DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND CONSERVATION
TENNESSEE STATE PARKS
NATURE OF COMPLAINT Mr. Embody requested to file a complaint about how he was treated during an incident at Radnor Lake State Natural Area. Mr. Embody stated that while he was visiting Radnor Lake on 12/20/2009, that he was stopped by a Ranger because he was carrying his handgun. Mr. Embody stated that he possessed a Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit. Mr. Embody’s complaint was related to how he was stopped and detained and the amount of time that he was detained.
Mr. Embody stated that he was walking a trail near the east end of the lake, when he was stopped by a Ranger, the Ranger stated that he needed to check his handgun carry permit. Mr. Embody showed the Ranger his handgun carry permit and was allowed to continue on his walk. When he got to the West end of the lake, Mr. Embody was approached by another ranger with a shotgun and was ordered to the ground. The Ranger, which he believed to be the Park Manager, removed his handgun and then detained him for two and a half hours, before returning his handgun and allowing him to leave the park. Mr. Embody wanted to know why the Ranger approached with a shotgun and ordered him to the ground and why he was detained for two and a half hours.
Michael Robertson 12 / 21 / 2009 12:08 Hours
Complaint Taken By Date Time
Mike Carlton 12 / 21 / 2009 13:30 Hours
Complaint Given To Date Time
REVIEW OF COMPLAINT:
Mr. Embody’s complaints were reviewed and the following was determined:
Mr. Embody was on Radnor Lake State Park carrying an AK-47 Pistol, which was carried on a two point sling, with the handgun resting on Mr. Embody’s chest. Ranger Josh Walsh was the first Ranger to approach Mr. Embody. Ranger Walsh stated that he noticed that the weapon that Mr. Embody was carrying had an orange tip, and he initially thought it was an AirSoft “toy” gun. He asked Mr. Embody if he was carrying a AirSoft Gun. Mr. Embody stated that it was not an AirSoft gun, but a real AK-47 handgun, and that he had a Handgun Carry Permit. Ranger Walsh requested to see the permit. He stated that he did not think that the AK-47 was a legal handgun, and that he would have to check that out. Ranger Walsh called Park Manager Steve Ward by phone to inform him of the incident. Park Manager Ward, considering Public Safety and Ranger Safety decided that it was best not to continue the encounter with Mr. Embody at the current location. He instructed Ranger Walsh to allow Mr. Embody to continue on his walk to the West parking lot, and to follow Mr. Embody. Park Manager Ward would be at the West parking lot and they would address the incident at that location which was better from a public safety perspective. Ranger Walsh then requested assistance from Metro Nashville Police.
Park Manager Ward took action, based on the information provided to him by Ranger Walsh and park visitors who had complained about Mr. Embody and the weapon he was carrying. He had concerns that the AK-47 weapon was not a legal weapon, that the weapon had been altered to resemble a toy (orange tip on firearm) for unknown reasons, and that Mr. Embody was in violation of TCA: 39-17-1307 Illegal possession of a weapon, which could be a felony offense. Park Manager Ward, based on his training and consideration of Public Safety and Officer Safety, made the decision, when he encountered Mr. Embody, to conduct a felony stop, in accordance with Departmental training. Park Manager Ward, detained Mr. Embody, secured the AK-47 weapon, and checked him for any other weapons. Metro Nashville Police provided assistance in the detention of Mr. Embody and the investigation of the incident. Initially officers involved were going to write Mr. Embody for violation of TCA: 39-17-1307 illegal possession of a weapon and to confiscate the weapon until a court date. Mr. Embody’s insisted that the AK-47 weapon was a legal handgun, and he requested to talk with a police supervisor. It was determined that the most appropriate action would be to further investigate the legality of the weapon before citing Mr. Embody and releasing him. After contact with a Metro Police Sergeant, the Night Court Judge, and finally an ATF agent, running serial numbers on the weapon, and checking with the manufacture, it was determined that the AK-47 weapon that Mr. Embody was indeed a legal handgun, and did meet the requirements of the Tennessee Handgun Carry permit. Mr. Embody was then released. The time to investigate and make the determination took approximately 2.5 hours.
************************************************** ************************************************** ****
The internal review determined that Park Manger Steve Ward, had probable cause to believe that Mr. Embody was in violation of TCA: 39-17-1307 Illegal possession of a weapon, due to the fact that it appeared that he was carrying a AK-47 semi automatic rifle that had been altered to resemble a toy for unknown reasons. While not illegal, altering a weapon to resemble a toy gave officers reason to approach this incident with more caution. The weapon was carried on a shoulder sling on his chest which allowed Mr. Embody easy access to the weapon. The combined circumstances gave Park Manager Ward concern for public safety and officer safety. Park Manager Ward acted within his training and in accordance to TCA: 39-17-1351 section (t). Which states the following: (t) Any law enforcement officer of this state or of any county or municipality may, within the realm of the officer’s lawful jurisdiction and when the officer is acting in the lawful discharge of the officer’s official duties, disarm a permit holder at any time when the officer reasonably believes it is necessary for the protection of the permit holder, officer or other individuals. The officer shall return the handgun to the permit holder before discharging the permit holder from the scene when the officer has determined that the permit holder is not a threat to the officer, to the permit holder, or other individuals provided that the permit holder has not violated any provision of this section and provided the permit holder has not committed any other violation that results in the arrest of the permit holder.
As to Mr. Embody’s complaint concerning being detained for two and a half hours. It has been determined that Park Manager Ward was acting within Department guidelines and in accordance with TCA: 39-17-1351. Mr. Embody was detained until Park Manager Ward could determine that Mr. Embody was not a threat to the officer, to the permit holder, or the other individuals present at the park. Park Manager Ward was also acting in accordance with TCA: 39-17-1351 section (n) (2) by verifying that Mr. Embody was in possession of a firearm which was legal and which he legally owned, which is a requirement of the Handgun Carry Permit. The length of detention was also affected by Mr. Embody’s request to speak to a supervisor (which he was informed would extend the detention) and the immediate lack of information available to officers on the scene about the AK-47 Pistol and its’ qualification as a legal handgun.
Shane Petty, Chief Ranger 12 / 29 / 2009 11:00 Hours
Review Conducted By Date Time
Michael Robertson, Park Area Manager 12 / 29 / 2009 11:00 Hours
Review Conducted By Date Time
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
ACTION TAKEN TO CORRECT COMPLAINT:
No action taken: Officers acted with reasonable caution and within the scope of their training.
Complaint is determined to be unfounded
Report Approved by:
Mike Carlton, Assistant Commissioner01/07/2010
Tennessee State Parks Date