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Gun charge dropped after CSPD mistake

By Lindsay Watts
Published On: Aug 10 2012 07:13:40 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 10 2012 11:26:22 PM CDT

A gun charge has been dropped against a man who was detained and jailed after police cited him for carrying an unconcealed weapon in Acacia Park.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

A gun charge has been dropped against a man who was detained and jailed after police cited him for carrying an unconcealed weapon in Acacia Park.

TARGET 13 Investigates found an error in the "cheat sheet" Colorado Springs police officers use that indicated an almost decade old city ordinance prohibiting open guns in parks was still in effect.

James Sorensen, the man who was cited, detained and jailed after attending the city's gay pride festival, said he got a call from police Thursday saying the gun charge against him was dropped.

At the time he was being detained, one of the five officers involved can be heard telling him, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse."

"And yet they were all ignorant of the the law," said Sorensen. "And I was trying to tell them what the law was, and they didn't want to listen to me."

The Colorado Springs Police Department told TARGET 13 that an internal investigation into the incident is now under way. A lieutenant involved in the process said it could be weeks or months before it's complete.

An open records request revealed that the error in the 40-page "cheat sheet" has been fixed. The ordinance that Sorensen was charged with violating-- 9.9.409(B) Firearms; possession (parks),--has been crossed out and this has been added: **Rescinded** 2011 Criminal Sheet Cheat Updated 7/30/12.

In 2003, Colorado revised its firearm laws which impacted city regulations in Colorado Springs and around the state.

CRS 29-11.7-103: A local government may not enact an ordinance, regulation, or other law that prohibits the sale, purchase, or possession of a firearm that a person may lawfully sell, purchase, or possess under state or federal law. Any such ordinance, regulation, or other law enacted by a local government prior to March 18, 2003, is void and unenforceable.

Sorensen said he can't believe none of the five officers, including at least three sergeants, knew of the change.

"They train these officers, and yet there's high-ranking sergeants that don't know the law," said Sorensen. "And then they're training their people and then they don't know the law. So who's going to know the law here?"

He said he's also concerned about a sergeant who told him, "You're about to get the (expletive) kicked out of you," after Sorensen twice refused to put his hands up while he was being detained.

He said he's hoping for a public apology from the officers.

"To be humiliated in front of all the people at the park and even my partner, that's just not proper for law enforcement officers," said Sorensen.

You can watch the cell phone video Sorensen's partner took of the incident by clicking here.

Sorensen said, looking back, he's "a little embarrassed" that he got so upset while he was being detained, but said he was frustrated because he was confident he was allowed to be carrying his gun.

In a report of the incident, CSPD said Sorensen was given "ample time" to leave the park, but refused to do so. An officer who was involved wrote that Sorensen was being hostile, physically demonstrative and trying to incite a crowd.

The incident took place the day after the mass shooting in an Aurora movie theater. In additional cell phone video that was captured, two officers mention the shooting to bystanders, one saying, "Not a good subject right now."

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