Pro-gun groups call video obtained by 5 INVESTIGATES alarming as number of permit to carry holders reaches record high
Video of a Minneapolis Park Police officer pulling his gun at a woman during a routine traffic stop has Second Amendment supporters calling for increased training of police officers.
5 INVESTIGATES first reported on the body-worn camera footage from the traffic stop late last week. It shows Jenice Hodge was stopped by Officer Calvin Pham in northeast Minneapolis on July 12, 2019, for driving with her phone in her hand and not wearing her seatbelt.
When Hodge opened her wallet and handed her driver’s license to Officer Pham, he pulled his firearm, pointed it at her and told her to get out of the car.
Officer Pham later wrote he saw a card “…that appeared to be a MN PERMIT TO CARRY…” in Hodge’s wallet and he believed that she may have a gun. Hodge, who is black, said she does hold a legal permit to carry card, but did not have her gun with her that day.
“If you see the permit to carry, that’s not an indication that the firearm is even there,” said Rob Doar, senior vice president of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus. “And as your story pointed out, there wasn’t a firearm present.”
The Park Board superintendent, police chief and elected commissioners have all declined to comment on the traffic stop which led to a $100,000 settlement late last year.
But Doar said the video was eye-opening. His organization is now actively looking for details on encounters between drivers who are lawfully carrying guns and police in major city police departments and sheriff’s offices in Minnesota.
“When it’s a young Black person in the inner city, we tend to ask questions about why they’re carrying,” he said. “When it’s a old white guy out in greater Minnesota, we just naturally assume he’s exercising his Second Amendment rights. So I think there’s a lot of just inherent bias that has to be overcome.”
Gun ownership has skyrocketed during the pandemic. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said in 2020, sheriffs across the state issued 96,554 permits, up from 51,404 the previous year. The 2020 number is the highest since the law was enacted in 2003.
The interaction between someone legally carrying a firearm and a police officer has been scrutinized before. In 2016, Philando Castile was shot and killed during a traffic stop, after informing then-St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez that he had a firearm on him.
“He had a right to have the weapon,” said Philando’s mother Valerie Castile. “They said if you want to have a weapon, you have to go through these classes, gotta do this, gotta do that. He did it.”
Since her son’s death, Valerie Castile has pushed for awareness and education around permit to carry issues. She’s credited with the changes made to the Minnesota Driver’s Manual that make it clear what should happen when a driver with a permit to carry is stopped by police.
“Nobody wants to be Philando, Valerie Castile said. “Nobody wants to end up dead for, you know, exercising your right.”
But Doar said until there’s more training for law enforcement on how to respond to a permit to carry, there will be the risk of seeing more videos of legal, gun-owning drivers held at gunpoint.
“Law enforcement has to reconcile that Minnesotans have a Second Amendment right to bear their arms, and that not every person that they encounter is going to be a threat to them,” he said.