Mimesis Law
27 February 2020

Two Guys, One Samurai Sword, And No Real Answers

December 23, 2016 (Fault Lines) — It’s an amazing story all around, but the most amazing part is probably that no one was shot to death by police:

Police chased and arrested a man running with a samurai sword at Penn Station in Newark — then arrested the owner of the weapon, the Port Authority Police Department said Thursday.

The drama unfolded about 11 a.m. Wednesday when Port Authority officers saw Leon Cureton, 61, running with a long object inside a black garbage bag.

“That’s mine,’’ said Fernando Pellot, who was chasing Cureton.

Told to drop what was in his hand Cureton, who earlier this year was busted for assaulting a cop in Manhattan, complied and police seized the bag.

Cureton should perhaps consider himself lucky due to his assaulting a cop charge from earlier this year. Being a defendant is no fun, so maybe he was extra careful not to end up in the same position again thanks to that earlier incident.

On the other hand, the facts of the assault case don’t make Cureton seem like the most self-controlled guy, or the sort of person who might learn his lesson following criminal charges:

He was nabbed in April for a Union Square incident in which he walked up to officers at a community meeting, then allegedly threw a cigarette in one cop’s face.

Instead, Cureton mostly comes off as an incredibly lucky guy:

He also allegedly punched in the head a second officer who tried to handcuff him and swung his screwdriver at police, scraping one cop.

Punching an officer in the head as he tries to cuff you is a good way to get shot. Swinging a screwdriver at multiple cops and actually scraping one is as close to a guarantee you’ll get shot as you can get, short of pointing a gun at a cop. Cureton should consider buying a lottery ticket; either cops in that part of the country are the model of restraint across the board, or Cureton happened to pick the most perfect bunch of cops in the world to throw lit cigarettes at and then punch and attack with a screwdriver.

A foot chase with police and an armed suspect are an excellent recipe for a police shooting too. You end up with amped-up cops who were likely to suspect whatever is in that bag to be a threat to them.

The cops would’ve been right if they’d thought Cureton had something dangerous, but it’s doubtful they could’ve expected that Cureton had a samurai sword. A rifle? Maybe. Some other random long, hard object he could use to hit them? Even more likely. Cureton in fact had something scary to cops, but it also probably appeared likely to contain something scary to cops. Again, it’s amazing he wasn’t shot. Either Cureton’s compliance, his uncanny luck, or a combination of the two saved his life.

The funny part of the story, of course, is the fact two guys were in hot pursuit around a train station due to a dispute over a samurai sword. Maybe cops thought the two were involved in the filming of a new Highlander movie and cut them some slack, but it’s doubtful given the lack of a camera crew or permits and their vaguely homeless appearance:

I’d love to see officers’ faces when they looked inside the bag and saw this:

Sadly, while Cureton did get charged with theft and receiving stolen property, but at least escaped a potentially fatal situation with his life. The sword’s owner doesn’t seem to have the same incredible luck:

Pellot, 29, was arrested for weapons possession and released following his arraignment.

In retrospect, Pellot probably should have immediately quit chasing Cureton, and demanding Cureton give him back the sword he couldn’t lawfully possess the moment he noticed police arrived. There’s a certain point where you have to realize things can only get worse. Pellot didn’t recognize that, and now he’s facing charges because someone stole his samurai sword.

What happened is just another variation, albeit an unusually bizarre one, on a pretty standard fact pattern. It’s akin to the robbed drug dealer calling the cops on the robber, or a prostitute calling the cops on a customer who ran off without paying. Sure, the bad guy in the scenario sometimes get arrested, but there are almost always consequences for the victim too.

In the end, we’re just left with a lot of questions:

The sword owner, who lives in Orange, didn’t say why he was carrying the weapon. Cureton, who lives in Jersey City, didn’t say why he took it, police said.

Pellot and Cureton both have criminal cases to address now, but they’ve both apparently learned a lesson. Pellot isn’t going on about Cureton taking his sword anymore. He’s apparently quit confessing it was his. Cureton isn’t digging his hole any deeper either. Neither of them are confessing to any additional crimes, and it won’t kill the rest of us to be stuck wondering what really happened. Plus, nobody died.

As nice as it would be for the rest of us to know what on earth was actually going on, it’s almost a happy ending, really.

2 Comments on this post.

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  • Leroy
    23 December 2016 at 11:14 am - Reply

    Is there a reason the Sword is illegal, but a long rifle is not? Considering recent SCotUS rulings on the 2nd amendment, I would expect the sword to be perfectly legal. Unless Mr. Pellot has some sort of felony conviction revoking his right to posses arms.

    • Christopher Best
      29 December 2016 at 6:24 pm - Reply

      I’d guess because blades of longer than 10″ are illegal in New Jersey.