Caught on tape: Colorado gay man wrongfully arrested on guns charge
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Last month, a Colorado Springs man leaving a gay pride parade calmly explained to police officers who were threatening to beat him that the his Second Amendment rights to carry a firearm were being violated.
Three weeks later, the Colorado Springs Police Department has publicly agreed with J.R. Sorensen.
“He was right and we were in the wrong, definitely,” police spokeswoman Barbara Miller told the Colorado Springs Gazette. Colorado Springs Police did not return calls from FOX31 seeking comment.
All police had to do to review the incident was watch a publicly-posted video of the incident shot by Sorensen’s partner, which can be seen at the top of this story.
Sorensen was leaving a Pridefest at Acacia Park on July 21 when police told him it was illegal to be carrying the 40-caliber handgun that was holstered on his hip.
Sorensen told officers that in order for it to be illegal to carry a weapon in the park, there had to be a sign posted disclosing that in as many words. Believing his knowledge of the law to be superior, an officer told Sorensen in the video that “ignorance of the law is not an affirmative defense.”
The officers’ rhetoric quickly escalated. After Sorensen refused to raise his arms when he was asked to do so, an officer came from off camera and informed Sorensen, “You’re about to get the (expletive) kicked out of you.”
Three weeks later, police are finding it was their officers who were ignorant of the law.
Saying their officers were working off an outdated cheat sheet, Colorado Springs police said they were wrong to arrest Sorensen and wrong to detain him for 15 minutes before that arrest. All charges have been dropped.
In the video, Sorensen is heard asking officers if his arrest was due to his sexual orientation.
“This is because I’m gay, isn’t it?” said Sorensen, who is an Army veteran. “I’m gay and I’m carrying a weapon. You wanted to tase me because I wasn’t going to give you my identification, and then you were going to arrest me for not giving you my ID. … I have no reason to give you my ID, but I did because I don’t want this to go on.”
When asked about the incident after the fact, Sorensen said he was “a little embarrassed” about the way events unfolded. That doesn’t mean he would change how he handled it.
“The police just wanted to keep me standing there for a half hour making a spectacle,” Sorensen said. “When you go somewhere and it says no weapons, you don’t take a weapon with you. It’s real easy. If there had been a posted sign somewhere, I wouldn’t have taken the weapon with me.”
The issued apology from the police means little to both Sorensen and his partner. The two have obtained a lawyer and plan to sue the city for the actions documented on cell phone video.