A 17 year old in Tarrant County was arrested for tweeting a picture of picture of an airsoft rifle aimed at a marked Fort Worth police vehicle and “Should I do it? They Don’t Care For a Black Male Anyways.” Police justified their arrest, despite the rifle being an airsoft, under the Texas terroristic threat law, penal code 22.07 which states: (a) A person commits an offense if he threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to: (1) cause a reaction of any type to his threat by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies; (2) place any person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury; (3) prevent or interrupt the occupation or use of a building, room, place of assembly, place to which the public has access, place of employment or occupation, aircraft, automobile, or other form of conveyance, or other public place; (4) cause impairment or interruption of public communications, public transportation, public water, gas, or power supply or other public service; (5) place the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury; or (6) influence the conduct or activities of a branch or agency of the federal government, the state, or a political subdivision of the state.
Here, Mr. Toliver will have a great defense that he did not make a threat against any actual peace officer. The State’s best argument will be that he threatened violence to property to cause a reaction by an emergency organization. It will be an interesting case to follow.