McCloskeys not yet charged but offering apparent defense
McCloskeys’ recent and now-former attorney, Albert Watkins as he handed over one of the McCloskeys’ weapons to St. Louis detectives on Saturday, July 11.
 

The St. Louis circuit attorney’s office told The St. Louis American that any filings relevant to Mark and Patricia McCloskey are under seal out of concern for safety. A spokesperson said that national attention to the case — and reports that the McCloskeys’ guns have been requested in search warrants — resulted in serious threats to St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner.

According to the McCloskeys’ attorney Joel Schwartz, his clients are not aware of being charged with any crimes for their conduct on June 28, when they confronted protestors displaying weapons from their property.

But the McCloskeys’ recent and now-former attorney, Albert Watkins, seemed to prepare a partial defense for his now-former clients as he handed over one of the McCloskeys’ weapons to St. Louis detectives on Saturday, July 11.

Watkins surrendered the pistol that Patricia McCloskey pointed at protestors passing in front of their home on a private street in the Central West End on June 28.

Watkins said his then-clients gave the gun to their then-attorney to preserve the evidence in the event that criminal charges were filed. Watkins said the McCloskeys did not also give him the assault weapon that Mark McCloskey brandished on June 28 because his actions appeared less incriminating. Watkins said that Mark McCloskey had his safety engaged and did not finger the trigger.

In video, Patricia McCloskey points the handgun directly at protesters and at times does finger the trigger.

Watkins said that the handgun he held for the McCloskeys and handed over to police was not a gun that they kept for self-protection. Watkins said the handgun had been rendered inoperable for use as an exhibit in the McCloskeys’ own law practice. Watkins said that the McCloskeys used it as an exhibit in litigation against the handgun’s manufacturer because it was defective.

Schwartz declined to comment on Watkins’ explanation of why Watkins kept one gun for the McCloskeys as evidence and not the other. But Schwartz said it was common for prosecutors to send a gun to the lab to make sure it was operable before filing charges.

According to Steven Roberts, a former assistant circuit attorney in St. Louis in the armed offender unit (and now a state representative), the question of whether the handgun was operable or not was not relevant for some relevant criminal charges.

Roberts cited the statutory language “apprehension of immediate physical injury.”

“You only have to give the appearance of wielding a deadly weapon” for some criminal charges, Roberts said. In fact, Roberts fought Gov. Mike Parson to veto Senate Bill 600, which Parson signed into law, because it adds similar language to new criminal charges for carjacking.

Roberts said that sending to criminals the message that the penalty is the same whether the gun is real or fake or loaded or not will only encourage criminals to carry real loaded weapons.

For now, however, under Missouri law, someone need not be armed and dangerous to be charged with certain crimes — they only need to appear armed and dangerous.

This did not prevent Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and even President Trump from both saying on Tuesday, July 14  that the McCloskeys are blameless. Trump repeated the McCloskeys’ claim, which is supported by no video evidence of the interaction on June 28, that they were in imminent danger of property damage or personal injury.

In the meantime, the circuit attorney’s own personal safety is at risk. Jessica Brand, who does policy work for district attorneys through the Wren Collective and is advising Gardner, cited Jeff Roorda, business agent for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, saying Gardner should be removed from office “by force or by choice.”

“Whenever Jeff Roorda speaks, she gets hate mail and death threats,” Brand said.

She said Gardner’s volume of hate mail and death threats also went up after Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt falsely claimed on social media and national television that Gardner released everyone who committed property damage in the city during the recent unrest.

“Officials need to stop making false statements,” Brand said, “because they are threatening the safety of a public official who is doing her best to protect the health and safety of St. Louis.”

This could get worse with no less than the president of the United States voicing his opinion in apparent ignorance of the video evidence.

"And now I understand somebody local, they want to prosecute these people,” Trump told Townhall. “It’s a disgrace."

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