ACLU Files On Behalf Of Gun Owner Abusively Arrested By Philadelphia Police

We previously discussed the abusive arrest of Mark Fiorino by Philadelphia police. Now the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and the law firm of McCausland Keen & Buckman have filed a federal complaint today against the city of Philadelphia in his defense. It is an important case and we will be following it closely.

The audio recording (below) shows Fiorino, 25, being confronted by a Philadelphia police officer about carrying a gun in public. Fiorino is allowed to open carry in the city, but the officers appear completely ignorant of their own directives and became increasingly hostile to Fiorino’s effort to show them that he was lawfully carrying the weapon.

The encounter occurred on February 13, 2011, nearly five months after a new policy allowing such carrying of a weapon was implemented. Fiorino was stopped on a street by an officer pointing a gun at his chest and yelling “Yo, junior, what are you doing?” Sgt. Michael Dougherty would not listen to Fiorino’s explanation of his own policy and ordered Fiorino to get on his knees or else “I am gonna shoot ya.” Other officers then arrived and continued to heap abuse on Fiorino after he was handcuffed and put face down on the sidewalk. He was later released without charges, but (despite this shocking record) there is no report of disciplining of all of the officers involved. Worse still, after Fiorino said that he was considering a lawsuit and his tape was placed on YouTube, Commissioner Charles Ramsey ordered an investigation. (For the record, Ramsey is a defendant in the World Bank case in which I am one of the lead counsels suing the District and federal government for a mass arrest of citizens without legal cause or due process). After investigating, the department decided to crack down on Fiorino rather than the officers. He was charged with disorderly conduct and recklessly endangering another person. Five officers were sent to his workplace to arrest him. He later surrendered and was charged. However, the police then arrested him again a week later — saying that the warrant had not been changed in the system. He was eventually cleared of all charges on October 27, 2011 after spending time in jail and having to get a lawyer. Despite the clear absurdity of the charge that he was disorderly or that he endangered others, there was no effort to hold either the police or the prosecutors involved to any form of discipline.

That is why this lawsuit is so important. For those on the right who criticize the ACLU, the case is also a reminder of the work that this organization does for all citizens regardless of their politics or views. He is being represented by Benjamin Picker and Glenn Gitomer of McCausland Keen & Buckman and Mary Catherine Roper and Chris Markos of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. The case is Fiorino v. City of Philadelphia, et al.

Here is the tape:


Here is a copy of the Complaint:

Source: ACLU

34 thoughts on “ACLU Files On Behalf Of Gun Owner Abusively Arrested By Philadelphia Police

  1. As well they should….Good for you ACLU…. Hey…we have some other issues that need to be dealt with….Like…SOPA….

  2. The ACLU won’t consider ALL civil rights violation cases, only those which won’t cut into the income stream of it’s member attorneys.
    Which is why they won’t take a stance on the discrimination against adopted adults that is mandated in 44 states.

  3. What does this part mean;

    “The encounter occurred on February 13, 2011, nearly five months after a new policy allowing such carrying of a weapon was implemented.”

    Open carry within Philadelphia has been legal for quite a while, as long as you have a valid License To Carry Firearms (LTCF), according to a state statute.

    18 Pa.C.S. § 6108 (Carrying firearms on public streets or public property in Philadelphia) a License To Carry Firearms is required to carry a firearm in any manner on the streets or public property of a “City of the first class” (Philadelphia.).

  4. Isn’t it sad how the supposed Constitutional right to keep and bear arms is actually a privilege in most American states and cities. You almost always have to apply for a permit to bear arms. The application is usually accompanied by a fee, and approval is usually conditioned upon the applicant completing a firearms course. In some cities, such as New York, New York, it is a felony to even keep or possess a firearm in your own home in most cases.

    Could you imagine having to go through such a process to exercise other rights, such as speaking, publishing, worshiping, obtaining legal counsel, etc.? Could you imagine having to apply for a worship permit in order to attend services on Sunday morning, or synagogue on Saturday? And could you imagine if that application was accompanied by an 85, 100, or 150 dollar fee, and the permit, if granted, had to be renewed every five years? If they found your vehicle in a church parking lot during worship hours and discovered that you were in attendance, you could be charged with worshiping without a permit or unlawful worshiping. Such is your second amendment “right” in America.

  5. That is why this lawsuit is so important. For those on the right who criticize the ACLU, the case is also a reminder of the work that this organization does for all citizens regardless of their politics or views.”

    Well said.

  6. i wonder how mr fiorino would have been treated if he had been wearing baggy pants.

    my guess is that it would be his relatives making the complaint.

  7. Neil, If you are diagnosed and being treated for a mental illness, or are an ex-violent offender and you exercise any other right there isn’t potential that you might do harm to yourself or others either deliberately or accidentally. If you exercise any other right while not having any idea or training, there is little or no probability that you could do harm to yourself or others due to your ignorance. That’s why ownership of a weapon is different than the right to vote or speak or pray etc.

  8. Neil Davis,
    After watching the Occupy groups, it appears that many cities have indeed been requiring people to register, apply for permits, show proof of insurance and so forth. Just for the “privilege” of assembling peaceably and petitioning city hall or the state legislature. So far, Oakland seems to be the worst offender, with New York and several others following behind, closely.

  9. @soberbyker:
    What he means is that there was an internal policy of the police department that said you must conceal. That policy was changed in September 2010 (because the police department realized it was not in compliance with the actual law) so that it now said that open carry was legal with a license to carry firearms. However the department failed to train its officers on that new policy, which is what resulted in the February 2011 incident that can be heard on YouTube.

  10. Wow. If you read the complaint the ACLU filed against the Philly PD, you will discover that Fiorino was under continual assault and harassment. He was falsely arrested and harassed three separate times by them. And then he was charged with the misdemeanors as a retaliatory action due to his posting the audio of the third incident on YouTube in accordance with his first amendment right to free speech. Then he was rearrested for no reason at all except to further torment him. The Philly PD is in hot water on this one. It is much worse than what you read here in Jonathan’s post.

  11. Cops will be Americas first battle in the Revolution. The cops in America have been drugged,or,something has been put in their food…they have become complete fools.

  12. Wait until these cops stand before the Great White Throne and confess to God Himself. I will be there and so will everyone else. Google K7VHQ and learn what is coming in the ages to come. Bob click on San Jacinto

  13. Looks like Fiorino settled out of court for a measly 25 grand. I would have demanded at least 100 grand.

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