The AR-15 has gotten a lot of bad press this week. Those who want to ban modern sporting rifles often say only police and military have the training needed to handle such deadly hardware. Now some police officers are having to answer questions after locking a mentally unstable suspect in the back of a patrol where he was able to get his hands on a loaded rifle.
The dashcam footage captured the incident. Cops in Garden Grove California released the footage that shows a mentally unstable man locking himself inside a police cruiser. While in the back of the car, he was able to reach into the front where the officer stored his AR-15. The suspect then fired the gun out the window.
Stephen Matthews, 33, was detained at the Morningside Recovery center in Garden Grove on February 13. He was being held so he could be transported to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.
He was in the car for more than seven minutes. In that time, he was able to get the AR-15 back into the back of the car.
The rifle was supposed to have been secure in the front of the car, but a lock on the barrier that separates the front and the back had reportedly malfunctioned.
After his initial screening on site, the decision to take him to the hospital was approved. Yet he wasn’t handcuffed.
The footage, though, shows him to be behaving erratically. He looks around and even mutters to himself “leave me alone.”
He then fires the gun out the window. It doesn’t appear that he was aiming at anything. No-one was injured.
Unfortunately, he didn’t immediately surrender. SWAT officers and negotiators arrived and a standoff began that lasted hours.
“He has been charged with assault with a firearm on an officer of the peace,” The Daily Mail reports, “shooting from a motor vehicle, discharging a firearm with gross negligence, vandalizing property worth $400 and unlawful possession of a loaded firearm in public. ”
“As a result of this incident, every Garden Grove police car was inspected and corrective measures have been taken, including review of our policies and procedures,” Garden Grove Lt Carl Whitney said.
“Supervisors at the police department will investigate how the suspect was able to gain access to the patrol rifle.”
“At this point, it is unknown if the locking mechanism for the rifle failed or if the suspect somehow was able to trigger the release of the weapon. Detectives and crime scene investigators will collect and evaluate evidence.”