Man Points iPhone at NYPD Officers, Gets Arrested

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on January 16, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

NYPD officers arrested a man Tuesday for allegedly pointing his iPhone at the officers as if it were a gun and imitating gunshots.

The incident occurred while the two uniformed officers were at a stoplight, New York's WCBS-TV reports. A car being driven by 32-year-old Unique Johnson pulled up just shy of the passenger side door; when the officer in the passenger seat turned to look, he saw what appeared to be a weapon pointed directly at his head.

"I absolutely thought we were dead," one of the officers said in an NYPD press release.

Man Reportedly Wanted to Show How Easy It Would Be to Shoot an Officer

Fortunately for the officers, after pulling over Johnson's vehicle, the "weapon" in this case turned out to be an iPhone. But Johnson allegedly admitted that he had used the iPhone to simulate a gun in order to show how easy it would be to shoot a police officer.

Johnson was charged with a number of criminal charges, including menacing a police officer -- which makes intentionally placing an officer in fear of physical injury by displaying a weapon a felony -- and disorderly conduct, a catch-all charge for disruptive behavior which in New York includes engaging in "tumultuous or threatening behavior." Johnson was also charged with harassment and aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle.

Is 'Just Kidding' a Defense?

Although Johnson may have never intended to do the officers any harm with his iPhone stunt, he may have a tough time defending his actions by claiming he was "just kidding." While proving that you never planned to actually do what you appeared to be preparing to do may be used to mitigate the intent element required for some crimes, it will not act as a blanket defense against criminal charges.

Johnson also took the very real risk that officers may have used deadly force in response to his actions. Following the shooting death of two NYPD officers last month in an ambush, officers are on alert for possible further attacks.

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