Glad that week is over with pic.twitter.com/7kgAQHBIu6
— WILLIAM GREENBLATT (@BILLGREENBLATT) July 6, 2020
Citing what appears to be a crime lab document, KSDK-TV is reporting that a member of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s staff ordered the gun of Patricia McCloskey stripped down and reassembled to make it operable. It was previously inoperable.
Particia McCloskey, along with her husband Mark, defended their home against protesters who trespassed into their gated community on June 28 with guns. The protesters were on their way to the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson to demand her resignation at the time.
No shots were fired and the protesters left soon after. Mark McCloskey was holding an AR-15 while Patricia was holding a small pistol.
Patricia’s gun was inoperable at the time of the encounter.
Police executed a warrant at the home a couple of weeks later. During that search the couples’ guns were taken away.
It was unclear at the time what the grounds were for the confiscation, as the weapons were owned legally.
On July 20 Gardner filed charges against the couple.
The McCloskeys were each charged with one count of unlawful use of a weapon, flourishing. The charge is a class D felony. They face anywhere from one to four years in prison and fines of up to $5,000 if convicted.
Gardner said at the time that she was charging the couple in order to protect the rights of people to “peacefully protest.”
“It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner at those participating in [a] nonviolent protest, and while we are fortunate this situation did not escalate into deadly force, this type of conduct is unacceptable in St. Louis,” she said in a statement at the time.
It’s unclear what grounds Gardner was charging the McCloskeys on as the protesters were on private property at the time and, according to the couple, were threatening them.
It’s now been learned that crime lab staff members were ordered to disassemble Patricia’s pistol and reassemble it making it operable.
Missouri law says for a person to face the charge that Patricia was facing, a gun would need to be operable. The McCloskeys, who are lawyers, had rendered the gun inoperable so that it could be used in a courtroom as a prop.
“Assistant Circuit Attorney Chris Hinckley ordered crime lab staff members to field strip the handgun and found it had been assembled incorrectly. Specifically, the firing pin spring was put in front of the firing pin, which was backward, and made the gun incapable of firing,” KSDK’s Christine Byers reported.
Byers further said the crime lab reassembled the gun with the firing pin and spring placed correctly, and then test fired the weapon.
That appears to have made the gun “readily capable of lethal use” — which are the exact words that prosecutors used in charging documents when describing the firearm.
Gardner’s office declined to comment on the revelation. Mark McCloskey’s gun was operable at the time of the encounter with the protesters and was also test fired by the crime lab.
Republican Gov. Mike Parson has made it clear he will strongly consider a pardon if the couple is found guilty during Gardner’s prosecution.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican, is also working to have the charges dismissed.
“It’s disheartening to learn that a law enforcement agency altered evidence in order to prosecute an innocent member of the community,” the McCloskey’s attorney Joel Schwartz.