Northrup v. City of Toledo Police Dep’t, No. 14-4050 (6th Cir. May 13, 2015).
Shawn and Denise Northrup went on a walk with their daughter, grandson, and dog. In what might be considered poor sartorial judgment, Shawn Northrup wore the t-shirt pictured above.
More significantly, Shawn also wore a handgun holstered on his hip. A passing motorcyclist shouted at him that he couldn’t carry the gun in public, prompting a profane exchange of words as the motorcyclist sped away. The motorcyclist reported the gun to 911, but when the dispatcher told him that carrying a gun in public was legal with a permit, the motorcyclist said he didn’t think any police should be called. But police were sent—and when a police officer arrived, he detained Shawn on suspicion of “inducing panic,” a crime under Ohio law. Shawn was released half an hour later, after the police discovered that Shawn had a concealed-carry permit.
The main question on appeal is whether the police officer had reasonable suspicion to detain Shawn. The Sixth Circuit says that neither Shawn’s open possession of a firearm, nor the 911 call, nor the verbal dispute with the motorcyclist—nor all of these things together—justified the Terry stop. And because the stop violated clearly established law, Shawn’s Fourth Amendment claim against the police officer who stopped him must go to a jury.