Virginia Man Faces Felony Charges Over Finger Gun Gesture

Momma always told you it was impolite to point at people, didn’t she? David Thomas Lovelace apparently wasn’t listening when that lesson was handed down to him and now his lack of regard for motherly wisdom has landed him in jail with two felony charges . . .

A Fredericksburg man was charged with two felonies Tuesday after he pretended to shoot at two city detectives by pointing his finger, police said. The incident occurred outside Fredericksburg General District Court on Princess Anne Street following a preliminary hearing for the suspect’s son, city police spokeswoman Natatia Bledsoe said.

The two detectives had just testified against Lovelace’s son who’s in hot water of his own, facing charges of burglary, larceny assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest.

According to Bledsoe as reported by fredericksburg.com, David Lovelace was seen “silently mouthing words and shaking his head in response to testimony.” The horror. He was overheard making a comment about “getting back at them” and then a city deputy saw him make the pow, pow gesture.

After reporting the digital draw to a magistrate, Lovelace was charged with two felony counts of assault.

Sounds like an open and shut case of . . . childish behavior. But does raising a thumb and pointing an index finger really rise to the level of criminal assault? Better yet, if he’d made the gesture in his pocket, would he have needed a concealed weapons permit? Stay tuned. Tens of thousands of dollars are about to be spent on lawyers to decide these burning questions.

45 Responses to Virginia Man Faces Felony Charges Over Finger Gun Gesture

  1. avatartwency says:

    Sounds like simple assault under VA law, with an enhancement to a felony because the implied threat was directed at law enforcement officers. Here’s a brief discussion of the VA laws on assault and battery (first relevant google hit I got):

    http://virginiacriminallawyers.vatrafficlaw.com/pages/assault.html

    • I’m not a lawyer and if you accuse me of being one, I may assault you. But this is from your link:

      An assault is the apprehension of a harmful or offensive contact. Thus, even if you did not actually make contact with the individual, if you intended to make contact, you could be found guilty of assault.

      Clearly no contact was made (that would have been assault and battery) and it seems hard to argue that any contact was intended in this instance.

      • avatarbontai Joe says:

        I disagree with your assessment that it was childish behavour. I think the guy deserved to be arrested, he made a threat of death against 2 police officers. Not an imminent threat, because it was just a finger, but the implied threat is that later he would be shooting with a real gun, creating the apprehension of a future assault with a handgun. He had motive, these officers were testifying against his son. And he was overheard commenting about “getting back at them”. If you don’t buy that, then the guy should have still been arrested for being criminally stupid to the point he obviously can’t control himself in public. Seriously, how stupid does one have to be to make that kind of gesture AND comment at a police officer in front of a court house, surrounded by lawyers, judges and other police officers and dozens of witnesses? I don’t know VA law, but in NJ, that would be considered making a terroristic threat, a law that existed way before 9/11. Expect to get arrested if you walk up to someone in NJ in view of a police officer and say, “I’m gonna kill you.” even without the finger gesture.

        • avatarJoe Grine says:

          “Not an imminent threat, because it was just a finger, but the implied threat is that later he would be shooting with a real gun, creating the apprehension of a future assault with a handgun.”

          It seems to me that the lack of an “imminent threat” takes it out of the definition of assault. It may constitute some other crime, depending on the circumstances, but I’m not seeing the “assault.”

    • avatarTotenglocke says:

      “with an enhancement to a felony because the implied threat was directed at law enforcement officers”

      Because people employed by the government are much more important than those useless taxpaying peasants.

  2. avatarIdahoPete says:

    “Hey – pull my finger.”

    “Don’t point that finger at me! It might be loaded!”

    Oh, sorry, thought this was one of those “caption of the week” stories.

  3. avatarCA says:

    “Finger Guns” are so ergonomic – they’re just point and shoot.

  4. avatarRydak says:

    Goofball deserves what he gets. Thats a clear act of threatening, making that symbol is internationally known as the sign of a gun. No other way to interpret it , his intent was to act like a little baby and threaten the cops for doing the job he failed to do with his POS son.

  5. avatarBen Eli says:

    Sounds more like obstruction of justice in relation of LEO.
    “Obstructing of Justice in relation to a law enforcement officer includes three elements. First, the government must prove that the defendant used threats or force. Second, the government must prove that the defendant knowingly attempted to intimidate or impede a law enforcement officer. Finally, the government must prove that the law enforcement officer was lawfully engaged in his/her official duties. The penalty for a conviction of obstructing justice in relation to a law enforcement officer is confinement in jail for up to 12 months and/or a fine of $2,500. Virginia Criminal Code § 18.2-460(B).”

    http://koehlerlaw.net/other-offenses/obstruction-of-justice/

  6. avatarBruce W. Krafft says:

    I’m with Dan on the IANAL thing, but it sounds to me like a First Amendment issue; I just can’t see any way to construe a finger gun as an actual threat (absent additional threatening behavior, that is).

    Does this mean that if I’m in FL and someone makes a finger gun at me I can shoot them? After all, it’s felony assault, right?

    • avatarRalph says:

      Only if the other guy’s finger is loaded.

      • avatarkarlb says:

        I think in Florida, if a person points a finger at you, and you have reason to believe it is loaded, then you can use deadly force to defend yourself.

  7. avatarRopingdown says:

    Ah! IFOTD. I, too, hate being carelessly swept by the finger of some knuckle-dragging hot-finger wannabee. The charge of assault makes no sense, though there are other charges that would. Threatening LEO’s in court and adding the ‘pow, pow” sound effect means this guy is living 24/7 in a cheesy gangsta movie…in his head. Guess he thought that would advance his son’s cause? (And does this mean that if I flip someone off that I might be charged with assault? That they actually have the immediate apprehension that I’m going to, well, use it on them somehow? What a gross notion….)

    • avatarEviljay says:

      I think that if you flipped some one off you would be charged with brandishing?

      • avatarRopingdown says:

        Ah, that’s what this guy should have been charged with, brandishing a finger (a loaded finger?). Or, realistically, making terroristic threats (if his words and actions and sound effects are seen together). But clearly not assault.

  8. avatarMark N. says:

    Doesn’t sound like a prosecutable assault to me, as there is no threat of immediate harm. Terrorist threat maybe. (I think the prosecutor will probably be amending his charge.) But then again, I’m in the nanny state of Californai where they’ve outlawed finger gunds in the schools. Playing cops and robbers or cowboys and indians is a suspendable offense–even in kiddie garten! Just like that poor dad who got busted in Canada because his 4 year old daughter drew a (picture of a) gun at school, which the authorities trumped up into probable cause to believe that he had an unlawful handgun in his home.

  9. avatarGabba says:

    in that context it’s a death threat. thought it was going to be a story about playground hijinks among friends or someone getting railroaded for flirting. So a guy gets nailed for making a death threat he thought he could get away with, QQ.

    • avatarMark N. says:

      Agreed, but not for assault. Assault has the element of placing the victim in apprehension of a battery, i.e., the immediate infliction of an unconsented to or offensive touching.

  10. avatarMike in NC says:

    If two detectives actually felt threatened or intimidated by that hand gesture, I suggest they find a less stressful career.

    /fake onion news=
    In other news… Mass arrests during a Texas Tech football game when the cheer squad led by the school mascot “Raider Red” had at least 15,000 fans participating in a “guns up” cheer. Surprisingly, no OSU fans or players were harmed by the barrage of imaginary bullets although OSU’s “Pistol Pete” was questioned in what was likely a justified iDGU.
    /fake onion news

    • avatartwency says:

      Mr. Apple, meet Ms. Orange.

    • avatarbontai Joe says:

      I doubt the detectives actually felt seriously threatened at that moment by a finger, but why let the guy walk loose to shoot you later with a real gun in your driveway, if you can toss him in jail right away. If I had to guess, there was a bit of one upsmanship going on, a case of “threaten me? I’ll show you who is in charge here”. All because this guy could not, would not STFU and sit on his hands like a normal person would.

      • avatarMike in NC says:

        Do sheeple have hands to sit upon?

      • avatarBill says:

        Attitudes like yours are why we find ourselves in the position we are today. Apologizing for the authorities for nonsense such as this is just plain ridiculous. He didn’t do anything to warrant being arrested and charged. Is everyone so afraid, so paranoid that people are jailed for hand gestures? I guess so. It is no wonder the US has more people in jail per capita than any other country. Land of the free, what a complete joke.

  11. avatarHawke says:

    From the information we have on this case it would look like this may have been justified. But until the guy gets his day in court, we won’t know all the facts, maybe not even then.
    Nowadays you can’t do anything without being captured on at least one camera. So I would bet there is some video somewhere of the whole incident, if and when it is released we will see the emotion behind the “gesture”.
    If we were discussing a 4 year old in this case I would call BS, but we are talking about an adult that should know right from wrong.

  12. avatarRalph says:

    That fool used the wrong finger.

  13. avatarGS650G says:

    Next time use a chicken finger with BBQ sauce.

  14. avatarSilver says:

    Yeah, gotta say, I think he deserves some hot water. This wasn’t just some guy making a joking “pow” gesture at a buddy; given the circumstances, I could easily see this as implication of a threat against the officers.

  15. avatarAharon says:

    Seems like an implied threat against two officers. “Momma always told you it was impolite to point at people, didn’t she?” No. My mother was the finger wagging pointing type.

  16. avatarXDSTEEL says:

    I think this is being taken way out of porportion. There are too many REAL bad guys out there than to screw with this guy.

  17. avatarhuck says:

    I think context matters on this one. That was a threat. I hate the precedence it may be setting, though. Will this mean that every little kid who points a finger at a cop get’s charged with a felony?

  18. avatarMike in NC says:

    I think that situations like this one highlight that we, as a nation, have allowed the creation of a class of people who are treated differently under the law in violation of Article 1, Section 9 of our Constitution: “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States:” It doesn’t matter that the titles of old such as Duke, Duchess, Count or Countess have fallen out of fashion as new titles have risen in popularity in their place: Officer, Detective, Chief and all the rest wearing the crest of the house of LEO.

  19. avatarpair-o-dee says:

    Disappointing to see more of the anti-LEO rhetoric here at TTAG. A damn shame.

  20. avatarallthelivelongday says:

    Yeah, we used to call this contempt of cop. To think of all the arrests there could have been! I wonder if a suspect used TWO fingers, could they be charged with two felonies? Then there was the hate crime that obviously preceded everything…

  21. avatarallthelivelongday says:

    When everything is made illegal, suspects are no problem. You just have sort through them, to find the one/s you want to arrest because as we know, you can’t arrest everyone, yet. All of which make the administration of your average police state, much more manageable!

    The constitution and bill of rights are basically irrelevant because they are almost universally, scrupulously ignored.

  22. avatarPatrick Elfrink says:

    What he would have needed had he kept his hand in his pocket would have been a Concealed Finger Permit!

  23. avatarViro says:

    It’s called menacing. Those detectives routinely put bad people behind bars and I do not doubt that some of those people (or their friends and family) would want to harm them for it.

    Being stupid wasn’t criminal, but assaulting the two detectives was.

    • Menacing sounds about right, or maybe threatening. If you do that to cops, you should expect to get arrested.

      Doing that is a non-verbal way of saying “I’m gonna fuckin’ kill you.”

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