BREAKING: Miami Beach Police draw on, detain, disarm lawful open carriers fishing on public pier

While traditional open carry is generally banned, Florida law allows the open carry of handguns while hunting or fishing.

To be clear, you can wear an exposed handgun in a holster if you’re fishing — period. It’s completely legal.

There are a few other exceptions.

This fishing exception was apparently unknown by Miami Beach police officers Sunday morning.

The results were almost tragic.

Thank God no one was killed or seriously injured.

Details are still emerging, but here’s what we know for sure:

A group of fishermen — who were lawfully open-carrying handguns — was fishing off of the South Pointe Pier in Miami Beach Sunday morning at around 10:40, when they were confronted by Miami Beach police officers.

At some point during the confrontation, a Miami Beach police officer pointed his gun at the group. At least one man was unlawfully detained and his weapon was confiscated.

Police injured one man’s shoulder when they took him to the ground. He was later transported to a hospital.

The fishermen were members of Florida Carry, Inc. — one of the state’s most active pro-gun groups.

They immediately contacted Sean Caranna and Richard Nascak — co-founders and co-executive directors of Florida Carry, Inc. and told them about the confrontation.

They also took pictures.

Sean and Richard contacted Eric Friday, the group’s general counsel and one of Florida’s most knowledgeable pro-gun attorneys.

Mr. Friday tried calling Miami Beach PD, but some official tried to pass him off to the department’s Public Information Officer.

Instead, Mr. Friday fired off this email to the Miami Beach Police Chief and command staff:

Dear Sirs,

You are hereby on notice that today June 24, 2018 at approximately 1140, members of Florida Carry were illegally detained and possibly arrested by officers of the Miami Beach Police Department.    I am sending you this email in an attempt to mitigate any damages caused by the actions of your officers this morning.

Members of Florida Carry were lawfully fishing while open carrying firearms at the South Pointe Pier.  The law on this issue is very clear.  See, Freeman v. City of Tampa (MD. Fla. 2018).

Your officers drew firearms and committed an aggravated assault on my members.  They violated my members First, Second, and Fourth Amendment rights.

It is unclear at this time if my members were merely detained or were arrested.  I hereby demand the immediate release of any persons arrested at the pier while engaged in lawful conduct.

Eric J. Friday

General Counsel, Florida Carry

Apparently, the warning may have diffused the situation on the fishing pier.

Here’s Mr. Friday’s follow-up email:

Dear Sirs,

It appears that all members are being released.  I appreciate any efforts either of you took to prevent an arrest.

Please consider this a notice to preserve all records related to this incident including any written notes taken by officers.

Furthermore, please consider this a public records request for all radio traffic, police reports, CAD reports, 911 calls, non-emergency police calls, body camera videos and any other records in the possession of the city whether in print or electronic form regarding the incident at the South Pointe Pier this morning.

Please produce all records in their original format.

Eric J. Friday

General Counsel, Florida Carry

This type of ignorance by law enforcement has happened before, most recently in Tampa.

While it appears that Sunday’s confrontation deescalated before anyone was physically harmed, it should never have happened in the first place.

If you want to enforce the law, you must first know the law.

To be clear, we’re lucky that Florida Carry members are so well trained and so tolerant.

If a civilian pointed a handgun at a group of fishermen, they’d likely be facing aggravated assault charges, but what will happen to this officer is anyone’s guess.

I hope a lawsuit is forthcoming, since it’s the only mechanism capable of teaching these police departments a lesson.

Click here to read our follow-up story.

Click here to watch a video of the confrontation.

I will be contacting the Miami Beach police chief Monday morning to follow up on this troubling story.

In the meantime, here’s the photos taken by Florida Carry, Inc. members:

 

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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.

52 Comments

  1. Ken J. Bower on

    These Police Officer were out of line! Thought they knew they were updated on the law as it stands bit Obviously Not! Trigger Happy Cops jumping to conclusions, hope nobody 7s killed or Lawsuits will be filed everywhere !

  2. Capt. Thomas Steinruck on

    Strangely enough, on Memorial Day just a hundred miles north in the small town of Fort Pierce Florida, law enforcement officers were well-versed in the same law. They assigned a sergeant and a detective, not only attend the event, but to hand out a pre printed copy of the pertinent law to any interesting passerbys. They were friendly and Cooperative with the fisherman and they noted that there were only a couple of Canadians and one grumpy old fisherman who even were mildly unnerved by the sight of firearms. It’s hard to believe that out of the dozen-or-so police officers in Miami Beach that responded that all of them were ignorant of the pertinent law. Maybe there was another reason for the reaction? Trying to set a certain tone? Racism because of the leader of the group’s ethnicity? It’s hard to believe they were all that stupid.. the app for mentioned event in Fort Pierce was on TV on channel 25 the ABC affiliate for the Palm Beach area. So it was widely known. But as the old saying goes, ignorance of the law is no excuse, especially for law enforcement.

  3. If the PD was getting calls about them they should have in formed the caller no laws are being broken. This would have defused every thing. Just makes me wonder you made the decision to send 12 officers to a call of law abiding citizens.

    • So scary the ones you think should know the law is the ones that don’t.. not saying every person just some.very concern😥🤔😮

  4. I have had a carry permit since it became available, and walked a picket line in Tallahassee with Don Garlits for one of many.i dont think I
    Would open carry as it put law enforcement on edge in situations. I’m sure someone called and said there is a bunch of men with guns are there side at fishing pier. I think I would be on edge a bit if I responded to that call in all honesty,
    With all the cop shootings, wouldnt you?

    • If people fishing with holstered weapons makes an officer uneasy he needs to look for another job. A good officer reacts to the actions of people not the necessarily the weapon.

    • Douglas Lunsford on

      Tony, officers are trained to assess the situation. When they saw them carrying in a non-threatening manner, they should have approached cautiously and civilly discussed the situation. Not go in there like a bunch of Jack booted thugs, drawing down on them, muzzling them, throwing them down on the ground, handcuffing them, disarming them and detaining them. There is case law that says that the mere presence of a weapon is not reason enough to detain ( Mackey vs State).

    • What cop shootings? Even with the uptick in people shooting at cops in the last few years, being a police officer is still safer today than it has been most years out of the past 20.

      Police like to talk about the war on cops, but the #1 on-duty cause of death is car accidents, outnumbering deliberate homicide by over 2-1. Cops shoot non-cops 30-40 times for every one time a non-cop shoots a cop.

  5. ROBERT T WESTCOTT on

    Florida Laws regarding concealed and open carry are clear. From the information presented, it is apparent that the Miami Dade officers were woefully ignorant. There is another law they and their supervisors might want to brush up on : 42 U.S. Code 1983, which deals with violation of civil rights and has many times been used to remedy wrongs by governmental agencies. I recommend the FL gun law books by Gutmacher and by Katz to all who exercise their second amendment rights.

  6. These officers were fully aware of the law. Their supervisors undoubtedly told them to look for a reason to screw with them. I don’t really blame the officers for doing what they were told, but still………

      • Exactly. Isn’t that what the parkland school shooting officers were told and did. While 3 of duty unarmed officers doing lawn work tan near on into the danger? Rich, are you a fool & an anti gun anti constitution liberal nutcase? What you said is stupid and ignorant and the basis of a huge lawsuit. Read this….
        CAPT. THOMAS STEINRUCK on JUNE 24, 2018 4:45 PM
        Strangely enough, on Memorial Day just a hundred miles north in the small town of Fort Pierce Florida, law enforcement officers were well-versed in the same law. They assigned a sergeant and a detective, not only attend the event, but to hand out a pre printed copy of the pertinent law to any interesting passerbys. They were friendly and Cooperative with the fisherman and they noted that there were only a couple of Canadians and one grumpy old fisherman who even were mildly unnerved by the sight of firearms. It’s hard to believe that out of the dozen-or-so police officers in Miami Beach that responded that all of them were ignorant of the pertinent law. Maybe there was another reason for the reaction? Trying to set a certain tone? Racism because of the leader of the group’s ethnicity? It’s hard to believe they were all that stupid.. the app for mentioned event in Fort Pierce was on TV on channel 25 the ABC affiliate for the Palm Beach area. So it was widely known. But as the old saying goes, ignorance of the law is no excuse, especially for law enforcement

      • Not only is it not an excuse to violate rights, it’s a confession to violating 18 USC 241 instead of 242. Where a 242 violation might be a misdemeanor and it might be a felony, a 241 violation is ALWAYS a felony.

    • If “those officers were fully aware of the law” and did not question what they were doing that would make them all the more guilty, immoral as well as stupid.

      The law is clear and simple to understand.
      Their supervisor must also be held accountable.

      The attorney representing the fishermen would have a field day with this case. A lawsuit is warranted and definitey justified!

  7. We have been open carry fishing since 2010 in Lee County with no problems. Apparently our police can read.

  8. Christopher A Brooks on

    Don’t assume cops don’t know the law.
    Unlike the rest of us they don’t face any meaningful consequences for breaking the law. Even if the person who was attacked takes the agency to court and over comes all the built in barriers the government has created, tax payer will cover any damages.

    • They have the law in the palm of their hands. Each and every cop has their own personal smartphone which the department encourages them to use for professional purposes. When you can access the sum of human jurisprudence in a device that fits in your pocket, as a law enforcement officer you have no excuse to “not know the law”. Heck, barring that, the people at HQ have computers connected to the internet. Instead of watching BangBus all day they could look up the law, run a background check on the people detained, and call it a day. The whole process could be done in like 15 minutes for all involved. Being detained for two hours is ridiculous.

    • Any violation of rights by a uniformed officer you can sue for and win in federal court under 42 USC 1983 is also a felony under 18 USC 242. While use of force against a uniformed officer in self defense is arguably very unwise, it is not illegal to resist when you are the victim of a violent felony.

      If your state’s laws allow citizens arrests to be made, then federal law allows citizens arrests for violations of federal law too. As the courts have repeatedly ruled at all levels, no one is ever entitled to decide that their own arrest is illegal or to resist a false arrest, so if you see a cop violating rights, arrest him. He has no more right to resist arrest than you do.

  9. “But the police will have our back when shtf! Support the thin blue line!”
    -Every conservative with amnesia or Stockholm syndrome.

    They violate every other amendment daily without consequence or repercussion, what makes you think the 2nd is any different? Oath breakers committing treason, it’s time the public start treating them accordingly.

  10. I understand concealed carry and the absolute right to carry. But why open carry while fishing…you are going to get a lot of negative. Keep it concealed.

    • Lex Talionis on

      I open carry while fishing here in FL because it gives me room to cast if the place is crowded. Damn yankees act like I’m infectious. Also, because I don’t care if the cops don’t like it, they can’t stop me

    • Another dumbass liberal. Abiding by the words of the 2nd Amendment, every American is entitled to carry a gun wide open anywhere (except criminals) but liberals are trying to destroy all of our rights. Take our guns and we become communist slaves to the elitists dictatorship. Gtfu.

    • I wonder — do you also keep silent about your opinions and politics when around people who disagree with you? Or are you a hypocrite?

  11. Pingback: Florida police draw guns, detain armed fishermen open carrying on pier | ARO News

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  15. Nicholas Bohn on

    This is actually just a great example of failure to exercise our right to carry with prudence. No doubt these individuals have concealed carry permits. They’re on a fishing pier, not in the woods or swamp where a panther, bear, alligator, or other predator may threaten them. We should all know the arguments for an against open carry. I’m not suggesting these men violated the law, or that the police didn’t violate their rights, but the whole situation could have been avoided if they used a little bit more common sense. Guns make people in Miami uncomfortable, they’re going to call the cops. You can avoid this entire situation by concealing your weapon. Yes, it’s possible that through the activity of fishing you might accidentally expose your weapon, or your fishing attire may be more likely to imprint, but what’s more likely to cause a problem?

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  18. I thought SCOTUS once ruled ‘IGNORANCE OF THE LAW IS NO EXCUSE’?

    So why were the cops in this case not charged with assault? I mean is there one law for citizens and one law for cops?

  19. Peter Harriman on

    I understand your state law and that the guys on the pier were exercising a legal right. According to your story they were also actively demonstrating that right i.e. not fishing somewhere where they might need a firearm to deal with something like a snake or feral hog but fishing on an urban pier.
    In that light, and in the interest of avoiding an unfortunate misunderstanding, the next time such a demonstration is planned post a sign or banner announcing what is taking place. It will also go a long way toward allaying the concerns of people passing by who are not familiar with firearms and whose default position when seeing them is to assume something bad is about to happen.

    • They were obeying the law!! Snakes and feral hogs notwithstanding.
      They may have been more concerned about vicious two-legged snakes. Difficult to predict what type of danger/evil will appear or when.

  20. Peter Harriman on

    Ha! I was right. I always suspected you old cops couldn’t read. Kranz was covering for you, wasn’t he?

  21. Pingback: Miami Beach police chief warned about open-carry fishing event weeks ago

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