Thursday, June 19, 2008

OFCC Member (me) Detained and Harassed for Open Carry

This was written by a friend from OFCC, Ohioans for Concealed Carry. I was treated very poorly by the Willowick, Ohio Police Department. Fortunately I had my iPhone on me and remembered that I had a function to make audio recordings. This way it is not my word against theirs. All there is ..... is the truth.

Listen to encounter in mp3 format ->here

Please read below.

Written by Daniel White
Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Bryan Ledford, an Ohioans For Concealed Carry member, was walking down a street in Willowick, OH yesterday when he was ordered to his knees at gunpoint by several police officers. Our member was exercising his right to Keep and Bear Arms by openly carrying a firearm. He did also have a concealed handgun license.

A Willowick Police Sergeant showed up at the scene, and our member was berated by several of the officers over his choice to openly carry, even being told that, "you can't just walk around with your gun exposed" and that he "made a piss-poor decision. It has to be concealed."

As people educated about Ohio law know, there is absolutely nothing illegal about open carry of a firearm in places not prohibited by federal or state law.

Our member recorded the incident (audio is available in .mp3 format at the end of this story), verifying what appears to be numerous incidents of officers displaying an ignorance of the law and possibly civil rights violations.

If nothing else, they were grossly misinformed when threatening to arrest him for disturbing the peace.

To start off, here is the full story in our member's own words, as posted in our public forums...
In Willowick, OH I was walking down the street and was approached from behind by a police cruiser. I was told to put my hands on my head and to get on my knees, for officer safety I would assume. The officer told me that he was stopping me for carrying a weapon. He stated that a local resident called them to say that I was carrying a firearm. Within a few seconds there were 4 other officers on the scene each with their own vehicle. 1 vehicle was unmarked but it was driven by a uniformed officer. I explained to them that I was not doing anything illegal. The sergeant that showed up stated that I was doing something illegal and that I was in fact inducing a panic. I have heard before that this is what officers would say about an openly carried weapon in public. I explained to them that this right is guaranteed to me by the Constitution of the United States of America and that the state of Ohio has even greater protections for the right to bear arms and that I am not here to cause a problem. I was just going to get lunch, and would like to do so in peace. They were notified that I have an CCW permit in the state of Ohio. He told me that I have the permit and that I have to carry concealed. One of the officers said, "what do you think people are going to think when they see you carrying that gun on your hip down the street? With all of the things that have been happening in the media. You know how people are." I stated that he was carrying a gun and that didn't seem to alarm people and that most people who encounter me are very friendly and ask questions about OC'ing. To which he responded that he has a badge and a uniform. The conversation ended with basically I am not allowed to OC in Willowick. The sergeant stated that he was not a gun grabber, but that this was just not acceptable to be OC'ing around here.

I have to hand it to most of the officers for being kind of friendly. The sergeant that I was dealing with was the one driving the situation and was very stern throughout the confrontation. I was not disarmed and was carrying two pistols (Sig P229 OC, Glock 27 CC undershirt). I really respect them for not disarming me.

On a lighter note:
One of the officers told me I would be better off carrying another mag for the Sig instead of the Glock, but I was carrying another mag for the Sig already. He got a laugh out of it as did I. Another officer said that I was more well armed than any of them..and another chimed in "not quite". I didn't see what he was carrying because he was behind me, but I'll take his word for it.

I have the confrontation recorded and converted to mp3. The recording ended at 9:59 seconds, but there was not much of interest after that. The officer basically made me aware that I was not to OC anymore because I would be charged with inducing a panic. I know I did not cover the entire conversation in this post there was a good amount more to it, but I just wanted to get this out there.

I really have to say that I am more than a little intimidated to OC around here anymore. I do have my CCW, but I like to open carry for the comfort (no IWB) and I enjoy educating the lay person of their rights. I don't want to be a test case.

After listening to the audio, I have several serious issues with this whole incident. I don't have all of the details yet, but I'm going to assume it was the Sergeant who was primarily talking to Brian and will list him as such in the discussions of the audio. I was going by voices, and it is possible that I misidentify who is speaking on the recording. Please keep that in mind as you read, and I encourage you to listen to the recording for tone and context.

Sergeant: "You can't walk down the road with your gun opened up like that. That's the whole point of the law."

Sergeant: "You can't be walking around with your gun exposed."

Sergeant: "Did anybody tell you that it's a good idea to walk down a city street with the goddamn thing showing? Did anybody say that?"

Actually, you can walk down the street with your firearm exposed. In fact, if you do not have a Concealed Handgun License, that is the ONLY way you can exercise your right to keep and bear arms. The Klein v Leis case before the Ohio Supreme Court affirmed that Ohioans have a "fundamental, individual right to bear arms for self-defense" and that restrictions on concealed carry were constitutional because you can openly carry.

Getting a CHL does not mean you forfeit your right to openly carry, as noted in this memo sent to OFCC in 2006 from the Ohio Attorney General's office.
There is no truth to the statement that having a concealed weapons license means you have forfeited the ability to carry openly. No one in the attorney general's office should have or would give such advice.

Mark Gribben
Director of Constituent Services
Office of Attorney General Jim Petro

That fact is also confirmed in a memo circulated in Hamilton County, which read, in part,
There is no statute, in the state of Ohio, which prohibits the carrying an unconcealed firearms, on your person. Police officers are advised that they should not consider an individual openly carrying a firearm as an "automatic arrest." Officers must exercise their judgment and only make an arrest in cases where probable cause existed to believe that the person carrying the firearm is violating the law. Openly carrying a firearm does not mean that the person is automatically guilty of Disorderly Conduct (R.C. 2917.11) or Inducing Panic (R.C. 2817.31). Each case must be judged on it's own set of facts.

Additionally, a memo was circulated by Sgt. Jeff Mullins of the Akron police department again stating,

Under state law, there is no prohibition against carrying a firearm openly, i.e., not concealed. A permit is not required to carry this way. Carrying a pistol openly on the hip is not breaking the law. This action in and of itself alone is not a basis for a stop.

Neither is carrying a gun openly disorderly conduct or inducing panic.

In order to explore those particular threats of arrest, made by the officers, they need to be looked at individually.

Inducing panic, brought up multiple times by the officers, is defined as:

(a) No person shall cause the evacuation of any public place, or otherwise cause serious public inconvenience or alarm, by doing any of the following:

(1) Initiating or circulating a report or warning of an alleged or impending fire, explosion, crime, or other catastrophe, knowing that the report or warning is false.

(2) Threatening to commit any offense of violence.

(3) Committing any offense, with reckless disregard of the likelihood that its commission will cause serious public inconvenience or alarm.

Carrying a firearm isn't circulating a report, having it in a holster is no threat to commit violence, and it can't be an offense because it isn't illegal and is, in fact, required by law if you do not have a CHL.
Disorderly conduct.

(A) No person shall recklessly cause inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm to another by doing any of the following:

(1) Engaging in fighting, in threatening harm to persons or property, or in violent or turbulent behavior;

(2) Making unreasonable noise or an offensively coarse utterance, gesture, or display or communicating unwarranted and grossly abusive language to any person;

(3) Insulting, taunting, or challenging another, under circumstances in which that conduct is likely to provoke a violent response;

(4) Hindering or preventing the movement of persons on a public street, road, highway, or right-of-way, or to, from, within, or upon public or private property, so as to interfere with the rights of others, and by any act that serves no lawful and reasonable purpose of the offender;

(5) Creating a condition that is physically offensive to persons or that presents a risk of physical harm to persons or property, by any act that serves no lawful and reasonable purpose of the offender.

Openly carrying a firearm is not fighting, threatening harm, or violent behavior. It isn't making noise or an offensively course utterance. It isn't insulting, taunting, or challenging. It isn't hindering or preventing movement by being an act serving no lawful and reasonable purpose (hint: the OSC said it is a right so therefore is lawful). It may be a condition physically offensive to some people, but again fails to meet the requirements of serving no lawful and reasonable purpose. The right to self defense is both lawful and reasonable.

Neither one of these crimes with which Bryan was threatened to be arrested for met the requirements of his actions. There were, however, actions that day that very well may have met the guidelines of being a crime.

Sergeant: "I gotta hear a rationalization for this."
Bryan: "I don’t know if I need one"
Sergeant: "Don't know if you need one? I'm asking for one, I, damn straight, you need one."(sic)

While Bryan is talking about the Second Amendment:
Sergeant: "Shut up, don’t talk to me about that, I taught the goddamn class. It doesn’t allow you to walk around with it exposed."

Sergeant: "Bottom line is you made a piss-poor decision. It has to be concealed."

Sergeant: "You are not abiding by the guidelines of this permit. Do you want me to call the Sheriff and have it revoked?.... You’re not abiding by the law. It’s gotta be concealed."

Sergeant: "Are you going to kneel there and argue with me all goddamn day? … How about nodding your head and saying 'OK, yeah I won’t do it again'."

Sergeant: "Your permit allows you to carry concealed. It’s not an invitation, it’s not a permit to carry with it exposed so you can go on your self-righteous tangent about educating people about the Second Amendment. I’m all for the Second Amendment, I’m a huge supporter, NRA card carrying member, all that good shit. I’m not talking down to you as a gun grabber or anti gun piece of shit. Bottom line is you did do something wrong. We can charge you with inducing panic or disorderly conduct. It’s not the intention of the law. It’s not the intention of the right you went and got the license for."

Berating a citizen who is breaking no laws for exercising rights guaranteed protected by both the United States Constitution and the Ohio Constitution, particularly with that little tirade at the end, comes dangerously close to, if not crossing the line entirely:

(a) No public servant, under color of his or her office, employment, or authority, shall knowingly deprive, conspire or attempt to deprive any person of a constitutional or statutory right.

(b) Whoever violates this section is guilty of interfering with civil rights, a misdemeanor of the first degree.

By specifically browbeating Bryan about his right to openly carry, affirmed by the Ohio Supreme Court and for which no law or ordinance prohibits, that could definitely be considered depriving or attempting to deprive him of his constitutional or statutory right to bear arms.

Ohioans for Concealed Carry will be continuing to investigate this situation, and we will be contacting the Willowick Police Department for action resolving the issues raised.

In light of the abuses displayed, we feel that in the least an apology is owed to Brian. In order to be sure nothing like this happens again, a training memo needs to be sent to all Willowick officers to be sure they are aware of the specifics of the law as it relates to law abiding citizens carrying firearms. Dispatchers should receive training as well. If a call comes in that a person has a gun the dispatchers should ask the caller if that gun is holstered. If it is, no crime is being committed.

The Sergeant ended the encounter with the words, "Don’t let it happen again, Bryan."

Chief Michael T. Lazor of the Willowick Police Department, I'm asking that you not let this happen again.

Before ending this story, I want to point out that our issue is with this specific incident and the officers involved, not the law enforcement community in general. The vast majority of contacts between CHL holders, and anyone exercising their right to keep and bear arms in Ohio, with law enforcement have been positive. Most law enforcement officers have been very supportive of our rights, and we are very appreciative. While there have been a few cases where re-education was needed in the past, we had hoped those were behind us. It is the rarity of such incidents like this, as well as the obviousness of the misconduct, that drew this particular incident to the forefront.


Tom said...

Bryan I am behind you 120%. I gave 14 yrs 3 mo 27 days of my life to this country in the ARMY and ended up a disabled Vet. to have my freedoms for me and our children in the future. I think everyone should have the means to defent themself.


Bryan said...

sorry i didn't review your comment for about 6 months. It's up now!

sethmcdonald said...


Good job. You handled things well. I hope some people (LEO's)learned some laws over this. Keep supporting the 2nd Amendment!


Electricfunk said...

The things the police said make me so very angry.

derek said...

Keep it up. If you were arrested you might have had grounds for a civil rights lawsuit.

Hypocritical NRA members like the police sergeant make me sick and are the primary reason my money goes to the GOA.

If any of those cops moved out to Arizona, it would be a real eye-opener for them as Open Carry is practiced routinely here.