Philly Police Harass, Threaten To Shoot Man Legally Carrying Gun; Then Charge Him With Disorderly Conduct For Recording Them

from the lovely dept

As police are insisting that having the public record them is a dangerous situation that shouldn’t be allowed, we get a striking example of just how important that right is at times. Julian Sanchez points us to a story of a guy in Philadelphia, who had a license to carry a firearm in a city where it’s legal to openly carry a firearm — but who ran into a police officer who apparently did not understand his city’s own laws:

On a mild February afternoon, Fiorino, 25, decided to walk to an AutoZone on Frankford Avenue in Northeast Philly with the .40-caliber Glock he legally owns holstered in plain view on his left hip. His stroll ended when someone called out from behind: “Yo, Junior, what are you doing?”

Fiorino wheeled and saw Sgt. Michael Dougherty aiming a handgun at him.

What happened next would be hard to believe, except that Fiorino audio-recorded all of it: a tense, profanity-laced, 40-minute encounter with cops who told him that what he was doing – openly carrying a gun on the city’s streets – was against the law.

“Do you know you can’t openly carry here in Philadelphia?” Dougherty asked, according to the YouTube clip.

“Yes, you can, if you have a license to carry firearms,” Fiorino said. “It’s Directive 137. It’s your own internal directive.”

You can hear all of this via the YouTube clip, embedded here:

It gets worse and worse. Dougherty threatens to shoot Fiorino for trying to show him his license:

Fiorino offered to show Dougherty his driver’s and firearms licenses. The cop told him to get on his knees.

“Excuse me?” Fiorino said.

“Get down on your knees. Just obey what I’m saying,” Dougherty said.

“Sir,” Fiorino replied, “I’m more than happy to stand here -”

“If you make a move, I’m going to f—— shoot you,” Dougherty snapped. “I’m telling you right now, you make a move, and you’re going down!”

“Is this necessary?” Fiorino said.

Other cops show up and they continue to curse at him and scream at him, while he calmly responds to their claims. They discover that he has a recording device in his pocket, and they go even more ballistic, telling him he broke the law with that as well. Eventually, they finally realize that he wasn’t breaking the law with the gun and let him go… But once he posted the audio on YouTube, suddenly the District Attorney took renewed interest in the case, and charged him with “reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct,” claiming that he refused to cooperate with police. If you listen to the tapes, it’s hard to see how anyone could make that claim with a straight face. It seems pretty clear, from the beginning, that it’s the police who were recklessly endangering someone and who were disorderly in how they dealt with Fiorino.

No matter what your opinion is on guns or open carry rules, it’s hard to see how this guy deserves the treatment he received from police who clearly did not understand the law in their own city — and it’s even more ridiculous to see him facing a (trumped up) charge, after he uploaded the audio. It seems like a pretty clear case of vindictive prosecution, even as part of the issue is that the very thing that pissed off law enforcement is precisely what proves this guy was perfectly reasonable throughout the encounter.

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Comments on “Philly Police Harass, Threaten To Shoot Man Legally Carrying Gun; Then Charge Him With Disorderly Conduct For Recording Them”

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Jesse (profile) says:

Re: Ignorance of the Law Is No Excuse, But It Is Expected

Up in BC, no one is allowed to carry a gun. The closest situation I’ve ever come across is regarding a little known law. Apparently, in BC, you can turn left on red from a two-way street to a one-way (thereby crossing in front of the oncoming lane.) Many cops don’t know this. I’ve never had a cop pull a gun on me, but it is somewhat amusing when they come back a little embarrassed from their mistake.

I’m still flabbergasted by the story above.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Ignorance of the Law Is No Excuse, But It Is Expected

10 years ago, when Alex Jones started talking about a “Police State” everyone said he was a nutjob conspiracy theorist. Now, he’s a nutjob that was right all along.

Will the united-statians start paying attention now? Probably not. But it was worth a shot.

Brian says:

Re: Ignorance of the Law Is No Excuse, But It Is Expected

You know its pretty funny when someones family member reads this. Mike doesnt have a chip on his shoulder, he is 3 years from retirement and i dont think he would jeopardize that. So Sgt “Jackass” was obeying protocol by seeing a man with a weapon walking into a store. And if that fuck just listened to what a officer was telling him to do he wouldnt be where he is at now

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Good thing this isn't an action movie.

He hero turns around and we get a zoomed in shot of the gun with the background blurred out. The hero jumps out of the way just narrowly avoiding the shot fired at his head, the clerk behind the counter wasn’t so lucky. And there’s a ten minute fire fight. The hero miraculously misses any innocents, but the other guy kills three passing by.

Jay (profile) says:

The question that comes up in my head

You have an officer of the law that has just elevated a situation to that of life threatening. He’s just pulled a gun on you and has ignored all aspects of civil rights. If you shot him, you would be sent to jail for the rest of your life regardless of what you recorded.

Why do we have such “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenarios as regular citizens?

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: The question that comes up in my head

Arguably you might not. Every court in the nation recognizes the right to use deadly force in self-defense against a violent felon pointing a deadly weapon against you. Violent felon, you ask? While there is no such thing as a federal felony per se, courts and police have long been in the habit, where ambiguity in whether a crime is a felony exists, to look at the maximum sentence: If it’s over a year in prison, the crime is a felony.

18USC242 has a penalty of 10 years in federal prison for use of official authority under color of law to deprive someone of civil, statutory or constitutional rights by threat of deadly force. By any measure, that is a felony level offense. Police qualified immunity almost certainly does not shield them from an offense that only a police officer or other public official can commit, that a private citizen explicitly cannot commit.

The US Constitution states an unalienable right to bear arms. Section 21 of the Pennsylvania State Constitution says much the same thing. Carrying a firearm in the city of Philadelphia requires a license, but the victim of that cop had such a license and offered to produce it; The cop told him if he made a move to do so he would be murdered. Carrying a licensed firearm in Philadelphia is a statutory right.

Trying to draw his sidearm probably would have gotten him shot, but it would have been absolutely justified under US, state and local laws.

Anonymous Coward says:

In West Philadelphia born and raised
On the playground is where I spent most of my days
Chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool
And all shootin’ some B-Ball outside of school
When a couple of cops, who were up to no good, started makin trouble in my neighboorhood
I recorded one little fight and the cops got scared, had the D.A. trump up some charges that weren’t really fair

Raphael (profile) says:

I think it’s worth pointing out that there are some humans who are now in a really hard spot. I don’t especially sympathize with them, but it’s a classic situation that occurs around a lot of the issues Techdirt covers:

1) Someone primed to expect a threat sees what he mistakenly thinks is a threat and overreacts.

2) The accused attempts to assert his rights.

3) The accuser begins to realize he’s made a mistake. At this point he has a choice, and his response will tell us whether he’s an essentially good person under a lot of understandable stress or the kind of miserable, insecure jerk who understands that his (authority/paycheck/reputation) is entirely undeserved based on the (lack of) value he delivers to society and is afraid that someone will notice and take it away.

Raphael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes, definitely. What I intended but forgot to say at the end of my previous comment was that at the moment I write this, the person in the hardest situation is a guy at Philadephia police HQ who’s been handed this indefensible, horribly spiraling PR disaster by a poorly-trained beat cop and his disgusting posse. I’d put dollars to Sergeant Dougherty’s donuts that it’s that guy, the guy sitting in HQ and facing a massive preemptive lobby by the local police union, who would most like Dougherty’s badge and gun inserted somewhere biologically infeasible

Nathan (profile) says:

In a city like Philly, it’s understandable for the police to be a little jumpy. They do have to deal with a lot of undesirable crap, after all. But in a case like this where an innocent citizen is simply exercising a right to self defense in a fully legal manner, there’s not a lot that can be said in their defense.

If only they were this, for lack of a better term, vigilant towards actual criminals. After they’re all remanded to a course on professional conduct and basic law, of course.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If a hard and dangerous job granted you special privileges to ignore the law because it’s too much work, police wouldn’t be first in line for such a privilege. They wouldn’t even be tenth in line. There are far harder and more dangerous jobs out there, but no one ever suggests a fisherman or a fireman should be able to get away with brandishing firearms or threatening to murder fellow citizens for engaging in 100% legal activity.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“im a resident of NY, and I know that my carry permit most definitely does not apply in NYC.”

Same w/Illinois and Chicago. The “logic” goes something like this.

Me: Ah, the state of IL allows me to own a handgun.

Chicago: Yeah, but you can’t have one inside our city limits, whether you own one or not.

Me: Really? But I use my handgun to protect myself from criminals. Why can’t I carry inside Chicago?

Chicago: Because we have more crime here.

Me: Oh, gotchya-wait, what???!!

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

> Gee no one ever thought of that, I told the mayor and
> now we can have guns. Thanks for pointing that out.

All you have to do is “tell the mayor” via suit through the federal courts. He’ll get the message. If he doesn’t, he could be sued personally via Section 1983– deprivation of civil rights under color of authority. Threaten to take his house and his car and I bet he starts paying attention.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

If he doesn’t, he could be sued personally via Section 1983– deprivation of civil rights under color of authority. Threaten to take his house and his car and I bet he starts paying attention.

And whose side do you think that judge is going to be on, Average Joe’s or Mayor Emannuel’s?

Is that too cynical?

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

> Chicago: Sure thing, we’ll just require you to shoot the gun
> at a gun range before you’re allowed to have it. Oh, and we
> prohibit gun ranges in the city. Have fun with your rights!

Which of course would instantly fail any challenge. That’s like saying, “Sure, you have the freedom of speech, but you have to have a permit to speak and we don’t give out permits.” How long do you think the federal courts would let a city get away with that kind of bullshit?

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

> To get a handgun license in Chicago now,
> you have to have at least an hour of time
> logged at a shooting range, but they also
> ban shooting ranges in city limits.

It’s a nonsense rule, ripe for challenge, but even so, I’m sure there are ranges out in the suburbs. Just go log your hour there, then come home with the certification.

hobo says:

Re: Re:

(emphasis in bold is mine)

Cities of the First Class exception

The act does not address the carrying of firearms in the open (also known as “open carry”). Thus it is legal to do so without a permit. However, the act states that any person may not carry a firearm in a city of the first class (Philadelphia is the only one in the Commonwealth) without a permit or falling under an exception. While carrying a firearm in the open in Philadelphia is legal for license holders, it is not a commonly-used carrying technique. Philadelphia law enforcement officers are likely to detain an individual who is openly carrying a firearm.

The open carry of a firearm in the rest of the state is widely practiced and generally well-accepted by local law enforcement.

pixelpusher220 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Philadelphia law enforcement officers are likely to detain an individual who is openly carrying a firearm.”

I don’t think anyone is having an issue with that. It’s the 0-60 draw the gun ‘get on the ground you fucking scum’ reaction that’s the problem.

I’m not a fan of guns, so I really don’t have a problem with an officer taking an interest in someone open carrying. However, that ‘interest’ should be limited to, ‘Sir, you need to have a license to do that…may I see your license?’

TheStupidOne says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Philadelphia law enforcement officers are likely to detain an individual who is openly carrying a firearm.”

I actually do have a problem with that even though I accept it. How many hardened criminals have you ever seen, seen depicted, or heard described as openly carrying a gun? The only people I hear of openly carrying are law abiding citizens. Often a little gun crazy, but still law abiding. The criminals are the ones who tuck the gun into their waist band or carry the gun in their pocket (at least until they pull it out to threaten or shoot)

dc dalton says:

Re: Re:

Mark was 100% within the law. In Pa. ‘open carry’ is 100% legal without any type of permit (we have what’s called a license to carry) with very limited exceptions (in a vehicle etc) except in ‘a city of the first class’, which Philly is. Within the city limits open carry is also 100% legal EXCEPT you must have a valid license to carry, again which Mark had

hobo says:

Re: America has changed

Whoever said that was either uninformed or sadly mistaken. The Soviet Union (and communist countries) were the Second World (US/NATO/capitalism being First) and Third World was simply those that did not align with either.

While I understand what the term “third world” has come to mean, describing the USSR as third world or Third World makes no sense.

In which case, it might be nice if we had Third World cops.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: America has changed

Actually, that is incorrect. What you have is “Old World” – that is Europe (including Russia), Asia (including Russia and China), Africa (usually the Mediterranean coast) and the Middle East. Then you have the “New World” which is usually considered to be the Americas, but could also be stretched to places like Australia/New Zealand. The “Third World” refers to everywhere else, often non-industrialised nations, where capitalism, democracy and decent medical services have failed to penetrate – basically where ‘modern’ development is a factor.

The categories aren’t perfect – for instance, the US and Canada are definitely ‘New World’ and developed, but where would you class Brazil or Argentina?

TwoWords (profile) says:

Wow.Who woulda thunk that one stupid situation turns into a more stupid situation in this country of college educated people holding jobs.It seems just being able to remeber things to pass a test is all we really need to make good thoughtful quick judgements. Oh wait commen sense would have to be taught and tested but since that is something one learns by actually doing instead of having everyone do it for you. And this also proves that sometimes more than 2 heads are better than one. just because one has a head does not mean they have a brain that is used.

John Doe says:

Virginia has open carry law as well

Virginia has an open carry law as well and AFAIK, you don’t even have to have a license. You do have to have a license to carry concealed though. Why anyone would carry in the open I don’t know, you lose the element of surprise. The bad guy will shoot you first. That being said, I have only ever seen a couple people carry openly.

Anyway, this is another case of police abusing their power, not admitting their wrong and even going so far as to prosecute someone for something that should in no way be illegal. I am sure the NRA will step in and help this guy beat this trumped up rap.

AdamBv1 (profile) says:

Re: Virginia has open carry law as well

Why anyone would carry in the open I don’t know, you lose the element of surprise. The bad guy will shoot you first.

No, the bad guy will simply leave you alone. Bad guys are out there looking for easy prey not to get into random firefights.

Also it used to not be considered gentlemanly to conceal your weapon.

DCX2 says:

Re: Virginia has open carry law as well

“the bad guy will shoot you first”?

If you ever took a lesson in self defense, you would know that “bad guys” go after the weak ones because they won’t put up a fight. Putting up any sort of a fight is enough to encourage most bad guys to pick a new target.

The real reason not to carry a firearm is because merely owning a firearm dramatically increases your chance of dying from a firearm.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Virginia has open carry law as well

That is like saying by owning a car you are more likely to die in one. Probably true but I still see lots of cars in the driveway.

Unless you live in one of the few major cities in the country with decent mass transit, owning a car is almost required to function in society.

Owning a gun is not.

I don’t understand conceal permits at all.

Reklrul says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Virginia has open carry law as well

I don’t understand conceal permits at all.

Would you support completely disarming the police? Somehow, I doubt you would. So if it’s their guns that give them the edge in fighting crime, why shouldn’t the average person have that same edge? In most cases, average people can prevent being robbed or car-jacked by simply displaying their gun to the criminal. Criminals may be scum, but they don’t want to get shot any more than anyone else. In fact, there have been interviews with convicted felons who have stated point blank that they would avoid anyone they suspected was carrying a gun.

If you meant that you don’t understand why people conceal them, well, it’s to avoid situations like the one in this article. Over the last few decades, there has been a big push to get rid of the right to own and carry guns, so even though many states in the US allow normal people to carry guns with the proper permit, the police will still treat you like a criminal if you have one.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Virginia has open carry law as well

I realize I wasn’t clear. I meant that I don’t understand why a person would want to conceal their weapon. The argument is that a criminal wouldn’t mess with someone who can defend themself with a gun. Concealing the weapon so that the criminals don’t know you have it seems counter-productive.

I support gun rights. I think, just like cars, you should need a license, and there should be reasonable restrictions on the type of guns (example, assault rifles and grenade launchers). I have no problem with a law-abiding citizen, properly licensed and knowing how to handle it safely, owning and openly carrying a handgun, rifle, etc.

John Doe says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Virginia has open carry law as well

Big cities are where most of the violent crime is so you need a gun instead of a car. Your logic just doesn’t hold up. Nobody said owning a gun is necessary, but it is a constitutional right so owning a gun should not be a problem.

Also, concealed carry permits are given to people without a felony record. Two states actually allow concealed carry without permit which is as it should be. So you do realize that the people with permits aren’t the ones you have to worry about right? I forget the real stat, but something like less than 1% of permit holders commit a crime with their gun. So that says you are much more likely to commit gun crime if you don’t have a permit? That is how statistics work right?

John Doe says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Virginia has open carry law as well

Yes and what I don’t understand is why anti-gunners ignore this. They live in some kind of dream world where wolves and sheep cohabitate peacefully. That world just doesn’t exist. The saying “when it is criminal to have a gun only criminals will have guns” is true and provable by looking at those big cities today. How can that logic be ignored?

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Virginia has open carry law as well

Isn’t it interesting that the cities that have the strictest gun control laws are also the cities that are the biggest crime-ridden cesspools with a near-logarithmic murder rate?

[citation needed]

Even if true, you’re assuming that strict control of guns is causing the crime. Maybe it was the other way, and that the crime was there before the laws, and the laws were a reaction to attempt to bring the crime rate down.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Virginia has open carry law as well

> [citation needed]

FBI ? Uniform Crime Reports

> Even if true, you’re assuming that strict control of guns is
> causing the crime.

Not at all. All sorts of things cause crime. Strict gun control just creates an environment where it can flourish unchecked.

If you were a home invasion specialist, where would you choose to ply your trade– a city in Texas where you know there’s a 70/30 chance that the person inside the home is armed, or Washington, DC, where you know there’s a near 100% chance the person inside is unarmed?

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Virginia has open carry law as well

You are mistaken. As a citizen, you are wholly, entirely responsible for your own defense. Police have zero responsibility to protect you from being attacked by criminals. The SCOTUS has ruled this way many times when people who decided not to defend themselves sued police for failing to do so for them.

Choosing not to own or carry the required tools of self- defense is your right. But make no mistake, you are indeed choosing pro-actively to not be defend yourself against a serious attack. You might well change your mind when your life is in danger, but having chosen not to own a gun, you would be doomed. A responsible citizen (armed, in other words) can choose not to draw their weapon, or choose not to fire it. But an unarmed person has already chosen to be a victim.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Virginia has open carry law as well

“The real reason not to carry a firearm is because merely owning a firearm dramatically increases your chance of dying from a firearm.”

This is completely wrong and it is foolish to continue repeating it. “Studies” that have been put out by the liberal agenda to show this is true are universally biased propaganda. The NRA has produced numerous works showing it.

Your chances of dying in the course of a violent crime are not changed by your owning a gun. A violent criminal planning to do you harm can use a pencil to kill you.

Is a pencil necessary for daily life? No. Should you get rid of them because it could be used as a weapon? No. The same is true of guns.

DCX2 says:

Re: Re: Re: Virginia has open carry law as well

lol, okay, despite the terms “liberal” and “NRA”, I’ll bite.

Your chances of dying in the course of a violent crime are not changed by your owning a gun.

Even if I were to believe your “evidence” provided by the NRA (not unlike trusting the tobacco companies to give “evidence” about the danger of smoking)…

How many people accidentally die from gunshots every year?

Had those people not owned guns, would they have died?

John Doe says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Virginia has open carry law as well

Again, what are the chances of being killed by a car if you don’t own a car? Yet people own cars. You would actually ban anything that could accidently kill you? Do you use a riding mower? People die from rollover accidents with those yet probably never happens with a push mower. You take the risks you are comfortable with and I will take the risks I am comfortable with. What is the problem with that?

NotMyRealName (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Virginia has open carry law as well

Firearms deaths 29,000; (1.2% of all preventable)
Suicide: 16,586;
homicide: 10,801;
Accidents: 776;
Legal intervention: 270;
Unknown: 230

your point holds true for 776 people apparently. however, if 10,801 homicide victims -had- owned guns, would they have died?

firearms being the great equalizer only holds true if everyone is armed… if only the aggressor is, it gives him or her an overwhelming advantage

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Virginia has open carry law as well

The trouble with your view is, the anti-gun studies are produced by people with a vested interest in banning guns (anti-gun lobbying groups, employees of such groups, etc).

The NRA produces pro-gun studies that show the opposite. If you disregard these because of the source, you have to also disregard the anti-gun studies, or you become a hypocrite.

There are a few neutral studies around, and they generally agree with the NRA ones. I recall one by a guy who was devoted anti-gun, until he did research. He’s pro-gun now.

B's Opinion Only (profile) says:

This all sounds bad and the cops were obviously idiots, but this individual was previously known to the police. It is not inconceivable that the cops in question knew about his record, or had been antagonized by him in the past.

Yes, they were wrong to threaten his life. Yes their language was inappropriate, unprofessional and served to escalate the situation, but Fiorino’s public record on the Internet makes him appear to be a shit disturber.

WHO the heck runs a black box recorder every time they leave the house?!?

Someone at has posted details about Fiorino’s previous run-ins with the law, which include:

It is surprising to me that someone with this history could obtain a firearms permit.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You’ve got to be kidding me. Have you ever BEEN to Philidelphia? A little public drunkeness and a fight or two doesn’t preclude you from owning a gun, it qualifies you to be city spokesman.

And if the cops knew him because he got busted for being drunk in public and getting into a fight, then those are some of the most attune police on the planet.

Philidelphia: You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.

Steven (profile) says:

Re: Re:

After a bit more thought this post really pisses me off. This kind of attitude is poisonous.

You’re basically saying: Who the hell thinks they have the right to walk around and enjoy their constitutional rights whenever they feel like?!?! They should get advanced written permission and allow at least seven days for police notification before they try crap like that!

Michial Thompson (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

This post really shouldn’t piss you off, it should leave a lot of questions open to be asked.

EVERY carry class I have ever seen specifically addresses how to handle an encounter with the police regarding the firearm. Basically the general process is to keep your hands in the open and non threatening, inform the officer your are armed, and COMPLY with his instructions.

I have had a number of these encounters and never once has it ended poorly. Typically you are asked where the weapon is, then instructed to move to a specific place, then the weapon is secured by the officer, then your permits/license is examined and whatever business is needed is conducted and then you are given the weapon back unloaded and everyone goes on their way.

THIS GUY did NOT comply, he ARGUED. His confrontation and non compliance ESCALLATED the problem. Granted the officer makes his share of mistakes too, BUT the initial mistake was the citizen.

Next comes the questions about WHY was this being recorded, and exactly HOW did the recorder get turned on. If the guy has no legitimate reason for recoding SOMETHING and the recorder was just recording silent air until this encounter then the it will be hard to convince someone that he was doing anything other than trying to antagonize the officers into some form of action by openingly carrying the weapon.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I have had a number of these encounters and never once has it ended poorly. Typically you are asked where the weapon is, then instructed to move to a specific place, then the weapon is secured by the officer, then your permits/license is examined and whatever business is needed is conducted and then you are given the weapon back unloaded and everyone goes on their way.

You realize that this encounter started off with the officer’s gun drawn and pointed at him while instructing the guy to get on his knees, right? That’s a bit different from a traffic stop where your gun is in the glove box with your registration and you want to make sure there aren’t any misunderstandings.

the initial mistake was the citizen.

Clearly, putting his hands up and speaking calmly and respectfully to the officer but questioning the need for him to kneel in the dirt is the same as being “uncooperative” and “confrontational”. How dare he deign to question his better? This is America; obey authority without question or pay the price!

trying to antagonize the officers into some form of action by openingly carrying the weapon.

You’re saying he knew the police were all ignorant of their own rules?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“I have had a number of these encounters and never once has it ended poorly.”

Are you white?

Did they start with a gun being pointed at you? Or were you calmly asked what that is your carrying or if you have a licsence for that?

“If the guy has no legitimate reason for recoding SOMETHING and the recorder was just recording silent air until this encounter then the it will be hard to convince someone that he was doing anything other than trying to antagonize the officers into some form of action by openingly carrying the weapon.”

So if I do something legal but record myself doing it I am up to no good? Not sure I really follow your logic.

I mean its his RIGHT to carry a firearm. Maybe he has been harassed before and is sick of not being able to prove/do anything about it so he carries a black box 24/7. Just because he knows he might get harassed doesnt mean he has to stop exercising his right and just because he is recording in case he is harassed does not make this his fault. If the cop had not over reacted he would have tape of a cop doing a good job, whoopity-do.

“THIS GUY did NOT comply, he ARGUED. His confrontation and non compliance ESCALLATED the problem.”

Shy of catching a bullet in the face how do you escalate a confrontation when the other guy already pulled a gun on you?

Jesse (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Quite frankly even if he was “looking for trouble” I’m having a hard time understanding how even that’s worthy of getting treated this way. There are plenty of instances where citizens will take to activism to either insight changes or to draw attention to a current situation (in this case, ignorance on the part of law enforcement). He did nothing illegal. We shouldn’t have to live our lives terrified of police abusing civilians to death (literally, perhaps, in the case). It feels like you are arguing that lawful activism should be responded to with police brutality.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

> it will be hard to convince someone that he was doing
> anything other than trying to antagonize the officers into
> some form of action by openingly carrying the weapon.

Maybe he was just sick of being harassed for enjoying his constitutionally guaranteed rights.

No different than the people who bring video cameras to protests so they can document any attempt by the police to infringe their 1st Amendment rights.

Or do you think people who do that are merely antagonizing the police, too, and they should just shut up and do what they’re told and only speak when, where, and how they’re told to?

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If the guy has no legitimate reason for recoding SOMETHING

Why does he need a reason to record something? Depending on state recording laws I guess.

it will be hard to convince someone that he was doing anything other than trying to antagonize the officers into some form of action by openingly carrying the weapon.

And would that be illegal? What if he was in fact trying to shine a spotlight on this problem? He succeeded, with the help of the Philedelphia police.

Rob in Katy says:

Re: Re: Re: Michial

So what if he baited them, isn’t that how you catch someone doing something wrong. you can’t be everywhere all the time, so you get the perps (or deer) to come to you. Cops do this by putting up a bait car to find auto thiefs, TV shows do this to catch child predators. I think that he is doing us a great favor by showing just how little we can trust the police to know and protect our “Rights.”
That they don’t want their actions to be seen by the General Public, pretty much says everything anyone should need to know about they way they operate.

HothMonster says:

Re: Re:

“It is surprising to me that someone with this history could obtain a firearms permit.”

Couple drunk in publics, a fistfight and a dismissed misdemeanor theft. Not really a huge deal.

I imagine the black box relates to how he was treated during those drunk in publics. I know more than a few people that got charged with that because the cops wanted to charge them with something even though they did nothing wrong(well illegal at least).

“inconceivable that the cops in question knew about his record, or had been antagonized by him in the past.”

Not the kind of record that would make you think the cops know this kid from the back but it isnt unthinkable that he has had words with this cop before, I imagine if he has it is hinted or flatout said in the audio but i cant listen right now.

“WHO the heck runs a black box recorder every time they leave the house?!?”

Someone who lives in a neighborhood where the cops like to draw guns on you and start swearing then write you public intox tickets maybe? I can’t wait to listen to the audio but if he was calm, respectful and taping this then he probably has been hassled by the cops before and was waiting for it to happen again.

CommonSense (profile) says:

Re: Re:

A couple public drunkenness arrests and a dismissed retail theft case mean that this guy deserved to have a gun pointed at him and his life threatened for walking down the street obeying all laws?? Give me a break… I got drunk and got in a fight in college myself, but I’m in no way a bad citizen who doesn’t deserve to be able to carry a gun. There are people with rap sheets twice that long who don’t get a second look from a passing cop, even if that cop had arrested them before…

DCX2 says:

Re: Re:

I can’t believe you’re trying to justify aiming a loaded gun at an innocent citizen based on a such a weak rap-sheet.

Oh, but you used those clever “the cops were obviously idiots/they were wrong to threaten his life” so you don’t look like a total authoritarian apologist. Typical “it was wrong BUT…”

But nothing. You don’t pull a loaded gun on someone unless they’re threatening your life. Period. If you don’t have that much self control, then you shouldn’t be given a loaded gun in the first place.

FYI: your second amendment rights are stripped from you when you commit felonies, not misdemeanors. But why would we care about little things like the law when Great Police Officers just Know this guy’s got a Record.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Response to: B's Opinion Only on May 18th, 2011 @ 1:33pm

Who’s to say that those weren’t trumped up.charges and he started carrying the recorder to protect himself against the police? He sounded perfectly reasonable, and the officer didn’t recognize him at all, so his prior record doesn’t come into play during the encounter. No, this.was just a power hungry d-bag IMO.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

> Fiorino’s public record on the Internet makes him appear to
> be a shit disturber.

Funny how anyone who actually stands up for their rights and/or makes the government actually abide by the laws it imposes on everyone else is so pejoratively labeled.

The question is always, “Why didn’t you just be good and submit? It’s so much easier that way.”

As if easier is always better.

Anonymous Coward says:


Hmm, you might want to do some research on where he lived & where this took place before making a statement like that.. Not to mention in the recording the officer said “I DONT KNOW WHO YOU ARE”….. Feel dumb yet? Good, you should. I guess the guy is a horrible citizen since he got drunk in public and had a fight and had retail theft (notice the charge was DISMISSED).. Hmm, if i’m not mistaken when you go to a bar & leave & your not the DD, your generally drunk.. Does that make you a bad person? No. Does it make Mark a bad person? No. You had a fight in public, shit like that happens.. Same question & answer applies. Get your head out of the gutter.

Anonymous Coward says:

If an ordinary citizen did what the police did in this situation s/he would have been in all sorts of trouble. So why aren’t the police subject to similar punishments when they misbehave or act unlawfully (though the law can sometimes be one sided in their favor so the law sometimes wrongfully allows them to do things that they shouldn’t be allowed to do without subjecting them to the punishment that an ordinary citizen would be subject to had the ordinary citizen done something equally as bad).

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re:

What would happen to a citizen who saw a uniformed cop open carrying (as almost every uniformed cop does) and made a citizen’s arrest for impersonating a police officer? Nothing good, even if the officer was behaving in an unprofessional way. If the citizen had done so at gunpoint, odds are any responding officers simply would have opened fire without a word.

Michial Thompson (user link) says:

Something smells like fish

Not that the officers are right in their actions, they obviously aren’t.

BUT has anyone considered to ask the questions:

If his intent was not to set them up for this, exactly WHEN and HOW did he turn on the recorder??????

Seems to me that the encounter started off with the officer drawing his gun. If this is fact, then exactly WHEN and HOW did the recorder get turned on??? Does this guy go around recording EVERYTHING??? If not then how did he know this was about to happen to know to turn the recoder on????

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Something smells like fish

> If his intent was not to set them up for this, exactly WHEN
> and HOW did he turn on the recorder??????

Even if his intent *was* to set them up for it, my response is so what?

If the cops actually knew the laws in their own city, his set-up would have failed. The fact that it succeeded indicates there’s some serious deficiencies on the police force.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Something smells like fish

You say this as if ‘setting them up’ is wrong — bullshit.

Checking to see if a system is working correctly is called an “inspection” or “audit”.

Intentionally or not, this situation was a great test of the police force in Philly, and they failed miserably.

If this guy was auditing his local police to make sure that they (a) responded correctly to him carrying a gun and (b) that they knew their own laws, then what he’s actually doing is very brave.

You’re acting like cops should “own” the citizens and have no scrutiny, no accountability, and no responsibility for their own actions. You’re acting as if it’s wrong to expect cops to know what they’re doing, and to respond appropriately to a citizen going about his LEGAL AND VALID business.

Are you saying that cops should be able to attack random people for no legal reason at all? That’s exactly what you’re implying.

Anonymous Coward says:

It doesn’t matter if they guy thought “Damnit I get harassed every time I legally carry my gun. You know what, I’m taking my digital recorder with me this time”
If the cops are reliably ignorant assholes then so what if the cops got exposed for it? We really gotta get some “How many cops does it take….” jokes going. Because really, How many cops does it take to know if something is a crime.
What do they go by? The laws? obviously not. Their gut feeling? Apparently works most of the time, and gets you out of any trouble.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Did you know being a paranoid schizophrenic cop, gives you unlimited power? Your always in fear of your safety so all your actions are justified, and you hear odd noises coming from wherever you are, so you have warrantless access everywhere.

I know this was intended to be a joke, but it certainly isn’t true, at least in most states. Paranoid schizophrenic cops won’t make it through the psych-evaluation. Also, the law states “reasonable person”, and a paranoid schizophrenic is not reasonable (when the syndrome is not under control.)

Rob in Katy says:

Re: Re: Re:

well, they may make it 5, 10, 15 years until he slips up. Used to know quite a few Sheriffs and Patrol officers and saw this several times. The problem is, the departments don’t want to look bad when stuff happens. so the one guy that goaded guys in bars into fights, had a 1.5lb trigger pull on his firearm, would have been considered by most to be an alkie winds up blowing a guys head off while talking to him (yeah, think Pulp Fiction) gets nobilled – go figure.
I haven’t heard of many getting bounced for failing a psych eval, it is usually after they kill someone.

pixelpusher220 (profile) says:


Officers have seriously wide latitude during arrests or other interactions with the general public.

Your recourse to abuse of this latitude is in the courts, not against the officer you are dealing with while the situation is going on.

If an officer believes there is imminent threat they can break in to your house. If physically try to stop them, you are assaulting an officer. That’s the ‘law’.

DCX2 says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“when there’s a gun involved”

There was no gun involved until the cop pulled his. Pretty sure the “honeypot’s” gun was holstered the entire time.

I don’t think anyone disagrees with stopping and checking him out. Asking for his license, etc. It’s the pull-gun-first-ask-questions-later attitude that isn’t acceptable.

Anonymous Coward says:

“then you are given the weapon back unloaded and everyone goes on their way”
Do you get a handful of bullets too?
Really though, if it’s a honeypot (Which just seems odd when your doing something completely legal waiting for someone to do something illegal, good examples are security cameras in banks and stores), the guy would have had to have the cops do this to him before often enough for the cops to be a sucker for it and NOT learn the law. How many cops are going to forget by the next time, when it’s legal to carry a firearm. And realistically they didn’t talk about it to other officers? Really?

B's Opinion Only (profile) says:

OK. I have been well and soundly spanked by other commenters. Nice work.

Here in Canada no one can carry a pistol, so I was unaware that only felony convictions can take away that right in the US.

The action of the cops was reprehensible. I only mentioned that Fiorino had a record to indicate what may have set them off after a random license plate check or something.

Perhaps running a recorder all the time is an advisable activity in the new police state. I was just surprised that someone, with no supposed agenda, had done that.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re:

OK. I have been well and soundly spanked by other commenters. Nice work.

It takes a stand up guy to admit something like that on the internetz. I applaud you, sir.

Perhaps running a recorder all the time is an advisable activity in the new police state.

Seems that way. I wonder what they have these days for cheap, long running recorders.

Steven (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Seems that way. I wonder what they have these days for cheap, long running recorders.

They’re commonly called “Smart phones” or “cell phones” and I hear their pretty popular these days.

Seriously though any smart phone has good audio/video recording apps available and for basic cell phones there are numbers in most locations that allow you to call in for a recording.

Anonymous Coward says:

Based on what I now know, I think these cops went too far. That being said, I think it might play out like this:
Assuming that recording a LIVE AND IN PERSON conversation (not over the phone) is illegal in this jurisdiction, This person will be prosecuted for that action. HOWEVER, that does not mean that the recording is not necessarily admissible in any action against the police officers. Thus, it might be admissible in a disciplinary hearing and in a civil suit filed by Fiorino. So Fiorino is prosecuted, takes a plea deal for a fine, and then sues the police using the tape. The resulting verdict could certainly be five figures. More than enough to compensate Fiorino for any fine. (Whether or not it is actually admissible will depend on a number of factors, but it certainly might be.)

techdirty says:
The Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association even states that the Filly cops are almost guar-un-teed to be douches about open carry stating they “will do everything in their power to make your life difficult”.
It’s apparently well known that in Philly that the legal right of open-carry has been prempted by the requirement to obtain a license and that even with such lawful permit local officials do not recognize the priveledge to open carry with a permit as they themselves do.

It takes arrogant attention whoring asshats like this guy to point out the hipocracy of dempcracy and the abuse of power that some get away with. Hopefully his voice is not quashed as happens so often.

He pointed out an important misunderstanding of the law by those entrusted to protected. The responsible thing for a society to do is to fix the problem and move on. But I fear this man will simply end up with a criminal record and have his permit revoked as a lesson to those who choose to speak up.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re:

While you are required to obey a lawful order, not all orders are lawful.

With a firearm license in Philadelphia, open carry of a firearm is no more illegal than open usage of an automobile (also a licensed item that can be used to kill people).

An order that infringes a constitutional, civil or statutory right is an illegal and unlawful order. Google “18USC242” and you’ll be able to read the law for yourself. No one is under any legal or moral obligation to obey an unlawful order.

Jon G. (profile) says:

Re: Re:

@95 you are so many levels of wrong, its not even funny. Were you listening to the same recording I was? Every step of the way, Fiorino was calmly asserting his rights. Fiorino only resisted in the slightest when the officer made unreasonable demands, and every step of the way was trying to defuse the situation. He attempted to educate the officer because the officer was clearly ignorant about the situation. He attempted to produce documentation showing his legal right to carry a firearm. Considering that Fiorino allegedly had a weapon pointed at him, I think he handled the situation rather well.

I’m sorry, but calmly asserting your rights and refusing to abide by unreasonable orders made by a clearly overzealous and ignorant officer is not a free license for the officer to overreact, draw his weapon without cause. It simply isn’t.

We cannot defend police officers who are so clearly in the wrong. We cannot make excuses for them. We must hold them to the same standards that citizens are held to, and when they react inappropriately, they must be penalized.

In contrast, if the officer would have responded just as calmly said “sir, I understand that you are telling me you have a permit. For my own safety, I would like to disarm you. Place your hands on your head and walk backwards towards me.” this whole situation would have played out differently. Hell, if the cop wanted to handcuff Fiorino at that point, it would have been acceptable IMO. I totally understand that police need to protect themselves, and when faced with an uncertain scenario, I’m okay with them taking precautions.

It’s called situational awareness. Many officers are capable of making rational decisions regarding the situation they are faced with. Those who can’t need to be retrained, penalized, or fired – in that order.

I’m sorry, but I don’t trust people like Sgt. Dougherty or ANY of the backup officers to protect citizens. Cops like that do more harm than good.

John Doe says:

Why the focus on why he was recording?

The recording is there so we can all hear what happened so why the focus on why the guy was recording what was going on? Why does it matter if a guy was doing something that is perfectly legal? It is just a red herring. Did he or did he not provoke the cops and did the cops over react or not. Those are the only two questions here.

Thomas (profile) says:


are not noted for being particularly intelligent. A police officer who does not know the law and threatens to shoot someone who is not violating the law? Why would this be a surprise.

Lots of states (including my home state of Mass) prosecutes, under wiretap laws, people who videotape the police.

On one hand the police want people to trust them, and then wonder why people do not trust them. The reason is simple; police should not necessarily be trusted. If you happen to be in a minority group and under 25, then the police are not your friends anyway.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If he had been carrying a chemistry textbook under his arm, the cop would have been equally justified to draw a gun on him. More people have been killed by knowledge of chemistry than have been killed by pistols, after all.

If openly carrying a pistol, when the law says you have the right to and that nobody can take that right away, is all the grounds you need to conclude the public is being endangered, I would have to point out that police carry guns openly too.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: So torn...

> On the one hand, i think stronger gun control laws would be great

Why? Everywhere it’s been tried, the city has turned into a war zone. Just two examples:

Washington, DC — strictest gun control in the country / highest murder rate in America, three years running.

Chicago — very strict gun control laws / crime is so out of control that the mayor has asked the governor for national guard assistance

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: So torn...

After Great Britain banned all ownership of pistols by private citizens, they next had to ban ownership of knives due to a sharp upsurge in knife crime. I expect them to ban blunt objects next when criminals start using those in preference over knives. In the end, every citizen of the UK will have their hands, feet and lower jaw amputated, to curb a nasty upsurge in criminals punching, kicking and biting people.

Criminals commit acts of violence on the innocent, and will use the best means available, legal or not, to accomplish this. Simply ban a weapon and soon only criminals will have them (why would a criminal respect a law against guns, when they don’t respect one against killing people?). If you actually get rid of all the weapons, it won’t stop criminals from being violent, it will just mean anyone weaker than they are becomes defenseless.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 So torn...

That’s a little over-the-top. We banned guns and knives because there is no legal reason for people to carry them, and public feeling is that they are purely harmful and unnecessary. Anything that could be easily used for a weapon also has to be carried appropriately out-of-the-way as well, but they aren’t banned just because they might cause harm. It’s the degree of harm (knives tend to be worse than cricket bats and guns are just nasty) that makes the difference. As has been proven when idiots go mad with katanas, people are quite capable of jumping in and stopping them. That’s a lot harder with guns. Basically, there are a whole lot less guns sloshing around here, very few people have permission to carry them, and so our gun crime IS way lower than yours. Granted, we have very different philosophies about personal armament, but at best you are saying that controlling guns in a gun-mad environment doesn’t work well – and I would dearly love to see what other factors had been controlled for – after all, correlation != causation.

BearGriz72 (profile) says:

Re: So torn...

If gun laws in fact worked, the sponsors of this type of legislation should have no difficulty drawing upon long lists of examples of crime rates reduced by such legislation. That they cannot do so after a century and a half of trying — that they must sweep under the rug the southern attempts at gun control in the 1870-1910 period, the northeastern attempts in the 1920-1939 period, the attempts at both Federal and State levels in 1965-1976 — establishes the repeated, complete and inevitable failure of gun laws to control serious crime.

Orrin Hatch, “The Right to Keep and Bear Arms

The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, … or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of the press.

Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Major John Cartwright
(5 June 1824)

To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.

Richard Henry Lee, Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republic, Letter XVIII (25 January 1978).

The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.

Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (1833), p. 708.

Am fear nach gl?idh na h-airm san t-s?th, cha bhi iad aige ‘n ?m a’ chogaidh.
He that keeps not his arms in time of peace will have none in time of war.

Scottish Gaelic proverb

If you outlaw guns only the outlaws and the government will have guns.

Richard G Sjolin Jr (AKA BearGriz72) – Repeatedly and Often

If you take guns away from legal gun owners then the only people who would have guns would be the bad guys. Even a pacifist would get violent if someone were trying to kill him or her. You would fight for your life, whatever your beliefs. You’d use a rock or tear one of these chairs out of the floor. Hey, maybe I’ve been watching too many Bruce Willis movies!

Bruce Willis (2006)

……….Any Questions?

Brian says:


I feel sorry for Americans. Nearly all of the ones I’ve met are nice, friendly people. It’s a pity they live in such a sh1thole though. Land of the free? That’s just a sick ironic joke nowadays. There’s a story like this coming out every day. How’s that kid doing who was suspended for farting on the school bus the other day?

Shane Roach (profile) says:

Good Story

This kind of thing is why I love Techdirt. You just flat do not get these issues covered properly in the newspapers, radio, or tv.

I don’t know that I necessarily want these officers to lose their jobs, but someone certainly should. It is unacceptable to have a law in place about something as potentially dangerous as gun ownership and possession and have that many officers utterly ignorant of the current status of the law.

Yaniel (profile) says:

A possible reason for why he was recording

It states that the officer stopped on the road. If he’s blocking the road, it can be assumed he has the lights on and possibly sounded the siren at least momentarily. At that point the guy could have quickly turned on a recorder in a few seconds before the cop was even out of the car. Maybe he carries it because this has happened before, maybe he just happened to have it, maybe it’s built into his phone.

Juan says:

Use Your Talents To Save Our Economy

Mark Fiorino,

Thank you for risking your life to expose egregious ignorance among our public servants. This was a clear case of institutional ineptitude. The police officer pointing a gun at you for legally walking down a sidewalk is a public disgrace, as were the follow up charges against you by his superiors.

With that street gutter attitude, no doubt the semi-educated police officer?s mother let his stepfathers beat him as a child. He should have started a conversation by calling you ?Sir? instead of ?Junior?. Worse, even if his parents were pathetic in shaping his demeanor toward fellow humans his employers should have nipped that behavior in the bud a long time ago.

Any public servant nowadays that behaves inappropriately should have no reason to expect privacy while performing their public duty. If the government is going to film us with speeding and stop light cameras and dashboard cameras why would it not expect quid pro quo ?of the people, by the people, for the people? Aren?t we all in this together? The old adage, ?What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas? is now ?What happens in Vegas goes on the Internet?.

Despite his upbringing, if the police officer is any kind of man with a social conscience, he should have called you or written you by now personally apologizing for putting your life in jeopardy, using foul language, and not knowing the limits and responsibilities of his job. A true professional will acknowledge their shortcomings and work like heck to remedy them ?part of the 12-step process.

Did you set them up? Oh yeah. Did that particular officer need to be the scapegoat for public scrutiny in the police department?s failure to understand the laws they are entrusted to enforce? No. You too need to be a man and apologize to him for using him as a tool for getting your point across. He became a police officer so he could legally carry a gun just like you. Nevertheless, I?m afraid you both have more in common than I?d want in my neighborhood.

I always tell my kids, ?Never argue with an idiot. The casual observer can?t tell which one is which.? Without argument everyone here seems to agree: open carry is idiotic ?it invites nothing but trouble from both sides of the law.

You?re fortunate you hadn?t committed Suicide by Cop, which any police organization would rally around as the reason for your death. They have an interest in protecting their employees like family ?nepotism being alive an well in most organizations. I grew up during the Rizzo era reading about their antics in The Philadelphia Bulletin. It?s entertaining to see things haven?t changed much ?and I don?t live there anymore.

Now that you?ve won your argument with the man, count your blessings and use your talents for something more important, like reducing the federal debt so we?re not owned by the Chinese. Come spend time at Goldman Sachs and the Department of Treasury, otherwise we?re going to see a spike in DWA (Driving While Asian) traffic tickets as our little yellow friends visit their new properties: Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Statue of Liberty, White House, Capitol Building ?

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

it is illegal to open carry a side arm in a first class city in pa aka philadelphia.

That is not correct.

“No person shall carry a firearm, rifle or shotgun at any time upon the public streets or upon any public property in a city of the first class unless:

* (1) such person is licensed to carry a firearm; or
* (2) such person is exempt from licensing under section 6106(b) of this title (relating to firearms not to be carried without a license).”

Rex says:

To all the stupid fucking cops who posted if the cop had known the law the encounter would not have taken place and why should he obey an unlawful order from cop who is clearly not in control you fucking idiot pig fucking have nerve no your fucking jobs dont be corrupt and serve thoes in your community oe get fucking delt with the way this guy did an be for ever embarrassed at your own ignorance

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