SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - A Washington state legislator was cited for two violations of state firearms law last fall following a confrontation that police reports describe as a road rage incident.
Republican Matt Shea, a state representative from Spokane Valley, was charged in December with a single misdemeanor count of having a loaded handgun in a vehicle without a valid permit, the Spokesman-Review reported Sunday
Shea had a handgun in his pickup truck and had let his concealed weapons permit expire when Spokane police contacted him last November to investigate reports of erratic driving and one driver threatening another with a handgun, according to court records sent to the newspaper.
Shea declined comment, referring questions to his attorney, Bob Cossey, who said the gun was not loaded and the other driver was aggressive and angry.
"Matt doesn't keep a loaded gun in his car. He has small children," Cossey told the Spokesman-Review.
Shea is an attorney who serves on a committee with jurisdiction over most firearms legislation. He is seeking a third term this fall.
According to police reports, Shea and two other motorists called 911 on Nov. 23 to report erratic driving on downtown Spokane streets.
One driver reported a green Chevy Lumina driving in an aggressive manner.
The driver of the Lumina, Leroy Norris, also called police to report that a pickup truck cut him off and he had to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision. He said the driver of the pickup pulled a handgun from the passenger side of the car and pointed it at him. He "freaked out" and drove away "crazy" because he thought his life was in danger, he added.
Shea also called police to report the driver of the Lumina, and an officer contacted him several hours later. Shea said the driver of the Lumina at one point made a beeline for the front of his vehicle.
Shea "thought he was being targeted due to his work," the officer wrote in his report, and admitted pulling a handgun out of the glove box, which the other driver could have seen.
Shea was initially cited by the officer for two firearms citations: having a loaded gun in his vehicle without a valid permit and drawing a firearm "under circumstances and at a time and place that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons," both of which are misdemeanors.
The report said he was being charged with having a loaded gun in his vehicle, but Cossey told the Spokesman-Review they "absolutely" would have contested that point at trial.
The expired weapons permit has since been renewed. Cossey attributed it to "just the normal forgetfulness of people."
Cossey said the other charge, sometimes called brandishing a weapon, didn't apply to the case. Shea did remove the gun from the glove box because he was concerned for his safety, his attorney said. "I felt pretty confident if this matter would have gone to trial."
In January, the city agreed to a "stipulated order of continuance" on the permit charge for a year. If Shea has no criminal violations in the meantime, the charge will be dismissed. Shea paid a $75 fee and agreed that the information in the police report is correct, the Spokesman-Review reported.