A group of Texas gun lovers plans a rally to protest the arrest of one of its members who scared police by carrying firearms during a “cop watch” patrol.
Open Carry Tarrant County plans to march Jan. 10 from the Arlington Police Department to City Hall while carrying rifles and black-powder pistols to demand the return of its members’ seized weapons.
Jacob Cordova and Pablo Frias were arrested Saturday in separate incidents while videotaping police officers as they conducted official duties, reported the Star-Telegram.
Police said the pair created dangerous distractions during a domestic disturbance call and traffic stop by carrying firearms while videotaping officers and screaming at them, as members of the Cop Block group have been known to do.
Arlington police arrested three other cop watchers last year for interfering with police duties.
Officers said the anti-police activists followed them away from a small open-carry rally Saturday afternoon and then showed up at a domestic disturbance about 5:45 p.m.
Police said the activists “basically inserted themselves” into the call, rather than simply record video from a distance.
Officers said Frias verbally and physically confronted an elderly woman who asked the cop watchers to be quiet and let officers do their job.
Police arrested the 26-year-old Frias, who was charged with a misdemeanor count of interfering with public duties and cited for assault by threat.
He was not openly carrying a weapon at the time, police said.
Frias was previously arrested in March 2013 for interfering with public duties and public intoxication, police said.
Police arrested the 27-year-old Cordova after he allegedly yelled obscenities at officers about 10:40 p.m. during a traffic stop.
Officers said Cordova yelled over them during the traffic stop and then bragged that he was not the only person with a gun.
He was carrying a pre-1899 black powder pistol during the incident and refused to put it away, police said.
Police said Cordova then told officers that more people were on their way to the scene with rifles.
Video recorded during the incident shows Cordova telling officers he wants them to arrest him after they say he cannot have his gun at the traffic stop, and police later said they took him into custody because his actions were calculated to cause alarm to others.
He claims his weapon is not technically a firearm because it’s a pre-1899 black powder pistol and calls officers “douchebags” and cocksuckers as he’s placed in handcuffs.
“Really and truly, Mr. Cordova’s physical actions, not just speech at the scene, interfered with the officer’s ability to focus on the inherent risk associated with traffic stops,” said Lt. Christopher Cook. “The presence of this pistol, regardless of whether it met the legal definition of a firearm — it’s still a deadly weapon. It really exacerbated the interference and therefore it was one contributing element to his criminal conduct.”
His pistol was seized and has not been returned.
Kory Watkins, a cop watcher and president of Open Carry Tarrant, said the arrests were illegal and complained that his own black-powder pistol was not returned after he was arrested in September for interfering with police business.
He said cop watchers have been openly carrying weapons during patrols for about five months and accuses police of targeting them for attempting to hold officers accountable.
“Arlington police keep taking liberties and freedoms in the name of safety. FBI stats show you are eight times more likely to be killed by a cop than a terrorist,” Watkins said. “I want to take individual responsibility to protect myself. We are doing it for everyone’s safety, including the officer.”
Police said they would like to meet with the activists to discuss their rights and safety concerns.
“We don’t mind them cop-watching — just leave your guns in the car, leave your guns at home,” Cook said. “It just changes the dynamic when you show up with an AR-15 or an AK-47 on a traffic stop, especially in light of the national incidents that are occurring.”
Watch video of Cordova’s arrest posted online by Kory Watkins: