Was the gun in a vehicle real or a toy? by David Lias Towards the end of Monday's Vermillion City Council meeting, City Manager Jim Patrick reached under the table near his chair and held a pistol in his hands.
And suddenly, everyone in the city hall meeting chambers had to cope with the same dilemma that faced a Vermillion police officer May 31.
Was the gun real, or not?
"On Memorial Day, at 7 p.m., an officer was driving on Cherry Street in front of Mexico Viejo when he noticed an SUV sitting there, and he noticed a passenger holding a handgun," Patrick said, "and this is an exact replica of what it looked like."
The officer felt there was sufficient reason to be concerned. He requested backup and he conducted a felony stop, Patrick said, which required him to pull his service revolver and hold everyone until back-up units arrived.
"The four occupants, which were teenaged boys, were handcuffed and secured until the situation was neutralized," Patrick said. "Two USD officers and two Vermillion police officers responded to assist."
Their vehicle was searched and a toy gun was located on the floorboard.
"A warrant check was conducted on all of the individuals, the handcuffs were removed, and the parents of the juveniles were contacted," Patrick said. "When the parents arrived, the officers explained the circumstances and the teenagers were released to their parents."
He said the Police Chief Art Mabry, Captain Chad Passick and Clay County Sheriff Andy Howe have reviewed a videotape of the incident shot by one of the patrol car's cameras. They've listened to dispatch tapes and logs, and talked with the officers involved.
"The opinion of all concerned was the officers' actions were proper and in accordance with policy and nationally recognized training for this type of an incident," Patrick said.
He said the young men were in handcuffs for approximately 10 minutes.
"There is a concern that the officers overreacted," Patrick said, as he held the toy gun. "However, when the officer is driving by and the gun is pointed down toward the floorboard, he sees a .38 caliber revolver, and the officer has been trained to not be complacent but to take the action required to insure public safety."
Alderman Drake Olson asked if it would be possible to see the video of the incident. Patrick said arrangements would be made so members of the city council could review the tape.
No charges have been filed.