New video shows cops harassing man legally carrying gun

Posted: November 16, 2012

PHILADELPHIA police officers are supposed to be educated about civilian gun laws - especially since an expletive-laden altercation with a licensed gun owner ended up on YouTube last year and led to a $25,000 court settlement.

For the record: It's perfectly legal to openly carry a handgun in the city - with a valid permit. Everywhere else in the state, a permit is needed only if the gun is concealed.

But apparently not everyone in the Police Department got the memo.

A new YouTube video shows two Philly cops antagonizing a man last week who was legally carrying a .40-caliber Glock on his hip as he headed to a Manayunk barbershop.

One officer wrongly tells Joshua Rodriguez, 22, that his ammunition is illegal. Another officer later tells the barber that Rodriguez has a gun.

"You have all these laws, man. You go to law school? You're not supposed to have 13 bullets of hollow points in your gun right now," an officer says. The bullets are, in fact, legal.

He asks Rodriguez, who took the video, a series of questions and later says, "Shut your mouth" and "Don't call me 'officer.' " The other cop, who repeatedly tells Rodriguez that his gun should be concealed, says, "I should've pulled my gun out on you, technically."

"I don't want to argue," an exasperated Rodriguez says. "I want to get a haircut."

The officer tells him he's free to go, then walks into the barbershop and revives the debate. "You want this guy in here with his gun open?" the cop asks the barber. "This guy here, right here."

Capt. Francis Healy, a police lawyer and special adviser to Commissioner Charles Ramsey, said officers should be "respectful and courteous, and also be safe" in such situations. He said the first officer might have misstated the law about the ammo, and the other might have been "a little overzealous" in the barbershop.

The department increased training on open-carry stops after a February 2011 incident involving Mark Fiorino, an information-technology worker with a firearms permit who was harassed and handcuffed for carrying a gun in Northeast Philly.

A sergeant told Fiorino he was breaking the law and held him at gunpoint on his knees, threatening to shoot him. The city paid Fiorino $25,000 to settle a lawsuit.

"They're demonizing people," Fiorino said of the new video. "In a lot of cases, it's a bully with a badge."

Healy said that openly carrying a gun is dangerous - someone could grab it - but that most open-carry advocates are law-abiding.

He tells cops to consider thinking of it this way: "If something would go wrong on the street and you were getting your butt kicked, I would venture to guess it'd be one of these individuals that would come to help you.

"Make a friend," he said. "You might need them one day."

" @wbender99

Blog: philly.com/DailyDelco

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