Earlier this week, a video was posted on YouTube which demonstrated how Appleton, Wisconsin, police violated the rights of two men who were openly carrying AR-15s, which is legal in the state of Wisconsin.
The two men were first held at gunpoint, then handcuffed and placed in the back of a squad car while the officers “investigated” the incident, only to find that the men had not broken any laws and there was no clear evidence to charge them with any crime.
Apparently, the police department had received three separate calls because the men were carrying “assault rifles” across their backs as they walked down the street.
The officer that made first initial contact asked the men what they’re carrying. When one of the men replied with the obvious, “guns,” the officer then asked what kind of guns. The man tells the officer that they are carrying ARs as well as concealed pistols. “Real AR’s? the officer asked, failing to explain what he considers a “real” AR. Nonetheless the officer seemed a little more than irritated that the men chose to exercise their Second Amendment rights in such a manner.
The officer can be heard telling the other officers that he will “cover them” while the investigation continues. The officer then told the men, “I don’t understand what’s going on, but you’re both going back to the precinct.”
The men’s firearms were taken and the men were eventually put into handcuffs and placed in the back of the police car. At that point, an officer realized that one of the men had a video camera around his neck. The officer takes the video camera and attempts to turn it off.
Only what the officer didn’t realize is that only the video was shut off while the audio continued to record as the officers searched through the men’s belongings and scrambled to find a crime to charge them with.
The officer initially told the men that they were being investigated for a possible disorderly conduct, explaining that there is a “fine line” in which one can exercise their right to open carry.
However, the men were not acting in an alarming or threatening manner. They were simply walking down the street with AR-15s slung across their backs. And, in fact, the Appleton Police Department’s own website explains that simply openly carrying a firearm is not grounds to be charged with disorderly conduct.
According to the department’s website, “Unless the facts and circumstances indicate a malicious or criminal intent, a person may not be charged with an ordinance or criminal offense of disorderly conduct for going armed with a concealed or openly carried firearm.”
The officers then ran the men’s IDs, concealed carry permits and even the serial numbers on their guns, which one admitted were “good firearms.” But the officers didn’t come up with a single citation that they could issue.
About halfway through the video, unbeknown to the officers that the audio was still recording, one of the officers stated, “Oh, this is going to be a lawsuit.”
At one point, an officer even referred to a similar incident from 2011 in which five men were illegally detained after openly carrying firearms in a Madison restaurant. The men filed a federal lawsuit against the city as well as the officers involved and won, leaving the city to pay the men $10,000.
There have been no reports on whether or not a suit will be filed against the officers in Appleton who detained the men for about 40 minutes before apologizing and sending them on their way.