or the officer might have acted inappropriately, but I don’t think there’s enough here to know for sure.

        • Your analogy is bullshit and you know it, but it’s par for the course for you.

          The cops leveled their firearms at a person who was minding his own business, proned him out, hooked him up and tossed him into the back of the squad car. All the while, the man was trying to get the cops to look at his permit, which they refused to do.

          Then the cops gave the man his gun back and let him loose because he hadn’t done anything wrong in the first place.

          Grand Rapids has made a practice of harassing OCers and this is just the latest example. IIRC, GR has already written two checks for stops like these and had to reeducate its cops on the legality of OC.

        • ok Ralph, I want you to put yourself in the policeman’s place for a minute.

          the info you get from dispatch is all you know “go to the church and check on a Suspicious subject hanging around, subject is reported to be carrying a holstered firearm and werang a Camo coat”

          You pull up, find the person matching the description, watch him for a few moments, and see him talking loudly to no one in particular.

          what do you do next?

          now what do you do if there is no Open carried firearm involved?

      • Exactly, treated like a criminal.

        I love all the OC haters, they blame them when OCers are the only people publicly trying to change public perception that not only criminals and LEO carry guns, but SO DO LAW ABIDING CITIZENS! Case in point, the 911 operator (bless her) educated that scared old lady who had no clue. What, we should all stay at home under the radar with our tin foil hats on waiting for LaPierre to “save us”? They win the war against us if we remain silent, they will legislate against us, attack us, but in the end who was in the right? The law abiding citizen was, who was simply exercising his 2A Right and got treated like a criminal.

    • The way this officer reacted is completely different from how the GZ/TM situation played out. GZ saw a suspicious individual and observed them to ascertain the threat level. He did not draw until his life was clearly in danger. Had this officer shown similar restraint this situation could have been handled much more smoothly.

      This was meant to be a reply to JWM’s comment above, for some reason it’s not working…

  6. How about another scenario – 0100, guy is walking by himself by a hospital with a pistol drawn, but isn’t actually threatening anybody. I still thought it was a bit suspicious, so I called it in. They didn’t find him, but I don’t think that is appropriate behavior. Should I have reacted differently? Had it been in a holster, I wouldn’t have batted an eye.

    • IMHO, walking around with a handgun drawn with no discernible reason is kind of like a foreign president with his hand on a nuclear launch key ready to turn it. He may just be doing it to take a cool pic to update his facebook status, or get a laugh from his twitter followers, but you don’t know that. All that’s happened is that someone you don’t know has forced you to treat him like a threat, until you know otherwise, because once it’s drawn there isn’t much more one has to do before they can use said weapon, and your time to evaluate the threat is severely limited. I think you were right to get the police to check it out (hopefully non-emergency). You can only act upon what information you have, for better or worse, and the time you have to decided was rapidly diminished.

  7. The dispatcher was fine with the caller, but then she set up the negative LEO contact with her “suspicious person” description.

    • I see personal liability there, since an OP reported that she had been trained not to do that. Ralph, what’s your take?

      • Meh, I think the operator had to pass the call along more or less as described by the caller. It wouldn’t do to have an officer respond casually and be caught off guard. Ultimately unless the operator grossly misrepresented the call the officer holds all responsibility for his actions.

        • Police calls are coded into certain types. “Assist Motorist,” “Domestic Disturbance,” etc. Sometimes you have to shoehorn one in as a certain type on a computer. The way to do it is to put it in as suspicious and then mark it unfounded, but in some places everything gets an officer sent to it for liability.

  8. Grand Rapids Mayor Heartwell is a gun-hater who insisted on enforcing a town ordinance against open carry even though the state has preempted the field. The Grand Rapids PD already settled one case involving the harassment of a legal OCer and they’ll end up paying this guy too.

    Michigan Open Carry is doing great work for all proponents of 2A.

    • Ralph,

      Did you see the size of the damages the armed citizen is seeking … something like $600,000. That’s like hitting the lottery. Where did this happen again? Grand Rapids, Michigan? I just might have to drive to that city and do me some open carrying. Even with a clandestine videographer recording the whole thing for a 10% take, that still leaves me with $540,000!

      In case anyone is wondering why I would have a clandestine videographer, it is because I don’t trust the police to write an accurate report and I don’t trust them not to lose the dashboard camera video and audio.

  9. So would he suspicious looking out of place talking loudly to no one if he didn’t have a gun?

    what if he had a Samuri Sword?

    I say yes.

    I think the cop should have explained better what the errativ behavior was that made him up his responce from just pulling up and talking with him to proning him out. Dash cam video would help too.
    I’ll reserve my judgement untill more details come out, like I did with GZ.

  10. At first I thought the 911 dispatcher did a stellar job … and then she went and dispatched officers to investigate an armed citizen who was not doing anything threatening according to the caller!!!!!

    It’s like you just ran the football 99 yards, stop before the end zone, and then hand the ball to the other team before actually scoring a touchdown. Dumb.

  11. I love this bit: “City Attorney Catherine Mish says the police response was “very reasonable” with Deffert, alone, talking loudly outside of a church service.”

    It’s always near something sketchy-sounding. “Outside a Starbucks”, or “near a strip mall” or whatever.

    People routinely carrying will be near some place full of people doing something else because those are the places people go. It’s not inherently suspicious.

    Except for bowling alleys. Anybody carrying within a mile of one of those is clearly up to no good.

  12. Personally I have no issue with the cops “swinging by” to make sure there wasn’t a problem, but were I the one on the call I would have held back and observed the situation until I had some clue as to what was really going on.

    I also find myself wishing we could train dispatchers to say “I understand that it makes you feel uncomfortable, but making someone feel uncomfortable is not illegal”.

  13. Where are all the civil rights people when a cop uses fear of mental illness as an excuse to attack?
    One thing that came up after the push for mental health reform this past year was how everyone’s hands are tied because we can’t rick violating the rights of mentally ill people and all these experts came out saying we’re all mentally ill on some level and mental illness is not an indicator of violent or criminal behavior.

    But cops can profile the “mentally ill” as criminal and or violent and the ACLU and other civil rights groups don’t bang down the PD door shouting “monster!” and “bigot!”

    Oh, he had a holstered gun. That trumps everything I guess.

  14. Everyone, read the full media story:

    The gun owner was outside a church service carrying a loaded gun and acting unbalanced.

    The police dispatcher told the caller the man had a right to open carry. She then dispatched two officers (and not a swat battalion) as a precaution .

    The gun owner (a gun advocate) and his attorney (another gun advocate) were obviously doing this to bait the police and create a pretext to file a lawsuit.

    I support the RKBA and the right to carry in public. If I was attending a church or synagogue service and some guy (stranger to the church/synagogue group or even a member) was outside carrying a gun and behaving in a bizarre unbalanced manner I would appreciate the police responding.

    Just maybe the gun owner fully cooperated with police orders. Just maybe he acted like a belligerent self-righteous azz and that is why the police ordered him prone to the ground. Considering this was a planned political confrontation with the police and a lawsuit was on the agenda (let’s be real) I am (for now) supporting the police in this case based on what I have read of the local news media report.

    • Um, no.

      The armed citizen was walking on the sidewalk along a public road. His handgun was in a holster strapped to his side. The 911 caller did not indicate anything about the armed citizen talking or acting unbalanced.

      The responding officer wrote in his report that the armed citizen was talking loudly to himself. And there is no evidence of that. And even if the man was talking loudly to himself, the responding officer is welcome to walk up to the armed citizen and inquire. The responding officer is NOT welcome to point his handgun at the person and order them down on the ground.

      This is why “mentally unstable” laws are extremely dangerous. Police can claim that any armed citizen was “talking to themselves” and that talking to yourself somehow justifies pointing their gun at you and disarming you. Bullshit. If it is illegal for a citizen to draw on such a person in such a situation, then it is illegal for the police as well.

      Face it. The cops didn’t like an uppity citizen carrying a firearm on their hip and went out of their way to harass and assault the citizen.

  15. I have had little contact with officers,but when it happens I know Sir and Miss will get me further than yelling about my rights. Smile,tolerate,then sue.

    There might be an increase in open carry just so people can cash in when police are called on them.

  16. Note to self:

    Do not speak loudly when alone, apart from using a hands-free ‘phone, rehearsing my lines of reciting spoken word acoustic art.

  17. So the propaganda machine is working, anyone who isn’t wearing a uniform is now a criminal according to the uneducated public. I love how that lady’s story kept evolving, “oh, it’s a green jacket”….. just sad we have lost/losing the PR war with people who have no ****ing clue, most of America.

  18. It has been three years since I was stopped in Grand Rapids for Open Carrying at the New Year’s Eve Ball drop at Rosa Parks Circle. I was observed by a reserve deputy as I crossed over a street. When I saw him glare at me and bring his radio up to talk, I knew I would have some interaction with an officer very shortly. I was stopped in front of the Amway Grand Plaza, near the car drop-off by two GRPD officers. The younger officer of the two decided to “sneak up” behind me and pull my pistol out of the holster. Needless to say, I swung around at the first tug, and the other officer started screaming at the officer pulling on my pistol to get his hands “the f# away from the gun”. He then starts asking me a bunch of questions, which I refused to answer. After about ten minutes of this and me refusing his demand that we move off the sidewalk because people started chanting “Let him go”, he decided to let me go on my way…and drove slowly behind me and my significant other all the way to my car. I notified the department and complained that trying to disarm someone could lead to the untimely death of one of their officers and also sent them a copy of the law and various interpretations by the AG regarding Open Carry So, they have been aware of this for quite some time and still act like they’ve never dealt with it before. How surprising! (not).

  19. What he was wearing was scary, too? The caller, along with the dispatcher and the ‘investigating’ officer, seem to forget that there is no such thing as the fashion police…

    It’s so easy for callers to just make stuff up… And they often do. “He was talking loudly to himself.” Or, like so many other people who are ‘talking loudly to themselves,’ he might have a bluetooth earpiece and be talking to someone on the phone.

    I wear an old surplus “camo” jacket because it was cheap and keeps me really damn warm. What next? “Oh, and he’s a white guy, you know those white guys are crazy…” Didn’t we deal with that kind of crap a few decades ago and move on?

    Same old prejudice, different object(s). Democrats haven’t changed a bit.

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