Thursday, October 15, 2015

U.S. v. Mobley (9th Cir. - Oct. 15, 2015)

Lest one think that the risks attendant to being an ATF agent typically involve only the risk of paper cuts as one shuffles through weapon registration forms:

"Mobley’s older cousin, Otis, arranged to sell a grenade launcher for $1,000 to an acquaintance named Aaron McGrew. Otis and McGrew agreed to meet mid-afternoon in the parking lot of a Chevy’s restaurant. Otis drove to the meeting site accompanied by Mobley and Hutcherson. None of them knew that McGrew was working as an informant, so they did not suspect that one of the men accompanying McGrew—Agent Palmer—was actually an undercover agent. Agent Palmer planned to buy the grenade launcher using $1,000 in ATF funds, which he brought with him to the deal.

When Otis, Mobley, and Hutcherson pulled into the parking lot, McGrew and Agent Palmer were already there, parked in a four-door car being driven by Agent Palmer. Another informant who joined them, Dwight Bullard, was standing outside the car. McGrew got out of the car and greeted Otis. McGrew then got back into the front passenger seat of Agent Palmer’s car, while Mobley and Hutcherson got into the back seat, with Mobley sitting behind McGrew and Hutcherson sitting behind Agent Palmer. Otis and Bullard stood outside the car nearby. . . .

After the parties exchanged introductions, Mobley removed an object concealed under a coat he was carrying, which McGrew and Agent Palmer expected to be the promised grenade launcher. Instead, it was a loaded TEC-9 handgun. Mobley suddenly lunged forward over the center console, chambered a round, and pointed the gun at Agent Palmer’s head and chest, which caused Agent Palmer to grab the gun and attempt to direct the barrel away from him. Hutcherson then drew his own gun and aimed it at Palmer’s head. McGrew, sensing that a bad situation was about to get worse, jumped out of the car and took off running. Agent Palmer and Mobley engaged in a brief struggle for control of Mobley’s gun, which Agent Palmer lost. While holding Agent Palmer at gunpoint, Mobley or Hutcherson shouted, “Where’s the money at?” Mobley demanded, twice, that Agent Palmer empty out his pockets. At that point, Bullard reached through the open front passenger door and grabbed Mobley’s gun, pulling the barrel away from Agent Palmer. As Bullard and Mobley fought for control of the weapon, Mobley tried to fire it several times, but Bullard managed to thwart those attempts byplacing his thumb behind the trigger. Bullard eventually succeeded in disarming Mobley, and Agent Palmer’s cover team of plainclothes officers rushed in at about the same time. They arrested Mobley on the spot and shot the still-armed Hutcherson as he attempted to flee. Officers arrested Otis a short time later in a nearby field."

That's a fair piece more danger than I'll ever face in my job, hopefully.  Unlike Agent Palmer, I've never had to respond to my spouse's entreaty "How was work today, honey?" by saying "Not bad.  Could have been worse.  Was almost shot and killed."