The attorney for the man arrested for going to a summer protest with a disassembled AR-15 in his backpack has filed a motion asking the General Sessions Court judge to dismiss the case ahead of the preliminary hearing.
Trevan Young, 29, was arrested in June after police said they received a credible tip that there was an armed individual with possible intent to do harm to people attending the ongoing demonstrations in response to the May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man who died under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis.
In his motion, local attorney McCracken Poston argues that Tennessee's firearms laws provide a caveat to the law with which Young, a Black man, is charged: possession of a firearm with intent to use it for harm.
According to Poston's motion, the law that Young is accused of violating does not apply when the carrying of a weapon was due to "lawful hunting, trapping, fishing, camping, sport shooting or other lawful activity."
Poston argues that protesting can be considered "other lawful activity."
Young, who was "peacefully involved in protesting, was arguably participating in the most protected activity, his rights to free speech, assembly and to protest his government. As such, the charges regarding the carrying of a disassembled weapon should be dismissed," Poston wrote in his motion.
Poston also is asking for his client's remaining charges — disorderly conduct and resisting arrest — to be dropped.
Young was wearing headphones, Poston argues, because he was initially startled and confused by the first officer who approached him.
"The fact that tensions were unusually high should not be held against the defendant, who was protesting the treatment of multiple African-American suspects by police departments nationwide," Poston wrote.
Young's preliminary hearing, initially set for Sept. 24, was rescheduled for Nov. 10.
During that hearing, prosecutors will walk the judge through the evidence against Young, and the judge will then decide whether to dismiss the charges or send them to a grand jury.
A grand jury would take another look at the evidence and vote on whether to formally indict the defendants.
At the time of the arrest, police said they found a disassembled AR-15 concealed in Young's backpack with multiple AR-15 magazines, two of which were loaded and easily accessible to him.
The arrest came just days before another man, 35-year-old Kevin Leko, was arrested for standing atop a building along the protesters' route in the 1400 block of Market Street with an assault rifle.
Leko, a white man, was charged with possession of a firearm while under the influence.
Police said he had six beers in his bag and appeared to be very intoxicated, based on his speech, movement and the smell of beer on his breath. And in his bag, police said they found an AK-47 rifle, two 9 mm handguns and a revolver, all of which were loaded. They also reported finding a broken-down PA-224 and various loaded magazines for each weapon with the exception of the revolver.
Leko waived his preliminary hearing on Sept. 21, and his case was sent to the grand jury for potential indictment.
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