Hudson, Fla. (CBS TAMPA) — A Florida man and his family were returning home from a wedding and Christmas celebrations in New Jersey when they were allegedly pulled over, forced out of their vehicle and searched by several Maryland police – all because John Filippidis is licensed to carry a firearm.
Despite having a clean record, owning a business and paying his taxes, the father of three and his wife were forced into the search because Filippidis’ concealed carry permit registered with the Maryland Transportation Authority Police officer who had been tailing the car for no apparent reason, the Tampa Bay Tribune reports.
And the palm-sized Kel-Tec .38 semiautomatic handgun was locked in a safe in Florida amid the hours-long ordeal that ended with a warning from a bevy of Maryland police along I-95.
“I know the laws and I know the rules,” Filippidis told the Tribune. “But I just think it’s a better idea to leave it home.”
The New Year’s Eve nightmare road trip from New Jersey back to Florida was interrupted by the officer, who the family said flanked and followed them for over ten minutes before finally pulling them over. After collecting Filippidis’ license and registration, he returned to the car and ordered him to step out of the vehicle and put his hands behind his back.
MTAP authorities did not comment on the story because an investigation of the incident is still under way.
According to the Tribune, Filippidis told the officer the gun was “at home in [his] safe,” before he asked the same question of Kally Filippidis, his wife.
At first she replied, “I don’t know,” but then continued, saying, “Maybe in the glove [box]. Maybe in the console. I’m scared of it. I don’t want to have anything to do with it. I might shoot right through my foot.”
The officer then reportedly told John Filippidis he was lying about the gun.
“You’re a liar. You’re lying to me. Your family says you have it. Where is the gun? Tell me where it is and we can resolve this right now,” the officer told Filippidis.
The officer then called backup and a nearly two-hour, meticulous search of their entire vehicle and Christmas presents produced no handgun – which was locked in the safe in Florida throughout the entire incident.
“All that time, he’s humiliating me in front of my family, making me feel like a criminal,” Filippidis told the Tribune. “I’ve never been to prison, never declared bankruptcy, I pay my taxes, support my 20 employees’ families; I’ve never been in any kind of trouble.”
The officer wrote a warning, but no ticket was ever issued.
The officer’s captain later apologized to the family, as well as the Maryland Transportation Authority Police internal affairs captain. But Filippidis is still considering cancelling his CCW license in order to avoid any further Second Amendment squabbles from states with rigorous gun laws.