A Forum for Opinions on News, Politics, and Life
May 17th, 2011
By Dan Miller
This tale from Philadelphia, A.K.A. the City of Brotherly Love, seems to fit neatly into the jigsaw puzzle with this piece about a recent Indiana Supreme Court decision and this one about an incident in Pima County, Arizona.
It seems that a Mr. Fiorino, with the appropriate permit for carrying a firearm, did just that. As he walked down a city street, holstered pistol visible on his hip, he was accosted by the police who spoke to him in language not customarily heard in church or elsewhere in civilized surroundings.
Fiorino was on Frankford near Placid Street when Sgt. Dougherty spotted him from his police cruiser, stopped and called out to him.
An unnerving back-and-forth started to unfold like a bizarre routine. Dougherty would bark an order, and Fiorino would make an alternative suggestion.
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.
It went on like that for a little while, until other officers responded to Dougherty’s calls for backup.
Fiorino was forced to the ground and shouted at as he tried to explain that he had a firearms license and was legally allowed to openly carry his weapon.
“You f—— come here looking for f—— problems? Where do you live?” yelled one officer.
“I’m sorry, gentlemen,” Fiorino said. “If I’m under arrest, I have nothing left to say.”
“F—— a——, shut the f— up!” the cop hollered.
The cops discovered his recorder as they searched his pockets, and unleashed another string of expletives.
Fiorino said he sat handcuffed in a police wagon while the officers made numerous phone calls to supervisors, trying to find out if they could lock him up.
When they learned that they were in the wrong, they let him go.
That might have been the end of the thing, too, if it hadn’t been for the recordings.
Things got a bit more unpleasant.
After Fiorino posted his recordings on YouTube, they went viral. Members of pro-firearms forums on the Web took a particular interest in the incident.
The Police Department heard about the YouTube clips. A new investigation was launched, and last month the District Attorney’s Office decided to charge Fiorino with reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct because, a spokeswoman said, he refused to cooperate with police.
Fiorino said he plans to sue the city whenever his criminal case is resolved.
Police spokesman Lt. Ray Evers said the department believes that Fiorino wanted to get into a confrontation with cops, that he wanted to see them lose their cool so he later could file a lawsuit.
Or, as one cop was overheard saying on the YouTube recording: “He set us the f— up, that’s what the f— he did.”
Some good did come from the incident, although Mr. Fiorino is still facing criminal prosecution.
The Police Department is trying to make sure none of its officers are ever again caught not knowing basic gun laws.“Our officers weren’t up to speed [because] we never really addressed it,” said Lt. Francis Healy, the department’s lawyer.
“In the last several weeks, we’ve done a lot of training and put out a lot of information about what is allowed and what’s not allowed. Right now, our officers are better-versed on the subject matter.”
Healy said he emphasized the importance of officers being polite and professional if they have to stop a person who is legally carrying a firearm.
“You can use caution, but you don’t need to curse them up and down and put a gun in their face,” he said.
At City Hall on Saturday, about 30 gun owners staged a protest of Fiorino’s recent arrest.
The protesters and cops got along fine. (emphasis added)
Mr. Fiorino may indeed have anticipated such actions by the police — having experienced that sort of thing previously — and he may indeed have set out to conduct his own little civilian sting operation. Still, the police should have been aware of the laws they attempted incorrectly to enforce and rather than cuss Mr. Fiorino out for not yielding to their ignorance of those laws they should have asked him, perhaps even politely, to stand where he was until they figured out what they should do. Here is one of the YouTube audios.
I have had very few encounters with police officers and in those few they seemed to know what they were doing and were courteous. Here, they were ignorant of the law they were apparently trying to enforce and were grossly discourteous with no apparent reason. Maybe the Indiana Supreme Court had it right — just do what you are told to do, don’t mind what the laws say, and the courts will sort everything out later. Perhaps the Pima County SWAT folks were right when they fired a “hail” of bullets leaving sixty slugs in a twenty-six year old former Marine, leaving him dead in his home. I don’t think so. Law enforcement activities of this sort seem inappropriate and unless they are called to our attention through more “sting” operations there will be more of them. Perhaps police should consider conducting some similar sting operations themselves if they don’t want adverse publicity.
(This article was first published at The PJ Tatler.)
(To avoid spam, comments with three or more links will be held for moderation and approval.)
Copyright 2017 Opinion Forum