A 33-year-old woman from Lakeland, Florida, was arrested for trying to turn her estranged husband’s firearms in to the police after he’d been charged with domestic violence and attempting to run her over with his car.
Courtney Irby was charged with two counts of grand theft of a firearm and one count of armed burglary last week. She spent five days in jail.
According to an affidavit obtained by BuzzFeed News, Courtney collected all of her estranged husband Joseph Irby’s firearms at his home while he was in police custody and brought them in to the Lakeland Police Department.
When an officer questioned Courtney about how she obtained the guns, she told him, “Well, he was arrested yesterday for trying to run me over with his car, and he is now in jail. So I went to his apartment since he is in jail and I searched his apartment for the guns I knew he had and I took them.”
The officer, Brent Behrens, stated that he proceeded to question her to confirm that she entered Joseph’s home without his permission. “So you are telling me you committed an armed burglary?” he said.
“Yes I am, but he wasn’t going to turn them in so I am doing it,” she then responded, according to Behrens.
Courtney proceeded to tell Behrens that she has a temporary injunction against her ex, and that she knew he would not turn in his firearms himself — as reportedly mandated by a judge.
According to Joseph’s arrest record from the day before, June 14, Courtney told an officer of the Bartow Police Department that her husband was repeatedly “ramming” his car into hers, and eventually off the road. She said she was “in fear for her life.”
Behrens stated that on June 15, he “determined [Courtney] committed the Act of Armed Burglary” when she admitted to retrieving the guns from her ex’s residence, and charged and booked her at Polk County Jail.
The affidavit stated that Behrens contacted Joseph following his arrest of his wife. Joseph said he wanted to pursue charges as she “did not have permission to enter his dwelling and remove his firearms.”
Online and across the country, Courtney’s story has drawn confused and contentious reactions from citizens and lawmakers. Specifically, people are angry the Lakeland Police Department chose to arrest Courtney without consideration of other critical factors for her actions.
Some are demanding it drop the charges against her.
After hearing about what happened, Florida state Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat, spoke out in support of Courtney and her decision.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, and empowering our survivors to ask for help — not arrest them,” she tweeted Tuesday.
Eskamani told BuzzFeed News on Wednesday she sent a letter to the state’s Attorney General’s Office requesting it not pursue further charges against Courtney.
“Law enforcement need to be better trained to provide support to domestic violence survivors, not incarcerate them or re-traumatize them,” Eskamani said.
“We continue to stress the importance of keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, and feel very confident that it would be impossible to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Ms. Irby intended to steal anything.”
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Courtney’s attorney, Lawrence Shearer, for comment.