A Virginia jury took just 47 minutes to acquit Brandon Watson from “reckless handling of a firearm” charges stemming from shooting at police incident. A judge found Watson guilty on the charges, but on appeal another judge declared a mistrial and allowed the accused to present his case to a jury of his peers.
Once the Virginia jury heard the details of what transpired in Brandon Watson’s backyard, it did not even take a single hour to clear the legal gun owner’s name. The legal wrangling began after police officers answered a 911 call and wound up in Watson’s Portsmouth, Virginia backyard — instead of his neighbor’s. When Watson’s wife became startled by someone in their backyard at night, he grabbed his legal handgun and went out the back door.
Brandon Watson had this to say about how the shooting at police officers unfolded last January:
“I announced myself, ‘Who is that? Who is that? I have a gun,’ And as soon as I said that, two red laser beams were on my chest. So I looked at the red laser beams on my chest, and I fired a warning shot.”
Many towns and cities consider the firing of warning shots reckless handling of a firearm. The working theory is basically, if there is a need to pull a gun and squeeze the trigger, one is in imminent danger and firing a gun otherwise, into the air or elsewhere, would not stop attackers and can endanger others. Watson did not harm anyone or any property when he fired the warning shots.
Portsmouth Police Chief Ed Hargis told local WAVY News that he supports the actions of his officers completely. “Anytime the police hear there is a firearm, they start giving verbal commands and they start yelling police,” Chief Hargis said.
“When the police went around the front they started counting, two, three, four. Then they see Watson’s gate that is open, and that raises suspicion that must be the house. You cannot fire indiscriminately through the window,” Portsmouth Commonwealth Attorney Earle Mobley said. Even though the police officers entered a property at a wrong address, understandably startling the homeowner, the prosecutor’s office was determined to move forward with the gun charges.
Virginia juror Danny Barnes, who also works for the local news outlet, had this to say after acquitting Brandon Watson on reckless firearms handling charges:
“The commonwealth really didn’t have a case. It wasn’t reckless, so it didn’t take a lot of discussion. There was agreement if there had been more than one bullet hole, had he sprayed the wall with bullets, bang, bang, bang, that would have been reckless. The police kept saying they had their weapons pointed at the ground at all times. At the same time, they said they were using their TAC lights on the gun to illuminate whatever they were looking at. You can’t be doing both at the same time, that’s contradictory.”
The juror also said that the Portsmouth police officers put Brandon Watson into a no-win situation that evening. The recently acquitted Virginia owner is now moving forward with a lawsuit against the city.
[Image Via: Shutterstock.com]