- By Bruce Lloyd
Grab a police officer's gun, face a Guam felony charge
Potential amendment to law won't affect Lt. Gov. Tenorio 'gun grabbing' case
To the surprise of many on Guam, it's not presently illegal to try to disarm a police officer of a loaded weapon while he or she is performing public safety duties. Guam Sen. Telena C. Nelson is out to change that. Her Bill No. 324-34 (COR) states, "The disarming of peace officers is found to be a felony in other states throughout the nation. The disarming of peace officers is classified as a felony as it results in the inability of a peace officer to properly execute their duties to protect the public."
The issue is getting a lot of attention because of Lt. Governor Ray Tenorio's effort to disarm a Guam officer during last July's Tumon Bay block party. Other matters have clouded the case, such as whether Tenorio was intoxicated at the time. The candidate for Guam governor has contended that he was simply trying to educate the officer on how to properly secure his loaded duty weapon.
Senators Telena C. Nelson, Regine Biscoe Lee
The lt. governor wasn't arrested at the scene or tested for his blood alcohol level and the charges eventually filed against him are misdemeanors and don't include the 'gun grab' itself.
At a hearing on her bill, Sen. Nelson said: "I'd also like to address the elephant in the room. For those who suspect that this bill is intended to address the situation at the GVB barbecue block party... [with Tenorio]. This bill was introduced due to the lack of of a statute criminalizing the act and these charges would not affect that situation."
Most people would likely know better than to try grabbing a loaded gun from an officer, regardless of the law, but Nelson reminded those at the hearing of a 2015 incident at the Hagåtña police precinct, in which a suspect snatched a gun from an officer during processing and used it to kill himself.
Guam police Lt. Stephen Amaguin, the deputy precinct commander at the Hagåtña precinct and a 27-year veteran of the police force was the only person to testify and he strongly favored the change in the law. He recalled that 2015 incident.
"[O]ur law enforcement community was blessed that the peace officer was not harmed."
Lt. Amaguin also said that the incident at the block party involving Tenorio prompted him to issue a warning:
"Shortly after [that] incident, I informed our patrol supervisors to have our patrol officers take extra precautionary measures while in public, performing their duties in serving and protecting our community, our island and our people. Precautionary measures in the event that other members of our community will follow the trend of disarming our peace officers."
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