AURORA | A shotgun-toting Aurora teenager is facing a misdemeanor charge after he refused to give police his name or show ID when they stopped him for open-carrying a 12-gauge shotgun Sunday.
Steve Lohner, 18, was charged with obstruction after the incident Sunday afternoon near East Iliff Avenue and South Buckley Road. He is due in court Aug. 26.
Lohner, who videotaped the entire encounter with police and posted it to youtube.com, said he plans to fight the charge but does’t have a lawyer.
Aurora police Officer Frank Fania, a spokesman for the department, said that while it is legal to openly carry a gun in Aurora, it is illegal for juveniles to posses a gun. In this case, Fania said the officers needed to make sure Lohner was at least 18.
Police did not confiscate the weapon, which was loaded, and Lohner was not arrested.
Lohner said he has been carrying the Stoeger P-350 12-gauge shotgun around his neighborhood regularly since he bought it following his 18th-birthday in June. He said he was once beat up in the area, and another time someone pointed a gun at him, so he likes to carry the weapon for protection.
Since he wasn’t committing a crime, Lohner said he didn’t think he needed to show the officers his ID or tell them his last name.
In the video, police ask for his name and date or birth several times, consistently being polite and apparently jovial. Lohner refuses, insisting he doesn’t have to because he’s done nothing wrong.
“I don’t like to willingly hand those things over unless I absolutely have to,” he said later.
Kris McDaniel-Miccio, a law professor at University of Denver Sturm College of Law, said that in most cases, people stopped by police don’t have to turn over an ID.
“You only have to produce ID if police have reasonable articulable suspicion that you either committed a crime or are about to commit a crime,” she said.
But in this case, if police weren’t sure Lohner was carrying the gun legally, they could demand to see his ID, she said. The case will likely hinge on whether Lohner looks like he could be younger than 18, she said.
“I think this is an uphill battle for this young man,” she said.
On the video, one of the officers tells Lohner he looks far younger than 18, possibly as young as 15.
Lohner said he has never had anyone tell him he looks that young.
The incident Sunday wasn’t the first interaction Lohner had with police. He said he has been stopped under similar circumstances more than a dozen times, all in that same area, but never before charged with a crime.
Fania said that while carrying a gun is legal, Lohner has regularly tied up police resources by doing so. In Sunday’s incident, Fania said officers responded after a resident called and reported a man walking down the street with a gun.
Lohner said he will continue to carry a gun, not just for protection, but to educate people about the fact that carrying a gun is legal in Colorado.
“The police cannot be there to prevent every crime,” he said.
Lohner said he videotaped the incident Sunday as he does any interaction with police.
“I tend to record every police interaction for the purposes of evidence,” he said.
Lohner said he knew officers were going to stop him because he was listening to a police scanner and heard officers discuss him, but he said he wasn’t baiting officers to contact him.
“I try to avoid police contact whenever possible,” he said.