Pierner-Lytge v. Hobbs, No. 22-1976 (7th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Pierner-Lytge, a Second Amendment supporter, walked to a public park near Walker Elementary School that contains a playground and a baseball field. Many children and families were reportedly present that evening. Pierner-Lytge carried a rifle with a spike bayonet bolted to the end of the barrel, a holstered semi-automatic handgun, plus a duty belt containing pepper spray, a baton, and handcuffs. Milwaukee County officers responded to reports. Pierner-Lytge stated that she was exercising her Second Amendment rights and confirmed that she had a concealed carry weapon license but did not have it with her. Pierner-Lytge had previously resisted arrest and threatened officers and had been the subject of six mental health detention proceedings. Officers arrested Pierner-Lytge for disorderly conduct. She complied with instructions. Officers confiscated her rifle, bayonet, handgun, and duty belt. Pierner-Lytge was released from custody and was not charged. The seized property was returned.
Pierner-Lytge sued. 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the officers violated her Fourth Amendment rights by arresting her without probable cause. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment based on qualified immunity. While a reasonable officer should have known in 2020 that simply carrying a firearm in public does not constitute disorderly conduct, more is required to show that the legality of Pierner-Lytge’s conduct was “beyond debate.” To the extent the officers misjudged whether probable cause existed to arrest Pierner-Lytge, it was a reasonable decision given the Wisconsin disorderly conduct statute at the time