WI Man Stops Robbery with Taser, Charged with Felony Weapon Possession

“La Crosse police said 24-year-old Heidi Thompson went into King’s Corner bar on South 8th Street and pointed a a .22 caliber gun at a bartender at about 1:50 a.m.,” news8000.com reports. “The bartender gave Thompson an undisclosed amount of money. Police said as Thompson was leaving, a customer [one Jeff Steele] tried to stop her with a stun gun but was unsuccessful. Police arrested Thompson about ten minutes later at the 1000 block of Jackson Street.” WKBT picks up the story . . .

Steele is being charged with possession of an electronic weapon, which is a felony, because he doesn’t have a concealed carry permit for his Taser.

“You can have it in your home and on your private property without a concealed carry permit, but you do need to keep a concealed carry permit to carry it out in public,” said Officer Lisa Barrix, with the La Crosse Police Department.

“When I bought it off the Internet it said basically that it’s legal to have in the state of Wisconsin, but didn’t go into any depth on it, so I assumed that it was legal to carry around, otherwise why would you buy one to leave it at home? How is it for defense then?” Steele said.

Barrix says because Steele tried help he wasn’t immediately taken to jail.

He was only taken to the cop shop later, when it became clear that foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Said no cop or prosecutor ever. [h/t Pascal]

comments

  1. avatar JasonM says:

    What are laws for, if not to blindly enforce without consideration of the context in which they’re being applied?

    1. avatar Shire-man says:

      I believe forcing absolute adherence to the law would serve to speed repeal of an awful lot of these asinine laws.
      Drag in David Gregory for his illegal possession. Lock up all the suburban white kids for their pot possession. Round up everybody on Facebook for kiddy porn because some guy posted a pic a while back.

      All the privileged, sheltered, better-than-yous are perfectly happy supporting and voting for stupid unenforceable, destructive garbage laws because they aren’t ever affected by them.

      100% enforcement across the board would be an awesome wake-up call.

      1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

        One of the greatest failings of our founding fathers was that they made it just as easy to pass an indefinitely lasting law as it is to repeal a bad one. It should take a 60% majority to pass any piece of legislation and only a 50% +1 majority to repeal it. Throw in a sunset clause of maybe 10 years on every law passed and the legislators will be too busy reauthorizing the prohibitions on rape, murder, etc. to fuck with us too much. Then if you make it so that every regulatory body like the EPA has to write up the regulations and then put them up to the accountable elected officials before they can take effect and we might just achieve utopia.

        1. avatar Rambeast says:

          I prefer Heinlein’s theory. To pass a law, you must have w 2/3 vote of one body, this is their only function. Another body will have the job to repeal bad law, needing only a 1/3 vote, this is their only function. You will see less feel good law, and more functional law.

        2. avatar twency says:

          The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress is an amazing book. TANSTAAFL.

          Glenn Reyndolds (Instapundit) has been pushing the “House of Repeal” idea from that book for a while, and although it would be a hard sell I think it has some merit.

        3. avatar Jody says:

          +1, I’m on board

      2. avatar SteveM says:

        Agreed. If a law is fair and just then prosecuting every single offense would likewise be fair and just and to do otherwise is not justice.

      3. avatar John in Ohio says:

        Spot on, Shire-man! I’ve followed along a philosophy that if enough people felt the full, crushing weight of unconstitutional laws then there would be a mighty upheaval and return to a more liberty conscious society.

    2. avatar borg says:

      How can one legally buy a Taser for the home if they risk felony possession charges while transporting it home.

      1. avatar johnny b says:

        Locked in the trunk ( or case) with the electrodes removed?

        1. avatar borg says:

          Which part of the law states that the electrodes must be removed.

  2. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    Wow I bet he doesn’t try to help out again! Did the chick have a CC license?

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      Nah. It was in her hand.
      So she was open carrying

      1. avatar John P says:

        Shouldn’t that read “she was threatening the peace and order of our society, especially for women and people of color”?

  3. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

    Yes he should be allowed to defend himself, but he kinda played vigilante. Should he be in trouble, probably not. But yes he broke the law. Not knowing the law is no excuse even when the law is bullsh!+.

    1. avatar Accur81 says:

      I’m a little more open minded than that when I pull people over. There’s the letter of the law, the spirit of the law, and bullsh!t laws. I have this tendency to forego bullsh!t laws altogether – which is one of the reasons I don’t publish my name. Anyways, people tend to appreciate discretion, which clearly wasn’t used here.

      1. avatar johnny b says:

        Accur81 says:
        February 11, 2015 at 18:33

        I’m a little more open minded than that when I pull people over. There’s the letter of the law, the spirit of the law, and bullsh!t laws. I have this tendency to forego bullsh!t laws altogether

        YOU Sir, are a rare and welcomed man of the badge! There are a lot that gleefully
        shovel the crap (laws) at people.

    2. avatar Drew says:

      That is said a lot, but it’s wrong. Ignorance is and should be a defense against prosecution.

      1. avatar John in Ohio says:

        I like laws that make use of the word “knowingly.”

        1. Question:
          How many Federal Criminal Laws are on the books?

          Don’t bother, it is a trick question because no one knows. Estimates are greater than 3,000. http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304319804576389601079728920
          More than 3,000 Federal laws, forget State laws that change as you cross an invisible line. And these are just Criminal laws.

          Don’t tell me ignorance of the law is no excuse unless you are willing to cite…I’ll make it easy for you, only 500 of the more than 3,000 Federal criminal laws.

        2. avatar John in Ohio says:

          I presume that you know I already agree. 🙂

        3. That’s why I shared it with you. I thought you would like that info.

        4. avatar John in Ohio says:

          That’s what I figured but looked at my initial comment again and thought it might not have been as clear as it could’ve been to everyone reading. Sometimes I’m unintentionally vague or, at least that’s what I’ve been told.

          Thanks for the info.

      2. avatar Marcus (Aurelius) Payne says:

        Ignorance is more than just not knowing a law. If earnest attempts are made to research a law but the relevant information is obfuscated or confusing, then a person is not ignorant of the law according to the definition of “ignorant”.

        Try to get this acknowledged in a court, however.

    3. avatar 2A PA says:

      According to the Supreme Court, ignorance is only an excuse if you’re an LEO

      http://reason.com/blog/2014/12/15/supreme-court-sides-with-police-in-4th-a

    4. avatar borg says:

      According to the guy the website that he bought the Taser from led him to believe that it was legal to carry one in order to make a sale but failed to point out that a concealed carry license was needed to carry it legally. I suspect they may have even deliberately withheld the information in order to make more sales.

      1. If ignorance of the law is no excuse then 90%of the people commenting on this site will fall into that category. You actually have to be a lawyer or a judge to know enough to stay out of trouble, if you try to.
        Even law makers are ignorant of the laws they pass, and they admit this (Pelosi).
        Retired LEO yesterday said that it is illegal to drink and conceal carry. Glad he is retired.
        I commented recently on the story http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2015/02/robert-farago/another-local-tv-reporter-cant-use-the-word-gun-when-dispensing-home-invasion-advice/
        about Nebraska use of force laws. Before I commented, I read the State law of Nebraska. I’m only 80% sure I had the right answer even after reading the law. It was so full of double speak and exceptions that I honestly think that the laws are written in such a way that if the DA wants to prosecute you, he has the ability for open interpretation of the law to make it apply whether you were compliant or not.

    5. avatar Steve says:

      “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” is complete and utter bullshit. Legislators making the laws don’t know them 100%. Cops enforcing the laws don’t know them 100%. Lawyers making insane amounts of profit off of them don’t even know them 100%. We have so many damn laws in this country that it’s impossible for anyone to keep track of them, no matter how hard they try.

  4. avatar Locke_n_Load says:

    Two Words: Jury Nullification.

    1. avatar Delmarva Chip says:

      Hopefully, if it gets that far, that’ll be the result.

      Nullification would do wonders for a lot of BS cases.

    2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      I see what you did there — Locke_n_load.

    3. avatar Rambeast says:

      The problem is most jurors do not understand their jobs. They blindly follow the prosecution/judge’s instructions (to judge based on the letter of the law).

      1. avatar John in Ohio says:

        The blindly following of a judge’s instructions has been canonized and institutionalized in states across the nation in order to stamp out public knowledge of jury nullification. In the 1990s there was a great private effort to educate the public about jury nullification. There needs to be a return of that effort. I would like to see signs explaining jury nullification posted in courtrooms across the land. Hell, it ought to be part of standard jury instructions.

        1. avatar Another Robert says:

          I have to respectfully disagree. Nullification has its place ( And I say that even tho I have personally been on the “wrong” end of just such a nullification as a prosecutor). But if you made it a jury instruction, you would in effect be abandoning any effort at having “rule of law” as opposed to “rule of the majority of the moment”.

        2. avatar John in Ohio says:

          The problem is that you are relying on the ignorance of members of the jury pool as to their right of conscience. The jury, and the potential for jury nullification, is where the rubber meets the road in respect to rule being by the People. Saying that the jury cannot be trusted with the knowledge of jury nullification is essentially making the statement that the People cannot be trusted to govern themselves.

          I submit that any member of a jury that is not competent enough to appropriately use the power of jury nullification isn’t competent enough to serve as a juror anyway. Think about it for a minute. If the individual isn’t to be trusted with judging the law (government) then how can that same individual be trusted to make a just judgment of a defendant? IMHO, they can’t. If they cannot judge the law then they cannot judge the defendant. Otherwise, the jury is knowingly being biased in favor of the State to the potential detriment of the accused.

          BTW: I appreciate the polite discussion. It’s becoming far to common for people to tear at each other instead of trying to understand the other person’s POV. (Unfortunately, I’m just as guilty of it at times.)

  5. avatar The Original Brad says:

    Lol, LAX PD. My old Alma Mater. Muitos Amos atras they tried to charge me as a young Freshman living in Laux Hall for possession of stolen property because someone ditched a street sign in the bushes outside my dorm window. They roused my roommate and I up at 3am demanding to know who stole it. When we would not confess (cause we didnt do it) we played “good cop bad cop” till 4am. That was fun.

    Ahh UW-LaCrosse,formally the Indians until the PC police from Madison came in and made us change the name to The Eagles.

  6. avatar Sixpack70 says:

    Officer Lisa Barrix has cognitive issues.

  7. avatar Art out West says:

    TTAT – The Truth About Tazers!
    Tazers are a type of “arms”, and should be covered by the 2nd amendment!
    What sort of absurd law considers carrying something like that a felony?
    Jury Nullification
    Fire the asshat LEOs who arrested this poor guy.

  8. avatar Ralph says:

    No good deed goes unpunished — at least in progressive Wisconsin. A lesson to “sheepdogs” everywhere.

    1. avatar The Original Brad says:

      Wisconsin isn’t progressive. Madison and parts of Milwaukee are. Google Scott Walker.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        I don’t know man. I have a lot of cousins, aunts, and uncles in Wisconsin who live all over the state and they all seem to be pretty progressive.

        At a recent family reunion I finally disclosed to one cousin that I have a concealed carry license. It somehow made sense in the context of the discussion and I invited my cousin and spouse to come visit some time so I could take them to a range to go shooting — for their very first time. Surprisingly, my cousin actually seemed to be a little bit interested and certainly didn’t freak out about the fact that I have a carry license.

        In their defense I have to admit that every Wisconsinite I have ever engaged has an incredibly peaceable quality to them and I can understand where being armed seems very unnecessary and foreign. As far as I can tell, there is pretty much zero crime outside of Milwaukee and Madison.

        1. avatar Accur81 says:

          Beloit, man. It’s a sh!thole. I come from West Bend (birthplace), Milwaukee (dad’s house), and Madison (college), and I’m pretty darn right wing. The whole liberal progressive college thing never took root in my rational brain.

        2. avatar AznMike says:

          Dang, opposite for me. Madison is home and Milwaukee is school. Yeah, Milwaukee sucks so much in every aspect. I’m surprised no one ever reported me, considering how many times I’ll read TTAG gun reviews in lectures (don’t judge me, those can get super boring).It’s a really good I didn’t get that taser, was seriously considering one when we had a little crime spree near campus, we had a couple of break-ins and strong arm robberies that occured with a block or two of the campus. Only thing I had was a Cold Steel knife, which is technically also not allowed. Campus doesn’t allows knives or guns.

        3. avatar The Original Brad says:

          Wisconsin’s changed then. I went to HS in Brookfield back in the mid 80’s. I bought my first rifle, Marlin 30-30, there at a pawn shop on Capital drive. Opening day we’d put everything in our trunks and leave right from school.

          UWL was overall conservative. Of course any university has its liberal/progressive elements. Madison was always bad and UW-Milwaukee was right behind that. But I remember Wisconsin differently.

        4. avatar What about Bob says:

          Accur81,

          Almost fell over when you said West Bend. Grew up there from 1year old to 8th grade. now Cedarburg.

          Washington and Ozaukee counties are about as far right as Madison is left.

          Take out Madison and Milwaukee and we would be republican every election.

  9. avatar Kevin A. says:

    I think that headline is a little misleading…

    1. avatar Another Robert says:

      Yup, I’m not seeing where the robbery was “stopped”.

  10. avatar JWM says:

    If he had been carrying a 9mm with a shall issue Wisconsin permit and had he shot the silly b!tch dead with it he would have been a hero.

    Try to stop a robbery with a non lethal toy and he’s a goat. With a possible felony conviction to mess up his life.

    You just can’t make this sh!t up.

    1. avatar Drew says:

      Yeah, if he had a permit he wouldn’t have been arrested either way. Last year a man used a pistol in self defense without a permit in my home town. All he got was a citation. I know lots of people who bore arms with no permit.

  11. avatar Model66 says:

    Same exact voice as the video above:

  12. avatar Joe R. says:

    That’s what happens when the robbers are working for the cops, a vice-versa. Happens with judges, legislators too. Damn shame.

    1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

      I think the word you were looking for is ‘cahoots’.

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        Cahoots? That’s racist sh_t man. ; )

        No, I mean ‘on the damn payroll’. You could not have two groups fostering each other more than that unless they drove each other to work.

  13. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    Felony charges sound a little harsh. In Iowa it’s a misdemeanor.

  14. avatar Gwen Patton says:

    Whack with clue-by-four coming in 3…2…1…

    Don’t trust the store where you buy a weapon to tell you what the law is for that weapon. ALWAYS check with an attorney in that state. When I bought my first assisted-opening knife, I had my lawyer WITH ME at the gunshow where I bought it. When I was considering an airgun for SHTF small game hunting, since the ammo is replenishable from just about any source of lead if you have the right moulds, I checked with my attorney and he said it’s illegal to use for hunting ANYTHING in PA. I know that in a SHTF situation such laws probably won’t matter too much for people who need food, but you can’t PRACTICE hunting with it legally, so I decided against it.

    Same is true for slingshots, but I still wanted a good slingshot, so I got one and will be getting another. And making a rocksling just for fun. But before you carry a weapon, check with an attorney!

    1. avatar pod says:

      Yup – while an electronic weapon (actuated by air/gas) doesn’t fall under the definition of “firearm” (fun fact, the first TASERs used gunpowder to fire the probes, making them a firearm – when the idea was revived in the 90s, the TASER corporation made them work via air to change their classification) states still choose to regulate them, often in the same manner as they would a firearm, even though you don’t need to go through NICS to buy one. Florida, for example, treats “electric weapons” just like firearms. You can have one around the house or in your car, but you can’t carry one concealed without your CWFL, and you certainly can’t open carry one.

      So yeah, even if you can order a TASER over the internet and have it shipped to your door, chances are that your jurisdiction regulates it just like a conventional bullet-throwing firearm.

  15. avatar JWM says:

    Jeebus. In CA, a supposed “slave” state it’s perfectly legal to carry a pepper spray or taser concealed on you without a permit. It only becomes a crime if you misuse them. Now, if they were only that sensible about guns.

    1. avatar Accur81 says:

      I’m surprised more people don’t carry Tasers. My wife sometimes carries her C2, and I occasionally carry my desert sand camo Taser C2 along with my GLOCK.

      1. avatar JWM says:

        School cop gave me a very thorough rundown on the taser he carried, complete with laser sight. Too many ways for the barbs to not take hold properly. And it looks too much like a gun. Something to think about in very anti gun Alameda county.

        I decided pepper spray and my assisted open knife was the way for me to go. YMMV.

      2. avatar WarsawPactHeat says:

        I have to agree with jwm–too many opportunities for a probe to miss or not properly penetrate clothing. Also, here in Michigan a concealed pistol license is also required and anything but the Taser C2 is verboten. Even though it is considered non-lethal, protocol governing legal use by anyone other than law enforcement is the same as a firearm for self-defense (fear for life, grave bodily harm, imminent sexual assault), so at that point deadly force is called for anyway. I don’t think they’re a great option for self-defense. The Taser X26s are great tools for police subduing non-compliant perps, though.

        1. avatar Accur81 says:

          Even if the probes miss or don’t connect, you still have a contact stun gun. Whenever I’ve used or threatened to use the Taser, it’s worked perfectly, and I’ve shot it into a suspect. I’m hard pressed to see how someone could miss at 15′ (max range of C2). Our work Tasers only go to 25′, even though they have 35′ cartridges. So my DTU has worked wonderfully.

          With that being said, I’d take a gun over a Taser any day.

      3. I would have to have a high capacity taser in case I missed like this assclown in the story.
        Now what if he punched her and she died as a result? Would he face felony charges? Does one have to have a CC permit to ball your hand into a fist?

  16. avatar Steve says:

    Tell us again how he “stops a robbery”. I thought your primary objection was how much anti-gunners lie?

  17. avatar Don Davis says:

    I think I would have told the P.D. that I was carrying the Taser around in plain sight…. just saying.

    1. avatar John in Ohio says:

      At first that might sound like a good idea but it’s usually an obstruction charge waiting to happen. With a little questioning of other witnesses and perhaps viewing of security footage (there or other places he went) would turn that little white lie into a criminal charge. It would’ve been better if he refused to speak without his attorney present. Nothing he could’ve said on the scene would’ve helped his case.

  18. avatar Jake Tallman says:

    Wow, so much fail on so many levels…. Biggest one was trying to stop a perp AFTER HE HAD ROBBED A PLACE AND WAS ON HIS WAY OUT. Hmm, you already know he’s armed, and he already has the money…. So you decide to try to taze him (with your illegal taser) and get lucky when he doesn’t shoot you…. So much fail.

    Unless bullets are already flying, you’re better off being good eyes on scene. Make a mental note of any relevant info about the perp’s appearance. Involving yourself accomplishes nothing (maybe you stop him from getting away with a few hundred dollars, maybe you get yourself shot, maybe you get somebody else shot, maybe he turns around and sues you, maybe the responding officers hates people who don’t need cops and makes your life miserable, etc). Unless bullets are flying, stay the hell out of it. Too many things can go wrong.

    And, speaking from a personal standpoint, I absolutely DO NOT trust cops. I know there are plenty of good ones (hell, some of the best regular commenters here on TTaG are cops), but there are too many bad ones (and too few checks against their abuses) for me to trust them on the whole. The less interaction I can have with law enforcement, the better (no matter who initiates it; there is a VERY small number of circumstances in which I would actually call the cops).

    1. Perp was a she. This is how it should have gone down. Bartender pulls cash drawer out (to get the large bills), drops entire drawer on floor behind bar, says “shit! I’m sorry” and squats down as if to retrieve money off the floor but instead comes up with a 20 gauge pump and puts a big hole in the robber’s chest.

  19. avatar Roymond says:

    Would be nice if we had a touch of ancient Roman law here: the jury could decide the prosecutor was being an asshole, and sentence him to dropping his pants, bending over, and taking a Taser in each cheek.

  20. avatar Gearmoe says:

    This example is an excellent reason for why to carry a handgun and nothing else. I don’t believe it would be rational to taser a fleeing person who just used a gun, I wouldn’t.

  21. avatar John in Ohio says:

    Notice that government doesn’t like the serfs bearing arms openly and they regulate the act of covering. Government stacks the deck. The wisdom of shall not be infringed shines through in this incident. Government ought not have any say in the matter of bearing a tazer, openly or concealed. The act of keeping and bearing of arms is not a crime and it’s well past time for government to remove its claws from this basic right.

    1. Any protests scheduled? I have some free time. Have guns, will travel.

      1. avatar John in Ohio says:

        We always have some going on in Ohio. I’m taking a short break for health reasons but don’t anticipate sitting out this spring. If you’re coming to Ohio bring your guns (long guns & handguns), body cam or some sort of recording device, and sign material. 🙂

  22. avatar Hannibal says:

    Great case for prosecutorial discretion.

    Also: if the bad guy, armed with a gun, is leaving the scene of the crime without hurting anyone… don’t pull out your taser.

  23. avatar 357M28 says:

    Speaking of OC, Is it true that in WI, law abiding residents and NON RESIDENTS alike, can legally OC WITHOUT a permit?

    1. You going to have to go read the law for yourself. I wouldn’t believe a damn word anyone on TTAG had to say.

  24. avatar JohnF says:

    Yes, the law and law enforcement here are ridiculous. But which of us doesn’t have some dumb-ass laws in our jurisdictions? This is an epic fail on a lot of levels:
    1. The guy got involved in a situation where no one was getting physically hurt when he stepped in and it was not his business.
    2. He brought a Taser to a gunfight and then didn’t even deploy it effectively. She could have very easily popped him a few times with that .22.
    3. It was not mentioned if they guy had been drinking, but hey, he was in a bar at 1:50 AM. You do the math. That will come up in his prosecution. In a lot of states, even if he had a permit, that would negate it.
    4. He did not check the laws before carrying.

  25. avatar Bob says:

    Cops don’t want any competition. They want to insure they get their obscenely rich and undeserved pensions.

  26. avatar WI Patriot says:

    Wi CCW law concerning “stun” guns…

    “ELECTRICWEAPONS (STUN GUNS) AND CCW

    Has the law changed regarding electric weapons? Yes.
    Prior law made it a felony for anyone, other than law enforcement, correctional officers and military personnel acting in the line of duty from possessing an electric weapon. Under the CCW laws, the prohibition against possessing or going armed with an electric weapon does not apply to any of the following:
    • A CCW licensee or an out-of-state licensee.
    • An individual who goes armed with an electric weapon in his or her own dwelling or place of business or on land that he or she owns, leases, or legally occupies.
    Wis. Stat. § 941.295(2g).”

    “Can I carry an electric weapon concealed if I do not have a CCW license?
    If you are not specifically allowed to carry an electric weapon (see above) you are only allowed to carry an electric weapon in your own dwelling or place of business or on land that you own, lease, or legally occupy.
    Wis. Stat. § 941.295(2g).
    You may also transport the weapon if it is enclosed within a carrying case.
    Wis. Stat. § 941.295(2r).
    The possession or carrying of an electric weapon in any other situations is a felony.
    Wis. Stat. § 941.295(1m).”

    1. avatar John in Ohio says:

      or legally occupy

      Hmm… I don’t know how WI interprets that but it might be possible to argue that he was legally occupying the space in a private business. If law enforcement didn’t see him carrying the taser in a public space and he didn’t rat himself out…

    2. avatar borg says:

      Assuming that the Taser was in a holster that fully encloses like a carrying case or an actual carrying case than a lawyer could argue that the Taser was in a carrying case. Also given the fact that numerous federal courts are ruling stun gun bans as unconstitutional due to the them being protected by the 2nd amendment which could influence a court decision if he is prosecuted which could possibly force the state to allow the open carry of Tasers without a license and could result numerous people that have a felony conviction for carrying a Taser to have the conviction removed from their record due to it being convicted under an unconstitutional law. If the prosecutor is smart he or she will decline to prosecute in order to preserve the law from coming under scrutiny.

  27. avatar Jon says:

    Concealed weapon permit for a tazer huh? Oh, the stupidity of it.

    Don’t need one for pepper-spray, shouldn’t need one for tazer either.

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