Philadelphia Cops vs. The Citizen

Woe to the citizens of Philadelphia if you are acting within the constraints of the law AND the cops don’t like know that law.  At least that’s the message from the cops when it comes to citizens excercising their right to carry a gun.  In full sight.  With a permit.

You see, it seems that cops in Philly are able to decide their own laws OR they don’t feel the need to know/abide by laws on the books.

Consider Mark Fiorino and his recent run in with the law:

It all started years ago when friends of his were victims of violent crime:

A handful of his friends fell victim to random crimes over the years – a mugging here, a beatdown there, the kind of stuff that happens all the time in a big city.

So, he reacted like many, not all, but many of us would; he considered the idea of carrying a gun.  But this guy, Mr. Fiorino, took the responsible path:

It was enough to make him think about being able to protect himself if he ever ran into trouble. “It would be terrifying to me to be powerless,” he said.

“I did research for quite a few years leading up to making a decision to carry,” he said. “I was ready to take on the responsibility.”

Not wanting to appear reckless and ignorant, Mr. Fiorino took years to research and come to peace with his decision.

And then he took the time to register the gun, apply for a license and carried it with him.

Now, while I suspect that the sight of a man carrying a gun on his waste would cause a cop to look twice, I would ALSO suspect that said cops would know the law.  I mean, what criminal in his right mind would just walk around with a gun, right?  And so it’s not surprising that Mr. Fiorino encountered some questions:

…he was stopped a handful of times by cops in Montgomery County and other parts of the state. The encounters were civil and quick, he said, and usually ended when an officer checked out his firearms license.

But sometimes not so much:

“Both times they told me what I was doing was illegal,” he said. “They patted me down and said, ‘We don’t care what you consent to.’

“The second time, they did an official confiscation, and it took me five months to get back my gun.”

So now, faced with continued aggrevation by law enforcement, once costing him his gun for 5 months, Mr. Fiorino took to protecting himself; he carried a tape recorder.

And it turns out he was right to do so:

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.

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.

“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.

From the audio tape, it’s clear that Mr. Fiorino offered no resistance.  He calmlly explained that it’s legal to carry and he had a license AND he was willing to provide it.  Any reasonable human being would, even if cautious, take the time to see the license and verify the law if there was doubt.

But no, the Philly cop told him to get on his knees and shut the fuck up.  Then he handcuffed him.  And oh yeah, all this at the point of a gun.

And now the story…

Is this a story about a citizen who had his rights abused?  Or is this a story about a coop who was “trapped” and “set up”?

Fiorino said he didn’t lay a trap for the cops. He regularly carries a recorder with him in case he ever has to use his gun and then offer proof of what transpired, he said.

“I’m not trying to set anyone up,” he said.

“It was a setup. He’s done this kind of thing before,” said Evers, the police spokesman, referring to Fiorino’s encounters with authorities. “He did it intentionally, and he audiotaped it.”

A very reasonable thing to do after repeated abuses is to carry a tape recorder to validate your side of the story.  Hell, COPS put tape recorders on the table when they interrogate suspects.  Lawyers do it all the time too.

But a citizen having a gun pulled on him?  That’s a bridge too far?

Even check out our intrpid reporter and his use of words to describe why Mr. Fiorino wanted a gun in the first place:

A handful of his friends fell victim to random crimes over the years – a mugging here, a beatdown there, the kind of stuff that happens all the time in a big city.

Awesome.

The lesson here, folks, is there’s nothing to see.

6 responses to “Philadelphia Cops vs. The Citizen

  1. Yeah, this gets me to about a 2 out of 10 on my outrage meter. The cops are in the wrong here clearly, but for every story like this there are hundreds if not thousands of stories of gun violence (see, e.g. http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/video?id=8102731) that are not only far more concerning, but that also clearly cannot be solved by just letting anyone who wants a gun to arm themselves. I’m not saying we need the same rules everywhere, I actually think that a city like Philadelphia has far different gun control needs than say Montana.

    As for Mr. Fiorino, I would note that the treatment he got from the police is about the same way that UNARMED african americans are treated in cities across the country on a daily basis. That is a more troubling injustice.

  2. for every story like this there are hundreds if not thousands of stories of gun violence that are not only far more concerning

    Conducted by people carrying guns in the open?

    (see, e.g. http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/video?id=8102731)

    More kids are hurt/die in pools than are hurt/injured due to guns?

    cannot be solved by just letting anyone who wants a gun to arm themselves.

    I’m guessing the city’s licensing requirements take care of that?

    That is a more troubling injustice.

    Where it occurs, yes.

    Curious though, why is the restriction of liberty when done to a black man different than that same restriction of a white man? Interesting that race is an issue in a story and post having nothing to do with race.

    • well your point seemed to be that it was unfair that a person doing nothing illegal was mistreated by police just because he was holding a gun and I was pointing out that in the scheme of things this pales in comparison to being black and getting treated with suspicion by police even without carrying a gun.

      Is it your claim that what happened in the article you described is a common occurrence? If not, what’s the significance of it?

      • I was pointing out that in the scheme of things this pales in comparison to being black and getting treated with suspicion by police even without carrying a gun.

        It kinda sounds like you’re saying “Well, don’t complain; being black is worse.” If we’re ever going to get to a point in this world where color doesn’t matter, we should first try not to make it about color.

        On the other hand, it would be interesting to see the crime rate among inner city Philadelphia registered carry license holders and inner city Philadelphia black people.

        Is it your claim that what happened in the article you described is a common occurrence?

        It is, in fact, my claim:

        So, about a year ago, Fiorino said, he got a firearms license and began openly carrying his .40-caliber Glock.

        After he began carrying, Fiorino said, he was stopped a handful of times by cops in Montgomery County and other parts of the state. The encounters were civil and quick, he said, and usually ended when an officer checked out his firearms license.

        He also had encounters with Philadelphia cops last year near the Philadelphia Museum of Art and on South Street.

        “Both times they told me what I was doing was illegal,” he said. “They patted me down and said, ‘We don’t care what you consent to.’

        “The second time, they did an official confiscation, and it took me five months to get back my gun.”

        So, in “about a year” Mr. Fiorino has had a “handful” of occurrences where the stop was civil and then the two occurrences on South Street and The Museum of Art. Now this one.

        Handful + 2 + 1 = Common [to me]

      • “After he began carrying, Fiorino said, he was stopped a handful of times by cops in Montgomery County and other parts of the state. The encounters were civil and quick, he said, and usually ended when an officer checked out his firearms license.”

        That’s fine, the cops didn’t do anything wrong there. You posted this story to suggest this is a widespread problem, didn’t you? I’m saying it’s not widespread at all. What is widespread is the police treating certain ethnicities in this country like they are criminals when they’re not doing anything wrong. I think that anti-gun-control advocates would like to present themselves as a persecuted minority when they are no such thing.

        Which returns me to my initial comment — what’s the big deal?

      • You posted this story to suggest this is a widespread problem, didn’t you?

        I did. I do think that cops abuse the law like this all the time. It may be open carry guys, it might be long haired guys, it might be skateboarding kids and it might be minorities.

        This specific case focuses on open carry guys.

        While I didn’t go into it in the post, it would seem that open carry licenses as well as concealed carry permits would be natural allies of the police not targets.

        I think that anti-gun-control advocates would like to present themselves as a persecuted minority when they are no such thing.

        They certainly are be the Left. Obama’s now famous statement, “They cling to their guns and bibles” brings the point home. The left portrays gun owners as hicks, rednecks and haters. And when their rights are infringed, not because of some unrelated thing like riding a bike down a street but because they carry a gun, your only response was “Yeah, but it’s worse to be a minority, so suck it.”

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