A decorated military hero whose friend grabbed his gun during a fight with police could have faced three years in prison because the legal firearm wasn’t registered in the state he was visiting, according to WABC-TV.
Thankfully, WUSA-TV reports that his sentence was commuted by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at the last moment.
Marine veteran Sgt. Hisashi Pompey was visiting New Jersey six years ago with a firearm legally registered in Virginia, the station reported. During a visit to a Fort Lee nightclub, a friend got into a fight and then grabbed Pompey’s gun from its holster.
After a confrontation with police, the friend was arrested. So, too, was Pompey — based on the fact that New Jersey law doesn’t recognize Virginia weapon registrations.
Even worse, the offense carried a mandatory three-year prison sentence. New Jersey politicians claimed that this was part of an initiative to curb gang violence, but the Garden State remains reliably liberal, even with a Republican Gov. Chris Christie.
However, as WUSA-TV points out, the law changed after Pompey’s arrest. According to the Washington Times, the federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004 was amended to allow military police to carry their weapons. Also, in 2014, a clarification was made in New Jersey’s Graves Act — the legislation that Pompey was sentenced under — which would not have subjected Pompey to a mandatory jail sentence.
That clarification stated that in cases like Pompey’s, where the weapon could be legally carried in other states, “imprisonment is neither necessary nor appropriate to serve the interests of justice and protect public safety.” WUSA says the change was made in part because of Pompey’s situation.
Both of these changes mean he might not have even been arrested under the same circumstances today — and he certainly wouldn’t have been preparing to go to jail.
“We’re all humans, humans make mistakes,” Pompey, who has a wife and three children, told WABC-TV.
The veteran had already been away from his family when he served three tours with the military police in Iraq and Afghanistan, for which he received medals for bravery. Pompey had been preparing to go to jail next week after he was convicted and his final appeal failed.
“Only help I am asking for is from the governor, that’s the only one, everyone from judges to lawyers say the only person who will help me now is the governor,” he said before Christie’s commutation came through.
“I’m not a troublemaker. I don’t cause trouble. I don’t do anything bad, it was just a common mistake that I made.”
Before the commutation was announced, Pompey’s attorney, Evan Nappen, said his client deserved it.
“This is a man who has done two tours in Afghanistan, a tour in Iraq. The only hope is for Governor Christie to exercise his power of pardon. Governor Christie in the past has stepped up and helped worthy individuals and it’s my hope and prayer that he does the same for Sergeant Pompey.”
According to WUSA-TV, Gov. Christie issued a commutation of Pompey’s sentence late Friday night.
A commutation means that while the crime will still stay on Sgt. Pompey’s record, he won’t serve any time in prison.
Today I signed the commutation order for former Marine Sergeant Hisashi Pompey. pic.twitter.com/4rXl6r2Epu
— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) April 14, 2017
Christie can still give Pompey a full pardon, which would totally erase the incident from the sergeant’s record.
Sgt. Pompey’s family, who are spending the Easter weekend in New Jersey, haven’t officially commented on the case. However, WUSA anchor Bruce Johnson talked to the family, and said that they were “just so incredibly grateful to everybody who responded, who called the governor’s office.”
As Easter presents go, it certainly beats those chocolate-and-fondant eggs.
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