BodycamATF agent james burk arrested image of ATF Agent Burk. Source: COlumbus Police Department.


BodycamATF agent james burk arrested image of ATF Agent Burk. Source: COlumbus Police Department.

Bodycam image of ATF Agent Burk. Source: Columbus Police Department

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Agent James Burk of the ATF is suing the city of Columbus, Ohio and two police officers for using excessive force against him. He claims he was tased, handcuffed, and detained while performing a “routine” confiscation of an unlawfully possessed shotgun.

The lawsuit said Burk was in his normal work attire, which was described as “casual professional” with his credentials in a pocket and an ID card around his neck. …

“When Fihe arrived at the scene, Agent Burk stood outside the home’s front door and waved the officer over to where he was standing,” the lawsuit said. “Even though Agent Burk had both hands raised and had represented that he is a federal agent, officer Fihe immediately drew his weapon and pointed it … while simultaneously screaming at (Burk) to get on the ground.”

According to Burke, he was wearing “casual professional” clothes with an ID around his neck. Let’s take a look at that bodycam image above.

  • untucked polo shirt
  • wrinkled pants
  • running shoes?
  • no visible ID on his neck
  • paper in his hands doesn’t even seem to be on a clipboard
  • hands at at or slightly above waist level.

He doesn’t look “official” at all. I don’t blame the homeowner for calling the police. If a ratty stranger — all by himself, with no backup or visible ID — looking like Burk in the image above appeared at my door demanding my gun, I wouldn’t be inclined to believe he represented any law enforcement agency.

That his appearance and posture as shown in bodycam video isn’t what he claims causes me to wonder about the allegations about police behavior. Oddly enough, while several news outlets mention the bodycam footage, none have posted anything but the image above. The full video should do more to illustrate who’s telling the truth here.

The lawsuit said the officers also used a Taser on Burk multiple times while he was face down and “not evading arrest” before handcuffing Burk and placing him in the back of a cruiser, a process that involved pulling him into the car because a seatbelt was in the way.

After about an hour, during which Burk said he was denied water and “frequently disparaged … to everyone in earshot” by Fihe, Burk was released without charges.

But as Burk’s history as a bargain-hunting wine connoisseur makes clear, the ATF only employs the most honest and upstanding individuals.

Police say ATF agent James Burk took expensive wine to the self-checkout lane and charged himself a small percent of the cost.
[…]
According to deputies, they caught Burk going to the self-checkout in August and paying $19 for four bottles of wine that had a total price tag of $222.

The report says Burk bought bottles of Stag’s Leap Wine priced at $62.99 and $33.99, but the code he entered charged him only $4.99.

According to the report, Kroger employees had grown suspicious of Burk and began watching him. They said he did the same thing multiple times.

Multiple times. Which, one presumes, is why they were watching him so closely.

It must be difficult being a dedicated oenophile on a paltry government salary.

Something else reports on the lawsuit don’t mention is the existence of a warrant to seize the shotgun in question, or an ATF 3400.23 receipt. Not even an arrest warrant to be served by Burk for the person who allegedly unlawfully possessed a firearm. But surely Burk had all of that. It’s hard to believe an ATF agent would cut corners that way.

 

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