DEARBORN, MICH. - A YouTube video posted Sunday shows how two men in body armor – one armed, wearing a ski mask –- entered Dearborn police headquarters Feb. 5 and were surrounded at gunpoint by nearly a dozen police officers.
Police department surveillance footage, as well as video shot from a tripod, is included in the video, titled, "Felony Arrest For Filming- Dearborn Police Station Video." The person filming can be heard telling police that he wasn't armed, and they repeatedly order him to surrender.
Warning: Video is NSFW and contains profanity that some may consider offensive.
Brandon Vreeland, 40, of Jackson, and James Baker, 24, of Leonard, Mich., were arrested. In a previously-posted YouTube video, Baker can be seen in a black ski mask with a short-barreled rifle slung over his chest and a semi-automatic pistol strapped to his hip; Vreeland had on body armor but left his gun in the car, instead bringing along cameras to videotape the encounter that was about to take place. The earlier video went black after about the first minute, playing only sound; the video posted Sunday shows images of the entire incident.
In the videos, police officers with guns drawn were waiting, and a tense standoff occurred as the two men initially refused to comply with orders to drop to the ground as they argued they had a right to carry weapons.
"Put it on the ground or you are dead," one of the officers screams in the video that was live-streamed on the Internet via cell phones by Baker and Vreeland as the confrontation unfolded. "I will shoot you. I will put a round in you. What the hell is the matter with you?"
Nicholas Somberg, the attorney representing Vreeland, said Friday that police had been secretly monitoring the men on Facebook, knew they were coming and ambushed them. Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad hasn't responded to Free Press requests for comment.
Dearborn Police Department and a statewide open carry group previously condemned Vreeland and Baker's Feb. 5 action as irresponsible and reckless.
“I find this behavior totally unacceptable and irresponsible," Haddad said in a Feb. 6 statement. "This is not a 2nd Amendment issue for me. We had members of the public in our lobby that fled in fear for their safety as these men entered our building."
Somberg said the two men did nothing illegal. In the video released Sunday by username "Political Prisoner," it said: "In Michigan, it is leagl (sic) to open carry. That includes public common areas. Police station lobbies are considered public common areas."
Baker was charged with two counts of carrying a concealed weapon and one count of brandishing firearms in public. Vreeland was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, assaulting/resisting/obstructing a police officer and disturbing the peace. He previously told the Free Press that both men are legal gun owners and Michigan law allows them to carry their weapons openly.
Somberg said Monday that his client, Vreeland, was given worse charges than Baker, even though he wasn't carrying a gun. He said that the assaulting/resisting/obstructing charge is a felony more serious than the crimes Baker faces.
"That doesn't make any sense," Somberg said. "Basically, they want to teach him a lesson."
He also said that the carrying a concealed weapon charges both men face were not from the Feb. 5 incident but from evidence taken from their confiscated recording equipment. In the newly posted video, Baker appears to obey officers and lie face-down on the floor first. Vreeland backs up and argues with the officers, who are pointing guns at him.
"I'm your boss, you understand? My tax dollars pay yours," he said just before an officer pointing a gun at him walked up and yanked the video tripod out of his hand.
Both Baker and Vreeland had preliminary examinations scheduled for Friday; Baker waived his, and Vreeland's occurred, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office. Both men were bound over to Wayne County Circuit Court and are set to appear March 31.
Detroit Free Press