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When you’re a reporter, you dream of a day when a story – a really juicy story – falls right into your lap, all tied up neatly in a bow. So it was with visions of the blogger’s equivalent of a Pulitzer Prize (there IS a blogger’s equivalent of a Pulitzer Prize . . . isn’t there?) that an email came across my desk in my lonely writer’s garret, that made me sit up and take notice. The email recounted a story about a man who was pulled over for a traffic stop. He had pro-gun bumper stickers affixed to the rear window of his pickup truck. It was late at night. When he was pulled over, he immediately got out of his truck and walked to the rear of the vehicle. The officer asked him “do you have any guns in the vehicle.” He said, yes I do.” The officer asked him to stay in the back of his truck, walked to the truck and removed the firearm from the vehicle.

The officer then removed the magazine, and asked the man, “Is there a round in the chamber?” Again, the man replied in the affirmative. The officer ejected the round. After speaking with the man for a few minutes, the officer did not press charges, returned the weapon to the man, and allowed him to drive away.

Sounds like a potentially electrifying story, right? Illegal search and seizure, 2nd Amendment rights violated, castle doctrine infringed, that sort of thing. And personally, it was a bombshell, because it happened where I live. Yuppers, this took place right here in lil’ ol’ Shreveport, Louisiana, the town where I grew up, and where I am once again residing – at least for the present. But the story gets, as they say, “better.”

A few days later, the man who was stopped, Robert Baillio, called Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover, to discuss the incident. He also had the presence of mind to record said conversation. In that call, Mayor Glover said (some 11 times in 19 minutes) that when someone is pulled over by a police officer, “their rights are suspended.” Huh?

Glover opined that the officer was within his rights to do anything and everything to make the scene safe for the officer, the suspect, and anyone else in the area. Here’s a two-part YouTube video of the phone conversation Baillo had with the Mayor (it is legal to record a telephone conversation in Louisiana, as long as one party knows that the conversation is being recorded.)

In reading other bloggers’ coverage of the story, the incident was covered as a huge, hot-button, Second Amendment issue. From the reports, it sounds like what we’ve got here is another gun-grabbin,’ totalitarian-leanin,’ jack-boot wearin’ govmint sitch-e-ashun. I wanted to know more. After all, I’m living here, and when word gets out that I’m a writer for TTAG, I don’t want to get stopped every six blocks, right?

So, my reporter’s Spidey-senses tingling, I messaged RF for the green light, and plunged into my investigation. I had visions of interviewing the mayor, the aggrieved citizen, perhaps a constitutional law professor or two (“Get me Dershowitz on line one, STAT!) and other perks accorded the upper echelon of scribes. I started composing leads in my head – along with my acceptance speech to the Prize committee. (Are you SURE there’s no web equivalent to a Pulitzer Prize for web journalism?)

But we here at TTAG are dedicated to the truth, (it’s in our name…and our DNA), the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. In other words, we want to present all sides to the story. Not just the one that will “sell papers.” (One of the freedoms that comes with blogging is we don’t have to worry about all that paper and ink.) So I did what ethical journalists do. I dug deeper. And deeper. I listened. I researched. And I learned that there are two sides to this story. (Big surprise.)

Lets get some facts straight, first.

The incident took place back in June of 2009. Not exactly “hot news,” but hey – I didn’t get back to Shreveport until July of 09. So sue me. There’s dash-cam recordings of the traffic stop, so you can see for yourself what happened.

In the state of Louisiana, by the way, it is legal to carry a weapon in your vehicle, no permit needed. Baillio had a permit to conceal carry, but it was not needed in this instance. When asked, he answered truthfully about owning a gun, and having it in his truck. He answered truthfully about the gun being loaded. And he did not interfere with the police officer’s investigation in any way.

The officer, for his part, was unfailingly polite, and from what I heard from the tapes, conducted himself in a professional, even friendly manner. He did not first ask for the driver’s license, insurance and registration, but instead asked first if the suspect had any guns in his vehicle. I surmised that he asked about guns based on the bumper stickers affixed to the rear window of the cab of the truck.

Note that there’s an Eagle/Globe/Anchor USMC sticker, a cross, and an NRA logo across the top of the window. The bottom of the window sports a bumper sticker that reads “Celebrate Diversity” (with a variety of cartridges in different calibers), an American flag, and a sticker that reads “Armed We Are Citizens! Un-Armed We Are Subjects!”

It turns out that the officer in question was on DWI (or DUI – whatever) duty, and pulled Mr. Baillio over because he failed to signal a turn. Turns out, a lot of drunk drivers fail to do the same thing. Profiling? I don’t think so. Oh, and the officer is also a fellow NRA member. In the tape, you can hear him making approving comments regarding Baillio’s membership. It doesn’t sound to me like (as several bloggers suggested) that the traffic stop was “NRA profiling.”

I can see, from the officer’s perspective, why he would want to make sure that any and all weapons were secured, while he conducts an investigation. But…

Where it gets a little weird is the fact that he jumped right to “do you have a gun” and skipped the “license and registration” questions. Then, he goes over the line when he fails to ask Baillio if he can search the truck, nor did he search Baillio for any weapons he might have had on his person. Now I realize that Baillio did not appear to be intoxicated (he wasn’t) and he cooperated fully with the officer.

Baillio would have been within his rights to deny the officer entry into his truck, and insisted on a search warrant for the vehicle, prior to the officer being able to conduct a legal search. There was no “probable cause” in this case – Baillio had not been given a field sobriety test, and failure to signal a turn is a tissue-thin basis to search a vehicle.

But it’s the call with the Mayor that has everybody up in arms. And even there, we have two sides to the story. From where I sit, the Mayor was wrong, when he said “your rights are suspended.” Unless somebody declares martial law, your Constitutional rights don’t get suspended, just because you’re pulled over for a traffic stop. Glover is not an attorney. Like many politicians, he tends to say in several paragraphs what he could have said in a sentence, which is, by the way, how politicians put their foot in it. (Next time, less is more, Mr. Mayor.)

It’s apparent from the phone conversation, that Glover did not either have or recall all the facts in the case. He told Baillio that he gave up his right to have a gun in his hand durring a traffic stop. Baillio was nowhere near his gun. And while it may be a screamingly good idea for an officer to secure any and all weapons while conducting an investigation, the simple fact of the matter is that the officer did not ask permission to search the truck – a requirement under Louisiana law.

Since Baillio was not in the truck, he could not have gotten to his weapon any way, so the officer’s actions seem a bit on the excessive side to me. However, I was not there, so I can’t really make that call. Cops make judgement calls all the time. He may have gone a little over the line in this instance, but the police officer was no “jack-booted thug.”

The Mayor gets pretty far out there in the course of the conversation. He claims, despite protestations to the contrary, that Baillio couldn’t possibly be a supporter of the police, because if he doesn’t support all police actions, he can’t qualify as a supporter. Wow. In religious terms, I guess that would come under the doctrine of “love the sin AND the sinner.”

If you listen to the entire phone conversation and can get past the Mayor’s outrageous claims, you’ll likely see, as I did, that Baillio goes just a bit off the reservation, too. Baillio segues into a riff on “police gettin’ kids to buy alcohol so they arrest the person that sold it to them.” Huh? I mean, I get that he’s talking about entrapment issues, but how does that enter into this discussion.

Here’s a link to how the local ABC station covered the story:

Here’s the blog coverage that started the firestorm:

From everything I’ve been able to piece together, the traffic stop was legit, and not profiling. The officer conducted himself professionally, his only mistake in being that he did not ask, nor did he obtain permission to search the truck. Frankly, if he was concerned about Baillio having a weapon, I’d think the cop’s first move would have been to frisk him.

Baillio also behaved in a calm and cool manner, both during the stop and on the phone with the Mayor. The Mayor might want to have a one-on-one with the city attorney, before the next time he discusses these issues on camera or with a constituent.

As far as this story goes, I think I can safely forget about qualifying for the iPulitzer. And the others that have written, interviewed, or blogged on this story might want to do a little digging before they try and paint it as strictly a black and white issue.

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  1. Brad, I'm not sure where you're going with the issue of the fact that the officer did not search Baillio's truck.

    An officer in the performance of his duties can conduct a search for weapons if he has a reasonable sususpicion that the person he is contacting may be armed. This is sometimes called a "stop and frisk" or a "Terry search" after the Supreme Court case Terry v. Ohio. ( Reasonable suspicion is defined as an a set of objective and articulable facts that would lead a reasonable person to believe the person may be armed. Whether the mere presence of gun-related stickers on the car constitutes such suspicion is a matter of debate (I would argue that it does not but some could easily say it does.)

    What I'm not understanding is your statement that the officer was required to search Baillio's truck. I'm not up on Louisiana Law but I don't know of any circumstance where a search is "required by law." Generally speaking, police officers have wide discretion in terms of how they conduct their duties. If the officer did not feel the need to search Baillio's vehicle, then he did not have to do so.

    As to whether it was lawful for the officer to deprive Baillio of his weapon during the course of the traffic stop, I don't see why it would not be lawful. The officer didn't confiscate the weapon permantly, and once the traffic stop was over the officer returned the weapon to Baillio. Police are allowed to take reasonable measures to protect their safety and having the officer hold the weapon during the course of their contact seems quite reasonable to me. After all, the dispatcher might have come back on the radio and said that Baillio had warrants out for his arrest, or that the truck was stolen.

    Final pedantic legal point: The police do not need a warrant to search a vehicle if it is on a public road, they only need probable cause. Carroll v. United States.

    Probable cause is higher than the "reasonable suspicion" needed for a Terry stop-and-frisk. Probable cause is an objective set of facts that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a crime has been committed and that some evidence or instrumentality of the crime may be found in the place to be searched.

  2. First let me remind everybody that I'm not a cop…nor do I play one on TV. I'm not an attorney either.

    I don't recall saying anything about the officer being required to search Baillio's truck. I am of the opinion that he could do so ONLY if Baillio agreed to allow him to do so, unless he had probable cause. Since he asked – and Baillio voluntarily told him that he had a gun in the truck, I think this goes to support the fact that Baillio was cooperating with the investigation, offered no resistance, and did not at any time attempt to deceive the officer. I would even go so far as to say the truck search and gun seizure would have been at least marginally okay, had the officer told Baillio "you've been pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving, due to failure to signal a turn or lane change. For our mutual safety, I'm going to remove your weapon from your truck. Do you understand?" or words to that effect. This would have given Baillio a little more data, and allowed him to ask the officer to simply take his keys and lock his truck up – no search and seizure – no harm, and no foul.

    What I don't get is why the officer, if he felt he was at risk, didn't handcuff Baillio, put him in the back of the squad car, handcuff him to the tailgate, or at the very least have him assume the position and frisk him for OTHER weapons first. Watch the video. If Baillio had been armed and a bad guy, that officer would have been shot the moment he leaned into the truck to retrieve the weapon.

    Far as I can tell (and thanks, by the way, for the case law citations – good stuff to know!), there was reasonable suspicion for drunk driving (failure to signal) but little else. Certainly no probable cause existed.

    I tend to come down on the side of the police most of the time, because they are underpaid, overworked, and generally taken for granted by the public. It's a tough job, and we owe them both respect and cooperation. However, I get a little concerned in this kind of situation. I wouldn't be comfortable with someone searching my vehicle without permission, a warrant, or probable cause.

  3. Watching the video both seem like pretty okay dudes. The cop was very nice.

    I've been going back and forth with what type. I don't think any of the legal precedents mentioned by Martin apply here. The cop pulled him over for a traffic violation. Now, once the stop is initiated, the cop, in Louisiana, has the right to ask about the weapon and if a weapon is present, to secure it for the duration of the traffic stop.

    The issue is he didn't ask to enter the vehicle. The cop doesn't have the right under Terry (which referred to body pat downs) to enter the vehicle. He doesn't have reasonable suspicion of a CRIME being committed. All the legal defenses are about investigating a crime. Not traffic violations. If there were 2 pounds of heroin and a severed head in the car under a blanket, and the cop moved the blanket, that should be inadmissible because the cop didn't have a right to search the vehicle, only to secure the gun. It's a gray line on whether he can enter the car to take the gun without permission.

    When the driver is out of the car he is away from his weapon. The cop can't seize the weapon for a traffic stop. It's a matter of "The cop can secure the gun" versus "No crime was committed, just a moving violation."

    Do we know when the driver got his gun back? Did he have to go to the police station to retrieve it?

    I don't know. This would require some sharper legal minds. I would say its a violation of the 2nd Amendment if anytime you were stopped, even if you were innocent (or guilty of a minor traffic violation) you had you gun taken and kept.

    Either way, the mayor was dumb.

  4. After writing to Mayor Glover to tell him how dismayed I felt about his arrogant and misguided belief that he has the right to suspend the rights of American citizens, I received the following response from Mayor Glover:

    I’m appalled at your gullibility. Do you think baillio didn’t press charges or file a civil suit because he didn’t want to bothered by the hassle? No. He didn’t because he knows he’s full of BS and the only folks he can get any traction with are people who believe things that other people send them through the Internet. Keep passing along those chain emails too. I wouldn’t want you to catch a bad mojo.

    Sent: 4/18/2011 11:09:44 PM
    Subject: Email From Office of The Mayor Webpage

    [Based on his email to me, I cannot imagine how on Earth this man was elected.]

  5. Most of the comments above are good, and valid. The driver was honest and straight-forward, and the policeman was polite. But from the video, there was no indication that the policeman thought the driver had been drinking, and, once the driver is at the tailgate, I saw little reason for the policeman to be concerned about the gun. However, legally, he needed to ask to search the vehicle, and he clearly did not. Frankly, my question is: if the officer was so concerned about shutting the door so a vehicle wouldn’t come and knock it off, why did he leave the driver standing on that side of the truck, and why did he do the same? THAT made for the unsafe situation, yet no one mentions it! The mayor is a typical ignorant small-town Louisiana politician, obviously with more mouth and ego than brains!

  6. I was emailed this story from another person that received some info from a gun rights group. I searched and found this site. Me being a cop and a BIG 2nd Amendment supporter, I was intrigued to get the full story.
    First….the mayor is an idiot. He is completely clueless about what is legal, illegal, or proper terminology. Mr. Baillio and everyone else under his political cloud are unfortunate to have him as a mayor.

    Next, true that the stop was legit, asking about the gun was legit, and getting the gun from the truck was legit…and here is why:
    The Supreme Court found that Terry vs Ohio applied to the vehicle on a stop in Michigan vs Long, in effect making a “Terry frisk” of a person similar to a “Terry frisk” of where they are/were sitting. This is NOT a search according to law, only a specific frisk of the area where the weapon(s) may be. The court has also ruled that an officer may temporarily disarm a person during an encounter, not considered a search, and it sure as heck isn’t suspending their rights as asserted by the idiot mayor.
    Next, whether the officer decided to frisk, cuff, etc Mr. Baillio is a separate issue from the issue of getting the gun from the truck. Me personally….if I had some reservations about him on a stop…as in suspicion of DWI like he was working, I would have patted him down, let him stand at the back of his vehicle (or sit in the car with me) and checked his DL, etc. Every officer handles these situations differently, and this officer did not break any state or federal laws, nor did he violate Mr. Baillio’s 2nd, 4th, 5th, or any other amendment rights.

  7. Well, this site sure made researching the facts of the story easy. I wonder how many people will just take the gun rights email as fact without checking it out. Mayor… moron… they both start with the same letter (appropriately so in this case). The offficer’s conduct seemed fine to me. Thanks for the info.

  8. After researching President Obama, Major Glover, and the article, it seems that Mr. Obama wants to take away your right to own guns, Mayor Glover supports President Obama and appears happy to jump on the anti-gun bandwagon. In most states, CHL holders are considered the good guys. Register to vote and vote out any politician that shows any disrespect towards those who legally own guns. We all know what was going on with the Mayor. Many cities and school districts are in the same boat as Shreveport and all of them are having problems and we all know why.

  9. After reading several articles about this to check the validity of it, first I am surprised at all the attention that it is still getting three years later.
    Second, I am still unable to confirm whether or not Baillio was able to reclaim his gun after the stop. No one seems to have an answer to that, does anyone here know whether or not he did?

  10. @The Doc – I am the one who initially covered the story. Robert Baillio is a good friend of mine, and he called me that night as well as Monday after contacting the mayor. I converted the analog recording to MP3 and sent it on to Tom Gresham who is a friend of Roberts and covered the story on Gun Talk.

    The cop did give Robert his gun back after the stop, and Robert readily states the cop was nice. As a matter of fact, Robert didn’t even get a ticket. The cop actually allowed Robert to get back in his truck and drive 2 blocks down Milam to pickup Chinese takeout and THEN finished the traffic stop. At no point did the cop feel in danger.

    As far as a Terry stop, I would highly suggest that our cop friends brush up on the law. Terry stops are stop and frisk of a person – NOT the vehicle without permission or a warrant or probable cause. None of these fit this stop.

    Plus you might want to read up on this additional article that I posted.

    In Louisiana a holder of a concealed weapons permit is required by law to inform a cop if he is carrying. In this case, Robert (1) wasn’t carrying and (2) had his Caddo Parish permit – not state and (3) open carry is completely legal in Louisiana as well as the castle doctrine which applies to a vehicle.

    Cops like to say that Terry applies to searching vehicles for weapons, but that is pure BS and does not stand up to court muster.

    @Kate Russell – As far as the posted email reply from Glover, I’d like to get an actual copy of that. That sounds like one of Glover’s assistants although I’m sure his actual response would be similar. KTBS 3 and KMSS ran a story entitled “Gun Grabbing Mayor” on the 5pm news highlighting the story and my website. He was NOT a happy camper about that. In the interview he said he was “taken out of context”. Right – the whole damn conversation was posted. LOLOL

    Gun Grabbing Mayor Video

    I still get emails and calls occasionally and this story still gets a lot of hits per month on my website. The coverage has been tremendous, and Glover won’t speak to me – which is just fine. He is a complete moron.

    Good write-up Brad, and thanks for linking over. A lot of websites just copy/paste without any credit. I never say anything since I personally just want the information out…gotta keep the light shining on stories like this.
    rex (a) conservativedrink (dot) com

  11. I find it a little horrifying that those posting are trying to make this a small infraction on the officer’s part. I would start by doing a quick search on Terry v. Ohio, United States v. DeBerry, Reasobable Articulate Suspicion, probable cause, and the 4th Amendment to grasp what is truly wrong with this situation. Did this officer have RAS to believe a crime had, was, or would be committed? No. A criminal offense is quite different than a traffic violation, and a simple traffic violation does not give RAS for a Terry stop, therefore this officer had no business seizing this man’s firearm unless Louisiana law allows him to or the man agreed. Did this officer have probable cause to search this man’s vehicle? Absolutely not! There was no RAS, so there was definately no PC! This officer VIOLATED THIS MAN’S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS and that SHOULD be considered a GREAT infringement. If I was this gentleman I would have obtained a good attorney, completed a FOIA request for the dash cam video and radio transmissions, and sued the officer and the deparment. I don’t believe the government should be involved in certain civil matters, but the government is SUPPOSED to protect our Constitutional rights and liberties, and this is one situation where I would take the issue before a jury. I am in the field of criminal justice, and officer safety does NOT void our Constitutional rights; only if the officer has RAS (that a crime could be afoot) to stop and detain does he have the right to temporarily seize our firearm or search for weapons. The officer does NOT have a right to search a vehicle without consent unless he has a warrant or he can see something illegal “in plain sight.” The SCOTUS has also ruled that detection from a K-9 gives PC for a search, which I believe is an egregious violation of our 4th Amendment rights. Had this happened in KY this officer would be facing criminal prosecution, because KY has a statute the prohibits officers from disarming anyone unless very strict guidelines are met. The bottom line though is that this man’s Constitutional rights WERE violated, and that is not something we should allow to happen.

  12. I need to reiterate, that I think the mayor is a complete idiot
    next, from what I’ve seen and read and understand LA law, the officer did nothing wrong or infringed on any constitutional rights

    Rex, a few things here
    “As far as a Terry stop, I would highly suggest that our cop friends brush up on the law. Terry stops are stop and frisk of a person – NOT the vehicle without permission or a warrant or probable cause. None of these fit this stop.”

    -if your comment above was in reference to me, I never said that this was a Terry stop (it in fact was a stop based on probable cause=traffic violation); I was merely saying in response to others that in fact a Terry stop can extend to the vehicle in the appropriate situation, this was established by Michigan vs Long and is taught this way in law enforcement academies all over the nation; again I’m not saying that applies to this case in this article, but it is a legal precedent

    “In Louisiana a holder of a concealed weapons permit is required by law to inform a cop if he is carrying. In this case, Robert (1) wasn’t carrying and (2) had his Caddo Parish permit – not state and (3) open carry is completely legal in Louisiana as well as the castle doctrine which applies to a vehicle.”

    -I don’t know the full detail of LA law, but in Texas if the gun is accessible to the person in the car it is considered to be “on or about their person” and is the same as them carrying the gun on their hip, this may or may not be the same in LA, IF IT IS then he was in effect carrying and as a permit holder (if I understand LA law correctly) his pistol could be secured during the traffic stop (we are allowed to do this here in TX and its based on USSC decision also, even though I don’t do this all the time)

    “Cops like to say that Terry applies to searching vehicles for weapons, but that is pure BS and does not stand up to court muster.”

    -true, it does not apply to SEARCHING a vehicle for weapons, the case being discussed in this thread did not contain a search but rather only securing the known gun for the duration of the stop
    but it does apply to the immediate reach and lunge area of the person in the vehicle IF the situation is applicable

  13. Unless this guy is Stretch Armstrong the weapon was not accessible from outside the vehicle. The cop made no effort to search the guy for weapons. The weapons search is simply a ruse. Any idiot can see that. Cops have lost on this in court before over searching for weapons in an area that is not accessible by the individual in question.

  14. If you are going to own and carry a weapon, you should know the law. I have a concealed weapon permit and I carry a hand gun frequently, especially when I travel. There are many laws about weapons and everyone should know them. They cannot be near schools, sporting events, etc. and whether a police officer asks or not, you are required to tell them that you have a weapon! They will secure it until they are ready to release you. At that time, they will give it back to you. This is not the wild, wild west! America, let’s get smart before we spread lies. Oh by the way, the Mayor is an idiot!

  15. The only point needed to be made is the officer involved entered the vehicle without permission. I live in Shreveport and that traffic stop and follow up would have went a completely different had that “perp” been me. In this state, (that means anywhere in the state, county, city or otherwise) as long as you are not in a restricted gun zone. Your vehicle IS YOUR personal property, and same as your house cannot be entered without permission. The traffic stop would have ended as soon as he entered the vehicle without asking. I am sure it would have gotten the officers attention if the citizen just walked back and jumped in the drivers seat of the squad car. On the argument of reasonable and probable cause. Their was no probable cause for search and seizure and that is where the conversation should have stopped and the man’s lawyer been consulted. Second for all of you people citing ohio and michigan law. That bears no credibility to this argument. Fact is an officer has no right to search, frisk or seize based on a turn signal violation. He only has the right if and when the situation bears probable cause. Both the cop and the citizen were in the wrong. The cop for over stepping his bounds in regards to state and federal law regarding search and seizure, and the citizen for not knowing his rights prior to this situation and how to politely and respectfully put the cop in his place. My sister and brother in law are Sherriffs and would agree, i believe in a cops right to secure a scene, but with cause that a crime has been committed. A turn signal traffic citation is not a crime scene. One final point which is why this is a big deal, the mayor who started the whole stink, has no law enforcement experience. That being said I would suggest to him, read up on the Constitution and Bill Of Rights, also Miranda rights. Because he, in that phone conversation showed his lack of knowledge and his visions of grandeur of how much power he has. WE (citizens) gave him his position and we can also take it away. Grab another chicken mcnugget and chew on that.

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