MICHAEL COPLEY of The Record
(Bergen County, NJ)12-08-2012
A South Carolina man who used a stun gun during a melee at a Jets game at MetLife Stadium last year pleaded guilty Friday to felony possession of a weapon and was sentenced to three years of probation. Police said Leroy McKelvey got into an argument with other fans after he remained seated during the singing of the national anthem at the Jets-Dallas Cowboys game on Sept. 11, 2011. McKelvey used the stun gun, which he wore on his hip, when the argument escalated into a scuffle, his lawyer said.
Ron McCormick, an assistant Bergen County prosecutor, at a hearing in January said one man fell down a flight of stairs after being knocked down by McKelvey’s stun gun.
Seven charges of assault were dismissed Friday in state Superior Court, Bergen County, when McKelvey, 60, pleaded guilty of illegally possessing a weapon, said Navarro W. Gray, McKelvey’s lawyer. Gray blamed the incident on what he called “a breakdown in security” at the stadium, which allowed McKelvey to enter MetLife with the weapon. “He wasn’t intentionally trying to do something illegal,” Gray said, adding that McKelvey was accustomed to carrying the stun gun in South Carolina, where he lives. Gray also said McKelvey was targeted for being a Cowboys fan — Gray said such sports fan aggression is “part of our culture.” New Jersey has some of the most restrictive stun gun laws in the country. The state classifies stun guns as “prohibited”; possessing one is a Class 4 felony. The state also was the last in the nation to allow police to use stun guns. In 2010, lawmakers voted to allow police departments to equip selected officers with the devices. Under state regulations, officers can use stun guns only to prevent harm to the officer, another person or the suspect. Evan Nappen, an Eatontown attorney who specializes in state gun law, said lawmakers have refused to permit residents to arm themselves with the less-than-lethal weapons. “It’s a shame,” Nappen said, adding that the effects of stun guns rarely are long-term. “You can get a firearm and shoot somebody,” he said, “but you better not shock them.” Gray said McKelvey and MetLife Stadium are named as defendants in a federal lawsuit filed by a victim in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn. McKelvey suffered a concussion and broken nose during the scuffle, Gray said. He is considering filing a counter-complaint, in part for MetLife’s failure to ensure fans’ safety, according to Raymond Hamlin, another lawyer for McKelvey. Hamlin said MetLife, like football stadiums around the country, encourages conduct from fans that borders on the fanatic. The altercation in September 2011 “all resulted” from McKelvey wearing a Cowboys jersey at a Jets game, he said, adding that a medical condition prevented his client from standing during the national anthem. A spokesman for MetLife Stadium declined to comment on pending litigation as well as on any security adjustments the stadium might have made after the stun-gun incident last year