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    On Monday, June 1, the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan issued a ruling in the City of Grand Rapids’ favor in the lawsuit brought by Johann Deffert against the City and two Grand Rapids police officers over the “open carrying” of a firearm.
    The federal court ruled that the Grand Rapids police officers acted properly in briefly stopping and detaining Deffert on Sunday, March 3, 2013.   Deffert was walking down the public sidewalk on Michigan Street between Mayfield and Lakeside Drive in Grand Rapids, openly carrying an FNP-45 tactical pistol strapped to his leg in a drop leg tactical leg holster, with a TLR-2 rail mounted tactical light with a laser sight attached to the pistol.  Deffert was walking in a residential neighborhood across the street from a church in service on a Sunday morning. 
    Officer William Moe responded to the call involving a man with a gun.  He encountered Deffert loudly singing “Hakuna Matata” from the Lion King movie as Deffert walked down the sidewalk with his handgun.  Believing that Deffert might be mentally unstable, Officer Moe stopped his police cruiser, drew his service weapon, approached Plaintiff on foot, ordered him to the ground at gunpoint, and removed his firearm.  Deffert was briefly handcuffed and seated in the police cruiser while Officer Moe checked the LIEN system to determine whether Deffert was legally in possession of the handgun.  After completing the LEIN check, Officer Moe released Deffert without further incident and his handgun and ammunition were returned to him on the scene.  The entire contact between Grand Rapids police officers and Deffert lasted only 13 minutes.
    The federal court held that Officer Moe’s actions in stopping Deffert at gunpoint and detaining him for 13 minutes were fully justified by exigent circumstances because “there was a risk of serious injury posed to himself or his fellow officer or others that required swift action.”  The federal court found that Officer Moe had reasonable suspicion to detain Deffert and held that “Officer Moe was justified in following up on the neighbor’s 911 call and using swift action to determine whether Plaintiff’s behavior gave rise to a need to protect or preserve life or avoid serious injury, either of Plaintiff or of others in the neighborhood.”  The federal court held that “Officer Moe diligently pursued a means of investigation likely to quickly confirm or dispel his suspicions” and that “given the risk to the officer or others posed by a loaded weapon, Officer Moe’s decision to first disarm Plaintiff was a prudent and objectively reasonable decision.”
    Mayor George Heartwell praised the hard work and diligence of the City Attorney’s office headed by Catherine Mish, for winning the court victory.  “The City of Grand Rapids has won an important court victory that will benefit every city and every police officer in the State of Michigan,” Heartwell said.  “It was the City’s position all along that Officer Moe was justified in stopping and briefly detaining Deffert as a reasonable investigatory stop and that the officer’s actions were within the community-caretaking function clearly established by law.  It is pleasing to know that the law and our community supports reasonable law enforcement action when our officers encounter suspicious activity that could affect the health, safety, and welfare of our residents.”
    City Attorney Catherine Mish commented that, “the men and women of the Grand Rapids Police Department are highly trained professional police officers.  They are required to make split second decisions on a daily basis.  I and the attorneys in my office are proud to serve and defend the police officers who keep our community safe.”