Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said on July 20 that he will “without a doubt” pardon Mark and Patricia McCloskey. He made the remarks just hours after felony charges were filed against the St. Louis couple who wielded guns as a crowd moved past their property last month.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner filed charges against the McCloskeys, who brandished their personal firearms when dozens of people entered their private neighborhood through a gate marked “Private Street” on June 28.
The couple, who are both lawyers, have argued that the activists damaged an iron gate to enter their neighborhood. They also allege that some members of the group shouted threats at them although they stood outside their home, urging the group to keep going and not stop. The couple said they were in fear for their lives at the time.
Parson on Monday said that Missouri state has a “castle doctrine” principle that allows individuals, in certain situations, to protect themselves, their family or their property.
The statute, titled the “use of force in defense of persons,” permits people to employ deadly force if people enter their homes without consent. It also says that a person doesn’t “have a duty to retreat from a dwelling, residence, or vehicle where the person is not unlawfully entering or unlawfully remaining” and “from private property that is owned or leased by such individual.”
The Republican governor told Fox News’s Sean Hannity that he would pardon the pair “without a doubt.” He said Monday marked a “sad day” for the state, referring to the felony charges filed against the McCloskeys, which include unlawful use of a weapon and a misdemeanor charge of fourth-degree assault.
1/ Statement from Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner – Today my office filed charges against Mark and Patricia McCloskey following an incident involving peaceful, unarmed protesters on June 28th. Full statement below: pic.twitter.com/zPucQ3MHs5
— Circuit Attorney (@stlcao) July 20, 2020
“I will do everything within the Constitution of the State of Missouri to protect law-abiding citizens and those people are exactly that,” Parson said Monday. “They are law-abiding citizens, and they’re being attacked frankly by a political process that’s really unfortunate.”
The governor said he had discussed the matter with President Donald Trump, who also agreed that the St. Louis couple should not be facing felony charges.
“They had every right to protect their property, their home, just like any of us would,” Parson continued. “If you had a mob coming towards you, whether they tore down a gate or not, when they come on your property, they don’t have a right to do that in an aggressive manner. People have a right to protect their selves, their families, their property.”
According to a Missouri Law Review of property law (pdf), gated communities have been affirmed in courts as being able to bar entry to non-residents who don’t receive invitations to enter.
Kim Gardner’s action toward the McCloskeys is outrageous.
Even worse, the Circuit Attorney’s office has admitted there is a backlog of cases and dozens of homicides that haven’t been prosecuted, yet she has accelerated this case forward.
— Governor Mike Parson (@GovParsonMO) July 20, 2020
Parson later said in a Twitter post that Gardner’s action toward the McCloskeys is “outrageous.” The St. Louis circuit attorney previously said in a statement that it is illegal to “wave weapons in a threatening manner.”
“Even worse, the circuit attorney’s office has admitted there is a backlog of cases and dozens of homicides that haven’t been prosecuted, yet she has accelerated this case forward,” Parson added.
The McCloskeys’ lawyer, Joel Schwartz, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the charges were “disheartening as I unequivocally believe no crime was committed.”
Separately, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt on Monday night filed a brief seeking to dismiss charges against the couple.
The brief cites the Second Amendment and says that “the attorney general respectfully requests that the court dismiss this case at the earliest possible opportunity.”
Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this report.