Report: Prosecutor had crime lab repair ‘inoperable’ pistol before charging St. Louis couple

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ST. LOUIS, MO– In the charging documents against Patricia McCloskey, Assistant Circuit Attorney Chris Hinckley stated that the gun she waved at protestors was “readily capable of lethal use.”

According to the St. Louis police crime lab, when the gun arrived at the lab it was deemed “inoperable.” However, crime lab experts reassembled the gun and wrote that it was “readily capable of lethal use”. 

In Missouri, police and prosecutors must prove that a weapon is “readily capable of lethal use” when it is used in the type of crime with which the McCloskey’s have been charged. While the gun was at the crime lab, staff members field stripped the handgun and found that it had originally assembled incorrectly.

According to the crime lab staff, specifically, the firing pin spring was put in front of the firing pin, which was backwards, thus making the gun incapable of firing. Firearm experts put the gun back together in the correct order and test-fired it.

When the gun was test-fired, they found that the gun worked just fine. According to reports from the crime lab, the workers photographed the disassembly and reassembly of the handgun.

Allegedly, the McCloskey’s said that the handgun Patricia McCloskey waved at protestors was inoperable because they had used it prior as a prop during a lawsuit they once filed against the gun manufacturer.

Apparently, in order to bring the handgun into the courtroom, they had to make it inoperable.

The McCloskey’s attorney, Joel Schwartz confirmed that they intentionally misplaced the firing pin on the handgun and that it was in that same exact position when Patricia McCloskey waved it at protestors.

Their attorney also claimed that it was in that condition when they turned it into their former attorney, Al Watkins.

On Monday, St. Louis Attorney Kim Gardner announced charges against Patricia and Mark McCloskey for displaying weapons to defend their property after violent protesters broke through a locked gate and into their private neighborhood to march to the mayor’s home back in June.

Gardner, the city prosecutor, charged the couple with one felony count each of unlawful use of a weapon. According to Gardner:

“It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner. That is unlawful in the city of St. Louis.”

According to Fox News, if the McCloskeys are convicted, she is recommending a diversion program as an alternative to jail, which would enable them to later have the charge removed from their records. Gardner said:

“I believe this would serve as a fair resolution to this matter.”

Within hours of the ruling, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a brief seeking to dismiss Gardner’s charges against the McCloskeys on the grounds that their second amendment rights are being violated.

Gardner also declined to discuss why Missouri’s “castle doctrine,” a law that justifies deadly force for those who are defending their homes from intruders does not apply in this case. In a statement, Schmitt said:

“The right to keep and bear arms is given the highest level of protection in our constitution and our laws, including the castle doctrine, which provides broad rights to Missourians who are protecting their property and lives from those who wish to do them harm.”

With tensions high in St. Louis in the wake of nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, the McCloskeys said they were defending themselves. The McCloskeys said that the crowd of demonstrators broke an iron gate marked with “No Trespassing” and “Private Street” signs. They also said that some protestors violently threatened them.

In a statement from the couple’s attorney, Schwartz called the decision to charge:

“Disheartening as I unequivocally believe no crime was committed.”

Missouri Governor Mike Parson said in a radio interview on Friday that he would likely pardon the couple if they were charged and convicted. According to Fox News, Parson says that he has also spoken with President Donald Trump regarding this case and the president has promised to do everything he could within his powers to shield the St. Louis couple from prosecution.

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Here is another story brought to you from Law Enforcement Today on the developing McCloskey case:

Soros-backed Kim Gardner on the defense after governor, President call her out for “abuse of power” in handling of McCloskey case

ST. LOUIS, MO — The office of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said on Twitter that Missouri’s governor and President Donald Trump criticized her for investigating a case involving a couple who brandished guns at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their home last month.

At a news conference Tuesday, Gov. Mike Parson said Trump had expressed interest in the Mark and Patricia McCloskey case.

On June 28, protesters were marching to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home to demand her resignation when a mob of about 100 Black Lives Matter protesters went through a private gate on the McCloskey property.

Mark McCloskey told KMOV:

“A mob of at least 100 smashed through the historic wrought iron gates of Portland Place, destroying them, rushed towards my home where my family was having dinner outside and put us in fear for our lives.”

The couple made national news when photos and video showed the couple each pointing guns at protesters. Mark was holding a rifle, and his wife, Patricia, was pointing a handgun at a crowd of about 300 protesters.

The pair had a search warrant served on them last week, and police confiscated the rifle and inoperable handgun, which the couple brought outside their home during the protest, according to Bearing Arms.

On Wednesday, police confirmed that they had presented an “unlawful use of a weapon” case to the Circuit Attorney’s office and charges could come as early as Thursday.

In the meantime, U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley is calling for a federal civil rights investigation into Gardner’s handling of the case. In a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr, Hawley says that Gardner’s investigation is an “unacceptable abuse of power and threat to the Second Amendment.”

The letter further stated:

“There is no question under Missouri law that the McCloskeys had the right to own and use their firearms to protect themselves from threatened violence, and that any criminal prosecution for these actions is legally unsound.

“The only possible motivation for the investigation, then, is a politically motivated attempt to punish this family for exercising their Second Amendment rights.”

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The McCloskeys said they were “terrified” and called 911 as they grabbed their guns when the crowd approached their private, gated community. However, according to police, they did not receive a 911 call for help from that street during the time of the incident, according to KMOV.

Despite Mark’s claims, video circulating on social media shows protesters opening and walking through the unbroken gate. It is unclear when it was actually damaged or who destroyed it.

The couple also claims to have received death threats from the crowd. Mark told KMOV:

“One fellow standing right in front of me pulled out two pistol magazines, clicked them together and said ‘you’re next.’ That was the first death threat we got that night.”

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said her office is investigating the incident and tweeted:

“I am alarmed at the events that occurred over the weekend, where peaceful protesters were met by guns and a violent assault. We must protect the right to peacefully protest, and any attempt to chill it through intimidation or threat of deadly force will not be tolerated.”

Gov. Parson said he spoke to Trump on the phone about this case. At a news conference on July 14, the governor expressed his belief the couple should not face charges.

Joel Schwartz, the couple’s attorney, told CNN he expected charges to be forthcoming earlier on Tuesday.

On July 16, Gardner’s office posted a statement on Twitter on her behalf.

In a July 14 tweet by the Circuit Attorney’s office, Gardner does not specifically mention what case she’s referring to in her statement or expand on how the governor or President Trump allegedly went after her:

“Today, both the Governor and Donald Trump came after me for doing my job and investigating a case. While they continue to play politics with the handling of this matter, spreading misinformation and distorting the truth, I refuse to do so. As I always do, I am reviewing all available facts and the law and will apply them equally, regardless of the people involved.”

Gardner previously told CNN in a statement that she was alarmed by the events involving the McCloskeys and her office is investigating.

“Make no mistake: we will not tolerate the use of force against those exercising their First Amendment rights, and will use the full power of Missouri law to hold people accountable,” she said earlier this month, according to CNN.

Gardner has fired back at Hawley, Gov. Parson and President Trump, telling the Washington Post she has received death threats and racial abuse as a result of the publicity the story about the McCloskeys has gotten.

Gardner called the threats a “modern day night ride” and added that for “the president to participate in it, in the larger context of racism and cronyism, is scary.”

Gardner is up for re-election and recently had a heated debate with her opponent, Mary Pat Carl, who was the city’s lead homicide attorney and prosecutor for 15 years. During the debate with Carl, Gardner said:

“I’ll tell you who won’t stop me from reforming [the] system is police union chief Jeff Roorda; doesn’t matter. The Trump wannabe Missouri attorney general, along with others that continue to tell lies and divisive rhetoric.”

Carl said the circuit attorney’s office is dysfunctional and nobody wants to stay:

“We’re down to 17 trial attorneys and cases are being handed off from one attorney to another. That’s not stability and cases are being dismissed because nobody is there to try them.”

 

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