May 15, 2007

Bittersweet: A Nightmare Over

Last night, Vernon Pardue fulfilled a promise he made to me in late 2005. Shortly before 10:00PM, I got an email from him:

Hello Bob

Can you give e a call ASAP
I need to talk to you.

On October 19, 2005, I wrote one of the most difficult blog entries I've ever had to write, Torn.

I wrote then:

Law enforcement officers, like members of the military, firefighters, paramedics and other first responders are the sheepdogs that keep the wolves at bay. These men and women and their families make sacrifices every day that those of us they protect will never fully understand.

Because of all that these families do for us, when I find myself squaring off against the bereaved widow of a law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty, I do not enter into such opposition lightly.

On February 12, 2004, Wake County Sheriff's investigator Mark Tucker was gunned down by Matthew Charles Grant, a felon who didn't want to go back to prison for being the possession of a weapon. Deputy Tucker's widow, backed by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, filed suit against Cary Jewelry & Pawn in October of 2005, alleging that:

...Cary Jewelry & Pawn, of Cary, North Carolina, negligently and illegally sold the murder weapon to an obviously dangerous person.

In November 2003, Van McQueen and Matthew Grant went to Cary Jewelry & Pawn to buy a firearm. McQueen planned to purchase a firearm as a straw buyer for Grant, because Grant was a felon prohibited from buying guns, and in return Grant promised to buy McQueen a beer. McQueen was mentally deficient and was obviously intoxicated, and the shop's clerk refused to sell him a gun. Three days later, McQueen returned to the pawn shop with Grant, again wanting to buy a firearm. Although his home address was a local mission, McQueen had $120 in cash to buy the weapon. This time, even though the same clerk who had seen McQueen intoxicated three days earlier was on duty, the shop completed the all-cash sale. McQueen then transferred the shotgun to Grant, who used it to shoot Investigator Tucker in the face, killing him. Grant was arrested, convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Investigator Tucker.

"The evidence in this case clearly shows that the gun dealer irresponsibly and illegally sold a shotgun to a man it knew to be dangerous," said Daniel R. Vice, Staff Attorney with the Brady Center. "The gun dealer chose to make a quick buck rather than protect public safety; greed and recklessness caused the death of a brave law enforcement officer."

That was according to the Brady Press release.

I questioned the Brady Center's claim, and then did a bit of investigative journalism, publishing my findings several weeks later in a post called Lawyers, Guns, and Money. My investigation showed that several of the allegations made by the Brady Center against Cary Jewelry and Pawn and its owner, Vernon Pardue, in their civil case, were falsified.

Vandorance McQueen was not mentally deficient, did not live in a mission, and did not buy the firearms three days after being turned down.

After I spoke with Pardue about this case in November of 2005, he promised he'd get back in touch with me with any major developments. He made good on his promise.

Last night, Mr. Pardue let me know that Brady has decided to drop its civil suit against him. He perhaps gives me too much credit in thanking me for my writing on the case. It was the blatant falsehoods of the Brady Center case, and the opposition of Sherrif Tucker's blood relatives, that probably had far more influence on the decision to drop the case, as Dan Tucker, Sheriff Tucker's youngest brother, noted in a comment on November 22, 2005:

Hello CY, I am really glad I finally found a website that has been following this nonsense and has made sense from it. I am the youngest brother of Mark Tucker. I would like to publicize the fact that Mark's immediate famiy (by that I mean blood family) have absolutely nothing to with this frivilous law suit against Cary Jewelry and Pawn. We found out about it the same way most of Wake County did, via the local news. I was in the courtroom last year everyday of the trial. I know for a fact that if the pawn shop had done anything wrong, the DA's office would have charged them with criminal charges. I have personally been to see Vernan Pardue to apologize for what he is going to go through and to let him know that I hold no grudges. I would stop this if I could and believe me I've tried. And I am sure Mark would not go along with what is happening in this case. In my opinion this lawsuit is purely for publicity and exposure.

I held then, and still believe now, that the Brady Center was not interested in anything remotely like justice for the murder of Sheriff's Investigator Tucker. Justice was served by a court of law. Matthew Charles Grant is in prison. I strongly suspect that the Brady Center and its lawyers were cynically using the death of a brave law enforcement officer and the grief of his family to push a political agenda. It is a cruel, callous organization that would pursue such a manipulative course of action.

My heart goes out to the Tucker family. They will never be whole again. But I am thankful that Vernon Pardue can finally put this politically-generated nightmare behind him. If I did indeed play a small role in stopping this frivolous case, I'm thankful. Creating more misery and destroying more lives because of tragedy is not justice.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at May 15, 2007 08:20 AM

Im sure the Brady Center would love to sue every gun owner and dealer in this country, if we allowed them to do so. Keep fighting the good fight.

Posted by: Justin at May 15, 2007 10:10 AM

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 05/15/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

Posted by: David M at May 15, 2007 10:24 AM

You "believe" and "strongly suspect" the Brady Center is more interested in their own political agenda than justice itself? I hope you're being diplomatic due to the nature of the post, rather than out of respect for anyone associated with the Brady Center.

Posted by: DoorHold at May 15, 2007 06:09 PM