A gun possession charge against a New York City council member will be dropped because there is no proof the gun could fire, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez’s office said Friday.
“Peaceful protest is the right of every American, but bringing a gun to a protest is illegal and creates an unacceptable risk of harm that has no place in our city,” a spokesperson for Gonzalez’s office said in an emailed statement.
Inna Vernikov, a Republican, was arrested in October after carrying a gun while counter-protesting at a pro-Palestine peace rally in Brooklyn. Police charged her with criminal possession of a firearm because newly passed state gun laws specify that it is illegal to carry a gun at a protest, according to reporting by Politico.
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Vernikov was contacted by police after she was filmed with the firearm and she turned herself in. According to the New York Police Department, the council member was arrested and charged, and both her firearm and her permit license were surrendered.
Gonzalez’s office said he wouldn’t be able to prove the charge in the case and thus it would be null.
“The firearm recovered by the NYPD in this case was unloaded and missing the recoil spring assembly, rendering it inoperable, according to the NYPD’s lab report,” the spokesperson said. “In order to sustain this charge, it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the weapon in question was capable of firing bullets.”
“Absent such proof, we have no choice but to dismiss these charges,” he said.
Vernikov, a conservative Republican who is Jewish, livestreamed her experience counter-protesting the pro-Palestine protest at Brooklyn College on Oct. 12, just days after the Palestinian militant group entered Israel in a surprise attack and Israel began its retaliatory strikes.
The Hill has reached out to Vernikov for comment.