St. Louis, MO – The St. Louis couple pardoned by the governor after waving guns at protesters in front of their historic home during the George Floyd riots in 2020 has filed a lawsuit to get their guns back from the city.
The McCloskeys pleaded guilty to misdemeanors in June of 2021 and agreed to give up the guns they waved at protesters that day as part of their plea agreements.
But then Missouri Governor Mike Parsons pardoned the pair, as he promised he would when the McCloskeys were first charged for trying to protect their home from rioters who had just broken down their neighborhood gate.
A judge had issued a court order last year to destroy the guns that were taken from the couple when they pleaded guilty, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
But the guns were never destroyed.
So after the couple was pardoned by the governor, Mark McCloskey filed a lawsuit against the city, the St. Louis police, and sheriff’s department and demanded the return of both weapons that had been confiscated by police during the investigation.
A virtual hearing was held on Wednesday and Robert Dierker of the City Counselor’s Office admitted the city still had the McCloskeys’ guns.
“Obviously with our customary efficiency, we should have destroyed [the weapons] months ago,” Dierker said. “We haven’t. So McCloskey’s a beneficiary of bureaucratic, I want to say, ineptitude. But in any event, it’s fortuitous that the weapons still exist.”
Dierker argued at the Jan. 5 hearing that the governor’s pardon erased the McCloskeys’ convictions but it didn’t obliterate the plea bargain in which they gave up their weapons, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
“We do not think he can demonstrate the right to immediate possession,” Dierker said.
But Mark McCloskey argued that the state had no right to hold onto property related to the matter for which he and his wife had been pardoned, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
“The loss of that property would certainly be a legal disqualification, impediment or other legal disadvantage, of which I have now been absolved by the governor, and therefore the state no longer has any legitimate reason to hold the property,” he told the judge.
Mark McCloskey also sued the city to get back the $872.50 in fines that he paid in June of 2020, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Patricia McCloskey filed a separate lawsuit demanding the return of $2,122.50 she paid in fines and court costs after she pleaded guilty, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
St. Louis Circuit Judge Joan Moriarty has taken the case under advisement.
The couple are both still facing suspension of their law licenses, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The incident that led up to this point occurred on June 28, 2020 when rioters who were trying to get to the St. Louis mayor’s private residence broke down the locked gate into the community where the McCloskeys resided and began marching through the private streets.
The McCloskeys, who are both attorneys, grabbed an unloaded semi-automatic rifle and an inoperable prop gun from a court case and faced off with the protesters in front of their $1.5 million home to defend their property.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner subsequently charged the McCloskeys with one felony count each of unlawful use of a weapon.
But then in December of 2020, Circuit Judge Thomas Clark II disqualified Gardner and her entire office from prosecuting McCloskeys.
Clark cited the fact the prosecutor sent improper fundraising emails that mentioned Mark and Patricia McCloskey.
The judge’s order barred the whole St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office from participating in the prosecution of the couple, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt expressed his opposition to the prosecution of the McCloskeys by filing a brief supporting a motion to dismiss the case, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
And the governor said that if the McCloskeys were convicted, he would pardon them.
In May of 2021, the special prosecutor assigned to their case amended the charges against Patricia McCloskey to give the jury the option to convict her of misdemeanor harassment instead of a weapons charge when the couple went to trial in November.
The announcement that the McCloskeys had taken plea deals less than a month later came a surprise to many, given the political support they’d had from state leadership.
But then the governor did exactly as he had promised and pardoned them.
Mark McCloskey is currently running for U.S. Senate in Missouri as a Republican.