Officer suspended, apologizes after South Alabama student cited - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Officer suspended, apologizes after South Alabama student cited for wearing empty gun holster

Student cited for wearing empty gun holster on campus Student cited for wearing empty gun holster on campus
MOBILE, AL (WALA) -

Good or bad -- students for concealed carry on campus wanted attention and they got it. 

"The purpose of the holster was to spark conversation. I didn't expect it to be a conversation this big," said D.J. Parten, President of Students of Concealed Carry at University of South Alabama. 

Parten and others have been wearing empty gun holsters all week in protest. 

"It demonstrates we are left here defenseless on campus," explained Parten. 

On Wednesday, Parten and his friends were promoting a movie about free speech in the Student Center. During that time, campus police responded to an anonymous call a person may have been carrying an unconcealed weapon at the student center.  

"They asked for my ID and why I was wearing the holster. I told them it was for a protest and that I did not have a gun on me," said Parten. "I was very glad they did that... Obviously I don't want them ignoring a call about firearms. So I was fine with them checking it out but once they realized I was unarmed that should have been the end of it."

Rolling on his cell phone, Parten recorded the encounter. 

Officer: "So, I'm going to ask you one more time... Where is the weapon?"

Parten: "I don't have it... It's at home."

Officers Steve Gordon and David Turppa continued to question Parten and his friend. 

Parten: "This is a protest."
 
Officer: "It doesn't matter. You have to have permission to wear it." 

Parten: "I have the right to protest."
 
Officer: "Do you have permission to wear it?" 

Parten: "I don't need permission to wear it."
 
Officer: "You need permission from the university."

Parten: "To wear a holster?"
 
Officer: "There's a no weapons policy."

Parten: "This is not a weapon."

Officer: "I understand that."

Parten: "It's an empty holster."

Campus code does not define wearing a holster as illegal, but that still did not stop the officer from citing Parten with a campus judicial citation. Parten later posted the video online and in one day it received more than 41,000 views. 

After an internal investigation, campus police rescinded the citation and both officers apologized to all of the students involved. Officer David Turppa was suspended for five days without pay.

Glad he stood his ground, Parten welcomes debate on the issue. 

"It's such a big deal. It needs to be talked about. Obviously, I think I'm right. And the people who disagree think they're right, but I think it's good to keep the conversation open," said Parten. 

Parten expects the issue of "concealed carry on campus" to get a lot of attention next legislative session.

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