A Colorado man is $25,000 richer after the city of Thornton compensated him for his arrest by police officers for legally carrying a gun.
That’s right. Legally.
It happened during the social hurricane energized by Second Amendment opponents in the immediate aftermath of the 2012 Aurora, Colorado, theater shooting by James Holmes in which 12 people were killed and five dozen wounded.
Days later, on July 29, 2012, Jim Mapes, who holds a concealed carry permit in the state, openly wore a holster with a handgun in a movie theater.
The movie was stopped, police descended and Mapes was arrested for having a “dangerous weapon in a liquor or beer establishment” and “brandishing” a weapon.
The charges were dropped, and he filed a lawsuit against the city.
Mapes’ attorney, Robert Wareham, noted to Denver’s KMGH-TV that Coloradans, “with the exception of Denver, have had the right to openly carry firearms since 1865.”
He said the city didn’t admit any “wrongdoing” in the payment.
“They got to apologize to him in the form of a nice, healthy check,” he told KMGH.
The Guns Save Lives blog reported Mapes said he had worn his sidearm to the movie theater several times without conflict, but this time was different.
“The movie stopped and the lights came on. Someone said, ‘I just got a call from my friend who said there’s someone in the theater with a gun,’” Mapes said.
Mapes said he told moviegoers he had a concealed carry permit.
Then came the arrest.
Guns.com explained Thornton city ordinances prohibit the carrying of weapons only in designated municipal buildings.
Maples said that contrary to claims he was “brandishing” a weapon, his gun never left the holster.
“No threats, no shots, no violence. Just a man doing what [is] protected under the Colorado Constitution,” he said.
The report noted it’s not the first time a Colorado city has been forced to pay a man arrested for legally carrying a gun.
In 2013, Colorado Springs paid $23,500 to a man who was wrongfully arrested for openly carrying a firearm in a city park. Guns.com said the officers arrested him under a law that had been repealed nearly a decade earlier.
James Sorensen was leaving a park event when an officer stopped him for openly carrying a .40 caliber handgun. Sorensen was detained and arrested on the grounds he violated a state prohibition on carrying guns in parks.
The law, however, was repealed in 2003.
The encounter was captured on video (Be aware of objectionable language):
In the Sorensen case, the city also insisted the payment didn’t constitute an admission of any liability or wrongdoing.
Authorities later admitted that the officers’ “cheat sheet” on various laws was incorrect.
Media obtained a copy of the settlement through opens records requests.
Guns.com cited similar cases in Washington and Wisconsin in recent years, with payments of $15,000 and $10,000, respectively, for wrongful arrests.