Cop Watch

Monday, August 15, 2005

Self-defense drill draws police response

A family vacation for Scott Turner, owner of Turner's Taekwondo Inc., came to a quick end when he received a call from one of his instructors saying his students, practicing gun self-defense, had just been handcuffed and held on the ground at gunpoint by Albany police.

"I thought they were joking," Turner said Thursday. But he soon realized there was truth to the story.

The students were detained briefly at the scene but then released with citations for disorderly conduct.

Turner, who says he has respect for the police department and understands why officers responded the way they did, doesn't understand why citations were issued.

According to an Albany police report, the department received one call from a driver on Queen Avenue reporting an armed disturbance at about 7 p.m. July 29, near the Four Seasons Car Wash, 1070 Queen Ave. S.E.

Police Capt. Ben Atchley said Friday the department may have received other calls as well.

What people saw, Turner said, was five students and an instructor participating in a martial arts exercise in an alley behind Karate For Kids, 1711 Hill St. S.E.

The students were practicing Krav Maga, a martial art that teaches, among other tactics, how to defend against someone approaching with a gun or knife, Turner explained.

The students, ages 17 to 45, were practicing with air soft guns, which were marked to signify they were unloaded or being used for practice, Turner said.

"Officers arrived on scene and observed people who appeared to have weapons in the back alley," Atchley said Friday.

The officers thought they had a possible robbery or gang activity, according to the police report.