A Florida woman who is an alleged victim of domestic violence was arrested earlier this month after she turned over her estranged husband's guns to police.
What's the background?
Following a divorce hearing in court on June 14, Courtney Irby's soon-to-be ex-husband, Joseph, rammed her car and ultimately drove her off the road. Courtney immediately called police "uncontrollably crying and advised that she was in fear for her life," an arrest affidavit says, HuffPost reported.
Police arrested Joseph and charged him with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. At the same time, Courtney petitioned the court for an immediate injunction for protection. It was not the first time Courtney requested a protective order against her husband.
Despite testifying over the phone at Joseph's pretrial hearing, a judge released him, but ordered he could not possess or own any weapons.
In response, Courtney went to her estranged husband's apartment and took possession of his firearms — one handgun and one rifle — with the intention of turning them into police. She did not believe Joseph would comply with the judge's order, and she said she remained in fear for her life.
Why was Courtney arrested?
She went to the Lakeland Police Department on Friday June 15 to turn over the firearms, according to WMKG-TV. That's when police arrested her because she allegedly broke into Joseph's apartment to take possession of the guns.
"Well, he was arrested yesterday for trying to run me over with his car and he is now in jail. So I went to his apartment, since he is in jail, and I searched his apartment for the guns I knew he had and I took them," Courtney told police.
"So, you are telling me you committed an armed burglary," the arresting officer reportedly replied, WMKG reported.
"Yes, I am, but he wasn't going to turn them in so I am doing it," Courtney said.
After they arrested Courtney, police called Joseph at the Polk County jail. He told police he wanted to press charges against his estranged wife.
Joseph was released from jail later that day. Unfortunately, Courtney spent nearly a week in jail. She was released on $7,000 bond last Thursday.
What was the reaction to Courtney's arrest?
Florida state lawmakers were left outraged over the incident, claiming law enforcement is punishing a victim of domestic violence.
State Rep. Anna Eskamani (D) said:
The case of Courtney Taylor Irby demonstrates once more the dangerous linkage between intimate partner violence and access to firearms. Court records show that Irby applied for a temporary injunction against her husband and the two were in the process of a divorce. She was actively protecting herself and her family from an estranged husband who had not turned over his firearms to law enforcement, and was arrested for it. We should be outraged by her arrest, and Irby should not be prosecuted by the local State Attorney's office.
Meanwhile, Courtney's lawyer, Lawrence Shearer, alleges his client did not commit the crime police claim she did.
Theft is to deprive someone of the right or benefit of property. She didn't do either one of those. She was taking them to the police department for safekeeping," he said, according to HuffPost. "I have faith in our state attorney's office that they will do the right thing."