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http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20 ... 1/-1/RSS01

Officers are sued over gun arrest

North Port man wants statute on concealed weapons to be clarified
By HEATHER ALLEN

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NORTH PORT -- He was pulled over for a speeding infraction -- traveling 21 mph over the speed limit -- but a lead foot is not what got Jeffrey Poulakis in trouble.

It was the gun in his car's glove compartment.

He was arrested and charged with carrying a concealed firearm, but the charge did not go far.

Prosecutors declined to prosecute the case, citing case law that says a gun owner does not need a concealed weapons permit in order to carry a firearm in a vehicle.

And now, Poulakis is suing two North Port police officers, claiming that they violated his constitutional rights by arresting him on the weapons charge.

The federal lawsuit, which was filed in July, will ask the courts to decipher and clarify the ambiguous state statute that governs carrying concealed weapons in the state of Florida.

The head of the state's licensing division said the statute is not clear and only gives "hints" on how to interpret it.

"It's going to be an individual police officer's call," said W.H. "Buddy" Bevis, director of the state Division of Licensing.

On Nov. 21, 2006, officer Michael Rogers pulled Poulakis over for speeding. As Rogers approached the Jeep, he noticed Poulakis leaning over to his right "either concealing or retrieving something from under one of the seats or glove box" according to the police report.

In the report, Rogers writes that he and Sgt. Eric Stender were fearful that Poulakis may have reached for a gun, so they asked him to step out of the vehicle.

In the process, Poulakis would not make eye contact and admitted to placing a beer can under his seat, the report said. Rogers then searched the Jeep and, according to the report, Poulakis "reluctantly" told Rogers that there was a handgun inside in the center console.

Rogers and Stender retrieved the .357 caliber pistol and arrested Poulakis for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. His permit, according to the report, had expired on June, 13, 2004.

The law which the officers believe Poulakis broke says that anyone who carries a concealed weapon "on or about his or her person" has committed a crime.

But, according to Bevis, a concealed weapons permit is only needed if an individual intends to carry the gun on them. A permit is not necessary to keep it in a car's console or glove box.

"As long as you're not waving it, flashing it at people, and not a felon or something like that -- or drunk -- then just kind of leave it alone," Bevis said. "Your personal vehicle is an extension of your home by law."

In explaining why they dropped the charge, prosecutors cited the 2002 appellate court decision in Dixon v. State. In that case, the court ruled that as long as a gun is in a glove compartment, gun case, snapped in a holster or closed in a box with a lid, then its owner is not required to have a concealed weapons permit.

"So they arrest this guy for something that's not against the law," said Y. Drake Buckman, Poulakis' attorney. "It's just one of those things where the police didn't know the law and my client paid the price."

North Port Police Chief Terry Lewis says that even though the charges were dropped, the arrest was still justified.

And although Lewis would not comment on the specifics of the case, he said that rulings on the definition of a concealed weapon can vary.

In the end, he said, it all comes down to the judgment of the law enforcement officer and whether the officer believes there is enough probable cause to make an arrest.

"There's nothing that stands the hair up on a police officer more than a firearm," Lewis said. "In those cases, it's a judgment call."

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Arrested Anyway?

Lawsuit? Over what harm? This criminal did not suffer any additional harm from the incorrect gun charge, since the traffic violations and drinking while driving were enough to arrest on alone. Some violations usually only result in a ticket, but other violations routinely result in arrest and booking. A cop doesn't have to issue a ticket and can choose to arrest the person anyway, right?
 

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Well hiding a beer can is not a crime. It never said he was DUI.

This is what I find interesting and I almost think it must be cited incorrectly.

In explaining why they dropped the charge, prosecutors cited the 2002 appellate court decision in Dixon v. State. In that case, the court ruled that as long as a gun is in a glove compartment, gun case, snapped in a holster or closed in a box with a lid, then its owner is not required to have a concealed weapons permit.
So as long as I have some kind of snap closing holster I don't need a permit to carry in Florida? Don't think I want to test that theory.
 

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In explaining why they dropped the charge, prosecutors cited the 2002 appellate court decision in Dixon v. State. In that case, the court ruled that as long as a gun is in a glove compartment, gun case, snapped in a holster or closed in a box with a lid, then its owner is not required to have a concealed weapons permit.
That sounds pretty clear to me.

Oh, and he would not have been "free to go." He was not stopped on a fishing expedition. He was stopped with probable cause. The blue lights and siren are a pretty good indicator that you are not free simply to leave.
 

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Tinkerhell said:
Well hiding a beer can is not a crime. It never said he was DUI.
Actually, I think it is. Isn't that called a driving with an open container (3 pts on your license in FL)? Basicly, the guy was drinking and driving and then tried to cover it up. They should have just charged him with speeding, open container and possibly DWI.
 

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Not the best spokesman for our cause, but the police should not have charged him with something that is not a crime. Both sides were in the wrong.
 

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If he was drinking and driving I'm sure that would have been mentioned. The beer can came out in the story, but no mention of him DUI.

Something is either left out, or the cops were way off on this one.
 

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ptsmith24 said:
"There's nothing that stands the hair up on a police officer more than a firearm," Lewis said. "In those cases, it's a judgment call."
I hope they don't look at their own hip too much. Hair would always be standing up... :roll:
i think it should say, "There's nothing that stands the hair up on a police officer more than having to make a judgement call...because it means they don't know the law."
 

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The head of the state's licensing division said the statute is not clear and only gives "hints" on how to interpret it.

"It's going to be an individual police officer's call," said W.H. "Buddy" Bevis, director of the state Division of Licensing.
Except caselaw clarifies that hint so that it is no longer vague and left to interpretation. It did so 4 years before the arrest.
 

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Gunstar1 said:
The head of the state's licensing division said the statute is not clear and only gives "hints" on how to interpret it.

"It's going to be an individual police officer's call," said W.H. "Buddy" Bevis, director of the state Division of Licensing.
Except caselaw clarifies that hint so that it is no longer vague and left to interpretation. It did so 4 years before the arrest.
How dare you quote caselaw to some LEO's. "That's how that judge interprets the law, that's not how I interpret it."

:banghead:
 

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Classic case of talking too much with the officers. Since he's already out the car: "Sir, I wish to exercise my right not to speak with you. I do not consent to any searches. If you are going to search my vehicle without my consent, I would like for you to articulate your reasonable, specific suspicion and the bases therefore at this point so that it may be recorded audibly by your dashboard camera. Please inform me when I am free to go."
 

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kkennett said:
Classic case of talking too much with the officers. Since he's already out the car: "Sir, I wish to exercise my right not to speak with you. I do not consent to any searches. If you are going to search my vehicle without my consent, I would like for you to articulate your reasonable, specific suspicion and the bases therefore at this point so that it may be recorded audibly by your dashboard camera. Please inform me when I am free to go."
WOW! :goodpost:
 

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legacy38 said:
ptsmith24 said:
"There's nothing that stands the hair up on a police officer more than a firearm," Lewis said. "In those cases, it's a judgment call."
I hope they don't look at their own hip too much. Hair would always be standing up... :roll:
Directing traffic gets me more on edge than anything else I have to do.
Yea, I don't blame you. I'd hate to be standing in the middle of the road with the way the majority of Atlanta drives.
 
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