Man could face charges for pointing a gun-shaped cell phone case at officers

Posted at 8:34 PM, Jun 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-15 20:34:18-04

An Akron man could face charges for pointing a gun-shaped cell phone case at troopers and Akron police officers.

Officers thought it was a real gun and chased after the driver, fearing he was going to open fire.

It happened on June 9 near 724 E. Wilbeth Rd. in Akron.

Akron police were backing up an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper at a traffic stop near the Virginia Avenue intersection when a 20-year-old man drove past the officers and then slowed down.

According to a police report, he pointed what appeared to be a gun out of the window and said, "Hey look here."

Officers stopped the driver a few blocks away and a search of the vehicle revealed a cell phone case in the form of pistol.

According to police, city prosecutors did not authorize any charges.

However, troopers are continuing to investigate and plan to meet with Summit County prosecutors to discuss possible charges.

"You could have a menacing charge or inducing panic. You could even go as low as disorderly conduct," said Lt. Leo Shirkey with the OSHP.

Officers said the gun-shaped cell cases are alarming because they can easily be mistaken for real weapons and could lead to officer-involved shootings.

The cell phone holder involved in the Akron case has a black handle, grips and a trigger.

"This is dangerous to law enforcement. This is dangerous to the citizens. We come into contact with stuff like this. We can't see the cell phone, but we see the butt of the gun or the trigger. We have to assume it's a real gun," Shirkey said.

Officers throughout Northeast Ohio have received bulletins to be on the lookout for the cell cases.

In Minnesota, the senate has approved a bill that could eventually make it a crime to possess them.

Akron police Lt. Rick Edwards said there has been a tremendous focus on adults and juveniles carrying air-soft pistols with the orange safety tip removed. He believes the cell cases-- resembling pistols-- create another reason to worry on the streets.

"Please don't carry these kind of cell phone holders, especially children," Edwards said.