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Today Florida Carry has filed a federal complaint alleging deprivation of civil rights under color of law with the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida over an incident which was captured on dashcam video, which subsequently went viral on the internet . . .

In July of 2009, Citrus County resident Joel Smith and his wife were detained at a traffic stop for non-criminal traffic code violation. During the stop, Mr. Smith exited his vehicle to speak with Citrus County deputy Andy Cox, who asked Mr. Smith for proof of insurance for the vehicle.  Mr. Smith turned with his back toward the officer and leaned into the vehicle to retrieve the document at which time his lawfully carried and holstered firearm peeked out from under his shirt.

Upon seeing the tip of Smith’s holster, Deputy Cox immediately launched into an unwarranted verbal assault on Mr. Smith, first asking why he was carrying a firearm. Within seconds, the officer drew his own firearm and pointed it at the befuddled Mr. Smith, threatening to shoot him “in the (expletive deleted) back” if he didn’t immediately put his hands on the vehicle. Mr. Smith offered no resistance, complying fully with the officer’s orders, and informing the officer that he was a lawfully licensed concealed carrier. Ignoring Mr. Smith’s statement, Deputy Cox continued shouting at Mr. Smith, ordering him face down on the ground and cuffing him. Mr. Smith was arrested and charged with open carry of a firearm, a misdemeanor violation of Florida Statutes, however charges were later dropped. A complaint was filed with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Department against Deputy Cox, however due to a technicality, the complaint was dismissed and no disciplinary action against the deputy was taken.

Florida Carry consulting attorney J. Patrick Buckley III who is also representing Mr. Smith in the case summed up the case:

“Improper law enforcement training coupled with an emotional overreaction is detrimental to the civil rights of Floridians. When a Constitutional officer then delays the resulting internal investigation to permit the untrained officer to walk away without so much as a slap on the wrist, it illustrates a systematic absence of accountability in those we trust to protect us.”

Joining Mr. Smith as plaintiff, Florida Carry is representing its membership and millions of Florida gun owners in the lawsuit. Named as defendants are Deputy Andy Cox, Sergeant Dave Fields, Sheriff Jeffrey Dawsy, and Citrus County. The plaintiffs are represented by the Law Offices of J. Patrick Buckley III, located in Fort Myers, FL.

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  1. That ‘peace officer’ shouldn’t have access to a badge, and probably shouldn’t have access to a gun either.

    When you can not trust your local law enforcement personnel, who can you trust?

    • Who can you trust? Yourself, your family, your friends, other people you actually interact with on a regular basis.

      I live within two blocks of a police station, in a mixed neighborhood, and have yet to see an officer walking a beat, or even walking from the station to a good local eatery. Cops on duty only emerge from their stations and cars when they have to, and then they’re expecting trouble.

      • I am not exactly expecting assistance from any government employee if the S ever HTF.

        • Quite the opposite. I expect the government employees to fan out and gather resources, from their constitua… err, tax cattle.

    • If he had notified the officer that he had a license to carry and that he was carrying and where (as per law), I think none of this would have happened.

      It’s his own fault, the officer was justified in his response….

        • No, it doesn’t. Police officers have wide latitude with regards to weapons when they have detained someone for an unlawful act. I’m not saying this officer acted correctly, but the fact that you need not inform doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. If you don’t, and you manage to show your weapon, expect a stronger response than if you just said “hey, I’ve got a permit to carry a firearm, and I have one holstered.” The latter is something that is generally not said by criminals, who try and hide weapons from police.

          So, no, you don’t legally have to declare a weapon, but the police officer doesn’t legally have to be nice to you, either.

          • Actually it was a simple traffic stop with the intention of coming up with an excuse to search the van and that was his goal before he stopped Smith. He had to find an excuse to stop him. The officer used the f-bomb 3 times and was way over the top. Furthermore, he threatened to shoot the man in the back. If any other stranger said such, Cox could legally be shot under 776.013. The deputy went well beyond that latitude when he arrested Smith and then completely searched the van. Arresting someone with a ccw when they have a license is bogus as was the additional abuse. To quote Rachel Jeantel, Cox needs a “whoop ass.”

        • Right on Matt, and to Hannibal below me there (can’t seem to reply to that comment): Since when is it ok to threaten to kill someone for obeying the law but failing to recognize what you indicate is a courtesy? I’m pretty sure if a non-cop citizen pulled out a gun and gave a specific threat to shoot someone who was not presenting a threat to them we’d called that aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and haul the offender off for a lengthy prison term, which is exactly what this cop needs. That’s not a mistake, it’s a felony, and it surely isn’t anyone’s idea of a level and measured reaction to what you seem to indicate is a perceived failure to observe an unnecessary courtesy.

      • @ Hannibal, yes it is moot.

        #1 y0u are assuming Cox is ccw license or 2nd A friendly. #2 Cox made it known to IAD he planned look for a reason to search Smith’s van BEFORE he ever pulled him over. Guess what? He searched the van and found nothing.

        #3: Deputy Dipshit arrested him for open carry when he only briefly say his holster when Smith’s jacket came up briefly.

  2. In all honesty I think the Deputy crapped his pants when he saw the firearm and responded accordingly. Whether or not he should be a Deputy is the real question. Overreaction? Yes. Fear? Yes. Maybe the job is not his calling.

    The rest of the story and charges are just a coverup for the pants crapping.

    • I think the cop saw the gun as a challenge to his authority. There’s little that cops hate more.

    • I have never heard of one not being paid. It’s designated “paid leave”, because the deputy gets a presumption of innocence.

      • “…the deputy gets a presumption of innocence”
        I vaguely recall when that same presumption used to apply to us.

    • There was an attempt to fix the law as a result of this with a 2011 amendment that says an accidental flashing nor printing is in violation. However, there is another case headed to appellate court regarding a 2012 arrest of Mr. Norman accusing him of open carry because the tip of his holster was inadvertently showing below his shirt. The AG Pam “Bambi” Bondi went to the Supreme Court to block his appeal but they slapped down her writ. The judge upheld the conviction of Norman, but he laid out 3 questions for the appeals court as to what was wrong with the charges and the way the applied the law.

  3. These guys (Cops) really need to be trained a lot better in CWP laws and regs. We have to know them by heart so we follow the law, but the irresponsible Cops (not all) get by with breaking civil rights laws ad nauseam. It is going to get worse if Obama and his cronies get their way.

    • I wonder about Statute of Limitations for this action.

      Notably, this occurred only a coupla years after major changes in FL law. I’ve asked Capt. Nick at GA whether there’s any national LEO group that speaks to these occasional abuses.

      • Actually, the “major change” was in 2011, 2 years after this and in fact a result of this. However, there is another seminal case as I pointed out else where based on a bogus arrest in 2012.

    • You don’t think “I’ll shoot you in the back” is good protocol for dealing with a lawful ccw carry, lol?

    • Agreed. I recall watching this video many months ago and my opinion hasn’t changed since then. Totally uncalled for gestapo behavior; this LEO shouldn’t be in any job offering more empowerment than flip’n burgers at Micky D’s.

      • I think you give him too much credit Mamba. If he acted like that at Mc D’s they’d fire him in a heart beat.
        I’m pretty sure ‘customer abuse’ is still part of the employee rules of conduct and dropping Fbombs is right out. (See also threatening attempted murder).

  4. That cops mindset made this situation into what it was. If he’d have asked if the man was legally carrying and then asked that the gun be removed (i.e. if he asked the man to turn around so the cop could remove the gun, or better yet, let the man keep it holstered and asked him not to make any sudden moves) he’d still be on patrol, none the worse for it. BUT, he was a power-tripping d-bag, so I’m glad he’s not on the beat any more.

  5. The prosecutor dropped the charges “because of little chance of conviction”! Why would you choose to prosecute a law-abiding citizen? For being law-abiding?

    If that’s an instance of open carry, wouldn’t there be a similar charge if you have to unholster your weapon to defend yourself? Is drawing your weapon from concealment “open carry”? How absurd. The prosecutor should be fired as well, for twisting the neck of the law and breaking it!

    • It’s worse than you’re letting on Wm. What he actually displayed was the bottom of a holster, not the weapon itself. I’m not aware of any law that bars one from openly displaying a holster. I didn’t see a gun until the little puke in the uniform lifted his shirt. If anything the cop caused the display and should have been charged for that (along with aggravated assault, which is typically what one gets when one threatens to shoot someone while possessing the means to do it).

  6. Maybe Trauvon’s parents can be plaintiffs, too? They seem to like the limelight on claiming civil rights violations

  7. Florida Carry has it wrong, civile rights can only be violated by people who are found not guilty.


    • A legal point would be nice. Maybe reimbursement if it cost the cc’er money. But going after them for cash for gain is, in my opinion, one of the reasons this country is going to hell in a hand basket.

      • The County and Sheriff have had 4 years to make this right and haven’t. Plus, there may have been some “pressure” on the old gentleman following this incident. He was laying very low at one point. He and his wife have very very modest resources and don’t have Al Sharpton backing.

      • Going after him for cash is how you provide a disincentive for future action. The IA charges were dropped under a technicality, so the police aren’t going to police themselves on this one. This guy was going to walk after threatening to shoot a law abiding citizen in the back and then arresting him for a made-up offense. That’s third-world, banana republic stuff. I don’t begrudge them for wanting this guy to have some consequences for his actions.

    • The issue is that Citrus County did next to nothing to deputy dawg even though his punk actions resulted in amendments to the legislation which again wasn’t enough due to ass hat LEO in the Norman vs. Florida case currently heading to the appellate court following failed attempt by AG Pam “Bambi” Bondi to block it by the FL Supreme Court. Her writ failed. This could also be in part to get her back on her high heels.

  8. Power hungry punk with a badge. Whatsa matter little deputy dog? They don’t teach the Constitution at Cop school anymore? I bet you are the pride of your department.

  9. My wife asked my why insisted upon keeping my cc weapon between the drivers seat and the parking brake handle. I explained that if it is under the seat I might forget to notify an le agency at the very beginning of the inevitable traffic stop. It is foolish not to consider the prospective of LE. I roll down all windows turn on in cabin lights if it is remotely dark and keep my hands clearly viewable upon the wheel until instructed to do otherwise. Respect goes both ways. No citations, no lawyers and hospital or worse for me.

    • Florida is not an obligatory notify state. There is no reason they should be under your seat in a routine traffice stop. In fact, in Florida, they don’t know you have a ccw license by merely running your plate or DL. One of the reasons is ass hattery by LEO in some jurisdictions. Had he informed the said LEO, he may have been dragged out anyway. Just keep your hands in sight and if they ask tell them.

      • Between the seat and hand brake I could say. I hear what most people are saying. There are bad apples. All the more reason to go out of my way for the good and bad LEO’s. Did get pulled over on a motorcycle without my carry weapon. He saw my ccw license before I could get my drivers license and be freaked out quite a bit. Just an ounce of prevention I guess.

  10. It should be increasingly clear that the “few bad apples” excuse for cops doesn’t hold up. I am convinced that most cops are like this guy but are smart enough to not be caught on video.

  11. Open carry without a license fixes this. Hopefully the courts will have the integrity to rule correctly in Norman v. FL.

  12. An officer is unlawfully threatening your life and intends to unlawfully detain you on false charges… what point is someone going to fight back?

  13. Out of the roughly 8000,000 cops in the US, running across idiots wearing the uniform is inevitable. Did you know that there are pedophile priests? Yup, true story. Does this mean all priests are pedophiles? Hardly.
    Interesting thing is, the numbers of idiots in any given profession run very similar to the general population. Yes, there are pedophile cops too.
    Just as there are bank robbers named Chris, (I’ll bet money on it).
    I am certainly not justifying this idiots actions.
    Just remark so you don’t prove you’re a prejudiced idiot.
    Just my $.02.

      • I am fairly certain that shooting a pedophile priest that laser lights you washing dishes and breaking down your door is covered under The Castle Doctrine. God Bless you My Son for You Have Sinned.

    • Yes, there are @ssh0les in every profession or line of work. However, a librarian with an attitude isn’t much of a danger. What’s a bad librarian going to do — charge me too much for an overdue copy of Les Miserables?

      A cop with an attitude is a murder waiting to happen, and there have been plenty. A cop with an attitude is a frame-up waiting to happen, and there have been thousands. A cop with an attitude is a thug with a gun and a license to use it, and there are tens of thousands.

    • Tom in Oregon: I respectfully disagree. As law enforcement become increasingly militarized, the police state expands, and the economy continues to suck, these kinds of encounters are going to become common. Our society is reaching a tipping point…many citizens are finally waking up and realizing that elected and appointed officials are most interested in consolidating their own power while extracting as much wealth from us as possible. The police will increasingly be used to preserve the status quo and protect the interests of our feudal lords by any means possible. And the courts, which are complicit, will protect the cops when these situations arise, citing “officer safety” and justifying the actions of cops. It is just not reasonable to trust the police to serve and protect the public interest any more.

      • Good point and as Alex later affirmed here via video link, humans can be shaped by their surroundings…for good or ill.

        … “reaching a tipping point” ; Google “gray state movie”.

        BTW, just curious… robbed any banks lately?

    • It bothers me that in a profession with practically unlimited authority to shoot me without suffering ANY serious consequences, that there are so MANY bad apples. I may could get behind them if their departments would actually DISCIPLINE them for violating my rights instead of sweeping their violations under the rug as much as they do. (“he/she was just following dept policy” or as in Orlando, dock them 1 day of vacation leave as punishment for LYING on a report.) But until that changes I will view ALL cops with suspicion and treat THEM as dangerous to both mine and my families health and well being. I don’t get to choose which cop I get to interact with; the good ones or the bad, and I can’t easily differentiate between them (hmmmm, sound familiar? Seems to always be THEIR excuse for treating EVERYONE like criminals….).

      • That’s totally fair. But I think what Tom is saying is that there is no point in being a dick to an officer JUST because he’s a cop. I’m friendly until I’m disrespected with police. Once they cross the line, they lose my respect patience.

        • But based on your other comments, you think it’s unseemly that they might suffer a financial consequence for threatening to shoot you in the back. Not sure how you expect to keep the rowdy ones in line if there are no consequences to acting poorly.

    • It’s not so much that there are bad cops, it’s inevitable that there will be some. What pains is when the department doesn’t take action, the prosecutors don’t take action and everyone wants to pretend what this bad cop (and lots of others) have done isn’t criminal.

      If I were walking down the street, saw the edge of a holster under someone’s shirt and pulled my pistol threatening to shoot them I’d be in prison on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. It’s not even as if it were questionable or the law is over bearing, had I done that the appropriate prosecutorial response would be to seek charges against me. The appropriate thing to do here isn’t a suspension, it’s not even firing the officer involved, it’s prosecuting him for the felony he committed and imprisoning him for an appropriate length of time. This isn’t a training issue, it’s not a suitability for the job issue, this is an out and out felony offense captured on film.

      Bad cops? Sure, it’s going to happen. Systematic abuse of rights? That takes a whole legal system, cops, their supervisors, prosecutors and all.

  14. I feel for Mr.Smith.Here in Mississippi the legislature went back and changed our ccw law as to where if your weapon becomes accidentally printed or uncovered it would not be a crime or violation.As for the Deputy he could have handled it differently,the officer has discretion on what he could have done without arresting someone who has gone through the background check and paperwork to get his ccw,which proves that he is not a threat to society.I don’t know why the Deputy could not have just advised Mr. Smith to be more careful about his weapon.Be prepared and ready.Keep your powder dry.

    • As I linked and stated a couple of times in the thread, this 2009 case did result in the change in the law to clarify temporarily accidental exposure and printing. and it went into effect in July 2011. The Citrus County nor the sheriffs office did anything about this case however hence the suite.

      There is a separate case working its way through the courts dealing with another case that will likely result in additional changes.

      • Blue,
        There has been mention that Dep Dawg was not disciplined by the Sheriff because of a ‘technicality’. Any idea what that tech may have been? Don’t remember where I read that but it was recently.

        • An original court case was kicked out on a technicality and I don’t recall why. However, apparently the argument was they Deputy wasn’t properly trained which I don’t think the CCSO realizes who serious that is in general.

  15. I woulda been perfectly fine if that situation played out like you said. Maybe woulda felt bad for the Marshall’s family. But no sympathy for him whatsoever.

  16. In Texas in a traffic stop we were taught that you need to inform the officer that you are carrying concealed. I guess you don’t in Florida. I put my hands on the wheel and when the officer approaches the first thing I tell him is that I’m carrying concealed. Every time I have done so in Texas the response has been very cordial and in fact, since getting my ccw, the two times I was pulled over I have never received a ticket for the alleged traffic offense. People suggest that this is because the police are glad they are dealing with someone who has been background checked.

    • There is no duty to inform in Florida. Some folks choose to do so anyway. There are valid arguments for both sides. Some people feel it will help them get out of a ticket. Others feel “it’s none of their damn business” if it’s not germane to the conversation.

      I have not been pulled over in the little over two years I’ve had my permit, but I don’t think I’d say anything, unless I was asked to step out of the car. I carry a small gun in an IWB holster at 4 o’clock, so I can reach over and rustle through my glove box without it showing.

    • I got a similar response on a traffic stop in Arlington.

      I got the impression CHL and actually carrying on my hip equalled “one of the good guys” in his mind.

      • But not all of them feel that way. Be nice, but beware. And do not be too trusting. Most of the time, things will be fine. But if not, it can be really bad.

  17. The cop as an overly aggressive asshole who needed to be fired. The driver was equally an asshole for getting out of his vehicle. Pull over, roll down your window, if it’s dark turn on your cabin light and put your hands on the steering wheel in plain sight and wait for the officer to initiate contact. It ain’t brain surgery folks, just common sense and courtesy.

  18. I drew down once on a young man who was reaching for a very realistic looking airsoft gun. I put him in handcuffs, and removed them once I discovered that the gun (in the trunk) was not real. I apologized for the handcuffing after reiterating the importance of not keeping a valid license in the trunk next to an airsoft gun with the orange plastic removed from the barrel. The man signed his ticket (speed, I believe) and was on his way. CCWer’s have almost unversally calm and cooperative.

    This deputy clearly didn’t do the right thing.

    • Accur81, if you have a few minutes, I’d be interested if you’d take the time to read the actual filing, specifically the transcript of the interview that IA did with the officer. You can find the filing here, and the IA interview section starts on page 33.

      I’d be interested to hear if your opinion changes at all once you know the “full story” of the incident, including what happened before (including several weeks before) and after what’s shown in the video above. I’m not expecting you to completely reverse your opinion, but I’d be interested in your input.

  19. There was a police officer in Ohio, Daniel Harless, who threatened to kill (several times I believe) and arrested a man who wasn’t given the chance to show the cop his ccl.

    He apparently had a history of issues with his behavior, and was fired.
    The police officer in the Florida video should be fired as well.

  20. Not all cops are jerks… but this one definitely was. Whether it was just a “bad day” or just an over-reaction, his suspension is definitely justified.

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