Is there a crime called disarming a police officer?
Yes. In the criminal code of Pennsylvania, there is a crime called "Disarming law enforcement officer" which you can find at Title 18 Section 5104.1 of the Code.
This law was passed recently (effective in 2006) and there has been very little litigation in the appellate courts over what the statute means. It is clear that if someone either attempts or does in fact take a gun or other weapon away from a police officer, that person commits a felony of the third degree. The statute does not define the term 'weapon'.
I recently had an inquiry in a case alleging that the defendant disarmed a Philadelphia Police Officer of his police baton. It is, as far as I can see, a question of first impression whether a police baton counts as a weapon under this section. I'll note that the term weapon is defined elsewhere in the criminal code of Pennsylvania to mean: "Anything readily capable of lethal use and possessed by the actor under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for lawful uses it may have." (Title 18, Section 907). Under that definition, a baton should not be within the meaning of the term 'weapon' and the charge should be dismissed.
Should I be retained and end up litigating this issue, I'll certainly post the outcome.
Labels: Disarming law enforcement officer; weapon; statutory construction