July 8th, 2007 06:12 AM
Real Bad Experience...
I have finally had one of those experiences I've been reading/hearing about for years now.
In the back of my head I've always smugly said to myself that it "only happens to other people" and such. Yep, I was wrong.
As opposed to me telling my story, I'm simply going to post the copy of the e-mail I've written to both the Mishawaka Police Department, and the Indiana State Police in Indianapolis.
I'm still a little angry and scared. I know I'm still awfully new here on these forums, but I'd love some input from you folks.
<Start of e-Mail>
My name is Robert Miller, and I am a private citizen who resides in the city of South Bend, Indiana.
I, on the advice of a police officer with whom I spoke to about an incident I was involved in earlier this evening, am writing to you.
Allow me to elaborate.
While visiting friends this evening in the nearby city of Mishawaka, Indiana, I, and a friend of mine, went to purchase groceries from a local Kroger's Supermarket. It's located at 906 South Merrifield Avenue, Mishawaka, IN 46544.
About five minutes after entering the store, at around 7:00 PM, a gentleman approached me and asked me if I was a law enforcement officer. I responded "no" to the question. He then, rather rudely and loudly, told me that "no" being the case, I should cover up my firearm.
Sure enough, I look down and see that my t-shirt was failing to cover the handle of the handgun holstered on my right hip.
Among legal handgun carriers, it's often considered polite to discreetly tell someone if they're "printing" or have a part of their weapon visible. Regardless of legality, I choose to carry concealed, as do most others.
I was about to thank him for pointing this out to me until I realized he was genuinely angry about the situation. He then informs me that I'm currently breaking the law, and can be arrested.
At this point I ask the gentleman who's approached me if he is, in fact, a law enforcement officer. This upsets him further. He is in "plain clothes" and has nothing that would identify him as a peace officer, other than a rather authoritarian demeanor.
His response is, "you know what, I just might be."
At this point I ask him to provide credentials. He refuses, and tells me, "you don't need to see them, you just need to cover your firearm."
I comply with his instructions, but am now quite uncomfortable with the situation.
I remove my cell phone, dial 411, and attempt to obtain the Mishawaka PD's non-emergency number. His demeanor changes rather drastically, he's walking away from me rather quickly, and I try to ask him one more time if he'd like to provide credentials. He does not.
He then retreats back to where his wife and child are shopping for groceries. I have not called anyone at this point, other than 411, but have taken the non-emergency number just in case this situation goes any further.
A few minutes later, both my friend and myself begin to notice the gentleman away from his family, and following us from a distance around the store. We conclude our shopping and begin to exit the establishment.
After I exit the doors, into the parking lot area, I find myself surrounded by uniformed police officers and squad cars.
I'm asked if I'm carrying a firearm, disarmed, and asked for my driver's license, and gun permit.
Once the dust has settled, the officers ask me for my "side of the story" as if a crime had been committed. I explain the situation to them, and they inform me that the gentleman following me had, indeed, contacted them about a firearms situation.
Needless to say, all of my licenses come back as valid and clean, and the serial number on my firearm does as well.
I ask them if the gentleman who approached me was a law enforcement officer, and re-emphasize the exchange that had taken place before they were called. The officer conducting the interview replied, "well, if he was, don't you think he'd be out here talking to us?"
My feelings ran along the same lines. Since he wasn't present at any point in time, I felt that perhaps they should have verified whether or not he was actually a police officer.
At no point in time did they attempt to question or detain this individual, who remained inside the store until I was in my vehicle and the police had left.
Furthermore, during the interview, I was told by one of the police officers that I was in violation of state law by having even a partially visible firearm in public.
When I attempted to explain to him that whereas it was not my intention to carry a visible weapon, Indiana is legally considered an "open carry" state. His response was less than I expected it to be.
And I quote...
"No, sir, this is very much a concealed carry state. This isn't some cowboy state."
At this point they return my ID's, and my now-unloaded handgun. I'm given instructions to not reload it until I'm off the property and to leave immediately. I comply.
I return to my friends' residence, drop him and the groceries off, and immediately proceed to the Mishawaka Police Station, a few blocks away.
When I arrive, I speak with a Officer Thomas to whom I explain the situation. He recalls hearing the call dispatched. We discuss the legality of what happened, and we agree that a visible firearm is not in violation of any laws, either in the State or local to Mishawaka. He's quite apologetic, which I'm rather relieved to hear. Everyone has been rather hostile with me up until this point.
He explains to me that the person I'd encountered in the store had dialed 911 and reported a man "brandishing a firearm and threatening others" on the premises. This was obviously not the case, as was determined when the police had arrived. At no point was my weapon even removed from it's holster, until the police disarmed me physically upon leaving the store.
In closing my conversation with Officer Thomas, he had suggested that I contact both his Police Chief, and the Indiana State Police.
Now, the purpose of this letter is for my own peace of mind, so that I might ask you some questions. I hope you can clarify things for me, and I thank you for any information you could provide.
1. Why would a uniformed officer inform me I was in violation of Indiana's laws regarding firearms, for having a visible weapon? If my understanding of the law is incorrect, I'd like to be set straight. It is my intention to stay within the boundaries of the law. I'm also a little uneasy about being threatened with arrest over this matter.
2. Why, at any point in time, were no attempts made to interview the gentleman who not only attempted to pass himself off as a police officer, but gave false information to a 911 dispatcher? This man's face, and the entirety of our encounter, has been recorded by the surveillance systems of the store, no doubt.
3. Why does it appear that the police are unaware of the gun laws?
Again, if you could provide me with some information, I'd be truly appreciative. I thank you for any help you could provide.
Mr. Robert M. Miller
<End of e-Mail>
I'm really hoping that you folks can see why I'm still a little peeved. I'm really thankful that the police came out to set me straight, though.
For all these years I honestly believed I was living in a "cowboy state" where it was illegal to impersonate a police officer. Thankfully, I know better now. /sarcasm
July 8th, 2007 06:45 AM
File a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) with the Mishawaka Police Department immediately. Also, file a complaint on the nice officer that bullied you and who obviously does not know the law or is knowingly misrepresenting the law that he is supposed to enforce. Personally, I would also file a report against the ignorant citizen, get a copy of the Kroger video and file charges against that individual for impersonating an officer of the law.
You might also want to keep a few copies of the specific Indiana State laws and any State Attorney General's opinions that are applicable to open carry in Indiana to give to LEOs that do not seem to know the law. Operating from a position of knowledge is always the best position to be in and being able to hand to an uninformed or misrepresenting individual a copy of that informatin would have changed this entire encounter. Just think about the difference it could have made to be able to pull out a copy of the law and hand it to the guy in Kroger. I carry at least one copy of TN gun laws when I am carrying.
I have been open carrying exclusively in the Memphis/Shelby County area for the last 3 weeks and have multiple positive encounters with LEOs and citizens...and a few bug-eyed looks from people... I have had a few folks ask about my gun and why I carry which gives me a great opportunity to educate and inform regular folks of their rights as citizens of this great country. I have not carried in Target yet as I believe that I would get the same reaction that you got from the obviously uninformed person that you encountered...but some day it will happen and I will hand them a copy of the laws governing the legal carrying of firearms...
Just my .45 worth...
July 8th, 2007 06:59 AM
Yep, definitely wanting to see what kind of response you get.
I remember reading once that IN permits are not specified as concealed carry permits but handgun carry permits, which meant open or concealed and you needed one to do either. so IF what I read way back when is true then you should be extra golden. but sadly the officer you spoke to at the store would be extra wrong.
>> Yep found a pic of one on PDO and they read " License to Carry Handgun" etc.
Its gotta be a pretty tough part of a LEOs job to keep up with ALL the ins and outs of every law, but you think there might be a little extra attention paid to the CONSTITUTIONAL ones... But they're human to so its understandable.
I hope you at least get a response from the chief saying something like they'll try to make it something of a point that officers are on the same page about citizens rights.
Last edited by pogostick; July 8th, 2007 at 07:05 AM.
Reason: add pink thing
July 8th, 2007 07:44 AM
You just might want to do all that filing of complaints against this one and that one and the other one and sue the in the store, and the store, and everybody who hurt your feelings that day...
Or you could just let people go about their day being angry. The first cop quoted the law incorrectly. Perhaps speaking with a watch commander is in order, since we can't go around having those guys purposely misinformed, no matter how badly they want to be. The original complainant...well, he's just going to get away with ruining your day. I'd bet your state law will say that he didn't file a false complaint, since he did call in a complaint of a man with a gun, even if he did fudge the truth a little....OK, a lot. He never said he was an LEO, so he certainly didn't impersonate one.
I think, at this point, maybe a little education on the part of the first officer should be your ultimate goal. Those other things that happened, you can't change them. You can't make the idiot citizen any smarter, on the whole. You can't keep people from calling in complaints to the PD about people carrying guns. What you can do is ensure that this cops supervisors are aware of his misinformed (and possibly misanthropic) ideas regarding the laws of your state.
Last edited by Team American; July 8th, 2007 at 10:28 AM.
I'll take a .45 and a large side of JHPs, please.
July 8th, 2007 07:53 AM
Hey Gorilla... +1
"The gun is the great equalizer... For it is the gun, that allows the meek to repel the monsters; Whom are bigger, stronger and without conscience, prey on those who without one, would surely perish."
July 8th, 2007 07:55 AM
First let me say you did nothing wrong and kudos for not flying off the handle at the guy. From personal experience the best thing to do in situations is disengage as soon as possible. Thank the person no matter what their attitude is and move on. A good rule of thumb I try to remember is that as a Leo every call I go on I'm the guy bringing the gun, so if the situation goes bad there's now a loaded weapon there. And believe me the bad guys never forget that, there is enough Leo's killed with their own weapon to prove that statistic. My point, is simply the less talking you do the less likley you are to talk yourself into an altercation. good luck/stay safe CJR
July 8th, 2007 08:08 AM
Sorry dude, rough night it sounds like. I don't know about the specifics of a private citizen filling charges against someone on the grounds of claiming to be a police officer - this might be a charge left up to the attorney general - and is probably not going to touch this one as for reasons pointed out above.
However, making sure the officers involved, and a freedom of information act, and in general causing a little more work on police dept. may educate them a bit more. I would put money down that this LEO know's the law, and was purposefully lying to you. It is not against the law for a LEO to lie - in it an accepted tactic when questioning an individual. It is only legally wrong to lie when they are on the stand, under oath. If the LEO didn't like open carry, is against private citizens carrying - remember he can say anything he wants. It what he does (arresting you or not) that is against the law. If he "knew" that what you did was against the law, you would probably have been arrested, or at least given you a citation of some kind.
"Gun Free Zones" is where only criminals carry guns.
July 8th, 2007 08:53 AM
I always do the best I can to make sure my sidearm is concealed properly, but I really don't fret about it.
Aside from annoying some "anti" or giving some thug ideas about a "grab", if it prints...so what?
There's nothing you can do short of wearing a coat that will completely, and at all times, conceal that "bulge".
And that's NOT an option in South Florida!
But I can see how it could lead to an annoying encounter with some jerk sticking his nose in your biz.
Carrying a copy of state law on your person is not a bad idea at all.
July 8th, 2007 09:41 AM
I've been on the other side of this problem several times. I've been the officer responding to a "man with a gun" call.
First, according to your own account, the nut job in the store did not claim to be an LEO. He handled things in a cowardly way, but thats about it. He might have stretched the truth a little, but that was his perception of the situation and no court would convict him of anything.
Second, while it is true an LEO can lie to you if he needs to, I doubt this one was purposly lying to you. It would serve him no purpose to.
He was probably taught by the buruocrat bosses that what he said is correct. Besides, the information he had was that you were brandishing and acting foolishly, not simply carrying. The basis of your contact with LEO's was that you were acting foolishly with your gun, they came, spoke to you and saw your side and away you went without further trouble.
Third, the man who called is really no concern to the LEOs. They know who he is, and there is no need for a confrontation there on scene. If they feel there was a violation on his part, they know where to find him if needed. But, as I pointed out in #1, it would be a huge waste of time to do so. The last thing I would do as an LEO would to bring the other party outside and have a confrontation start all over again.... thats bad police work. I to would ask a few questions to you and send you on your way asap.
I really wouldnt see this as such a bad experiance. It might not have been pleasant, but I wouldnt lose any sleep over it.
July 8th, 2007 09:48 AM
Drop it and move on. Nothing good will come out of making complaints against the LEO, they were acting on their reported info.The guy who made the call was within his rights to do so.Kind of a weasel move though.YOU need to take more care not to let your weapon show in public and to be polite if confronted. JMHO Chuck.
July 8th, 2007 09:50 AM
Well I live pretty close to you, just over the border in MI... and I visit southbend and the stores frequently. I always carry and now have a great interest in your story. please keep us informed on what the outcome is.
I feel like you handled the situation rather well...I know I couldn't allow the cowboy comment to go unchallenged, esp when you know the correct handgun laws.
Thank you for representing 'us' very well.
--people ask why I carry, and I show them this picture. I think it says it all.--
NRA Certified Instructor--many disciplines
July 8th, 2007 09:57 AM
IF open carry is legal, why should he be more careful? If open carry is not legal, then yes, he should be more careful.
Originally Posted by crankshop1000
Concealed is concealed true - but open carry is legal. People may not like it or & may disagree with it, but it is still legal. Just because I hate my neighbors pink Cadillac (you can tell what she does for a living) doesn't mean I can do anything about it - heck, just because its against my personal taste doesn't mean I have one small bit of a reason to complain about it. It's legal!
"Gun Free Zones" is where only criminals carry guns.
July 8th, 2007 10:02 AM
The FOIA is an amazing tool. It's the lever arm that can pry open the can on a cover-up and force things out into the open that some (for whatever reason) desperately want hid. If you want to pursue this avenue, get in touch with your attorney and possibly your activist/lobbyist group (ie, Virginia Citizens' Defense League in VA, or Oregon Firearms Federation in OR), as there are some potholes to navigate.
If for no other reason that getting everything out there, you've got some items worth retrieving via FOIA:
- A copy of the store's surveillance video, at least the portion that contains footage of you and/or the complainant.
- A statement from the police department acknowledging whether or not the complainant is indeed a law enforcement officer, as it seems his waffling statement was designed to imply he was or could be, thus instilling some sort of fear in you and legitimate authority in him (ie, the hallmark bad elements of impersonation of an LEO).
- An audio copy of the 911 call and dispatcher response.
- A copy of the indicent report filed by the responding officer(s).
- And probably a few other things, which your state's group or your attorney would know about.
Keep in mind that there are some bad eggs, out there. Your rocking the boat could be construed as a threat, and it might well be treated as such by the folks involved. Caution is due.
Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
self defense (A.O.J.).
How does disarming
the number of victims?
Reason over Force: The Gun is Civilization (Marko Kloos)
NRA, SAF, GOA, OFF, ACLDN.
July 8th, 2007 10:19 AM
July 8th, 2007 10:37 AM
i wouldnt simply drop it, simply becuase the anti-gunners, like old man jenkins you met, sure as he11 wouldnt.
you have the opportunity to make sure some ignorant old panty-wad gets to know the law as well as you do. take it.
if for little else as you getting the experience of pursuing the legalities in sucha fashion with the FOIA et al, if you have the time and energy and even an iota of the desire, do it to it and keep us posted!
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