Police Confirm Charges in Toy Gun Incident

A local filmmaker and three others are facing disorderly conduct charges over a movie prop.

Police have confirmed that they have charged Ashton Burrell, 22, of South Eighth Avenue; Richard Copier, 27 of Dumont; and Luis Suarez, 28, of Clifton with disorderly conduct in the incident Sunday morning, Nov. 2. A fourth person, Jerry J. Garcia, 26, of Edison also was charged with unlawful possession of an imitation firearm.

Mr. Burrell and the other men were filming a short movie at Highland Montgomery Apartments. One of the props for the movie was a toy firearm designed to resemble an actual .45-caliber handgun.

Mr. Burrell, 22, is the founder of LIVE Mentorship. In recent months he has helped to organize rallies in Highland Park against police brutality in Ferguson, Mo. and in support of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen shot to death by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in 2012.

When it became apparent that the firearm was a toy and not an actual weapon, Mr. Garcia was released on his own recognizance after being arrested and charged. Mr. Burrell and the others were told they would be charged with disorderly conduct.

Disorderly conduct charges carry fines of up to $500. State statute defines disorderly conduct as fighting, threatening or violent behavior or creating a dangerous condition by an act with no legitimate purpose.


6 thoughts on “Police Confirm Charges in Toy Gun Incident

  1. This is an outrage. The Highland Park Police dangerously overreacted and pointed guns at the heads of the filmmakers who were reviewing video footage when they were ordered to drop to the ground. The toy gun was NEVER used during the filming that day.

    Why are the police in this town treating our residents as if they were armed members of the Iraqi resistance? Proper police procedures were not followed.

    I hope the Highland Park Planet will do some real investigative work and uncover this despicable outrage.

    • Hi outraged. I wrote you a note asking you to consider changing your user name. We don’t know for sure if proper police procedures were followed or not. We are investigating. But we want to promote respectful discussion. Your post would be much better received, and more credible, if you had a real user name instead of one obviously created to make this one comment. We hope you will post many more times. The system won’t let you make a new name every time. So unless you want to be that anonymous poster “outraged” forever please consider changing your name. Thank you!

    • Highland Park Planet is a legal corporation with real people that own it and run it and lines of accountability, including legal accountability. We are not in any way anonymous. As all newspapers do, sometimes posts, articles, and content come from staff or editor, and it can be numerous people that are charged with responding. But ultimately it is the editor that is responsible for all content. If you have a compliant or issue you can take it to Pam Hersh. phersh@highlandparkplanet.org.

  2. Just piping up to say that “Outraged”‘s comment was perfectly well received by me, & that I understand — as should that Planet — that people with a personal connection to the incident (if that’s who this commenter is) may be uncomfortable posting under their real names. Additionally, the fact that the Planet “does not know” whether the police used “proper police procedures” is irrelevant — if someone believes they did not, then that opinion is perfectly fine to express. Additionally, this person may well have more factual information than the Planet about what happened during this incident, in which case it’s perfectly find for her/him to make a factual assertion in a comment.

    I appreciate the Planet’s insistence on respectful commenting, but please don’t make your policy so narrow that expressions of emotion or necessary anonymity have no place. Thanks.

  3. Hi “also_outraged”. We did approve the comment. But in general it is true that people making authoritative statements of fact, anonymously, is problematic. Instead, how about talking to us! We can use our judgement to confirm the veracity of the source and then publish it in a story, and protecting the sources’ identity. That’s the difference between journalism and a message board.