The Gazette in Colorado Springs, Co. reported this story on August 13, 2012.
At the behest of the mayor and police chief, Colorado Springs police will conduct an “expedited review” of the mistaken arrest of a man openly carrying a pistol at Acacia Park in July.
Barbara Miller, police spokeswoman, wrote in a release that the Mayor Steve Bach and Police Chief Pete Carey agreed that the chief will immediately launch an investigation into the 24-year-old’s man July 21 arrested for an outdated law banning guns in parks.
Guns are allowed to be openly carried in public parks in Colorado Springs and police later admitted the arrest was a mistake.
According to the release, Carey will “take all action necessary to ensure the Colorado Springs Police Department is consistent and appropriate in its actions in this type of situation.”
James Sorensen told the Gazette that he was on his way back to his vehicle from PrideFest when he was asked to leave the park by police. When he asked the officer for his identification, he was detained. In a video posted on YouTube, Sorensen is seen asking police several times if he can leave and is told he can’t. Police told him that he was being held because he wasn’t allowed to carry a gun in the park. Sorensen was arrested and said he was held in a cell for about an hour and then given a ticket.
He was later given his gun back and the ticket was dismissed. Police say there will be no record of the arrest.
Miller said last week that officers may have been mistaken because of an outdated “cheat sheet”, which outlines city laws. The sheet cites an old law which prohibited openly carried guns in parks. That law was changed almost a decade ago. Still, she said officers are still required to look up the actual wording of the law if they aren’t sure of it. The “cheat sheet” has since been updated.
Miller said police are reviewing why it was so outdated in the first place, and why officers did not research the law before the arrest.
Sorensen said Monday night that he was surprised the mayor took an interest in the case.
“It’s nice to see that the mayor cares about his citizens,” he said. “I thought my complaint would hit the police chief’s desk and he would take care of it. For the mayor to step in is kind of nice.”
He said he has filed a formal complaint against the department and has been notified that an internal investigation is being conducted, but hasn’t yet been interviewed for that investigation.
Since his arrest, Sorensen said he has been contacted by several gun rights advocates who support his cause.
I was a law enforcement officer for over 32 years. I support the police but it makes me very angry when cops throw their weight around just because they carry a badge and a gun. There is no excuse for cops acting like this and not knowing the law allowing open carry in their city.
Police Officers are hired to PROTECT AND SERVE the PUBLIC. Cops carry guns to protect themselves not us. Law Enforcement officers openly carry firearms and in the majority of states citizens can openly carry. Law Enforcement officers are obligated to know the law. There is no excuse for detaining and arresting innocent citizens who are legally carrying firearms.
Both officers involved in the stop and arrest were supervisors (sergeants) and again, there is no excuse for their ignorance of the law. Ignorance of the law is NEVER an excuse for citizens and it certainly does not excuse the illegal arrest in this incident by supervisory police officers.
I would advise citizens to comply with police officers orders even if you know they cops are wrong and they are making an illegal arrest. You will never win an argument with cops on the street. Resisting arrest is NEVER a good idea. Don’t be confrontational, no matter how outrageous the cops behave. Stay calm and state your case but don’t ever resist arrest.
All the officers involved should be disciplined and demoted. Unfortunately, this kind of police misconduct happens all too often in America. James Sorensen had the same right to be armed and openly carrying his firearm as all those police officers. Law Abiding citizens are NOT the problem. I never saw a criminal openly carry a handgun in a holster over my law enforcement career. A citizen carrying a gun openly in a holster is NOT suspicious because they don’t fit the profile of armed criminals, who carry concealed 99.99% of the time. America is a free country with a Constitution that law enforcement officers must know and follow.
“25 States allow anyone to buy a gun, strap it on, and walk down the street with no permit of any kind: some say it’s crazy. However, four out of five US murders are committed in the other half of the country: so who’s crazy?” – Andrew Ford