A gun owner in Flint Township, Mich., has filed a lawsuit claiming he was stopped and arrested while legally openly carrying his pistol back in December. He ended up spending Christmas in jail.
Flint Township police say the man’s gun was covered by his coat, making the arrest legal. The police dashcam video of the incident doesn’t prove either side’s story conclusively, but it does provide some additional insight.
In the video, John David McMorris, 21, can be seen stopping and putting his hands over his head when an officer turned on his police car lights. The gun appears to be visible on his right hip in the video -- and Michigan is an open carry state.
The cop disarms McMorris and orders him to place his hands on his police cruiser.
Explaining why the officer stopped McMorris, the attorney representing police in the case, G. Gus Morris, says the officer passed the man earlier and didn’t see the firearm. The officer is also heard on video telling McMorris that he didn’t see his gun when he passed him previously, therefore it must have been covered by his coat.
"I didn't know the front of my coat was covering it, sir. I’m very sorry,” McMorris replies.
"Sorry's gonna get you jail," the cop shoots back. "That's what sorry's gonna get you."
Because he believed the gun was covered by his coat when he saw McMorris earlier, the officer placed the man under arrest because he didn’t have a license to carry a concealed weapon, according to the attorney.
The dashcam video does not include the moment when the officer allegedly passed by McMorris for the first time.
Watch the raw footage below:
McMorris was arrested, searched then booked into the Genesee County Jail for allegedly carrying a concealed firearm without a permit, according to the lawsuit. He remained in jail until Dec. 26, causing him to miss the Christmas holiday.
The attorney representing McMorris in the lawsuit, Craig L. McAra, told MLive.com that making his client spend Christmas in jail only added “insult to injury.”
Police reportedly ended up releasing him from jail without filing any formal charges.
John Pierce, a lawyer with OpenCarry.org, said Flint Township is going to have a hard time explaining why McMorris was arrested after the officer may have failed to notice the man openly carrying a firearm when he drove past him. Plus, he explained, the firearm was clearly visible when the cop made the arrest.
"I think the township is in real trouble with this one," Pierce added.
“The lawsuit is seeking more than $25,000 in actual and punitive damages for civil rights violations, false arrest and malicious prosecution,” MLive.com reports. “The case is pending in federal court. A trial is not expected until late 2014.”