by WorldTribune Staff, July 23, 2020
The St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office ordered the city’s crime lab to reassemble an inoperable handgun seized from Mark and Patricia McCloskey in order to file felony charges against them, reports say.
The handgun Patricia McCloskey said she used to defend her home during a June 28 confrontation with rioters was inoperable at the time.
KSDK 5 News first reported that documents show one of the firearms confiscated from the McCloskeys “could not be test fired as submitted.” The document goes on to state that “at the request of [Assistant Circuit Attorney] Chris Hinckley, the firearm was field stripped and found to have been assembled incorrectly.” The crime lab determined the handgun’s firing pin spring was placed in front of the firing pin, which itself was backwards, rendering the gun incapable of firing.
Hinckley then ordered the crime lab to reassemble the gun properly, according to KSDK 5.
“The firearm was reassembled properly, test fired and functioned as designed,” the document stated. “No additional defects were observed.”
KSDK 5 further reported crime lab workers photographed the disassembly and reassembly process.
St. Louis top prosecutor Kim Gardner charged the couple for felony unlawful use of a weapon and fourth-degree assault offenses.
Related: Missouri Gov. Parson says he will ‘without a doubt’ pardon McCloskeys, July 21, 2020
Missouri law requires prosecutors prove a firearm is “readily” capable of lethal use when it is used in crimes such as those for which the McCloskeys were charged.
Local news station KMOV 4 reported that an anonymous source provided the station with a copy of the lab report showing the record of alterations to the firearm.
Despite the handgun being inoperable, Gardner wrote in her charging documents that the weapons the McCloskeys used were “readily capable of lethal use.”
There is no reference to the operating condition of the handgun in a probable cause statement police provided for the case. The only reference to the operating condition comes from the charging documents themselves.
The McCloskeys said they had intentionally rendered the handgun inert because they had previously used it as a prop during a lawsuit they once filed against a gun manufacturer. In order to bring it into a courtroom, they had to first render it inoperable.
“It’s disheartening to learn that a law enforcement agency altered evidence in order to prosecute an innocent member of the community,” said Joel Schwartz, the attorney for the McCloskeys.