TheDC interviews Jordan Wiser, the teen facing jail for owning a pocketknife
Posted By Robby Soave On 11:09 PM 03/12/2014 In | No Comments
Jordan Wiser — an 18-year-old U.S. Army enlistee, EMT trainee, and personal safety expert — is exactly the kind of person who should carry a pocketknife.
Even so, he was expelled from his technical school — where he was training to be a police officer — put in jail, charged with a felony and discharged from the Army Future Soldiers program. His dream to be a soldier, police officer or firefighter is likely dead.
Why? Because he kept a pocketknife in his car so that he could assist at accident sites, consistent with his EMT training.
Wiser shared his story in an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller. (RELATED: Teen self-defense expert expelled, jailed, kicked out of Army program, all because of a pocketknife)
“I had my entire life mapped out,” he said. “I was enlisted in the Army. I was scheduled to ship in August.”
But Wiser isn’t heading to boot camp. Instead, he might be heading to jail.
It happened on December 12. Wiser was called out of class by the principal of his school, Ashtabula County Technical College in Jefferson, Ohio. Administrators claimed they had reason to believe that Wiser had brought weapons onto school grounds, in violation of district policy. They wanted to search his car.“They said it was the Youtube videos,” said Wiser, noting that he has posted videos of himself demonstrating weapons safety techniques. “I’ve been shooting since I was 8 years old.”
Wiser sensibly declined to let them search his car. But administrators claimed they didn’t need his permission.
“They wouldn’t let me call an attorney, they wouldn’t let me call my father,” he said.
The violations of his rights did not end there.
“The vice principal grabbed me and patted me down, he patted me down even worse than a police officer would, he got really touchy and feely,” he said.
After confiscating his keys, administrators searched the vehicle. Since the search was going to happen whether he consented or not, Wiser told them what they would find: airsoft guns. The non-lethal weapons fire plastic pellets and are used in a shooting sports game similar to paintball. Wiser was meeting his airsoft team after school.
They also found a pocketknife.
Wiser told The DC that use of a pocketknife is part of his training. Knives can be used to cut victims out of their seat belts in car crashes, for instance.Since the school is technical — and is designed specifically for kids interested in emergency response services, and law enforcement — many of the students carry pocketknives with them at all times. Wiser, on the other hand, had his in his car.
Up until the December incident, the administration had practiced a lax weapons policy, according to Wiser.
“This is a very rural school,” said Wiser. “We had a school meeting. The vice principal made the statement, ‘If you forget your gun in your car, just let me know, I’ll give it to you at the end of the day.’”This common sense approach to weapons was hurriedly abandoned when it came to the pocketknife in the car, however.
The police were soon called, and Wiser was carted off to jail. His bail was initially set at $500,000. Eventually, his lawyer ascertained his release on a $50,000 personal recognizance bond. The onl
y other qualification: He had to hand over all his weapons and store them at his grandparents’ house.
Why the hysteria? Authorities eventually claimed that they were in possession of a photograph of Wiser. In the picture, he was holding two handguns, and the caption said, “Jordan Wiser vs. Virginia Tech shooter, coincidence?”
Wiser said the image was one of his senior pictures — minus the vaguely threatening Virginia Tech reference, which he knew nothing about.
“When I did my senior pictures… I tried to base my pictures off of my hobbies,” he said. “I had a picture of me with two handguns, reenacting one of the scenes from Bad Boys II.”
The message about the Virginia Tech shooter was not part of Wiser’s photo, however. He has no idea where it came from — though he suspects someone at the police department or school took a screenshot of the picture as it appeared on Facebook and then added the Virginia Tech reference to justify their witch hunt.
Wiser is no longer enrolled in A-Tech. He has been discharged from the Army. And he knows a felony conviction will ruin his chances at a career in public service.
But it gets worse.
At one of his hearings, the judge “freaked out” about Wiser’s knowledge of guns and ordered Wiser to have no further contact with his grandparents — at whose house the weapons are stored.
Wiser’s grandfather is in extremely poor health, and the teen has been barred from visiting him during what could be his final days.
All this, despite the fact that Wiser easily passed a psychiatric evaluation, and was deemed harmless.
His next day in court is April 1st.
Wiser, a career-oriented youth, is worried that the damage is already done.
“I’m never going to be a police officer with a felony on my record,” he said. “I can’t even be a janitor.”