By Scotty Boman
Editor’s note: This article concerns a candidate seeking the Libertarian Party nomination through the primary system. The Michigan Libertarian provides fair coverage of any Libertarian Party of Michigan member who is seeking the nomination through this process without endorsing one candidate over another, or the candidate’s views.
Royal Oak, MI – Libertarian Congressional candidate in District 8, Brian Ellison was arrested on June 2nd while protesting the homicide of Royal Oak resident Antonino “Nino” Gordon. The arrest took place at a Royal Oak charity event called “Run with the Cops.” Gordon’s alleged killer, Keith Richard Beirenga, is a suspended Royal Oak Police Officer who was on duty on April 10th when he allegedly killed Gordon.
Ellison was charged with Disrupting Government Operations, and Resisting or Obstructing a Police Officer. Both infractions are misdemeanors. Prior to being charged, the arresting officer said Ellison would be charged with disorderly conduct, and officers had also suggested trespassing charges. Ellison claims, “There was nothing disorderly about my conduct, so they had to make up a new charge after I was in custody… This was either a private event or a “government operation” but it can’t be both.”
According to Ellison,
“We scheduled a protest and called it “Only Guilty People Run”. Our goal was to cause awareness of the need for police reform, transparency, and justice for the victims. I intended to run with the chief, while he ran with a bunch of kids. We had about 15 protesters, a mix of LP members and victims’ families. I was constantly followed and shadowed by 3 police officers in uniform throughout the event. I approached various officers and asked for their opinions on body cameras and got some feedback, but not much. I also approached the chief and asked him about body cameras. He pushed me away and called his officers over to push me further away, rather than answer the question. He then offered to meet me on Monday morning in his office.
Just before the “Run with the Chief” event, I saw one of the officers talking with the chief, looking at me and pointing in my direction. Immediately after that exchange, an officer approached me and told me I could not be in the road during the race. I told him I could and he reaffirmed that I could not. I walked away from him at that point and began stretching. This is the point that the video began. I was basically being surrounded and the officers were closing in on me. I tried to cross the road to avoid them and they followed. I turned on my megaphone to bring attention to them stalking me, and to tell them to stay back.”
What happened after (including Ellison being dragged) can be seen on this video
The protest was not Ellison’s first encounter with Royal Oak officials regarding the homicide. On May 21st he spoke to the Royal Oak City Commission, seven days after the second fatal shooting (That of Cody Reynolds). Video of Ellison speaking is here (He began speaking at about 12 minutes in). Ellison said he was followed out from the meeting by the police chief, who approached him in the hallway leading to this encounter shown on.
On Memorial Day Ellison and others organized an event called, “Justice For Victims & Cameras For Cops”. He said approximately 30 to 40 people showed up, and that many of Nino Gordon’s family and friends were there. Ellison gave a brief speech just before the parade started. Participants continued to protest throughout the Royal Oak Memorial Day Parade. He told the Michigan Libertarian that, “We were respectful of all veterans in attendance. Our protests were focused only on police and elected officials.”
Antonino Gordon (BKA Nino), whose homicide, was the subject of the protest took place at the drive through of the White Castle restaurant at 13 Mile and Coolidge at approximately 6:30 PM on April 10th. A Royal Oak Police Department representative told Fox 2 news that police had attempted to pull Gordon over for a traffic violation prior to the killing, but had lost him in traffic.
The alleged murderer, Keith Richard Beirenga, is on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation. The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office is in charge of this case. Gordon family attorney, Joseph Dedvukaj told Fox 2 News that the Royal Oak officer fired four or five shots – hitting Gordon once in the chest and once in the arm as he sat behind the wheel of a black BMW. Gordon was not armed.
Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O’Donohue told the Detroit News that Gordon had backed into a car behind him (at the drive through), and struck a police car while driving away, but Royal Oak Police Officials told a WDIV TV reporter that, “an officer saw him, approached the car and shot Gordon.” They told an Mlive reporter that Gordon was “…waiting in the drive-thru line before he was shot.” The Michigan Libertarian attempted to clarify the matter with the Royal Oak Police Department and was referred to Sargent Don Swiatkowski, but he didn’t respond to the message left on his voice mail.
Dedvukaj told MLive, White Castle had surveillance video, but investigators had seized the video and camera system. White Castle Staff have yet to respond to inquiries from the Michigan Libertarian.
The Oakland county medical examiner’s office told the Detroit News that Gordon died of gunshot wounds, and his manner of death is a homicide. According to Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper, the case has been picked up by Genesee Prosecutor David Leyton, but Leyton has not replied to our inquiries yet.
Ellison has hired attorney Nicholas Somberg to represent him. He will be seeking a full dismissal or a jury trial in connection with the misdemeanor charges against him. He will also be filing suit against the City of Royal Oak and the officers involved in the arrest. Brian Ellison insists the arrest was unconstitutional.
Ellison is selling shirts to support his legal fees.