What happens to you when you roll into a police station, fully armed, with body armor and wearing a mask over your face? Apparently not what you would expect, because a
white Michigan man somehow escaped unscathed (and is even out on bail) after doing exactly that over in Dearborn ... all because of an issue he had with a traffic stop.
According to WJBK, it began when police went to investigate two suspicious men who were wearing tactical masks and vests in a car. The suspects left the original location before police arrived, but police later encountered the vehicle about 3 miles away in a park.
A sergeant conducted a traffic stop to investigate but did not find any guns and thus released the men.
However, the men—identified as Leonard, Mich., resident James Baker, 24, and Jackson, Mich., resident Brandon Vreeland, 40—felt a kind of way about the “illegal” stop and decided to pop into the Dearborn police station to file a complaint.
Baker walked into the station still wearing a black ski mask and armed with an AP-14 firearm and a handgun, while Vreeland was carrying a camera and a tripod (he left his gun in the car).
“It was pretty clear, based on the cameras, that they were there to make a statement,” Lt. Gary Mann of the Dearborn Police Department told WJBK.
The men apparently also wanted to test whether the department would honor the Constitution and their right to carry weapons.
“We felt a little afraid for our lives when we were pulled over, so we wanted to prove a point,” one man said in a video that they streamed on Facebook Live.
Needless to say, their approach was not appreciated and led to an intense confrontation in the lobby of the police station Sunday afternoon. Officers drew their guns, leading to a standoff as the two men initially refused to obey orders to drop to the ground, arguing that they had a right to carry weapons, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Baker kept insisting that his weapons were legal, while officers shouted to put them down. Eventually the confrontation miraculously ended without gunshots, and both men were placed under arrest.
Now, I’m not saying that officers should have opened fire on the two men. However, officers at the department showed an incredible amount of restraint ... the kind of restraint that is often not afforded to people of color who carry weapons (or not). Think of Philando Castile in Minnesota, who was shot to death during a traffic stop for merely telling St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez that he had a weapon that he was licensed to carry.
Anyway, on Monday, both the Dearborn Police Department and a statewide open-carry group condemned the men’s actions, calling them reckless and irresponsible.
“I find this behavior totally unacceptable and irresponsible,” Police Chief Ronald Haddad said in a statement Monday afternoon. “This is not a Second Amendment issue for me. We had members of the public in our lobby that fled in fear for their safety as these men entered our building.”
Tom Lambert, president of Michigan Open Carry Inc., a guns-rights group, also chimed in, saying that the organization in no way supported the two men’s actions.
“Let us be clear: Michigan Open Carry Inc. in no way supports the actions of these individuals,” he said. “It is our belief that their actions were reckless and primarily designed to draw attention and a response.”
Both men are currently free on $1,500 bond as they await arraignment for charges. Baker is facing charges of breaching the peace, failure to cooperate with police and masking his identity by obscuring his face when he entered the station. All of the charges are misdemeanors. Vreeland is also being charged with breaching the police, obstructing police and failure to cooperate.
Officers seized the loaded AP-14 firearm, a rifle magazine with 47 rounds, an AR-15 rifle, an AK-47-style rifle, a loaded Glock 19 handgun with four additional magazines containing 66 rounds, body armor and ballistic vests, a mask and a gun belt, and other pieces of camera equipment in their arrest of the men.
“We audit police to see how well they honor the Constitution and people’s rights,” Vreeland told the Free Press after he was freed. “We showcase police abuse and abuse of police power in the totalitarian police state that we live in.”