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Thread: May 2009 news item: Coast Guard Festival gun carrier files federal civil suit in Michigan

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    Wed, May 13, 2009BY MARK BROOKY

    An attorney representing a man who was charged with carrying a gun at last year's Coast Guard Festival in Grand Haven has filed a lawsuit, claiming the incident violated his client's civil rights.

    Steven Dulan filed the civil rights suit in federal court in Grand Rapids on March 5 over the city's open-carry ordinance, according to The suit seeks $600,000.

    Dulan represents Christopher Fetters, a 21-year-old off-duty U.S. Air Force security officer from Freeport who was arrested by Grand Haven Department of Public Safety officers on Aug. 2, 2008, for carrying a Glock 40 handgun in a holster at his side in downtown Grand Haven. Police said they disarmed Fetters, arrested him on a misdemeanor charge, issued a 90-day court appearance ticket and allowed him to leave without the gun.

    While Michigan law allows carrying concealed weapons with a permit, Grand Haven has a local ordinance prohibiting openly possessing and carrying dangerous weapons in public, a GHDPS official said at the time. People carrying weapons can be frightening and the department received several verbal complaints about the man, a department official said.

    However, the city dismissed the charges in late August and the gun was returned to Fetters.

    GHDPS Capt. Rick Yonker said then that it appeared the city ordinance was unenforceable under Michigan law, and the state law regarding openly carrying firearms pre-empts local ordinances.

    "In most cases, a city ordinance can be more restrictive than state law," Yonker said at the time. "But in this case, that does not apply."

    The decision to drop the charge came after research of case law by the city's attorney suggested the ordinance would not hold up in court, Yonker said. The officers acted in good faith and were enforcing the ordinance, Yonker said, but the city decided not to continue with the case.

    "No allegations were ever made that Mr. Fetters ever threatened anyone, or in any other way disturbed the peace on the day of his arrest," Dulan stated in the announcement of the suit on Tuesday. "He is demanding damages for violation of his civil rights as a citizen of the United States and of Michigan."

    The suit names Yonker, GHDPS Director Dennis Edwards, former GHDPS Lt. Mark Reiss, Lt. Mike Brookhouse of the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department, the city, the county and its Sheriff's Department, and a couple of "unknown parties" as defendants.

    A message left at Dulan's East Lansing office this morning was not immediately returned. No city officials were available for comment this morning.

    The federal case number is 1:09-CV-00190. It was assigned to Judge Robert H. Bell.

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    Regular Member dougwg's Avatar
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    MOC Charter Member Westland, Michigan, USA

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    Any updates on this?

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