On Monday, it was reported that a Manchester, New Hampshire woman was arrested for “endangering the welfare of a child” because she had a loaded firearm in the glove box and a child was sitting in the front seat of her vehicle. 31-year-old Alycia Neely was pulled over for failing to use a turn signal, and the story gets a little strange from there.
According to WHDH, Neely told the officer her registration was “in the glove box next to her handgun”:
Officers found a loaded .380 handgun inside the glove box. Police say it was not secured in a holster and was within reach of the seven-year-old front seat passenger.
New Hampshire Law
There is no law requiring anyone holster a loaded firearm in their glove box or lock it if a minor child is in the front seat of the vehicle. There is no law in the State of New Hampshire that says a person cannot have a firearm within a certain distance of a child.
In fact, there are “negligent storage” laws, but they typically coincide with an action of a child hurting themselves or others. According to RSA 650-C:1 Negligent Storage of Firearms, a person is not in violation of the statute as long as:
The firearm is carried on the person or within such a close proximity thereto so that the individual can readily retrieve and use the firearm as if carried on the person.
Even if a person is in violation of the statute, it is simply a fine of not more than $1,000. It is not an arrestable offense.
Manchester Mom’s story
We decided to reach out to Ms. Neely and get her side of the story since other media outlets only painted a portrait of what they were told by the Manchester Police Department. The story is hardly what has been put out there and should make anyone question the behavior of the police officer and the violation of the rights of a law-abiding citizen.
According to Neely, she was following another cheer coach to a meet when she lost sight of the vehicle. She was putting the address into her GPS (not handheld but on the dash) when a man pulled up next to her, rolled down his window and asked her what she was doing.
Neely thought the man was someone trying to harass her, so she didn’t engage and kept going on her way because she had kids in the car. The man was driving an unmarked vehicle and happened to be Officer Andre Smith of the Manchester Police Department.
This is a bit ironic after two cases of young women being pulled over in Rochester by men claiming to be police officers, Londondery News reported police advising to “slow down, tap on the brakes or turn on blinkers to signal to the officer and drive to a place where you feel comfortable, or if close enough you can continue to drive to the nearest police station parking lot. At the same time if you have a cell phone with you, do contact the police department themselves. Call 911 to find out if you are being legitimately pulled over.”
After Neely ignored the man’s question, he continued driving next to her and demanded she pull over. That’s when she realized he was a police officer and not just some random jerk.
Neely was driving in the right-hand lane on her way to I-293 when she was pulled over. Officer Smith was to her left. When Smith asked her for her license and registration, Neely told the officer that her registration was in her glove box next to her handgun.
Another officer showed up and took the firearm from her glove box. Neely was told they were running the serial number on the firearm. She was waiting for almost 15 minutes while they did this and then told her she was under arrest.
What about her rights?
Not only was Neely not read her rights but she begged Smith to wait to handcuff her until another adult came to pick up the children. Officer Smith refused. The officers also spoke to the children without her consent, claiming they were “victims.”
Neely was told that she “endangered” the kids because she had a loaded firearm in close proximity to one of them.
Neely was released on her own recognizance and is due in court on November 28th. She was told by the Manchester Police Department that she wasn’t allowed to get a copy of the police report and had to send her attorney to retrieve it.
Again, there is no law that states where a firearm can be in relation to a child. People take their children to the range all the time. Neely’s children have been taught firearm safety. Neely herself is trained in firearms.
No round in the chamber and safety on
The firearm did not have a round of ammunition in the chamber and the safety was on. There was a loaded magazine in the firearm. This means the child, who didn’t know there was a firearm in the glove box, would have had to know how to rack the slide and turn the safety off in order to actually use the firearm. While some children do know how to do this, the child would have had to have the strength to do this all while Neely was sitting right next to her. The children were not left unattended in the vehicle.
Mom loses only means of supporting her family
Not only did Neely work as a civilian guard on a military base for years, but she was employed in juvenile corrections as well. She has multiple levels of training in firearms. Neely was simply protecting herself and her family by having a firearm.
Neely explained that she left her abusive ex-husband years ago and protects herself and her children because she will never allow abuse to happen again, not by anyone. She is a single mom protecting herself and her children, fully within her rights, and she has lost everything because Officer Smith doesn’t seem to know the law he swore to uphold.
As a result of the “wrongful” arrest, Neely lost her job of four years at the Sununu Youth Services Center. Neely had just gotten a raise and promotion after an excellent evaluation, and was fired without being allowed to give her side of the story. Before the ink was even dry on the police report and before receiving due process in court, her employer fired her, leaving her with no means to support her family.
A single mother of two, with sole custody of her children, Neely was not only arrested for breaking a law that doesn’t exist but she lost the ability to provide for her children and protect her children.
This is egregious and outrageous. The message from the Manchester Police Department is frightening for law-abiding women who seek to protect themselves and their children.
A site called “Don’t Let This Injustice Stand” has been set up to help this woman try to pay lawyer fees.