LOCKPORT – Former State Senate candidate Gia M. Arnold, who is under indictment on a weapons possession charge, testified at a pretrial evidentiary hearing Monday that police never told her why they stopped the vehicle where they found an assault rifle and an ammunition magazine, which she admitted belonged to her.
Arnold, 26, of Rochester, told Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon that the first question asked by Niagara Falls Officer Tommie Caldwell was "how much weed" there was in the car. The 2009 Pontiac Vibe belonged to Arnold but was being driven by Halim Johnson, 18, of Niagara Falls, whom Arnold identified as her boyfriend.
Arnold, who lost the 2014 Republican primary in the 62nd State Senate District while running on an anti-SAFE Act platform, testified that she told Johnson to stop answering questions when Caldwell wouldn't say why he had stopped their car on 15th Street about 10:15 p.m. Feb. 10. Arnold said she didn't learn the charge was failure to signal a turn until she was booked at police headquarters.
Arnold said two officers pulled her out of the car and charged her with obstructing governmental administration after she told Johnson not to talk. She said not until then did police see the magazine in the passenger side door cupholder. She said she didn't actually see them grab the rifle off the passenger side floor.
The encounter with police was not videotaped, as officers previously testified they found the battery in their video camera was dead. "I think that offers a serious issue of credibility," said defense attorney James M. Ostrowski, who is trying to get the charges dismissed.