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.

Filed Under: disorderly conduct, guns, harassment, open carry, philadelphia, police, recording


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Michial Thompson, 18 May 2011 @ 2:28pm

    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.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: I Invented Email
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.