Wrongfully Arrested Colorado Man Gets $23,500 Payout Because Cops Didn’t Know Gun Laws

| by Allison Geller

James Sorensen of Colorado Springs received $23,500 in damages from the city after police wrongfully arrested him for carrying a gun in a city park, an incident that was caught on video.

Sorensen, who is an Iraq and Afghanistan Army veteran, was attending a gay pride festival in July of 2012 with a 40-caliber pistol openly displayed on his hip, KUSA reported. That was the day after the Aurora theater shooting that left 12 people dead and 70 injured.

Seven Colorado Springs police officers detained and then arrested Sorensen because they thought that open carrying was still illegal in Colorado.

Open carrying in city parks has been legal since 2003, when new legislation made wide changes to statewide gun laws.

Officers blamed the outdated “cheat sheet” they carry with them, which still listed the old law.

“I knew the law,” Sorensen said last year. “I knew that it was legal for me to carry. My rights were trampled on.”

In the video, taken by Sorensen’s partner, Sorensen refused an officer’s order to put his hands up and replied, “Negative, sergeant.”

“You’re about to get the sh** kicked out of you,” the officer told him.

Sorensen actually called the police at one point, hoping to find an officer who knows the law.

“I need a real officer,” he said, later adding, “This is bogus. I can’t wait to get this into court. This is bullsh**.”

He also attributed his treatment to his sexuality.

“This is because I’m gay,” he told police. “I’m gay and carrying a weapon and I threaten you, don’t I?”

Sorensen spent an hour in custody before he was ticketed. He claims that he was not read his Miranda rights.

The Colorado Springs Gazette reported that the cash settlement releases the city from Sorensen’s claims of unlawful arrest, unreasonable search and seizure, unreasonable violation of speech rights, unreasonable violation of the right to bear arms, failure to train and failure to supervise. The settlement makes it clear that though the police admit that the ticket and arrest were mistakes, the agreement “does not constitute an admission by city defendants of any liability, wrongdoing, or violation of any law.”

Since the incident, the Colorado Springs Police Department has completed a line-by-line review of the cheat sheet, “made updates to reference guides used and instituted more periodic reviews of these documents,” according to CSPD Police Chief Pete Carey.

Sources: KUSA, WND, Colorado Springs Gazette