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Caddo courthouse changes security after gun allegations - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Caddo courthouse changes security after gun allegations involving SPD officer

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SHREVEPORT, La. -

When Christopher Cope was tried for the 2010 murder of Shreveport Police Sgt. Tim Prunty, Judge Mike Pittman limited the number of uniformed officers and guns allowed in the courtroom. However, reports that Matthew Prunty, the victim's brother, broke the gun restriction prompted tighter courthouse security.

Related article: Christopher Cope found guilty of First Degree Murder

"Anytime you see a way that you can do something better or a situation arises that you never faced before, then you came up with new procedures," Lt. Mark Terry said of new procedure requiring visitors to remove belts at the entrance.

Terry says they're always adapting as they see new weapons or new threats emerge.

The Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office says Matthew Prunty was at the courthouse Feb. 7, 2013 when he reportedly told a security member that he smuggled a gun into the Cope trial even though Judge Pittman had specifically said Matthew Prunty should be unarmed during proceedings.

"If I'm walking in the door of the courthouse [with] a pistol in my waistline behind my belt buckle and I walk through the metal detector, the metal detector is going to sound," Terry explained. "The deputy doesn't know was it the belt that made the detector go off or was it the gun behind the belt?"

Pittman limited the number of guns and police uniforms for safety reasons and to be sure jury members weren't swayed by the appearance of visible police presence. He also said only ten officers could be in uniform in the courtroom and plain clothes officers there for observation would be allowed in if unarmed.

Related article: Investigators try to make sense of shooting

Sheriff's Office spokesperson Cindy Chadwick tells KTBS 3 News that they knew of the allegations and forwarded the information to supervisors at Shreveport Police. Chadwick says the department did not find conclusive evidence that Prunty was armed during Cope proceedings, but they changed procedures anyway.

Matthew Prunty was terminated from Shreveport Police Dept. in May 2013. He appealed that decision before the Shreveport Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board Wednesday.

Related article: Matthew Prunty fights for SPD reinstatement

When asked if the gun allegations played any part in his firing, Prunty's attorney Pam Jones said, The personnel action form submitted to the Civil Service Board state the reason for termination was that Matthew Prunty had exceeded the allowed number of sick days."

The standard policy is that uniformed Police Officers can bring their weapons into the courthouse. Non-uniformed officers can bring their weapons into the courthouse only after showing their commission card.

In 2013, Caddo deputies manning the courthouse entrances discovered 2,571 weapons or potential weapons.

Weapons discovered by type:

  • Firearm:2
  • Knife (large):487
  • Knife (medium):541
  • Knife (small):546
  • Pepper spray canister: 298
  • Taser/ Stun Gun: 3
  • Scissors:225
  • Utility knife:123
  • Metal hair pick: 118
  • Misc/Other: 208
  • Total: 2,571

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