A group of men who drew police attention for openly carrying guns at a Far East Side restaurant last year on Tuesday accepted a $10,000 offer from the city of Madison to settle their federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and a group of police officers.
The five men, members of Wisconsin Carry Inc., were ticketed for disorderly conduct on Sept. 18, 2010, after police were called to Culver's, 4301 East Towne Blvd., about a group of men with guns at an outdoor table. The tickets were later dismissed.
Two of the men initially refused to identify themselves to police and were handcuffed, searched and arrested. They were cited for obstructing police, but those citations were rescinded.
The city made its offer to settle the case on Dec. 12, and Wisconsin Carry, through its lawyer, John Monroe, agreed to accept the offer on Tuesday.
In its offer, the city does not admit to any wrongdoing. Attorney Catherine Rottier, representing the city, said the offer was made simply to settle the case without having to spend a lot more money.
But Monroe interpreted the offer differently.
"They can say they're not liable all they want to," Monroe said. "The result is exactly the same.
"I think it's clear they recognized there was a problem with their actions," he said.
Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said police still encourage citizens to call if they have concerns about someone armed with a gun, "but depending on the circumstance we might not make contact with an individual."
A legal update for officers by Capt. Vic Wahl indicates that people simply carrying guns cannot be charged with disorderly conduct under the new state concealed carry law. But they could be charged if criminal or malicious intent is shown, or if guns are carried in certain prohibited places, Wahl wrote.
Another lawsuit against the city by Wisconsin Carry, brought by another group of men who were not involved in the Culver's incident but are challenging what was then the Madison police policy on armed people, is still pending in federal court.