If a woman is a victim of domestic violence, or killed by her husband, there are always those people who wonder why she didn’t leave or go to the police earlier. Honestly, it’s because they often aren’t believed, or fear they won’t be and get sent back to their now much more angry abuser.
Courtney Irby is in the process of divorcing her husband Joseph, and if this latest series of events is any indication, it must have been a long time coming.
The story began after a divorce hearing, where the couple got into an argument in the parking lot. She got into her car and attempted to leave, but Joseph followed her in his vehicle, repeatedly ramming into hers until she was finally forced off the road.
She called the police and explained to them that she’d had multiple restraining orders against him previously and that she “feared for her life.” However, Joseph tried to claim that the vehicle damage was old.
In the meanwhile, Courtney applied for a temporary injunction to protect herself and testified over the phone during his hearing. He was given a pretrial release with only the condition that he not own, possess, or carry firearms.
Florida is a state with what’s known as the “relinquishment gap,” which is a loophole due to there being no process to ensure a person ordered not to own guns gives up their currently owned weapons to the authorities.
Courtney feared for her life, and since she knew that her husband owned guns, she feared what he might do once he was released.
She also knows that he wouldn’t voluntarily hand the weapons over to the police. So she headed over to his apartment, which she accessed through a “locked door” and retrieved a handgun and an assault rifle.
Courtney went straight to the local police station and took them explaining what was happening.
The police officer asked: “So, you are telling me you committed an armed burglary?”
Courtney replied: “Yes, I did, but he wasn’t going to turn them in, so I am doing it.”
Then, the officers contacted Joseph, who was still in jail, and he asked the police to press charges.
Shockingly, Courtney was charged with armed burglary of a dwelling and grand theft of a firearm.
As a result, Joseph spent only 24 hours in jail for running her off the road, but, Courtney spent six days to be granted bond, all the while worrying about the two kids she shared with Joseph.
Courtney’s lawyer said in a statement to HuffPost that her actions didn’t count as theft.
He explained, “Theft is to deprive someone of the right or benefit of the property, but, Courtney didn’t do anything of those things. She was thinking of taking them to the police department for safekeeping.”
Florida’s law of “relinquishment gap” for firearms is complicated. Florida officials said: “We don’t have authority to take firearms from people unless they are surrendered or there is a court order.” Also, Polk County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Brian Bruchey added: “We can’t do anything unless they willfully do it and release them to us.”
The state legislator Anna Eskamani said that Courtney’s case emphasizes the need for stronger laws and significant changes to protect domestic violence survivors.
The couple is out on bail and awaiting hearings for their charges, and Joseph’s guns were returned to him. However, this man still a clear danger to his family and currently has access to his arsenal.