Lawsuit challenges open carry arrests
Gun-toting plaintiff says rights violated
By Tom Held of the Journal Sentinel
Posted: Apr. 15, 2009
A lawsuit in federal court challenges the statewide police practice of arresting people openly carrying handguns in public.
The suit alleges the actions of police in West Milwaukee and Chilton violated the rights of the plaintiff, Jesus Gonzalez, and that police erroneously interpret state law as prohibiting so-called open carry. John Monroe, a Georgia attorney specializing in gun rights cases, filed the suit on behalf of Gonzalez, of Milwaukee.
According to the suit, two West Milwaukee police officers stopped and arrested Gonzalez at the Menards store at 2101 Miller Parkway on May 14, 2008. Gonzalez was openly carrying a handgun in a thigh holster at the time.
He was taken to jail and required to produce his Social Security card but was not prosecuted. His gun was returned upon court order, after 10 months, according to the suit.
Gonzales was stopped by police again on April 10, while shopping at the Wal-Mart store in Chilton. Again, Gonzalez was openly carrying a handgun in a holster, according to the lawsuit.
He was handcuffed, taken to jail and told that it was illegal to carry a firearm in Wisconsin.
Monroe filed the suit seeking a court declaration that it is legal to openly carry a firearm in the state, and to obtain damages from West Milwaukee and Chilton for alleged privacy and due process violations.
Officials in both cities said they would withhold comment on the lawsuit, pending the litigation.
The lawsuit follows a legal victory for a West Allis man and open carry advocates [this link is to OpenCarry.org] earlier this year.
West Allis Municipal Judge Paul Murphy dismissed a disorderly conduct ticket issued to Brad Krause, who was arrested while planting a tree in his yard. He had a gun in a holster.
Murphy found that Krause's conduct did not constitute disorderly conduct.