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Mistake in CSPD "cheat sheet" may have lead to wrongful charge

Man taken to jail after gun dispute at Pride Fest

Mistake In Police Manual May Have Lead To Wrongful Charge

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A mistake in a Colorado Springs Police manual may be to blame for a man's claim that he was wrongfully charged with a crime and jailed during Pride Fest.

James Sorensen said police stopped him as he was leaving the gay pride festival because they noticed the unconcealed gun on his hip.

"They said, 'You can't have a firearm inside the park,'" Sorensen recalled.

Sorensen said an officer told him to leave, and that prompted him to ask for the officer's card. He said that's when police asked for his I.D. and ended up detaining him. Sorensen acknowledges that he argued and became angry with officers while it was happening, but said he was frustrated because he was confident he was allowed to be carrying his gun.

"I was being detained for no reason. All my rights were being violated," he said.

Sorensen was eventually handcuffed and put in a police car. He said he was taken to jail where he remained for about an hour.

There used to be a Colorado Springs city ordinance that prohibited open carry in city parks, but it was abolished nearly a decade ago.

Sorensen said he was able to retrieve his weapon two days later, and that police told him the charge against him would likely be dropped.

"They said they have a cheat sheet for 2011 that states you can't have a firearm in a park, but that's no longer on the books," said Sorensen.

Colorado Springs police said they could not comment because this is an open case. Spokesperson Barbara Miller responded by email writing, "We are aware of the situation and are investigating it."

TARGET 13 Investigates did an open records request for the police "cheat sheet;" a 40 page manual that serves as a reference for different types of crimes and violations.

The ordinance that Sorensen is charged with violating is listed as "Firearms; possession (parks)," statute 9.9.409(B). It's the ordinance that was abolished in 2003.

Sorensen is due in court next week. He said even if the charge is dropped, he's worried his record will never be clear.

"I'm going to have an arrest on my record, which is not cool because I shouldn't have been arrested in the first place," he said.

In a report of the incident, CSPD said Sorensen was given "ample time" to leave the park, but refused to do so. A sergeant wrote that Sorensen was being hostile, physically demonstrative and trying to incite a crowd. You can watch what happened here.

Pride Fest took place a day after the mass shooting at the Aurora movie theater, and Sorensen acknowledged this is why police may have been especially on edge.

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