Charges against Sugar Creek man dismissed in open-carry case
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SUGAR CREEK TOWNSHIP Charges have been dropped against a Sugar Creek man and four others who were cited after legally carrying their weapons in the open, according to a news release from the gun-rights group Wisconsin Carry.
Paul Fisher was cited for disorderly conduct in September after a concerned customer called police to a Madison restaurant.
Charges were dismissed this week after Wisconsin Carry filed a federal lawsuit arguing Madison police violated the rights of five armed patrons at a fast-food restaurant by asking them to produce identification or face arrest.
The group expects to file a second civil lawsuit against Madison Police Chief Noble Wray and the city of Madison to obtain damages on behalf of our members for their wrongful detainment and costs associated with disposing of the citations, according to a news release from the group.
"The Madison city attorney agreed after a full review of the police investigation and 911 call that there was absolutely no disturbance created by our members and that the disorderly conduct citations were inappropriate," attorney Chris Van Wagner was quoted as saying in the news release.
The incident began when a woman called 911 on Sept. 18 after seeing the men's holstered guns. Responding officers asked the men for identification. All five were eventually cited for disorderly conduct.
Listen to the 911 call HERE.
Fisher says he was legally carrying his holstered weapon when police were called about 7:30 p.m. Sept. 18, 2010 to a Madison Culvers.
Two of the five men with him were ticketed for obstructing a peace officer and Fisher says he could not leave and would be arrested unless he provided ID, which he eventually did.
Listen to the audio as police talk to Fisher HERE.
After reviewing the case, Madison Police Chief Noble Wray decided to cite the five men with disorderly conduct, according to a police department news release. HERE.
Wray said the officers faced an ambiguous situation, and responded appropriately. Police were called to the restaurant by a woman who said she felt uneasy about seeing people with guns in the restaurant, according to police.
The customer told police that she was very concerned that if she didn't make the call and something did happen, she would feel horrible.
After interviewing the woman, police say they will rescind the two obstructing citations because they were issued in error. Instead, citations for disorderly conduct will be given to the men because their behavior that led to the need for police to be called, according to the news release.
The release goes on to say that the disorderly conduct statute does not require an actual disturbance take place, only that conduct in question is of a type that tends to cause or provoke a disturbance
"The police really messed up on this one," Nik Clark, president of Wisconsin Carry, Inc., said in an e-mail. "Wisconsin has no law allowing police to demand ID from someone just because they feel like it. Just because these guys were open-carrying gives the officers no reason to demand ID."
Police spokesman Joel DeSpain says it will be up to courts to clarify how police should respond when customers openly carry weapons in stores.