Carrying a gun protects people from criminals, but carrying an audio recorder can also pretty important. The Phildelphia Daily News yesterday showed just how valuable a tape recorder can be. Some police in Philadelphia apparently didn’t know what Pennsylvania and Philadelphia laws are on law-abiding citizens carrying handguns. Given that there are about 800,000 concealed handgun permit holders in Pennsylvania, there could be a lot of misunderstandings.
Police are extremely important in stopping crime, but even they can make mistakes. Hopefully because this incident was taped there will be a few less mistakes in how Philadelphia police treat permit holders in the future.
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.”
Unfortunately, referencing the actual law correctly didn’t have the desired effect on the police.
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. . . .
Yet, that wasn’t the end of the story. Police later charged Fiorino with reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct. Fiorino’s attorney argues that the charges are retaliation for Fiorino posting the audio on Youtube. Fortunately, Fiorino has the ultimate protection: the audio tape.
There was one bright note from the whole exchange: “The Police Department is trying to make sure none of its officers are ever again caught not knowing basic gun laws.”