Homeowner is Arrested for Open Carrying an Empty Shotgun on His Own Property After Reporting a Tresspasser

Man is arrested on his own property for open carrying an empty shotgun

(Credit: Heather Donald, YouTube)

A military veteran in Crawford County, Michigan has been arrested and charged with a felony assault with a deadly weapon even after HE was the one who called the cops in the first place when he found a man trespassing on his property.

When the man’s wife tried to video tape what was happening the cops told her to turn off the camera and tried to take it.  (You can see the video below… only because the wife figured out how to restore the “deleted” file)

The Blaze has reported that Thomas Donald was out hunting with his son on his own land when they came across the trespasser.  Donald had an unloaded .410 shotgun while his son was using a crossbow.

When they came across the trespasser on a dirt bike, they escorted him back to the house and called the Department of Natural Resources.  But when the police showed up everything went downhill fast.  According to Heather Donald when the cops showed up Thomas Donald held up his open shotgun in one hand and held a shell in his other hand to show that he was not a threat.

But the police did not get the hint and they soon had a pistol pointed at Donald as they put him in handcuffs and on the ground.  The following video shows what Heather was able to record before the police forced her to turn off the cell phone camera.

In the video you can hear Heather asking why her husband was being arrested, to which the officer replied,

“Because we pulled up and he had a handgun — or excuse me, a rifle,” one of the deputies says, before being corrected by Donald. “A shotgun.”

You can also hear the officer almost say Donald was under arrest at that point trying to explain why he was in handcuffs.  It should be noted that in the state of Michigan it IS legal to open carry, especially on your own property.  The officers explained this was typical procedure because at this point they didn’t know who was who.

The cops then reportedly took the woman’s phone and forced her to delete the video she had just taken.  But later on she figured out how to use recovery software to get the file back and upload it to Youtube.

It would be bad enough if the story ended there.  But soon the cops were saying that Thomas Donald was pointing his shotgun at the trespasser and he was charged with felonious assault, even though the couple says he  never pointed his gun at the trespasser and alluded to Thomas’s military training which taught him never to point a gun at anything he was not wanting to destroy.

The trespasser said he never saw any “no trespassing” signs, but later Heather Donald shot more video of the signs clearly visible on the trail the trespasser entered to get onto the Donald’s property.

The couple is outraged because “this is a man who was openly carrying an unloaded shotgun on his own property, which is legal in Michigan, and it’s even hunting season,” Heather told TheBlaze.

“It’s very disturbing,” Heather said, “and all of this happened in front of my children. Police are supposed to be the good guys and, at least in this case, they didn’t hold themselves to that standard.”

Update: A Facebook page has been setup to help Thomas Donald with his legal defense in this case.  If you could like to contribute or learn more you can check it out here.  His defense costs could be as much as $10,000 so any donation will be appreciated.

There are 37 things you will wish you had in the coming crisis.  Find out what this ex-military expert says you need to hoard now in this video.  CLICK HERE. (This link is an advertisement that helps us run this site.  Just to be clear=)



  1. Julia says

    I would have done the same thing. When you walk up on a scene you have to protect self and others and until you are sure of facts, make sure everyone is safe. You can get killed or put others in harms way if you go be what people on the scene say prior to neutralizing the situation.
    However, at the point of which the police office ask the homeowner to delete the film you realize the police overstepped their bounds and should immediately released from duty, for that reason alone.

    • Mick says

      BULL! The cops clearly over reacted, was ascertained the man’s identity and that he was the property owner it should’ve ended their with him than they should’ve addressed the trespasser. Do not make excuses for bad cops they knew they were wrong because they didn’t want any video evidence that’s why they wanted the woman to delete the video. Americans are getting sick and tired of the militarized police Gestapo tactics, they kicked down the door of the wrong house swarm in shoot their dog and assault the people in their bedroom. This exact scenario is happening with increasing frequency and this is the natural law outcome of the war on drugs, have we learned nothing from alcohol prohibition that spawned organized crime? The unintended consequences of the cure is worse than the disease itself!

      • Tonya says

        Agreed!! This is another reason why more and more people are hesitant to call the police and take matters into their own hands! This is another reason why more and more officers are being shot as citizens are truly defending themselves!
        They would’ve had to of shot or arrested me to try and take my camera and make me delete it!!!!!
        I’m so incredibly tired of hearing the stories the majority are officers nowadays are nothing but complete jokes and scary ones at that! More more stories of them shooting family pets is becoming overwhelming this guy is lucky he didn’t have a dog!!! You hurt my dog which in my eyes his family I hurt you back

      • Linda Oz says

        Cuffing the guy was what cops have to do for everyone’s safety. What do you expect them to do after the guy says “its not loaded”, say “Oh, OK and turn their backs on him and get shot?

        The video taping was totally unnecessary as police were following procedure and answering the woman’s questions about why they were doing what they were doing. People are too sue happy.

        Only mistake I think police made was making her delete the video, but in this sue-happy world you have to worry about even being sued for doing nothing wrong.

        I would NOT contribute money to the homeowner’s legal fund. There are much more important causes. Just complaint to the police admin and let them handle it.

      • Todd Farrow says

        Right on ……there are police officers and there are idiots that just want to wear the badge.I call them super cops…..they want the power the badge.

    • ted says

      then maybe you should be released from duty as well. Opened shotgun not loaded held up: Where is the harm? complete nonsense.

      • Tony Bloom says

        There is legal open carry; then there is open stupid carry. You have a TRESPASSER on your property – call the cops – and when they show up you carry the gun out with you….why? (….da…becuz I can….). Well, don’t get upset about being cuffed and eating grass then. As a responding officer, a long gun in one hand and a shell in the other means nothing…..other than you have a long gun and have the potential to hurt me or someone else (by the way…notice that it looks like the trespasser has his hands back as well…..looks to me like the officers are securing an unstable scene until it can be sorted out). By the way, do you know how close an Officer would have to get to see an open gun is not loaded? Close enough to be shot well before getting there by someone that just might be baiting him in. (I also got to ask…a biker trespassing on land, runs across two guys who say they are calling the law on him…and he goes home with them? I got a hard time believing that duress with the weapons was never a factor). As for the officers – get used to it, people can film us. Don’t like it – don’t look at the camera. Looked over a few more reports about this. Sounds like Mr Stupid Carry was packing some attitude along with his long gun, which I suspect contributed to his high green fiber diet shown in the picture above. Remember there is legal rights open carry – and then there is stupid legal rights open carry. We each get to choose.

    • Rob Smith says

      the big point here is that is seems as if all officers and judges are all above the laws that the common people have to follow. This situation isnt any different than an officer getting a DWI. He gets administrative leave of absent( thats if we are lucky) and keeps his job. For an officer, He needs his license to drive a cruiser! If a CDL holder gets a DWI he loses his privilege to poses A CDL and he loses his job….Whats the difference? If your job is seeing to that everyone obeys the law then when you break it, you should never be able to hold that type of position again. This double standards is a bunch of BS

    • Grandpa David says

      Julia, child, you need to get back in the kitchen. Game wardens walk up on people with loaded guns every day. Chickens should be in feathers, not be in uniform.

    • Robert says

      I agree, this cop should be relieved from his duty, otherwise, things should be worsen at later time.

    • thomas r. bunnell says

      you are full of crap. these officers went beyond their jobs, then tell the wife she is to turn off the camera. i hope they sue the hell out of these worthless cops.

    • chris rakes says

      there was no reason to arrest the property owner. if they were “afraid” of the shot gun they could have just told him to put it down. it was a total case of harassing a gun owner.
      the facts are that 10 times more LEOs kill people then Concealed carriers.
      as a citizen, i would like to go home after my shift.

  2. Rob Johnston says

    The government’s pseudo police state has given these type of officers the sense that it is ok to do this because there will be no responsibility on their parts.

    • Steve says

      When you say “Most”…. All I gotta say is that I wish it were true. ☺… I mean even if the officers partner was against what was going on he is just as bad for not having stopped it. So if a cop just looks the other way while other officers violate the constitution then they are just as guilty IMO.

    • Max says

      You are ignorant if you think someone is acting like Hitler. The officer was rude, yes, but stating he acted like Hitler is utter ignorance. Also, saying some that some cops must be Nazis is flat out ridiculous. What kind of police do you come into contact with?

      • John says

        I come in contact with cops who think they are gods gift. Give a gun a badge and a taser to a snoot nose kid and they start acting like gustopo. I will never call the cops for anything. Calling them is like calling the stupidest people on earth.

    • says

      How studid are you…… really??? Like hilter Hummmm Please edu kate u self sister. read about WW2 or hilter before you open your mouth and take the guess work out of “is she really that stupid?? Yup did you see what she said””

      • Alex says

        How about you trade your hooks for prosthetic hands before you open your mouth to call anyone stupid? That would be great.

      • thomas r. bunnell says

        these sad excuse for cops. act just like their buddy obama. other wise known as hitler

  3. TJ says

    Very unprofessional, and every one in the world has a right to use a video camera during a police arrest, or in public for freedom of press. These cops in northern michigan are very corrupt and target certain people, and pick on them until they succeed in locking them up. I believe a higher power needs to come in and teach the county how to use their powers rather then abuse their powers.

    • Steve says

      Again… Another “I wish moment”…. But sorry to burst your bubble but they are like that in every state in the country…. Some towns/counties are different yes.. but every state has atleast a few departments that ignore civil liberties.

    • Sue says

      TJ, do you live in Northern Michigan? I have lived here most of my life and I do agree with you that some of the police officers will target certain people, but I have found most of them are doing their jobs and better than most people would do.

      • John says

        The problem is police do not know their job they just think they do…..Have you notice that they are the only organization on earth that is NEVER WRONG, ask them……..

      • thomas r. bunnell says

        BULL SHIT: i worked as a police officer, and these two are a joke, they should be fired, as well as the police chief(or) sheriff

    • says

      The problem is not that we don’t know our JOB. we do . The problem if you read items here. Is the overwhelming anti cop attitude we face . It is like you kick the dog every morning and it bites you one day . Well i wonder if the dog was sooo wrong in developing a bad attitude and such. I wonder if any of the anti cop/police writers taken a moment of their free time to thank the local patrolmen. or better still go find his wife or kids and say . Thank you for allowing your husband walk out the door each day and protect the special kind of stupid person he meets every day. If they only knew all of their rights and acted civil towards each other ……… Well I can only hope

      • 10th Mountain Infantry Vet says

        Look dude, I never detained Afghanis for having an AK in Logar or Kandahar Provinces, and they all have AKs, even PKMs – belt feed weapons. Your sorry ROE would have you arresting the entire populace of any other country. You don’t think I was pissed off after receiving rockets and machine gun fire every day? Killing a squad member I trained with for years perhaps? Doesn’t mean you treat the local population like junk, that’s when they start shooting at you. Remember: “Winning hearts and minds.” The police are going to be shot at regularly one day if you don’t start respecting people, regardless of how “stupid” you think they are. Maybe you’re the stupid one and everyone else just dislikes you. Obviously most police aren’t cut out for the high stresses of the job, pathetic and not even half as stressful as a war zone, but I even see brand new Privates keep their cool with “stupid” people. Quit justifying your stupid force and their stupid actions.

      • Dan hunt says

        If the cop was doing NO WRONG…why did he so strongly object to being video taped? ANY cop that objects to being videotaped is most likely committing a crime of some sort. The reason there is such an anti-cop attitude these days is because EVERYDAY we read ANOTHER story of cops either arresting, beating or killing an OBVIOUSLY innocent person. Clean up your house, officer Dad4life!

  4. Joe Murdock says

    This is sad, on his own property carrying an UNLOADED firearm which is perfectly legal they arrest him? WTF? I guess we should all shoot first and ask questions later.

    • Ray says

      Far as Im concerned the cop now is on my property against my wishes ( if thats what I decide) and is also trespassing.

  5. Scott says

    If you do not own the land you are trespassing posted or not. Got the ticket (thought I was on public land).

  6. Steve says

    Uhhh… His defense will likely be waaay more then $10,000… You should add a zero to that cause it could cost 100,000 +.

    Remember… In this country you are GUILTY untill proven innocent… I’m to lazy to type all the reasons why that conclusion could be made atm.

  7. stan Tall says

    The officer was ok to detain everyone, until it is ascertained who they are and things are under control. Having said that, it is not ok to arrest someone, who is carrying a firearm that is unloaded, on their own property. After the officer found out who the owner was, he should have let them loose. Also with all the reports of folks videoing scenes like this and it being determined totally legal, he should know better then to stop it.

  8. Orcinus Orca says

    There are several smart phone apps that allow you to record video DIRECTLY TO THE WEB so the file is not even on the camera to be deleted in this manner. Take that gestapo tactics.

    one of them can be found here http://www.ustream.tv

  9. sdkid says

    My dad was a training sergeant…he just recently passed away…a very good father and man. After he passed the accolades from people he worked with and those that worked for him came in like a flood. He nearly was shot 2 times…once was a mental case off his meds running around with a loaded .306. The other was an armed robbery where he and two other deputies took two robbers at gunpoint. You go into the bar and all the patrons are on the floor face down….is one of them a robber ready to roll over and shoot you in the back as you walk by? I think you get the picture. I believe Holley’s assessment is correct. He sounds like a solid police officer. Secure everyone….identify everyone…release the home owner and apoligize to him once he is released…and his wife…don’t worry about the camera…you serve the public…you should be above reproach. If there is a way to handcuff them and put them in the back of your unit instead of face down in the dirt…because of the wife and kids..do it. Arrest the trespasser and take his butt to jail. It is true that if you are an open carry person you still need to be wise and careful….because the police could come up and they have no idea who you are….think…is this guy a criminal? He could drop my partner and I in 3 seconds with an ar15. Most police are good guys…I’ve know a lot of them….but a few are insecure and I met one recently on a routine traffic stop. My dad alway s told me to do what is asked…move slowly and keep your hands in plain sight. Remember…95% of them just want to go home to their families at the end of their shift. There are bad ones….those are the ones that you need to be very careful with. G

    • Lonesome 54 says

      I agree that both needed cufffing it takes only moments to put shell in the shotgun the smart thinf would of been to leave the gun in the house or to set it down and move away from it. Thing some folks do not relize is that the job the offcers or any person who works to serve the public ( cops firemen emts) all are at a hi risk and anything they can do to make it safer for them is going by the rules

  10. Alice says

    I should think there is an attorney locally who wants to enter politics and can use this case for upward mobility! The filing fees are low, it’s the lawyer that is expensive.

  11. Ed says

    Since when does “police policy” trump law? It is legal (law) to open cary on private land. It is not law that every police officer has a right to feel safe. “Feeling safe is only policy. Police policy is nothing more than an employee handbook that states proper employee conduct and should not be confused with law. Being able to carry a gun loaded or unloaded on your private property is a legal right period end of story. Citing the employee handbook does not give any officer the authority to deny a citizen a right. The officer could have simply asked the land owner to place the unloaded shotgun on the hood of the patrol car while they sorted out the situation. Instead the officers in my view falsely imprisoned a law abiding citizen by cuffing him and making him “eat grass”.