DETROIT — When Johann Deffert armed with a loaded pistol strapped to his leg, dressed in camouflage, and singing to himself began walking in front of a Grand Rapids church one snowy Sunday morning in March 2014, an alarmed churchgoer called 911.
When police arrived, they took the man’s gun and briefly handcuffed him while they questioned him. The man, Johann Deffert, an “open carry” gun advocate, then sued police, saying they had violated his constitutional rights.
Deffert alleged that his constitutional rights were violated and he was assaulted and falsely imprisoned and filed a lawsuit. According to the court documents, the legality of open carry in the state was never in question, only if law enforcement had the authority to detain an individual simply because they were open carrying a firearm.
U.S. District Judge Janet Neff determined that yes, officers do have that authority. Neff said the officers were “justified in following up on the 911 call and using swift action to determine whether [Deffert’s] behavior gave rise to a need to protect or preserve life … in the neighborhood.”