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Body camera video released of wrongful arrest over gun in Brownsville TN

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The Legion    309

http://wreg.com/2017/07/24/wreg-investigation-leads-to-exoneration-of-brownsville-woman-police-accused-of-carrying-a-stolen-gun/

 

Interesting story tonight on NewsChannel3 in Memphis about a Brownsville women arrested for having a stolen gun which she purchased legally. 

 

BROWNSVILLE, Tenn. — “‘Ma’am, put your hands behind your back, you’re under arrest,’ and I’m like what!”

It’s a night Veronica Pruitt says forever changed her life.

“It’s a lot you know, my image,” Pruitt said to WREG as she wiped tears from her eyes.

The 47-year old mother and grandmother sat down with News Channel 3 a week ago to explain what happened on June 9.

Her sno-cone stand was set up at a local park and farmer’s market in Brownsville, Tennessee.

Pruitt said, “I was having a normal day, getting ready to shut down.”

Pruitt said police then showed up and began questioning her friend about outstanding warrants out of Kentucky related to child support.

It had nothing to do with Pruitt, so she continued her closing routine, but at some point, an officer turned to her.

“He said ma’am, do you have a holster on your side? I said yes sir. He said, ‘Do you have a permit to carry?’ I said yes sir. He said, ‘Could I see it?’ I said yes sir, here it is.”

Pruitt says the officer asked to hold onto the weapon. What she didn’t know was he decided to run a check on the gun.

“When he came back he said, ‘Ma’am, put your hands behind your back, you’re under arrest!’ I’m like, for what, you know, what did I do? I didn’t know!”

The gun Pruitt carried for her own peace of mind provided the opposite of protection that June evening.

“I said, what’s wrong? ‘Ma’am, the gun is stolen,'” she said the officer explained.

Pruitt was arrested and charged with theft of property.

Police said the gun she was carrying matched a stolen gun out of Robbinsdale, Minnesota.

However, Pruitt said that wasn’t possible. “I said no, I bought this gun!”

Pruitt told police she bought her gun from a store called Delta Gunner Firearms.  The store, located in Brownsville, is now closed.

She didn’t have a bill of sale, so law enforcement officers said she’d have to prove her case in court.

Chief Kelvin Evans is the assistant chief of police in Brownsville. He told WREG during an interview last week, “We’re just trying to figure out and find out receipts and do a paper trail on this weapon.”

That trail would eventually lead to the proof of Pruitt’s innocence.

Pruitt said, as News Channel 3 spoke with her Monday, “You guys, WREG, I think you guys helped me out with the investigation.”

WREG filed a Public Records Request pressing for more details and body camera video surrounding Pruitt’s arrest.

Days later, the city’s attorney called WREG and Pruitt with new information.

Pruitt explained, “Attorney Michael Banks called and said the charges would be dropped, and my first comment was, after everything I went through! But at the same token I told him thank you.”

Turns out, the Brownsville Police Department had put an innocent woman behind bars.

Police wouldn’t go back on camera but sent a statement through their attorney explaining the charges were dismissed after they discovered they ran the wrong serial number through the stolen weapon’s database.

“The correct serial number on the weapon revealed that it was not a stolen weapon, and therefore charges against Miss Pruitt have been dismissed,” read part of a statement sent via email by Michael Banks, who serves as the city and county attorney.

Banks said the officer read off the correct serial number, which is H8Q46, but then dispatch repeated an incorrect serial number, H8E46.

The latter, which is the same make and model of Pruitt’s gun,  is in fact a stolen gun. However, it was not the gun Pruitt was carrying.

According to the police report, the officer had dispatch confirm three times.

Pruitt said, “But three times though, three times? They read it back three times? I’m sorry I just don’t buy that one.”

Pruitt says the charges might have been dropped, but it will never change the fact she was actually arrested.

“That killed my whole spirit just to be fingerprinted and mugshot and it’s shared all over the internet.”

Which is why Pruitt says she’s not done getting to the bottom of her case. “I expect an apology. I need a public apology because this was embarrassing.

Some employees could face disciplinary action pending the outcome of an investigation. Pruitt says she’s considering legal action.

WREG is still waiting on the requested body camera video, as well as written copies of certain police policies and procedures.


 

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LCPfraTN    143

She deserves a formal public apology at a minimum!


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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Sunfish    96

She needs to just go ahead and Sue them for false arrest etc. because their apology does not even the score. She probably wont get anything but she can inconvenience them to the point they did her.

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buck1032    372

I am one that thinks people and entities get sued way too often for stupid reasons. This isn't one of them, yes she should sue.

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Tuffus    186

She needs to be reimbursed for any attorney fees that she might have ensued even if she doesn't sue.

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Omega    1,729

The officer should of issued a summons, instead of arresting her..its not like she was going anywhere.  In the mean time the SN and her story could of been confirmed.  At this point, an apology and reimbursement for all legal fees, lost wages/profit and inconvenience should be made.

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Capbyrd    743

If you carry a gun, you will get treated like a criminal, regardless of whether you are or not.  



She should be able to sue, and win and be compensated for lost wages, any attorney fees, defamation of character, and whatever else her attorney can think of.  This is ridiculous. 

 

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Omega    1,729
32 minutes ago, Capbyrd said:

If you carry a gun, you will get treated like a criminal, regardless of whether you are or not.  



She should be able to sue, and win and be compensated for lost wages, any attorney fees, defamation of character, and whatever else her attorney can think of.  This is ridiculous. 

 

It has not been my experience to be treated as such, but yes many do.  I don't think one should have to sue to get compensated, it should automatically be done to keep the system in check.  If errors start costing the departments some operating funds, less errors are likely to occur, or at least more consequences for those making such errors.

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i1afli    73
11 hours ago, The Legion said:

Pruitt says the officer asked to hold onto the weapon. What she didn’t know was he decided to run a check on the gun.


 

This sounds like a search without probable cause...to ask someone for their personal property and then run what is effectively a background check on it.  Although i'm sure the officer will say that he only "asked" and that she didn't have to give it to him.

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i1afli    73
11 hours ago, The Legion said:

She didn’t have a bill of sale, so law enforcement officers said she’d have to prove her case in court.


 

Sounds like guilty until proven innocent.  Wouldn't they have to prove that she knowingly received stolen property?

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bersaguy    4,582
12 minutes ago, Omega said:

It has not been my experience to be treated as such, but yes many do.  I don't think one should have to sue to get compensated, it should automatically be done to keep the system in check.  If errors start costing the departments some operating funds, less errors are likely to occur, or at least more consequences for those making such errors.

I have to agree with Omega on this one for sure. I think police departments need to be held accountable for their mistakes as well as any other business is. They think becuase they are a Government agency they are above the law when actually they should be held just as accountable for their mistakes as any other company or individual would be.............JMHO

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Capbyrd    743
1 hour ago, Omega said:

It has not been my experience to be treated as such, but yes many do.  

You probably don't "match the description" either.  

 

 

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Capbyrd    743
1 hour ago, i1afli said:

This sounds like a search without probable cause...to ask someone for their personal property and then run what is effectively a background check on it.  Although i'm sure the officer will say that he only "asked" and that she didn't have to give it to him.

 

 

It was a black black person with a gun.   That would likely hold up as probable cause for most departments. 

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Grayfox54    239

The officer screwed up and ran the wrong number. He should get an official reprimand AND the lady should sue.

Normally, I'm extremely supportive of Law Enforcement.  But if an officer makes a stupid mistake and then defames an innocent citizen for it, then he should pay the price just like anybody else. 

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bersaguy    4,582
54 minutes ago, Capbyrd said:

 

 

It was a black black person with a gun.   That would likely hold up as probable cause for most departments. 

I would hope that was not the issue but I am guessing you are correct. I think many police departments do more racial profiling than they will ever admit to. Then when you compare apples to apples where crime rates take place they do seem to be higher in African American neighborhoods than other ones.................JMHO 

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bersaguy    4,582
1 minute ago, Grayfox54 said:

The officer screwed up and ran the wrong number. He should get an official reprimand AND the lady should sue.

Normally, I'm extremely supportive of Law Enforcement.  But if an officer makes a stupid mistake and then defames an innocent citizen for it, then he should pay the price just like anybody else. 

I just posted that many police departments do racial profiling. I wonder if she would have be white if that officer would have acted the same way and even asked for the gun after she provided a carry permit. That might be a question that is needed to be asked and answered!

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Omega    1,729
59 minutes ago, Capbyrd said:

You probably don't "match the description" either.  

 

 

I grew up in Denver, and there I fit the description just fine.  Even here I am "close enough" to get a second look.  The thing is, at least for me in Denver, I knew that Hispanics were the predominant race and committed much of the crime so expected that added scrutiny, it is only logical.  I personally don't think "profiling" is as bad as everyone makes it out to be.  If 90% of the crime is committed by a certain demographic, it is only reasonable to keep an eye out on that demographic.  That is why when I am pulled over in Denver, I keep my hands on the wheel and maintain courtesy and composure while in that situation.  I don't think anyone should be pulled over or treated worse because of it, but at the same time I understand if it takes a minute to make sure I am not going to be a problem.

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Dolomite_supafly    6,349

If you have never been arrested it can be very, very traumatic. Imagine being forced, as an innocent person, to strip down to nothing and open up every nook and cranny in your body for inspection by a complete stranger. And when I say inspection I mean INSPECTION. Those officers will inspect places on her body that her husband has probably never seen. Argue at all, like proclaiming your innocence, and you can be tossed into a restraint chair. Then getting thrown into a cell with God knows who. And for someone who has never been in trouble before this is very traumatic. I don't believe anything should happen to the dispatch officer because people do make mistakes but the department needs to step up and do the right thing and apologize. But we will not see an apology, at least not initially, because an apology is an admission of guilt. It will not be until after any civil case that they will apologize, if they ever do. If I were an administrator I would be all over the media apologizing. I would also contact her and see what she wants then do everything in my power to make it happen. I would try to do everything I could to avoid going to court because juries can really do a number on a department and with sentiment towards LE today you would almost be guaranteed a huge payout if the jury had the right mix.

And with all those mug shot newspapers and websites an innocent person will have their name slandered in minutes. Personally those mug shot places should only be allowed to post pictures AFTER a conviction. Just because someone is arrested does not mean they are guilty and it would seem like it is slanderous to post a picture and name of someone who has not been proven guilty in a court of law.

I would like to throw this out. What probable cause did the officer have to search the serial number? She had a holster and I can understand disarming her while the officer dealt with the other individual but to run the serial number without probable cause would seem like a violation of the fourth amendment. If any of us were disarmed and our gun's serial number ran we would be really upset, especially if the gun you had is not tied to you. Despite the fact the officer had no PC the women was required to surrender the firearm so he could search. The officer should never have ran the serial number without being able to articulate why he believes he has the PC needed to investigate whether the gun was stolen. A holster does not mean the gun in it may be stolen, matter of fact a stolen gun would probably be a bit more hidden.

Hope she gets her day in court and the jury awards her all she wants. In addition to suing for false arrest she should also sue the officer for violating her fourth amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Also making the assumption that she put the firearm on because police were there is a bit over the top. Lets assume she did put her gun on just as they arrived. I often put my gun on before I get into a car and go anywhere as do a lot of us here. Then he goes and briefs the rest of the officers about how she armed herself when police arrived and how he is now nervous, that is EXACTLY how accidents happen.

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chances R    520

The lady did make the statement "I just put it on".  I can understand the officer's concern and the disarm since it was her friend that caused the initial contact.  I don't know that running the number was appropriate.  Why not run the VIN on the truck as well initially?  The problem was with dispatch as the officers read the number correctly....twice!  

Not near as exciting, I recently received a letter from a PD in NC regarding a LCP I owned.  They said they had it, wondered if I knew how it wound up with them.  So I called and informed them that the gun has never been out of my possession even though the serial numbers matched.  Long story short, someone misread the number on their end.

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Chucktshoes    4,672

Let's not forget that were it not for the efforts of WREG, the department/DA would have never admitted to the screwup. 

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SWJewellTN    1,841
2 hours ago, Chucktshoes said:

Let's not forget that were it not for the efforts of WREG, the department/DA would have never admitted to the screwup. 

And you know this, how?

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Erik88    1,730

Obviously the cops made an honest mistake. That being said, they still made a mistake and that lady paid the price. 

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Garufa    5,140
1 hour ago, Erik88 said:

Obviously the cops made an honest mistake. 

That is unacceptable.

BTW, there is already a discussion going on here:  

 

 

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i1afli    73

Just remember this video the next time somebody says "If you're innocent then you shouldn't mind if we [fill in the blank]. "

Edited by i1afli

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