False Arrests Continue in NoVA


June 16, 2004, 09:21 AM
We're experiencing a rash of false arrest in Northern Virginia for the "offense" of open carrying. Here's a VCDL alert telling a story from two days ago that ends as well as can be expected when LEOs don't know the law.

TFL Survivor

18.2-287.4 STRIKES AGAIN!
New VCDL member Andrew King and a friend, William Coggin, both college students were unlawfully arrested for open carry at a Starbucks in Northern Virginia by Fairfax county police on Monday night.
Apparently another patron called the police on her cell phone and was shrieking hysterically at the dispatcher about 2 men with a gun. Seven patrol cars arrive and Andrew and William are taken outside. Their guns are confiscated and they are detained for an hour as police try to figure out what to charge them with. Andrew was asked if they could search his car. To his credit he said, “No.” That issue was then dropped by the police (to their credit).
Finally, the police came up with a charge - YOU GUESSED IT - 18.2-287.4 carrying a loaded firearm in a city with a population over 160,000...
Both Andrew and William, who had acted politely through the whole incident, were given a ticket to appear in court for a class 1 misdemeanor and released.
Andrew emailed me that night and I responded to him, asking for details (officer’s names, badge numbers, William’s info, etc.)
Tuesday morning I called the precinct where the arresting officer worked and left a voice mail for the captain. I politely told him who I was, that his officers had unlawfully arrested two law-abiding young men, told him to read the definition of ‘firearm’ in 18.2-287.4, and to read the arrest report.
[TC Note: that statute defines a firearm as Hi-cap AW-type weapons] I asked that the charges be dropped immediately, stating that if this actually went to court that an unlawful arrest lawsuit would certainly follow.
I didn’t hear back from the Captain, but later Tuesday evening I called the precinct. The officer that answered the phone knew all about the situation and said that the charges WERE BEING DROPPED and the arresting officer would be calling both young men and apologizing for his misinterpreting the law.
I personally called both Andrew and William and told them the good news. I told them to be sure and get their guns back ASAP and not to accept any kind of runaround or delay in doing so.
I also talked to William’s mother, who was concerned about the incident. She seemed quite relieved when I emphasized that William had done nothing wrong or illegal. On the contrary he had been careful to obey the law as he exercised a valuable constitutionally protected right here in Virginia. The fault, I told her, was completely with the police not knowing the law. Her son, I said, had acted like a gentleman, handling the situation as good as could be expected.
Andrew is a new member and had not visited the VCDL site yet, so he was not familiar with the battles that VCDL has been battling with 18.2-287.4. I told him to download a copy of that law and keep it with him.
I REPEAT TO ALL OF YOU: it is wise to keep the highlighted copy of 18.2-287.4 from the VCDL web site with you and it would be smart to memorize the key parts so you can speak intelligently on that law if you run into an officer who is attempting to misuse it on you.
I got an email on Tuesday night from Andrew. Indeed the arresting officer did call, apologized for the mistake, lectured them on open carry (this cop doesn’t know when to quit pushing his luck, does he?), and they both went down and got their guns back. They were assured that the ticket was completely destroyed and there would not be any kind of record except the police report, which does not refer to them as suspects.
I was glad that the police saw the light and dropped the charges swiftly, saving these two young men undue stress and financial hardships awaiting trial, but I am still angry over the treatment of Andrew and William. But at least the ordeal was over in less than 24 hours.
Of course it is not over for VCDL. I will be asking one of our attorneys to write a letter to the Fairfax chief of police asking him to please explain 18.2-287.4 to ALL his officers so we have no more false arrests. I am also shopping around for a delegate or senator to carry a bill to strike 18.2-287.4 altogether. At a minimum the wording needs to be fixed once and for all. But striking it is what should be done and that is what VCDL will be looking to do. In that sense what happened to Andrew and William will be powerful ammunition in getting rid of that terrible law.
Well a couple of weeks ago we educated 9 officers and 1 magistrate in Richmond. Now we are going to probably add a whole lot of Fairfax police to that list.
If this happens again, a false arrest lawsuit would definitely get the attention of a lot of police departments. Let’s hope it doesn’t come down to that.

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June 16, 2004, 09:34 AM
See This Thread (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?s=&threadid=87012).

- 0 -

June 16, 2004, 09:54 AM
Thanks -0-

Mods, this duplicates page 6 in the thread dev_null pointed out. Please terminate with extreme prejudice :D

TFL Survivor

Greg L
June 16, 2004, 10:05 AM
Please terminate with extreme prejudice

To hide Leatherneck's embarassment if nothing else :D .


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