A cellphone video floating around has surfaced in a report by CBS News on July 5 that has a Senior Navy official in hot water that just might sink his career.
Last June, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy Karnig Ohannessian was at his home in Fairfax County when he heard a group of young men outside in the street making noise. They just so happened to be parked in front of his house.
According to one of the young men in the video, they had attended a barbeque at a friend’s house in Burke, Va., when the incident occurred on June 11.
It appears that Ohannessian was upset about the loud noise and the behavior exhibited by the young men and began yelling at them. He was complaining about the noise and the fact that they parked on the street outside his home.
A verbal altercation ensued, with all parties exchanging words. Ohannessian reportedly went back into his house and emerged with a handgun. It was at that point that one of the young men started recording the incident with his cellphone.
The video shows Ohannessian accusing the three young men of being drunk and orders them to leave the area.
At various points, Ohannessian is heard shouting “Get in the car!” and complaining that public drunkenness was a crime.
An unidentified man can be heard on the video saying,”You’re pointing a gun at my friend. This is a criminal offense, so please stop it.”
Ohannessian replied, “I can shoot the [expletive] out of you guys right now!”
One of the men replies, “Be thankful you have a gun, man. It shows how much of a wuss you are.”
At that point Ohannessian aims the gun at them.
Fairfax County police officers were called to the 6600 block of Bestwicke Court in Burke, Va., for a report of “a man brandishing a firearm and pointing it at people.” Officers at the scene were told that a verbal confrontation occurred on the street between Ohannessian and a group of young men who had been at a nearby house but had since left the scene.
A few days later, two of the young men filed a complaint with the Fairfax County Police who opened an investigation and placed Ohannessian in custody.
Ohannessian was then brought before a magistrate judge who refused to issue a warrant because, in his opinion, there was not probable cause to file any charges, so Ohannessian was released. The police, however, say the investigation is ongoing and they may present more evidence to the Office of the Commonwealth Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh.
Morrogh release a statement on July 6 indicating his office had begun interviewing witnesses in the case to determine if charges should be filed.
In addition, the Navy is conducting its own internal review of the incident.
“We were made aware of the incident and the video,” said Rear Adm. Dawn Cutler, a Navy spokeswoman. “Mr. Ohannessian’s supervisor is taking the appropriate action, to include working to understand the full details of what occurred.”
In the meantime, Ohannessian is on administrative leave from the Navy.
U.S. Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Mitch Wells weighs in with his take on the situation and the laws in Virginia that are in play.
Wells begins by examining the law on brandishing a firearm in Virginia.
“Under Virginia law, in particular §18.2-282 of the Code of Virginia, it is unlawful to point, or hold, or brandish a gun in such a manner so as to reasonably cause fear in another person of being shot or injured,” Wells explains. “And it does not matter whether or not the gun was capable of firing or not.”
“A violation of this provision is a Class 1 misdemeanor, unless it occurs upon or within 1,000 feet of any school propoerty, whether public, private or religious,” Wells said.
“There is, however,” he went on to add, “a defense to this charge, and that is that you were engaged in excusable or justifiable self-defense.”
Wells continued, “We will just have to wait and see what all the evidence presented shows.”