In the City of Brotherly Love, the police are often held in contempt in the court of public opinion. A bizarre series of happenings promises to further erode police credibility in Philadelphia in an unfortunate case of “threaten to shoot first; ask questions later.”
Of all people, police are expected to understand and follow the letter of the law. But such was not the case when Mark Fiorino, a Northeast Philadelphia resident, embarked on a stroll to his local Auto Zone in February. Fiorino, who says a number of his friends have been victimized by violent crime, opted not to leave the house without carrying his .40 caliber Glock, a weapon he legally purchased, licensed, and openly carries in accordance with state and local law.
However, Fiorino’s jaunt took a strange and unfortunate turn when he heard a voice call out from behind, asking, “Yo, Junior, what are you doing?”
(3:50 – Fiorino informs officer Pennsylvania is an open-carry state; 5:00 – Officers find recorder; 6:00 – Sergeant arrives; 6:45 Onward – Inaudible)
(2:45 – Policewoman scolds Fiorino for open carry; 3:15 – Police officer accuses Fiorino of “spouting directives”)
Upon turning around, Fiorino found himself face to barrel with Sgt. Michael Dougherty’s own handgun. Despite the fact that Fiorino was well within his rights to openly carry his registered Glock, Dougherty began questioning him, asking “Do you know you can’t openly carry here in Philadelphia?”
Fiorino, familiar with his right to openly carry, replied, “Yes you can, if you have a license to carry firearms…It’s Directive 137…It’s your own internal [police] directive.”
Dougherty replied by telling Fiorino to get down on his knees. Fiorino then asked if the officer would like to see identification or his license to openly carry.
After again being told to get down on his knees, Fiorino stated, “Sir, I’m more than happy to stand here…”
However, Dougherty then interrupted Fiorino, remarkably screaming, “If you make a move, I’m going to f—— shoot you…I’m telling you right now, you make a move, and your’e going down.”
The 40-minute profanity-laced back-and-forth that ensued includes the police shouting at Fiorino, subduing him on the ground, and handcuffing him. As Fiorino attempted to explain his position, he was repeatedly told to “Shut the f— up,” and was called a “F—— a——.”
The entire melee seems unbelievable, but in an astounding twist, Fiorino was able to record audio of the entire event. The entire situation takes on a new tenor when officers finally discover Fiorino’s recorder. A sergeant and officers can are then heard seemingly recalculating their stance and attempting to craft a consensus account of what has occurred. A less diplomatic interpretation, to borrow parlance from the Philadelphia police dictionary, would be to say that officers then begin covering their a—-.
The audio ends abruptly thereafter, but Fiorino claims that he then sat handcuffed in a police vehicle while officers made repeated phone calls to their higher-ups, attempting to determine whether they could incarcerate him. He was eventually let go.
The odd scenario did not end there, as Fiorino subsequently posted the audio on YouTube. After the audio clips elicited strong reactions online, an investigation was launched by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office – into the conduct of Mark Fiorino.
As a result, Fiorino was charged with reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct for refusing to cooperate with police. Furthermore, police spokesman Lt. Ray Evers stated that the department suspects that Fiorino intentionally set out to incite a confrontation with police so that he could later sue them.
At least one part of the aforementioned equation is true: Fiorino plans to file suit against the city once his criminal case is resolved.
Several more audio tracks not listed above are available here.