May 22, 2014

Arlington woman upset that gun was seized by police

The woman, who had called 911 to report a possible hit-and-run suspect, said there is no reason the officer should have taken her gun.

A woman has filed a complaint with the Arlington Police Department alleging that an officer unjustly seized her gun after she had called police about a car she suspected was involved in her daughter’s hit-and-run.

“I’m disabled. My husband goes out of town quite frequently. I have to be able to defend myself,” Amelia Pickens said. “There should have been no reason why at all that he took my gun. I didn’t do anything bad with my gun.”

Pickens said she was driving on Park Row Drive in Arlington on Saturday when she spotted a small red car pulling into a grocery store parking lot that fit the description of a car that had hit her 20-year-old daughter — then fled the scene — outside Johns Elementary School on May 5. The daughter had been picking up her nephew at the school and was not seriously injured.

Pickens said the car that had hit her daughter was red but with a white door.

“I just happened to pass by a car that had a recently painted red door. You could tell it had white under it,” Pickens said.

Pickens said she went and picked up her daughter then returned to the store where the car was still parked.

“She said it could have been the same one,” Pickens said.

Pickens pulled in behind the car and called 911. When two men and one woman emerged from the store and got into the car to leave, the woman said she didn’t confront them but only held her hand up, asking them repeatedly to “hold on.”

When officer Phil Hill arrived on the scene, Pickens said she explained to him why she had called police. She said he grabbed her purse and seized her gun from it after she had informed him that she was a concealed handgun license holder.

“I didn’t brandish it. I didn’t even say I had a gun,” Pickens said, describing her early interaction with the occupants of the red car. “The only time my gun was mentioned was when the officer asked me for my drivers license and insurance. I have to show my CHL [identification] at that particular point.”

Two of the car’s occupants were ultimately arrested, one for an outstanding warrant out of Johnson County and one for possession of a controlled substance.

Pickens said she understands why the officer secured her gun at the scene for safety reasons, but does not think it should have been confiscated.

“He said I was being a vigilante. That I shouldn’t even have my gun because I could injure somebody or I could be hurt or I could be put in a situation that I shouldn’t be in,” Pickens said.

“There should have been no reason why he took possession of my gun. No reason other than he was a bully,” Pickens said.

According to an email from Tiara Richard, Arlington police spokeswoman, Hill seized the gun after “speaking with Ms. Pickens and learning more about her actions that included attempting to block in the other vehicle.”

Richard said the officer explained to Pickens how she could retrieve the gun at a later date.

Pickens said she was able to get her gun back — minus the ammo — after visiting Arlington police headquarters on Monday. She said she was informed that the property room was prohibited from releasing the ammo on the same day as the gun, so she told them they could keep it.

Richard confirmed that department policy does not allow ammunition and a firearm to be released at the same time.

Pickens said she spoke to the officer’s supervisor by phone Monday. She said the sergeant told her that it was within the officer’s discretion to secure the gun at the scene but that the supervisor would have personally opted to then return the gun to the woman. She said the sergeant, however, stood behind his officer, suggesting only that the officer might need some “sympathy training.”

Not satisfied, Pickens contacted the department’s internal affairs division on Tuesday and was told a lieutenant would be in touch.

On Wednesday, she said an employee returned her call, telling her that her complaint had been forwarded to Deputy Chief Os Flores for investigation.

Richard said Hill’s supervisor is conducting a review of the complaint, but could not comment further.

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