Florida Carry sues Citrus County, deputies over arrest of gun owner


Lee’s note: This just arrived. The video is telling.


Today Florida Carry has filed a federal complaint alleging deprivation of civil rights under color of law with the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida over an incident which was captured on dashcam video, which subsequently went viral on the internet.

In July of 2009, Citrus County resident Joel Smith and his wife were detained at a traffic stop for non-criminal traffic code violation. During the stop, Mr. Smith exited his vehicle to speak with Citrus County deputy Andy Cox, who asked Mr. Smith for proof of insurance for the vehicle.  Mr. Smith turned with his back toward the officer and leaned into the vehicle to retrieve the document at which time his lawfully carried and holstered firearm peeked out from under his shirt.

Upon seeing the tip of Smith’s holster, Deputy Cox immediately launched into an

Sean Caranna, founder and executive director of Florida Carry, Inc.

Sean Caranna, founder and executive director of Florida Carry, Inc.

unwarranted verbal assault on Mr. Smith, first asking why he was carrying a firearm. Within seconds, the officer drew his own firearm and pointed it at the befuddled Mr. Smith, threatening to shoot him “in the (expletive deleted) back” if he didn’t immediately put his hands on the vehicle. Mr. Smith offered no resistance, complying fully with the officer’s orders, and informing the officer that he was a lawfully licensed concealed carrier. Ignoring Mr. Smith’s statement, Deputy Cox continued shouting at Mr. Smith, ordering him face down on the ground and cuffing him. Mr. Smith was arrested and charged with open carry of a firearm, a misdemeanor violation of Florida Statutes, however charges were later dropped. A complaint was filed with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Department against Deputy Cox, however due to a technicality, the complaint was dismissed and no disciplinary action against the deputy was taken.

Florida Carry consulting attorney J. Patrick Buckley III who is also representing Mr. Smith in the case summed up the case:

“Improper law enforcement training coupled with an emotional overreaction is detrimental to the civil rights of Floridians. When a Constitutional officer then delays the resulting internal investigation to permit the untrained officer to walk away without so much as a slap on the wrist, it illustrates a systematic absence of accountability in those we trust to protect us.”

Joining Mr. Smith as plaintiff, Florida Carry is representing its membership and millions of Florida gun owners in the lawsuit. Named as defendants are Deputy Andy Cox, Sergeant Dave Fields, Sheriff Jeffrey Dawsy, and Citrus County. The plaintiffs are represented by the Law Offices of J. Patrick Buckley III, located in Fort Myers, FL.

The dashcam video can be viewed on YouTube

The case docket is available by clicking HERE


About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.


  1. Yes, an overreaction by the officer but also now by the plaintiffs in response. No one was hurt in the end and given the risks involved for law enforcement personnel with overly liberal gun laws, better to be safe than sorry in my opinion. If you choose to conceal carry and fail to announce that fact in advance in a traffic stop you run a risk that your ultimate motives can be misinterpreted. One tires of the incessant bleatings of gun owners about their precious rights. The rest of us have the right to feel safe too.

    • As soon as you can come up with a plan to keep guns to keep guns knifes bats and anything that an be used as a weapon then you can feel safe, until then uninformed people like you need to mind your own business

  2. Robin 'Roblimo' Miller on

    Legal requirement or no, I’d say it’s good sense to tell the LEO you have a gun before he finds it on his own.

  3. I think one of the main reasons Florida Carry is pursuing this is that the Deputy was not disciplined in any way. If the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office had penalized the Deputy in some way for his poor execution then it might of gone away.

  4. Pernell Rodocker on

    Now is the time for Florida to have open carry. IF the weapon was visible then the officer would have approached the situation differently. I carried open in DE for 5 years. I never had a problem. I think the cry of the authorities of it being a problem is not valid. Ask for ID, do your job and leave us law abiding citizens alone! Did I mention that I was a LEO for several years… PR

  5. The cop overreacted and should at very least been instructed on the law and apologize for the arrest. He doesn’t even seem to know the open carry law either. But at the same time the man carring should have handed his concealed permit along with his licensed or at very least told the officer he was armed. We were told that in our class for the permit.

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  8. This video is edited- one second the lady is standing by the van and then in a blink of an eye she is elsewhere. Is there a copy of the entire video? Why isn’t it on the Fl carry website? Also, the law was different back in 2009 when this incident actually happened. Seriously Fl Carry, pick your battles more carefully, there was nothing illegal about this arrest and as for the civil rights violations, remember the saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words may never hurt me”- seems like Mr. Smith and Florida Carry need to remember this grade school rhyme and not waste $$ and time on this non-issue arrest from four years ago.

    • I would like to see this happen to you and then see what you have to say after you been cussed at, threatened, handcuffed and taken to jail, for having a concealed carry permit and are legally carrying. that deputy is stupid and does not deserve to be a law officer

  9. This cop needs to be fired asap. He’s a total loose cannon and i don’t want him on the streets. I hope this law abiding citizen wins his law suit and this outrage sends a message to all the cops out there who think they’re god. They can’t treat people any way they want to and get away with it. The man offered no threat and didn’t need to be treated that way

  10. This cop should be fired! Period. He needs to go back to rookie school! He’s acted in professional an like a crazy idiot period. I think all police/law enforcement should wear a camera at all times. This way there will never be a question if rights are violated. This HAS to stop! I would understand if the guy pulled the gun on the cop but as you can see the cop is in violation of the 2nd amendment and should be severely punished not just sent home with pay! Wonder what happen since it’s been 4 years since it happen… Anyone know! I’d like to know if justice was done! The man should sue the department having people out that do not know rights and laws!

  11. I saw that video and I have a carry permit also, I was shocked! If the driver wanted to do any harm to that deputy he had every chance to do so from minute one! I believe these days you have to let an officer know ASAP you have a firearm and don’t exit your vehicle until told to do so!But a definite over reaction on the part of that officer for sure!

  12. clak thurmond on

    the first thing that entered my mind, was why is this “officer”harassing the owner who has a valid ccw. Andy cox needs to have anger management courses. Perhaps as a kid he was picked on, bullied so he thought hiding behind a badge, gives him permission to bully back. The whole thing was blown way out of proportion, even in light of florida law changing the language stating the slight revealing of of concealed weapon, does not constitute breaking the law, Andy cox has brought dishonor to law enforcement, should be dismissed from law enforcement , the man is a menace to the citizens of citrus county florida.

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