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“On March 16, 2013, my 15 year-old son and I were hiking along country roads among pastures and fields to help him earn his hiking merit badge. I always enjoy these father/son hikes because it gives me time alone with my son.
As I always do when we go on these hikes and walks, I took my trusty rifle with me as there are coyotes, wild hogs, and cougars in our area. In Texas, it is legal to openly carry a rifle or shotgun as long as you do so in a manner that isn’t calculated to cause alarm. In other words, you can’t walk around waving your rifle at people. I always carry my rifle slung across my chest dangling, not holding it in my hands.
At about the five mile mark of our hike, a voice behind us asked us to stop and a police officer motioned for us to approach him. He got out of his car and met us a few feet later. He asked us what we were doing and I explained that we were hiking for my son’s merit badge. He then asked me what I’m doing with the rifle, to which I responded in a calm manner, “Does it matter, officer? Am I breaking the law?”
At that point, the officer grabbed my rifle without warning or indication. He didn’t ask for my rifle and he didn’t suggest he would take it from me. He simply grabbed it. This startled me and I instantly pulled back – the rifle was attached to me – and I asked what he thought he was doing because he’s not taking my rifle. He then pulled his service pistol on me and told me to take my hands off the weapon and move to his car, which I complied with.
Next, he slammed me into the hood of his car and I remembered I had a camera on me (one of the requirements of the hiking merit badge is to document your hikes). This video is the rest of that encounter. Up to this point, I am not told why I am being stopped, why he tried to disarm me, or even that I was under arrest.
We did not set out that Saturday morning to “make a point” or cause problems. Our goal was to complete a 10-mile hike and return home without incident. My son chose a route that was away from populated areas, but near our home. The arresting officer is Officer Steve Ermis and the supervisor is Sergeant Menix of the Temple Police Department.
The man in the video, C.J. Grisham, was first charged with resisting arrest, however, the charge was downgraded to interfering with a peace officer while performing a duty. Update: Grisham was eventually convicted of the interference charge and received a $2,000 fine during sentencing. He has appealed the conviction and, as of February 2017, is still awaiting a ruling on that appeal.
After this incident, Grisham became involved in Second Amendment activism, founding “Open Carry Texas” in 2013 in order to advocate for gun rights within the state. As part of that activism, members have organized numerous open carry events and marches throughout Texas. Open Carry Texas was instrumental in getting legislation passed to allow Texas residents to open carry legally.
Temple, Texas Contact Information
- Gary O. Smith Chief of Police – (254) 298-5561
- Mayor William A. Jones, III – : (254) 298-5700
- Mayor Pro-Tem Danny Dunn – email@example.com
- City Manager David Blackburn – (254) 298-5600 – email: firstname.lastname@example.org