Open Carry Arrest In Colorado Sparks Lawsuit

Open carry of a gun is not illegal in Colorado parks, something police officers in at last one town did not realize during a recent arrest. Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran James Sorensen recently won $23,000 in an open carry lawsuit filed against the City of Colorado Springs.

James Sorensen was quite dismayed and surprised when a Colorado Springs police officer approached him and began interrogating him about openly carrying a handgun in the park as he was leaving a gay pride festival. The conversation with the police officer, which ultimately concluded in an arrest, was captured on a now viral video. The open carry arrest involved three Colorado police officers and a sergeant. Sorensen stated during the arrest that his Second Amendment rights were being violated because the police officers did not realize that openly carrying a firearm in a public park was legal in the state.

When the initial Colorado Springs police officer approached James Sorensen and told him to put his hands in the air, the war veteran who had just exited a gay pride festival, replied, “Negative, sergeant.” This exchange occurred several times, leading the sergeant to inform the war veteran that he was about to get the “s**t kicked out of him.”

During the encounter the then 24-year-old can clearly be heard asserting his Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. “This is against the law. This is against my Second Amendment rights, sergeant,” Sorensen said. “I need a real officer,” the Colorado man said after calling police department headquarters. The war veteran also that he could not wait to address arrest details in a court of law.

Before the open carry case could be heard by both a judge and the public, the City of Colorado Springs sought a settlement. It wasn’t until a public records request uncovered the right to bear arms violation that the details of the arrest became public, and then quickly went viral. Colorado police officials blame the Second Amendment rights infringement upon a “cheat sheet” mistake. According to a police statement, officers carry the sheet, which is reportedly a composite version of the complete criminal manual, as a quick reference guide to state laws.

Excerpt from the non-disclosure clause in the Colorado Second Amendment case reads:

“Plaintiff recognizes and agrees that this confidentiality provision was a significant inducement for City Defendants to enter into this Agreement. Any violation of this section shall be considered a material breach of this Agreement, and Plaintiff will be subject to repayment to City Defendants of the consideration set forth herein without restatement of the claims.”

colorado open carry lawsuit

During an interview after open carry arrest Sorensen said:

“They had the gall to say, ‘Ignorance of the law is no excuse,’ and yet they are the ones that are ignorant of the law. We decided to file suit because we want to better protect our rights and make sure everyone knows they can’t just treat citizens like crap. I just hope people will do more to protect their rights instead of letting people just walk all over them. I knew the law. I knew that it was legal for me to carry. My rights were trampled on.”

After the Second Amendment rights violation arrest, Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey ordered an internal review of the James Sorensen case. Chief Carey issued a statement several months later stating that, “Policy violations were discovered and appropriate administrative action was taken.” The memo also added that the criminal manual cheat sheet was reviewed line-by-line and updates were made to the reference material. A police department policy not mandates that “more periodic reviews” be made of the document. No update in the cheat sheet had reportedly been issued in the past decade.The lawsuit settlement did not include an admission of wrongdoing by the police department.

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