Ga. man sues cops, guard over arrest for open carry www.privateofficer.com
A Forsyth County man is suing two police officers and a private security guard for arresting and jailing him for wearing a holstered gun while he exercised at Sugar Hill’s Gary Pirkle Park.
According to a federal lawsuit, private security Officer Reid Hanna told Christopher Proescher that Sugar Hill city ordinance prohibited firearms in public parks.
And Proescher told Hanna he was wrong. Proescher said in an interview Wednesday he had checked with the city a year ago concerning Georgia’s law that allows gun owners with permits to carry their weapons in parks.
The two men argued until Hanna told Proescher he was being “thrown out of the park” for being rude and carrying a firearm, according to the lawsuit. Hanna also had called the police to report a suspicious person; Gwinnett County police Officers Adam Bell and Rodney Dantzler responded.
Proescher, who had a permit to carry a gun, said in the suit filed last week that he was exercising his constitutional rights when he put on his athletic shoes and strapped on a Smith and Wesson M&P about noon April 20 for a regular trip to the walking path three miles from his house.
“I’m an open carry advocate,” said Proescher, who works in a Cumming gun shop. “I believe [openly carried guns] will never become accepted unless people do it.”
Proescher is suing Hanna, Bell and Dantzler individually — but not their employers — claiming they violated his rights under the First, Second and Fourth amendments. Those amendments say the government cannot prevent free speech and carrying a weapon, and government officials cannot conduct illegal searches and seizures.
Proescher admits he insulted Hanna when they met on the Gary Pirkle Park track about noon April 20. “The rudeness was in noticing that he wasn’t [a police] officer,” Proescher said.
He was simply taking advantage of his “freedom of speech” constitutional right, Proescher said in the suit.
And by carrying a gun, Proescher said he was “exercising his right to keep and bear arms in case of confrontation.”
The Gwinnett County Police Department declined to comment on pending civil suits, and the officers did not respond to interview requests left with the department. Hanna also did not respond to requests for comment made through his employer, Plaza Security.
The police report, however, offers the officers’ versions of the encounter. The officers wrote that they were suspicious of Proescher because he was “extremely evasive in responses” to their questions and he tried to deceive them. When the officers asked to see Proescher’s driver’s license, he answered, “I’m not driving.” Asked for his date of birth, once Proescher answered, “What does it say on the permit?” and another time he responded, “It could be Dec. 5 or May 12.”
According to the report, his gun carry permit listed his birth date as Dec. 15, 1958. But Proescher said in an interview Wednesday his birthday is two weeks off.
Proescher was arrested on suspicion of criminal trespassing. He was released on $1,300 bond after 12 hours in jail while prosecutors decide if they will bring formal charges of criminal trespassing or not.
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution