Woman Fearing For Her Life Turns In Estranged Husband's Guns To Police, Instead Gets Arrested For Armed Burglary

Courtney Taylor Irby's husband, Joseph Irby, was in jail for allegedly trying to run her over with his car when she entered his apartment to retrieve his weapons and turn them over to police. Things didn't go how she expected.

By Eric Shorey

A Florida woman who believed her husband might kill her surrendered his firearms to police — but instead of finding solace, she was arrested.

Courtney Taylor Irby of Lakeland, Florida, who goes by her middle name, was arrested and charged with armed burglary and grand theft firearm on June 21. Irby had taken her husband's guns to the police, saying she feared for her life and believed her husband, Joseph Irby, would use them to kill her. Joseph, at the time, had been incarcerated for domestic aggravated battery.

"Well, he was arrested yesterday for trying to run me over with his car and he is now in jail. So I went to his apartment, since he is in jail, and I searched his apartment for the guns I knew he had and I took them," said Taylor, according to a report from the Lakeland Police Department obtained by Click Orlando.

"So, you are telling me you committed an armed burglary?" an officer inquired in turn.

"Yes, I am, but he wasn't going to turn them in so I am doing it," Irby replied.

The officer then contacted Joseph, who said that he wished to press charges against Taylor. 

The report did not detail exactly how many or what kind of firearms were turned over.

Courtney Irby

The domestic dispute that led to Joseph being jailed occurred only one day before the Taylor's arrest. Both had been at court for a divorce hearing, but the two became embroiled in an argument that led to Joseph attempting to run Taylor's car off the road after they left.

Taylor has obtained several restraining orders against her husband in the past, she told police. She was granted a temporary injunction at the time of Joseph's arrest.

Joseph, meanwhile, told officers that the damages to his car were "old," and described Taylor as a "man hater" as he was cuffed, according to The Ledger of Lakeland, Florida.

Lawrence Shearer, Taylor Irby’s lawyer, said that he does not consider his client's actions to constitute theft.

“Theft is to deprive someone of the right or benefit of property,” he said to The Huffington Post. “She didn’t do either one of those. She was taking them to the police department for safekeeping. ... I have faith in our state attorney’s office that they will do the right thing.”

State Rep. Anna Eskamani was disturbed by the story and commented on how the situation demonstrates the need for a better understanding of domestic violence.

“The case of Courtney Taylor Irby demonstrates once more the dangerous linkage between intimate partner violence and access to firearms. Court records show that Irby applied for a temporary injunction against her husband and the two were in the process of a divorce. She was actively protecting herself and her family from an estranged husband who had not turned over his firearms to law enforcement, and was arrested for it. We should be outraged by her arrest, and Irby should not be prosecuted by the local State Attorney’s office," Eskamani wrote in a statement.

“She was literally asking for help,” Eskamani later told The Washington Post. “We know with so many survivors of domestic violence that asking for help is the biggest challenge. We just demonstrated that if you ask for help, you might be arrested.”

Eskamani is planning on sending a letter to Polk County State Attorney Brian Haas asking him not to pursue the charges brought against her.

Both Courtney and Joseph have since bonded out of the Polk County Jail.

Joseph was denied a temporary restraining order against Taylor pending an upcoming hearing on June 28. Both Taylor and Joseph will return to court in mid-July for their arraignments.

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