Friday, January 18, 2019

Yunson Zhao: Charges Droped on Obscure Rifle Charge after Nearly Eight Months in Custody!

On September 24, 2018, Yunsong Zhao was vindicated. He had done nothing illegal. The evidence against him was so weak, the judge did not let the case go to trial. He dismissed the case based on lack of evidence. From
CHRISTIANSBURG — A judge on Monday dismissed the firearms charge against former Virginia Tech student Yunsong Zhao, saying that he didn’t believe the police officer or gun dealer who were the prosecution’s main witnesses.

The evidence that Zhao, a 20-year-old Chinese national, possessed an assault weapon that is allowed only for U.S. citizens or permanent residents was too flimsy to let a jury even consider a conviction, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Marc Long said. Zhao, who has been locked up since his Jan. 29 arrest, had faced up to five years in a Virginia prison if found guilty on the gun charge.

Zhao grinned and clasped his hands after Monday’s dismissal — then was returned to the custody of federal immigration authorities.
If Zhao had been a citizen, or a permanent resident, he would have been released at that point. But Zhao was in the U.S. on a student visa.

Zhao had been charged with an obscure law making it illegal for a non-citizen to put a magazine that holds more than 20 rounds into a semi-automatic rifle. Zhao had legally purchased the rifle, which originally had 30 round magazines with it. Because Zhao had researched the law, he knew he could not legally put the magazines in the rifle. He traded them for a sling, and purchased 20 round magazines. He was arrested after firing the rifle at a range. Fortunately, a friend had video taped him. The video showed him changing the magazine after 20 rounds.

An undercover officer had followed him to the range.  The officer claimed the saw a 30 round magazine in the rifle. That is what resulted in the arrest. A search of Zhao's possessions only turned up 20 round magazines. The officer claimed he did not video the firing, because his cell phone ran out of battery power at exactly that point. The judge did not buy the officer's explanation.

While Zhao was in custody,  he was expelled from Virginia Tech for unauthorized possession of  a knife on campus. The charges were brought after he had been arrested on the rifle charge. He was unable to contest the charges because he was in custody. As he was no longer enrolled at Virginia Tech, he lost his student visa.

After he was acquitted of the rifle charges, he remained in custody because he no longer had a student visa. An immigration court ruled that he had to stay in custody, largely because of the rifle case (which had been dismissed).  

Yunsong Zhao left the United States in October of 2018. He was simply tired of being in custody. He could leave, because he had been acquitted. He had been in custody for close to nine months.

He had not committed any crimes.

He came to the U.S. legally.

He went into custody as a teenager. He came out most of a year later. At 19, nine months is a very long period of time.

I would like to believe the authorities had legitimate reason to target Yunsong Zhao. It would make living in the United States a easier.

We rightly condemn other countries for holding U.S. citizens for months and years without proper trials.

Yunsong Zhao was caught in a trap of U.S. paranoia, obscure weapons law (which he obeyed!) and insane University regulations forbidding the possession of a knife.

The authorities said they were concerned he had purchased a former police car. He had looked at how much police lights for the car cost on line. He had looked up what bullet resistant vests cost. He had looked on line at the cost of 5,000 rounds of ammunition.

Strung together, these items can sound menacing. They do not seem unusual for a teenage university student who is interested in police work. If Zhao were a citizen or permanent resident, looking at these items online would be covered by the First Amendment.

University students in other countries should be careful to not break the laws or rules they are supposed to live under.

But hold a young man in custody for nine months because of a stupid rule about possession of a knife with a blade of more than 5 inches? On a university campus?

This is America.

Consider a student is forbidden to possess a knife on an American campus. Not carry a knife, but to possess a knife. Think how far that is from the Second Amendment.

Virginia Tech is not alone. Many American colleges and universities forbid students from possessing knives on campus. It is irrational. It is stupid. It shows how far our insane universities are going to indoctrinate students with anti-weapon attitudes.

Virginia Tech is a public, "land grant" college.  It is a senior Reserve Officer Training Corps college. It obtains considerable money from the United States and the State of Virginia.

The college is allowed to obtain this money while blatantly enforcing absolutist anti-self defense and anti-Second Amendment rules.

How is it that land grant institutions are allowed to show such a flagrant disregard for one of the foundational freedoms in the United States?

Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCC)has been making significant progress over the last ten years. Several states have reformed their laws to allow students to exercise Second Amendment rights on campus. SCC does not lobby to reform the rules for possessing knives on campus. 

Knife Rights is pushing hard to eliminate knife bans from state statutes. That does not eliminate university rules.

What happened to Yunsong Zhao should be a warning to all Americans.

©2019 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch 


ExpatNJ said...

"A judge ... dismissed the firearms charge"

The 'judge' messed-up big time; he should have had a bench-trial, and found Zhao "not guilty". Now, Zhao - or his US legal representative - can AND SHOULD file a lawsuit against the State of Virginia for false arrest, malicious prosecution, and punitive damages.

Unfortunately, it will be the Taxpayers in Virginia who would ultimately shell-out of their pockets for Zhao's mistreatment (so, THEY should get angry and change the system).

PS. This is NOT legal advice. You have to pay for that.

C. S. P. Schofield said...

I generally like cops. With a single exception (who was loathed by his own department) my encounters with cops have been good. But there are too goddamned many cases of cops clearly lying to 'get' somebody. There are so many instances where there SHOULD be video but - oops! - in disappeared in police custody. It gets really tempting to say to the police "Video, or you're assumed to by lying!"

The Black Quislings of Black Lives Matter don't help. They lie, and support the lies of others, and so the cops have motive to lie themselves.

I'd say the Black Quislings and the Bad Cops deserve each-other, but we have to live in this country, too.