Philly Police Harass, Threaten To Shoot Man Legally Carrying Gun; Then Charge Him With Disorderly Conduct For Recording Them
from the lovely dept
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?"You can hear all of this via the YouTube clip, embedded here:
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."
Fiorino offered to show Dougherty his driver's and firearms licenses. The cop told him to get on his knees.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.
"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.
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.