Received Via VCDL alert. If your not a member of VCDL and a Gun Owner you should be.
Long time VCDL member Paul Henick, who has been active in VCDL events such as gun shows, protests, and Lobby Day, and who was a Richmond Gun Show coordinator for a short period of time this year, was arrested a few weeks ago on charges which might loosely be called “contempt of cop.” Basically Paul knew his rights and refused to wave them – something that he was then punished for. When you read the account, you will know exactly what I mean.
I have known Paul for years, and while he is definitely an outspoken individual when it comes to his rights and the Second Amendment, I have never seen him behave in a manner that would threaten anyone.
VCDL leadership has been following the situation quietly since the event happened. We didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize Paul’s case in this legal matter with any premature public statements.
Knowing several of Virginia’s Commonwealth Attorneys, I fully expected the Commonwealth Attorney for Surrey County to shake his head at the charges and to immediately drop all of them.
Much to my surprise, he decided to prosecute on what amounts to a case of brandishing a finger (Paul’s index finger was used to emphasize something Paul was saying while talking to a security guard supervisor).
This really has made me wonder about the motivations of the Surrey County Commonwealth Attorney.
Since the story is now public, the VCDL Board decided it was time to bring this issue to everyone’s attention.
Here is the story. At the end of the story is a link to a more detailed account posted on an OpenCarry.org thread, with information for those wishing to assist Paul.
From the Gun Rights Examiner: examiner.com/gun-rights-in-national
Authorities charge gun owner with brandishing…his finger
• December 6th, 2010 11:54 am ET
• By David Codrea, Gun Rights Examiner
“Paul Henick arrested for BRANDISHING FIREARM in Chesterfield,” the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. Aside from a photo and a link to past news accounts, where it is learned Mr. Henick is a gun rights/open carry advocate, no further details of the arrest are presented.
For those, an account is presented on the OpenCarry.org forum that, if substantiated, presents serious concerns about security, police and prosecutorial misconduct.
The incident reportedly began as Henick attempted to take the Surrey (Jamestown-Scotland) Ferry when “a private contractor working for VDOT to ‘ensure security’ ordered [him] to get out of his car.”
When the contractor refused to reveal the authority he had to issue the order, Henick opted not to take the ferry, “and went to the turn-around point where he had a conversation with the …supervisor,” who reportedly denied the incident happened as Henick related it. To this account, Henick then “pointed his finger at the supervisor, punctuating the word, ‘you,’ and said, ‘You don’t know, you weren’t there.’”
That, and the fact that Henick “was openly wearing his Rohrbaugh 9mm at the time,” was apparently considered a threat, and the Sheriff’s office was called. The deputy, after asking Henick questions, including threatening him if he failed to produce a drivers license (I am informed Virginia does not have a “Stop & ID law,” and Henick was not in his car at the time of this conversation), and demanding nonexistent “paperwork” on his sidearm, stated that Henick “was not detained and was free to leave, [so he] got in his car and left.”
It should be noted that a photo of a sign posted at the ferry says that “failure to consent or submit to screening or inspection will result in denial, or revocation of authorization to enter this facility.”
That’s it. There’s no detention or cross-examination warning for those deciding they’d rather not accept those conditions and who opt to leave. Consent is only required “to board the ferry.”
And then this happened:
Much later, having arrived back at home in Chesterfield County, [Henick] was placed under full custodial arrest by five deputies from the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office (who even brought their K-9 unit along). These men cuffed [him], put him in the back of a cruiser and took him to the Chesterfield courthouse where he was fingerprinted, photographed and took him in front of a magistrate. There, [he] learned that he had been charged with obstruction of justice and brandishing a firearm. (Obviously, if either of these charges had been legitimate, [he] would have been arrested on the spot.) [He] had to put up a sizeable cash bond in order to secure his release, because the magistrate in Surry County had specifically marked the misdemeanor arrest warrants to prohibit release upon recognizance or by issuance of a summons. They clearly wanted [him] to have to go to jail pending trial.
Aside from the outrageous circumstances if this story is borne out, there are some legal matters to consider:
The Virginia “brandishing” code requires the firearm be pointed, held or brandished “in such a manner as “to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another of being shot or injured.”
Likewise, nothing in the reports of the incident suggest the Virginia “obstruction” code has any relevance or applicability.
Then there’s this very interesting piece of information my source for this story calls to my attention:
Buried in the thread is a comment from ‘user’ where he states that Surry Co. CA Gerald G. Poindexter would agree to “Nol Pros” the charges against Henick in exchange for civil immunity for all the deputies and contractors involved. Paul and his attorney would not agree to that, which is understandable.
If that can be established, it will lend credence to the suspicion that this entire incident is one of abuse of authority in order to get back at a citizen for knowing—and insisting on his rights. And realizing their liability now that it’s been exposed, those who started this fight are trying to cut a deal.
Here are a few other questions that are relevant in principle beyond this story:
What was the name of the original security officer who overstepped his bounds?
What is the name of the supervisor who called the cops?
What is the name of the responding deputy who made demands for which he had no lawful authority?
Who decided an arrest warrant was in order?
Without personal accountability, there is no accountability.
The private contractor who provides security for VDOTR at the ferry is Securigard. It might not hurt for Virginia residents to let them know your thoughts will be conveyed to your delegate representatives, along with your concerns that respect for rights should be a paramount concern in the state awarding contracts to private entities–and that incidents like this appear to be disqualifiers that you will insist be rectified.
Gun owners wishing to assist in the legal defense can contribute via a PayPal account that’s been established to defend Paul Henick, accessible via the click-though icon at this Open Carry.org post: