St. Louis, MO – The St. Louis couple facing weapons charges after they pointed guns at an angry mob of Black Lives Matter activists who had just smashed through the gates into their neighborhood filed a lawsuit on Friday against a wire service and its photographer who documented it.
The incident occurred on June 28 when rioters who were trying to get to the St. Louis mayor’s private residence broke down the locked gate into the community where Mark and Patricia McCloskey resided and began marching through the private streets.
United Press International (UPI) photographer Bill Greenblatt was there taking pictures of the unruly march to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home inside the gated community, the Associated Press reported.
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.
Greenblatt captured the moment when Mark and Patricia McCloskey confronted the protesters in front of their home waving guns, and the images he shot of that moment quickly went viral.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner subsequently charged the McCloskeys with one felony count each of unlawful use of a weapon, after the couple stood outside their own home and displayed guns to defend their property.
The pictures taken by Greenblatt have appeared in many memes, on t-shirts, and in many other forms, the Associated Press reported.
On Nov. 6, the McCloskeys filed a lawsuit against UPI and Greenblatt that alleged the photographer was trespassing on private property when he took the pictures that have caused them such distress.
Newspaper photographers may capture pictures of private property if they are standing on public property when they take them, but the lawsuit claimed the sidewalk and street in front of the McCloskeys’ home was private and not a public right of way, the Associated Press reported.
The lawsuit said that Greenblatt’s photo contributed to the McCloskeys’ “significant national recognition and infamy.”
The couple has also sued Redbubble Inc., a San Francisco-based company that has been selling items featuring that picture of them, the Associated Press reported.
Greenblatt, UPI, and Redbubble have profited from “t-shirts, masks, and other items, and licensing use of photographs bearing Plaintiffs’ likenesses, without obtaining Plaintiffs’ consent,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also alleged that the merchandise featuring their images sold by Redbubble has “mocking and pejorative taglines or captions” that have caused “humiliation, mental anguish, and severe emotional distress,” the Associated Press reported.
UPI recently threatened to send the couple a “cease and desist” order after they bragged about having used the pictures on their Christmas cards.
A grand jury indicted the McCloskeys on gun and evidence tampering charges on Oct. 6 for defending their historic home from angry protesters in June.
Patricia and Mark McCloskey had told investigators beforehand that the weapon Patricia had been holding had been rendered inoperable so it could be used as a prop inside a courtroom for a lawsuit against a gun manufacturer.
However, in order to charge Patricia McCloskey under Missouri law, the gun had to be “readily” capable of lethal use, KSDK reported.
St. Louis Assistant Circuit Attorney Chris Hinckley ordered the crime lab to field strip the pistol.
Documents showed the techs found the gun been assembled wrong and the firing pin spring was put in backward, in front of the firing pin, rendering the weapon inoperable, according to KSDK.
The documents also showed that firearms experts disassembled the weapon and reassembled it properly, then test-fired it to confirm it worked.
Staff in the crime lab photographed the weapon’s disassembly and reassembly, according to KSDK.
But there no was no reference to the fact the gun didn’t work in the charging documents against Patricia McCloskey.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said he would move to have the charges against the couple dismissed shortly after Gardner announced them.