Man arrested despite legally carrying gun in Florida

Video has gone viral, viewed more than 38,000 times in January

Published On: Jan 30 2013 05:02:25 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 28 2013 06:39:00 PM EST
Man legally carrying gun
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

More than 10,000 people in the last week alone have already viewed a video going viral on the Internet that shows a motorist being arrested in Florida despite legally carrying a gun.

The dashboard cam video shows a Citrus County deputy arresting Joel Smith, the man with the gun, and now gun advocates say the video is proof Florida needs to change its current law.

"Your license tag expired," said Deputy Alan Cox in the video.

Seventeen seconds after getting out of the car, Smith was asked for his registration and insurance. As he turned, something was slightly visible in his back pocket.

"Why do you carry a gun for?" Cox asked.

Ten seconds later, Smith was being held at gunpoint.

"Put your hands right up, or I'll shoot you in the (expletive) back," Cox said. "Get down on the (expletive) ground now."

Smith is legally licensed to carry a concealed weapon, but was handcuffed and arrested anyway, charged with carrying a prohibited weapon openly.

The United Sportsmen of Florida calls it an overreaction.

"A law enforcement officer losing it and abusing a law-abiding citizen who had done nothing wrong, and was doing anything he could to cooperate," said Marion Hammer, of the United Sportsmen of Florida.

When the case got to the courthouse, the state attorney declined to prosecute, saying there was little chance a jury would convict.

Florida law was changed in 2011 to say the brief viewing of a gun in a non-threatening manner is not a crime. United Sportsmen said Smith's case and another are proof Florida needs to do more.

"They're arguing that the accidental exposure was not brief," Hammer said.

Smith's attorney for the arrest called Smith's cellphone and found the number had been changed. A listed landline is also no longer in service.

The charges against Smith were dropped 17 days after the arrest. Cox has been put on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

(Disclaimer: Video below contains graphic language)