Assessing the threat of cell-phone guns to law enforcement
LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Have you ever heard of a cell-phone gun?
It's one of the reasons Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott says his deputies were justified in snatching a Fort Myers man's cell phone.
The man was using it to record deputies searching his car.
But no one 4 In Your Corner asked -- from local fire arms experts to other police departments and even federal agencies -- seemed that concerned about the theat of cell phone guns as expressed by Sheriff Scott.
"He wasn't doing anything to threaten the officer, and he wasn't doing anything to interfere with their investigation," said the man's attorney Dave Shestokas.
Sheriff Scott disagrees, telling 4 In Your Corner in an email Monday: "The probable cause traffic stop, K-9 alert, presence of a firearm, and [the man's] lack of candor created a scenario where the potential for him to summon others to the scene via his cell phone was an officer safety concern."
Sheriff Scott went on to say: "It is a well documented fact that pagers, cell phones, and other commonly carried devices have in fact proven to be firearms."
In an effort to back up his claim. the sheriff sent Fox 4 a link to a video of a purported cell-phone gun being fired.
It was posted in 2007.
In the nearly 15 years since federal agencies first heard the devices were discovered in Europe, firearms experts tell Fox 4 cell-phone guns aren't easy to come by.
"That's just one person that we've seen on YouTube, so we don't know if that's just a prototype," said John Dezendorf of Fowler Firearms and Gun Range in Fort Myers.
"But I know none of my distributors are carrying them and nobody is selling them a round here locally," he added.
"I don't see it being a huge issue for one thing because I don't know of anyone who actually has one."
Four In Your Corner also contacted the Miami-Dade Police Department, the largest police department in the southeast U.S.
The Miami-Dade police public information office said its officers have never encountered a cell-phone gun.
And the FBI and ATF told 4 In Your Corner while law enforcement bulletins have occasionally gone out about cell-phone guns, their public information offices have not been able to find instances of the agencies actually encountering one.
Sheriff Scott however still had come choice words for reporter Liza Fernandez when she asked him questions about the traffic stop and cell phone recording for you.
This is the sheriff's statement to Liza in its entirety.
This traffic stop stemmed from our Deputies witnessing the vehicle fail to stop at a stop sign.
Subsequent to the traffic stop, a certified K9 alerted to the presence of drugs during a “free air” sniff around the exterior of the vehicle and a semi-automatic pistol was located in the vehicle as the video clearly shows.
Additionally, an extended capacity magazine was located in the vehicle along with paperwork that heightened our suspicion of the possibility of criminal activity.
This same paperwork would confirm that (name omitted) had in fact been less than truthful with our Deputies earlier in the contact.
This is a high crime area where gun violence has been all too common and (name omitted) did little to dispel our initial concerns given the totality of the aforementioned circumstances.
The probable cause traffic stop, K9 alert, presence of a firearm, and (name omitted)’s lack of candor created a scenario where the potential for (name omitted) to summon others to the scene via his cell phone was an officer safety concern.
Further, it is a well documented fact that pagers, cell phones, and other commonly carried devices have in fact proven to be firearms (see link below as but one example) and given the circumstances of this particular traffic stop our Deputies were not comfortable with (name omitted) pointing his “cell phone” at them as they tried to work through the situation.
My brave Deputies do not read from a teleprompter and wear heavy make-up…they stand as the last line of defense for our citizens and in doing so wear bullet proof vests.
You apparently have a break from doing the weather report today and seem bent on sympathizing and sensationalizing which is certainly your prerogative.
I happen to believe that a vast majority of the citizens we serve are appreciative of efforts like these, and I am thankful they are in our corner.