Officer Charged in Gun Incident at Bar : Courts: Burbank prosecutors allege the policeman illegally displayed the weapon in a threatening manner.
Saying they wanted to send a message that guns and alcohol don’t mix, Burbank prosecutors Wednesday filed criminal misdemeanor charges against a Los Angeles police officer, alleging he illegally displayed a gun in a threatening manner in a drunken barroom confrontation.
The officer, Peter Ceinion Jones of the LAPD’s prestigious Metropolitan Division, also threatened a bartender at The Blue Room in Burbank who told him to put the gun away, prosecutors said.
“Weapons and alcohol are a terrible, terrible, terrible combination. Police officers, if anyone, should know that, and should know better than to abuse their authority in that kind of way,” said Burbank Deputy City Atty. Robert Walters.
“In this particular case, it is clear that he violated the law when he pulled out the gun in a show of authority and flexed his police muscle.”
Deputy City Atty. Terry Stevenson, head of the office’s criminal division, said he was “very, very troubled by the fact of mixing alcohol with a weapon. . . . We feel it is serious enough so that we should file charges. . . . He was quite intoxicated.”
Jones, 38, was not charged, however, with public drunkenness or making threats. A 14-year officer who now works in an LAPD mounted patrol unit, he faces a mandatory minimum of three months in county jail if convicted on the single criminal misdemeanor count of exhibiting a weapon, and a maximum of a year in jail.
Jones, who has twice been suspended without pay for several days by the LAPD as discipline following other incidents, also is the subject of a departmental investigation into his conduct in the bar, an LAPD spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Jones was unavailable for comment.
In one of the previous internal LAPD cases, concluded less than a year ago, Jones’ drinking was cited as a contributing factor in his improper touching of a female officer who he visited early one morning with the intention of having sex with her, according to police documents from that case. During his administrative hearing, Jones said he was voluntarily seeking treatment for alcohol abuse, but it was not known if he did.
Jones also was suspended two years ago for failing to conduct a proper weapons search of a suspect, which led to an officer-involved shooting.
Lew Rinker, the bartender at The Blue Room, said the most recent incident started when Jones, who was off duty and drinking in the bar on July 19, boasted to several other bar patrons about being a police officer. When one of them asked him for identification, Jones went out to a car, came back and set his gun on the bar in front of him, Rinker said.
Walters, citing interviews with Rinker and other witnesses, said Jones accused Rinker of flirting with his girlfriend, and when Rinker asked him to put the gun away, “he said, ‘If you touch my . . . gun, I’ll kill you.’ ”
Prosecutors said the case is unusual because charges of exhibiting or brandishing a weapon are usually filed only against those suspected of waving a gun around or pointing it at someone.
“In this case, it’s kind of the totality of the whole case. The way he displayed the weapon, what he said,” Walters said.
Under state law, it is a misdemeanor for a person to draw or exhibit a weapon, except in self-defense, whether it is loaded or not, “in a rude, angry, or threatening manner . . . in any fight or quarrel . . . “
“He exhibited a firearm in a rude and threatening manner,” said Walters, who added that the gun was loaded and that many people told police they overheard Jones threatening Rinker.
Rinker, 39, said he was concerned about Jones the night of the incident because of his actions. But he added: “He didn’t appear drunk to me, and I’ve been doing this for a lot of years. I think he just had a chip on his shoulder.”
Jones was detained by Burbank police after the incident but was not booked and was released to the custody of Los Angeles police later that night.
Burbank authorities later said they did not book Jones because suspects cannot be arrested on a misdemeanor charge without supporting testimony from a witnesses, and no one in the bar wanted to be a witness against the police officer. The charge was filed when they later interviewed bar patrons and some said they would cooperate in the investigation.
Jones will be allowed to surrender to authorities when he arrives in court for arraignment in about a month, prosecutors said.