Image of crossbow from Nebraska website blog
Twenty police officers surged into a mobile home neighborhood in Lincoln, Neb., and slammed an unarmed man to the ground because a neighbor reported he was shooting a crossbow, and the resulting melee left two officers hurt, the man’s wife and 4-year-old tossed out of their home and the Internet forum pages aglow with the flames of argument over weapons rights.
“Why the need for 20 cops? What’s with America and overcompensation through excessive force?” wrote one participant at Fark.
Countered another writer, “I grew up in a place where this sort of activity (using weapons in technically illegal areas) is fairly normal, and I think once the cops are called it’s because you’ve crossed the line from neighbor to weirdo/potentially dangerous person. There are so many ways out before police violence starts I have little mercy for this person.”
The situation developed just days before Christmas, and it started collecting attention because of a video of the encounter between the man’s wife and officers who had been summoned by the neighbor.
As the case now stands, the suspect, Gary Grana, 32, is being held behind bars on suspicion of assault on an officer, unlawful discharge of a weapon and refusing to comply with officers’ orders.
Police agency spokeswoman Katie Flood told WND he has a court hearing scheduled on Jan. 11.
The video, from the perspective of the man’s wife, Stephanie, originally was posted online, then withdrawn, and is available because others captured the file and have reposted it:
Warning: Obscene language throughout the videos
The woman repeatedly demands from police to be told why her husband was taken to the ground on their porch, handcuffed and hauled to jail, and officers attempt to explain it is because of a neighbor’s call about him shooting a “firearm,” which apparently actually is a crossbow.
The city’s regulations note that a firearm is a handgun, pistol, rifle or shotgun, but another section of the city regulations, called “Discharge of Weapons and Other Instruments Unlawful,” indicates that just about anything could be determined illegal.
It states, “It shall be unlawful for any person, except as provided in this chapter, to fire or discharge, within the corporate limits, or on any property of the City of Lincoln outside of the corporate limits, any air rifle, toy pistol, toy gun, slingshot, or any other air, gas, or spring operated gun, weapon, apparatus, or instrument for the purpose of throwing or projecting missiles of any kind by any means whatsoever in such a manner as to endanger the safety of persons or property, whether the instrument is called by any name set forth above or by any other name.”
The rules also make it unlawful for anyone to carry “any toy pistol, toy gun, or other toy arm or arms, or slingshot, out of or by which any leaden or other dangerous missiles may be discharged.” It was not clear whether an “leaden” missile could be thrown by hand.
But the Nebraska state government notes on its website that crossbow hunting is legal in the state
Flood, who reviewed the police reports to respond to questions, said that when officers responded, Grana was outside the home and they ultimately found no weapon there.
The only crossbow they found was inside his home, a discovery made after officers ejected his wife and a 4-year-old child from the home for most of a day while they obtained and executed a search warrant, she said.
Flood said she did not know why Grana was tackled by officers, but speculated he might have run away from them.
She also accused him of being “argumentative” and said he wouldn’t produce an ID for officers.
But Flood confirmed that Grana had had no prior encounters with the Lincoln police department.
She also could not speculate why police officers “blocked” his wife inside their home while they were doing their investigation. But authorities said one officer suffered a minor cut on his hand and was treated at a hospital and a second officer had a minor injury.
A commentary from Martin Hill described how police “piled on top of [Grana] on the family’s front porch [as] the woman repeatedly asked why they were doing this, pleading with police that her husband wasn’t doing anything wrong.”
He said the woman’s original video, later taken down, said “This is a video that I took of my husband being wrongfully accused and detained. They originally came because someone wrongfully accused my husband of firing a crossbow in our yard (crossbows are legal in our state). He told them he was not firing a crossbow and there was not a crossbow outside or any evidence of one being outside. The police asked him for ID and he refused on grounds that he wasn’t doing anything to facilitate them asking for ID. Next thing he knew the police jumped him, then the police tripped over our steps and crashed through a wooden fence which injured the officers hand. They slammed my husbands head against my front door, breaking my door (I can’t even shut it properly now and have to replace it) and sprayed him with mace and started beating the crap out of him. All of a sudden my husband is being charged with assault on an officer?! SOMETHING IS WRONG HERE!!!!!”
The video clips also reveal police objecting to being recorded and explaining repeatedly they don’t know what went on.
“It’s obvious from the 20-minute video that the woman knows her rights and is familiar with the Constitution. At several points she refuses to answer inappropriate questions such as when one officer repeatedly demands that she has to tell him how old her child is,” Hill writes.
She ultimately objects to police plans to search her home, since no part of the confrontation happened there. Officers tell her she and her daughter will have to leave.
“We’re gonna seize the house,” an officer tells her.
“Well that’s fine then you guys can bring a search warrant. You can’t seize my house without a search warrant,” Stephanie states.
“Yes. yes we can,” said the officer. “We cannot search your house without a search warrant. We can seize your house while we’re trying to get …”
“You can seize something I own?” Stephanie asks.
“Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely,” says the officer.
The officers also photograph bloody spots left on the mobile home following the ruckus with Grana, and publicly criticize the woman for asking questions and demanding answers.
Fark commenters clearly had strong opinions:
- “For a man living in a trailer park, there is a real risk of him missing his target and … harming someone 100 yards away even inside their own trailer.”
- “Had enough government yet?”
- “Personally, I hope one or more of the cops ends up in prison.”
- “The law seems to be a wee bit flawed.”
- “If they show up because someone claimed to see you firing a weapon, just answer their questions. Does it really hurt you to tell them your name? My God. Is your name a secret or something? Does someone need special super secret security clearance to know your name? If the guy had told them his name and if he wasn’t actually shooting a crossbow and there was no crossbow to be found the cops would have simply left and gone back to their donuts.”
- “You don’t have to talk to police or answer any of their questions. And you shouldn’t. Ever.”
- “Trailer park does set a certain tone. Tornadoes choose trailer parks for a reason.”
- “It’s about understanding that you have rights, and no one can take them from you — for any reason, and that includes if you were reported to be doing something illegal.”
- It is a shame that police officers are trained more and more not in situation management but in psychological manipulation in order to justify actions.”
- “I am sure this guy acted like a jackass with a persecution complex, but 20 cops is a bit of a stretch.”
- “He made no threats, he wasn’t acting erratic, they just said they thought they saw him shoot an arrow in his back yard. That does not provide rationalization for a 20-man beat down and arrest.”
- “Even if you disagree with an officer, be polite. You can get stuff sorted out later and bring in a lawyer if necessary.”