By Linh Nguyen
ST. LOUIS, MO – Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who brandished their firearms from their mansion’s lawn at passing peaceful protesters almost a month ago, in a video that then went viral, had charges filed against them today by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner.
The incident occurred on June 28. Sixty-one-year-old Mark McCloskey and 63-year-old Patricia McCloskey were standing outside their home on a private street in an upscale neighborhood where the protesters were marching to Mayor Lyda Krewson’s house to protest racial injustice.
Mark McCloskey was wielding a rifle while Patricia McCloskey was holding a smaller handgun. Photos and videos show the two aiming at the passing protestors in an intimidating fashion. The McCloskeys, who are also personal injury lawyers, are now facing a misdemeanor charge of fourth degree assault.
“It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner at those participating in nonviolent protest, and while we are fortunate this situation did not escalate into deadly force, this type of conduct is unacceptable in St. Louis,” said Gardner.
The decision to issue charges was made after a thorough investigation with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Through eyewitness interviews and review of video footage, the police officers determined that there is probable cause that the McCloskeys committed a crime.
As written in the probable cause statement signed by police officer Curtis Burgdorf, “Mark McCloskey screamed at the demonstrators, lowered his rifle, and pointed it towards the group of protestors walking through the gate and onto the street and sidewalk of Portland Place.
“Patricia McCloskey began yelling at the protestors to ‘go’ while pointing the handgun at the demonstrators, […], placing them in fear of being injured due to Patricia McCloskey’s finger being on the trigger, coupled with her excited demeanor. […]. Still armed with his rifle, [Mark] and Patricia McCloskey continued to yell at protestors while pointing their firearms at the protestors standing on the sidewalk and street,” according to the statement.
The McCloskeys have made public statements since the incident, claiming that they were defending their home after protestors entered their property.
The McCloskeys were not arrested; they were issued a summons to appear in court. This is a progressive effort by the prosecutor to reduce incarceration for low-level crimes, as they were each charged with one count of unlawful use of a weapon. Further leniency was offered to the McCloskeys.
“I am open to recommending the McCloskeys participate in one of my office’s diversion programs that are designed to reduce unnecessary involvement with the courts,” Gardner said. “I believe this would serve as a fair resolution to this matter.”
Following the prosecutor’s decision, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a brief in the McCloskeys’ case, supporting the Castle Doctrine law and seeking dismissal of the charges Gardner’s office filed.
“The right to keep and bear arms is given the highest level of protection in our constitution and our laws, including the Castle Doctrine,” said Schmitt. “This provides broad rights to Missourians who are protecting their property and lives from those who wish to do them harm. Despite this, Circuit Attorney Gardner filed charges against the McCloskeys, who, according to reports, were defending their property and safety.
“As Missouri’s chief law enforcement officer, I won’t stand by while Missouri law is being ignored. That’s why I entered this case to seek its dismissal, to protect the rights of Missourians to defend their property under Missouri’s Castle Doctrine,” the state AG said.
The brief Schmitt filed stated that a “highly publicized” criminal prosecution of Missouri citizens for exercising their “fundamental” freedoms to bear arms “threatens to intimidate and deter law-abiding Missouri citizens from exercising their constitutional right of self-defense.”
The state Attorney General requests that the Court dismisses this case at the earliest possible opportunity.
Days before the McCloskeys were charged, Missouri Governor Mike Parson told a radio host that he would likely pardon them if they were charged, also citing the Castle Doctrine law. Parson also said he spoke to President Trump about the case and that Trump would “do what he can to help.”
Also, before charges were pressed, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley called on U.S. Attorney General William Barr to launch a federal civil rights investigation into Gardner for abuse of power for investigating the McCloskeys.
Gardner still filed charges against the McCloskeys. who face up to four years in prison and a fine of $10,000 for the crime.
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