December 18, 2004

Arrested For Legally Carrying?

Jason of Fish Or Man was arrested. From his account it sounds like he was arrested & harrassed because he was a gun owner. He was carrying openly & in accordance with Washington state law. Go read what happened. I'll add some of my thoughts later on.

Update (12-21-04 07:50 AM): Jason has more (as does his wife) at Fish Or Man. he also has a Paypal button over there. If you have anything to spare throw it his way.

My thoughts as well as some additional links are in the extended entry.

Jason made some decisions that he probably should have made differently.
What happened on the road...well from his account he didn't seem to do anything wrong. But generally if you're doing a little under or right at the speed limit & a cop stays behind you for a while that's a good sign he's about to pull you over. Typically he's just waiting for an excuse; hoping you'll speed up or swerve a little bit out of nervousness. Anytime that happens it's a good idea if at all possible to casually pull over or otherwise get the cop off your ass. You might get pulled over just the same, but then again you might not. It's usually better to do what you legally can to keep a cop from following you. That being said it's a sad friggin state of affairs when law abiding folk get nervous because a cop is behind them. You should not have to feel like shaking a cop off your tail & you shouldn't have to feel nervous when a cop gets behind you.

Now when the cop kept asking Jason for his gun permit - some people really hate it when you correct them no matter how nice you do it. But sadly cops aren't known for their intimate knowledge of the laws they enforce.

Now I've been on the receiving end of a cop repeating the same question when his question is invalid so I can sympathize with what Jason must have been going through. Ever see an old movie where a Nazi or some other bad guy kept repeating the same question? It seems comical & from your chair you can think it'd be funny but it's entirely different when the person asking the same question has a lot of force backing him up. It's more intimidating than it seems & usually has the effect of unnerving you, which is what it's supposed to do.

Now here's where Jason did make a mistake: he talked to the cop about his circumstances. He told the cop a permit wasn't required then that he didn't need a permit. Doesn't seem like a big deal right? Wrong. The 5th amendment's provision against compelled self testimony is there for a reason.

Ideally Jason's response should have been that he has an uncle who's a lawyer & he'd (the fictitious uncle) would kick Jason's ass if he discussed anything remotely involving himself, though he'd be glad to talk about fishing or basketball. After that if the cop continued Jason should have merely asked if state law required disclosure of any firearms permits to cops, then no matter what the cop's response he should have said he wasn't at liberty to talk about himself in any manner.

Now this isn't a magic formula & the exact words used aren't that important. That's just what I'd have said if I had the presence of mind to phrase it like I wanted to. But cops can be intimidating & sometimes you say things you don't intend to or in ways you didn't intend when faced with the pressure they exert just by being there.

But more or less from this point on Jason should have said nothing. True, he might have gotten arrested anyway, but since that's what happened I doubt it could have been worse. Without you saying something cops have very little to go on. Any lawyer will tell you that a good portion of the time the cop doesn't have the goods on you until you start talking. The best bet is to not say a damn word more than necessary to inform the cop you won't be speaking with him. (Although my example is a little more than what's absolutely necessary it ideally will let the cop know you're not being unsocial towards him as a person which may or may not help ease things along.)

Next Jason would have been better off (but perhaps not) if he'd simply asked the cop why he was pulled instead of asking why the cop hadn't told him yet. What Jason did was put the cop even more on the defensive after his knowledge of the law had been questioned. Granted though, Jason was probably a little on edge after having a question he answered repeated to him.

Now Jason should have not said a damn word after the cop told him why he was pulled over. Why? Because it usually does no good to call bullshit on the cop when it's just you & him. Jason should have waited till he was in front of a judge before bringing up that the license plate bulb being out wasn't illegal (if in fact it wasn't). What Jason did though was give the cop a heads up that he'd have to lay it on a bit thicker, so he did.

Don't misunderstand me; I am not saying Jason did anything wrong. From what I can tell his actions & statements were perfectly understandable & shouldn't have gotten him in any trouble whatsoever. But dealing with agents of the state who have much power & much ego doesn't usually leave you any slack when you try to assert yourself. Whether or not his actions were understandable to you & I, it's obvious the cop took offense at them. & again in an ideal world that shouldn't be an issue. But it's not an ideal world. What I'm saying is that Jason could have done a few things that may have smoothed the situation over, or at least made it less severe. I'm not saying the cop was remotely justified in his reactions.

Jason did do something very very right: he refused to move when told to do so because it would have caused him to lower his hands. When excited cops are drawing a bead on you it's never a good idea to obey them when it means one of them could think you're going for a weapon. Jason thought clearly & that may have kept this from being a rant about a tragic shooting by a cop.

Again in the back of the squad car Jason should have not responded to the cops at all. It's pointless; all that will happen is you'll give them your own words to use against you. They aren't going to let you go at this point so you gain nothing by talking to them. You do stand to lose a lot, especially if your statements are misconstrued.

At this point, well Jason handled things as best could be expected. I can't really say anything other than he should have tried his best to not say a word to the cops about himself.

Now for the cops; from everything Jason said the cops were way in the wrong. If it could be proved that Jason’s story was true in significant part then each & every cop involved should be tarred, feathered & put into stocks in the town square for little kids to pelt them with rotten fruit. After a week they should be let go so they could start looking for employment.

As a whole though - what did any of you expect? This is what will happen when you delegate too much authority in any one group of people. Hell, the cops might be alright people off duty - but pin on the badge & it goes straight to their head. & I am in no ways saying the cops themselves aren't to blame; they made decisions. Even if power was tempting they decided to succumb to the temptation. But the approach we have of trying to weed out the ones that can handle temptation from the ones that can't is futile. We'd be better off if we removed as much temptation as possible from the system.

That being said, what's important now is dealing with the issue. Jason had his firearm stolen from him. Jason is facing various charges. For both he is going to need a lawyer. Lawyers aren't cheap. His is not an "ideal" case so the big gun groups won't help him. As I mentioned before he has a Paypal button. Hit it with as much as you can.

Also Mrs. du Toit suggests that anyone in the area be in the courtroom on Thursday the 23rd for Jason's hearing.

Joe Huffman plans on being there. Presumably he'll write about it & I'll link it as soon as I see it.

Say Uncle has contact info for the Spokane Sheriff's Department.

Now to be fair about some things: Jason had a warrant out for his arrest. Apparently it's a continuation of a previous incident in which he was bothered for carrying openly. So he would have been arrested regardless. For that I can't really blame the cops. A warrant is a warrant & unless the cop has some reason to believe something's amiss with it he will make the arrest.

But there is the question of why Jason was pulled over in the first place. It's entirely possible the cop ran Jason's plates & the warrant was part of the info that came up. What it seems though is that the cop pulled him over for other reasons & found out about the warrant later, though this is pure speculation. If the warrant was not know when the cop pulled him over then we're left with wondering why exactly Jason was pulled.

Some would give the cops the benefit of the doubt, saying that they could have had a perfectly reasonable (to them) cause for pulling Jason over. From my perspective I'm not as willing to give the cops the benefit of the doubt. Again it's just speculation but I have the feeling they pulled him over to further a fishing expedition. The hard part is proving a cop didn't have grounds to pull you over.

Now it could also be that Jason didn't give us accurate information, or left out some important details. I don't know that much about him, but I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt as his account seems credible on the surface. In other words I'm relying on his account because it's the only account I have to go on & from my limited experience with him I think he's on the up & up & has included every detail he could think of.

The bottom line? Jason would have been arrested anyway because of the warrant, but his treatment during & after the arrest was reprehensible. Whether or not he should have been pulled over in the first place is debatable, but it sounds like it was unmerited. If you can assist Jason in any way please do so. If you're near Spokane this Thursday try to make it to his hearing. If you have any occasion to do business with the cops involved very rudely decline. & if the Spokane Sheriff's Department calls you asking for donations calmly explain to them about you reluctance to donate to any group that is disrespectful of your Rights.

Posted by Publicola at December 18, 2004 05:53 AM

I just read the story.

If there was ever a group of thugs with badges that need to be dealt with in a permanent manner, that is the group. Criminals throwing around their wieght with the backing of the state. They'll stick to that BS about he threatned to kill them too. Stick to it until the bitter end. They will lie, and threaten, and lie some more to get him in trouble for not bowing and scraping like they want him to.

And only in a Jack Boot's eyes is Constitutionalist an insulting term. Shows exactly what sort of mindset those bastards have regarding our rights.

Posted by: Garrum at December 18, 2004 06:49 AM

Publicola or anyone else who may have a thought about this feel free to let me know. I am fishorman's wife so I got to experience a good portion of his experience. I am very bothered by the whole incident.
I am wondering how you balance support for the second amendment, protect your family, stay out of jail, and still stand up for what you believe in.

Posted by: Sierra at December 19, 2004 03:54 PM

Honestly Sierra, given the thuggish, criminal actions of the LEO's in your area, there may be NO way to do all of those things. Jason is probably 'marked' and may never get a fair shake from any LEO ever again. They communicate and share names of those that "act up" towards the police, and are absolutely not above abusing their power to harrass.

You (and I'm talking about both of you) may be caught between going unarmed, at the mercy of both the criminals AND the cops, who still wont leave you alone because you are classed as a "problem", leaving it like it is, with your gun getting stolen every time you interact with the cops and them doing everything they can to put you in jail, or packing up and leaving for Vermont or Alaska.

Of course, there is a fourth option, but it involves things best served cold, living undeground from then on, and operating outside of the faux 'law' that we have been saddled with. Your best bet may be to just leave.

Posted by: Garrum at December 19, 2004 06:18 PM

Garrum, you left out the fifth, most obvious option: get a concealed pistol license and be done with it.

Posted by: Xrlq at December 20, 2004 10:21 AM

"If there was ever a group of thugs with badges that need to be dealt with in a permanent manner, that is the group. Criminals throwing around their wieght with the backing of the state. "

Let me get this straight. Based on hearing one side of the story, you think the police in this situation should be killed. Is that what you're saying?

If it is, you need to get a grip. Even if every word Jason wrote is 100% correct and nothing was left out, no one in their right mind is going to give you an "amen" to killing a cop.

Posted by: Les Jones at December 21, 2004 11:39 AM

He doesn't have to get a concealed carry permit, because open carry is legal for him.

Permanent can mean a lot of things, Les. Life in prison, amputating their thumbs, full frontal lobotomies for the lot of them, and yes, whacking them like the thugs they are. Some are more appropriate than others.

If you thought I was looking for an 'amen', you were mistaken.

Posted by: Garrum at December 22, 2004 03:31 PM
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