By Dean Weingarten
Arizona – -(Ammoland.com)-Friday, I posted the story where mlive.com had obtained the dashcam video of the incident where Grand Rapids police Officer Moe drew his firearm and aimed it at Johann Deffert, who was walking on a sidewalk from a local restaurant to his home about noon of March 3rd, 2013.
Mr. Deffert and his attorney have filed a lawsuit against Grand Rapids for violation of his rights.
In the video that was edited by mlive.com, it seemed that Mr. Deffert was confirming that he had been talking to himself as he walked down the sidewalk. Mlive.com reporter John Agar reported that Officer Moe said that Mr. Deffert was talking to himself.
The man was also “talking to nobody.”
Nowhere in the unedited video does it show that Mr. Deffert is talking to himself. In the unedited video, where I found the audio much easier to understand, it is clear that it is not Mr. Deffert who is confirming that he was talking to himself, as I mistakenly reported yesterday. It is one of the officers that is now on the scene, repeating the allegation that Mr. Deffert was talking to himself, saying: Yeah, you were walking down the road, talking to yourself. It may be Officer Moe repeating his allegation. Mr. Deffert just says a noncommittal “OK” after that assertion.
The only indication that Mr. Deffert was ever talking to himself is the statement by Officer Moe, well before he ever makes contact with Mr. Deffert. When officer Moe first says it, he is too far from Mr. Deffert to know. He is in the patrol car. The mike in the patrol car which clearly picks up Officer Moe's words and traffic noise, does not give any indication that Mr. Deffert is talking to himself. Mr. Deffert's back is to Officer Moe, and he is a significant distance away, walking away. He is not wildly gesturing or doing anything out of the ordinary. He is just walking.
After the lawsuit was filed, the city put forward the following defense:
City Attorney Catherine Mish says the police response was “very reasonable” with Deffert, alone, talking loudly outside of a church service.
This is not unreasonable, given the report filed by Officer Moe:
“Deffert was alone, and was loudly talking to himself,” Moe wrote. “Based on the area, and Deffert’s unusual behavior, R/O (responding officer) was concerned Deffert may have mental issues and was about to commit a violent crime.”
The problem is that the unedited dashcam video only coincides with what Officer Moe says on one point: Mr. Deffert was alone. There is no collaboration that Deffert was talking to himself, loudly or not. It does not support the statement of City Attorney Catherine Mish that Mr. Deffert was “outside of a church service.” Mr. Deffert was well past the church in question when Officer Moe sees him. He is simply walking down the sidewalk. Nothing in the 911 call or radio traffic that I have heard says anything about Mr. Deffert talking to himself or doing anything illegal or unusual, except that Mr. Deffert is exercising his right to bear arms. In fact, the 911 caller is uncertain if open carry is legal or not, and affirms that Mr. Deffert is carrying the pistol in a holster. The Dispatcher tells the caller that open carry is legal. This is very similar to the Madison, Wisconsin case that ended up being settled out of court for $10,000.
The question is, where does Officer Moe come up with the assertion that Mr. Deffert is talking to himself? There does not seem to be any evidence for this assertion, which is stated well before Officer Moe is any position to be able to determine it. The assertion that Mr. Deffert is doing this in front of a Church is obviously something that Officer Moe could not know, because he has no contact with Mr. Deffert until Mr. Deffert is well past the Church, which is on the other side of the street and set well back from the side walk.
On review of the unedited video, the case looks much stronger for Mr. Deffert and his attorney.
About Dean Weingarten;
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.