FBI, ATF confirm that ‘cell phone guns’ do not exist
April 9, 2014
A Florida sheriff’s deputy was caught on video snatching a cell phone out of a man’s hand as he filmed a traffic stop, describing the device as a potential weapon.
The 25-year-old man, who wishes to remain anonymous for his own safety, has a concealed carry permit, and says he has been targeted and stopped scores of times due to “racial profiling”.
“We don’t need you calling people,” a deputy is heard to say in the video saying before confiscating the man’s phone as he documented the scene.
In a follow up email to news station WFTX-TV, Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott stated that “The probable cause traffic stop, K9 alert, presence of a firearm, and (name omitted)’s lack of candor created a scenario where the potential for (name omitted) to summon others to the scene via his cell phone was an officer safety concern.”
Scott also attempted to justify the description of a phone as a weapon, stating “[I]t is a well documented fact that pagers, cell phones, and other commonly carried devices have in fact proven to be firearms (see link below as but one example)…”
The link the Sheriff provided was to a YouTube video from 6 years ago, of a gun that looks like a phone.
Such devices are not common, however, according to a firearms expert. “That’s just one person that we’ve seen on YouTube, so we don’t know if that’s just a prototype,” John Dezendorf of Fowler Firearms and Gun Range in Fort Myers told WFTX.
In addition, the Miami-Dade Police Department, the largest police agency in the southeast, as well as the FBI and the ATF all confirmed that they have never seen such a device.
Still, in his email, the Sheriff continually refers to the man’s phone as if it were not actually a phone, but really a gun.
“Given the circumstances of this particular traffic stop our Deputies were not comfortable with (name omitted) pointing his ‘cell phone’ at them as they tried to work through the situation,” Scott wrote.
The man was, of course, within his rights to film the police in public. It is a right protected under the Constitution, as the man’s lawyer told reporters.
“He wasn’t doing anything to threaten the officer, and he wasn’t doing anything to interfere with their investigation,” said Dave Shestokas, constitutional law attorney.