NBA member arrested on firearm possession. How’d that go down?

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Often we are presented with police reports and stories on different alleged crimes. The one thing I always drive home with people when there’s a “report” of criminal activity is that we’re all supposed to be innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The court of public opinion is another thing. This story deals with someone that spends their days on the basketball court. On the morning of July 30th, NBA basketball player Amir Coffey was arrested for illegal firearm possession, specifically “carrying a concealed firearm in a vehicle.”


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles Clippers shooting guard Amir Coffey was arrested early Sunday on a firearms misdemeanor in Hollywood, authorities said.

Coffey, 26, was a passenger in a vehicle that police pulled over for speeding shortly before 2 a.m., according to Los Angeles Police Officer Tony Im, a department spokesperson.

Coffey was cited for carrying a concealed firearm in a vehicle, Im said. He was released on his own recognizance from a county jail on $10,000 bail.

Coffey’s arrest is nothing really newsworthy. The only reason this has gained the attention of multiple news sources is because of who he is and what he does for a living. An arrest simply for firearm possession is not worth the ink being used to tell the story.

As a matter of opinion, thankfully firearm possession without a permit on the first occurance in California is only a misdemeanor. That’s one area that California has it “right,” if you want to call it that. Of course my belief is that firearm possession is not a crime, so any arrest would be unwarranted, however if you look at other states such as New Jersey, something like this would result in a three to five minimum mandatory sentence, and zero discretion concerning arrest and prosecution.

Talking about the circumstances of California’s law in context of this arrest might seem like we’re going into the weeds, but it does highlight issues that are worth bringing up. As noted, this should not be an arrestable offense given the data we’ve been supplied. And, other jurisdictions should pay attention to the potential penalty should one be found guilty of such charges. Beyond all that, there’s other constitutional issues that are probably involved here – we don’t know for certain, but can speculate. At a minimum, there’s a teachable moment.


What led up to the arrest? Alleged speeding by the driver of the car Coffey was occupying. How do we go from a speeding ticket to a passenger getting arrested for being in possession of a concealed firearm? What kind of cause was there to search Coffey and the vehicle? Or did the occupants of the vehicle surrender their Fourth Amendment rights?

There are plenty of people that don’t subscribe to the fruit of a poison tree dynamic, in that they don’t care how a conclusion was made, they only care that the outcome was favorable to their ideology. Should the uninformed public be told someone was arrested for an illegal firearm possession, many might revert to the thought that it’s okay because the behavior was illegal. Of course neglecting several important details like this should not be a crime in the first place or how the “discovery” of the firearm went down.

The teachable moment is to anyone dealing with law enforcement to remember to maintain and assert your rights. The best thing to do is seek advice from your attorney, as this is not legal advice, but a good rule of thumb is to never consent to searches, don’t implicate yourself by answering questions, and demand an attorney be present for any questioning.

The NBA may or may not weigh in on this, of course because of who Coffey is. As a private entity/employer, whether or not they should or should not weigh in on non-occupational related events is an whole other matter.


Coffey has been with the Clippers for four seasons.

“We’re aware of a legal situation involving Amir Coffey and are looking into it,” the team said in a statement on Monday.

It’s possible that Coffey could face sanctions from the NBA. The league typically reviews all matters of personal and criminal conduct and can issue a fine or suspension when it deems appropriate.

The other way we could assure that stories like this are not news is if the NBA, rather than potentially issuing a “fine or suspension,” stand behind their players noting everything I’ve outlined here. If the sports teams and clubs lashed out against laws that are generally disproportionately levied against people, and advocated against possession related restrictions of constitutionally protected behavior, not only would they regain a massive amount of popularity from large swaths of freedom loving Americans, they’d also not have to discuss these matters much should policy and law change.

How Coffey is handled and the matter finds resolve after his August 24th court date is yet to be determined. What we can bank on is that Coffey is going to have a hell of a legal team to help him out of this quagmire, and that’s a luxury that everyday Mr. and Mrs. America doesn’t usually have. Unless there’s a ton of missing and crazy details to this story we’re not privy to, or Coffey waived his rights in some manner, his case should be a slam dunk.


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