Woman Turns in Abusive Husband’s Guns to Police, Then They Arrest Her

Courtney Taylor Irby was in fear for her life on June 15. Her husband had tried to run her off the road and had been arrested for it. He was facing a domestic violence charge, Irby had a restraining order and he wasn’t even allowed to use, possess or carry firearms. He was in jail but was soon to make bond.

To protect herself, Irby drove to his apartment, got past the locked front door and collected the guns she knew he had, according to police records obtained by the Lakeland Ledger. Then the she turned the weapons over to police – and they arrested her on theft charges and armed burglary.

Her husband, Joseph Irby, was released on bail that day but Irby ended up spending six days and five nights in jail for trying to protect herself.

But the community is rallying around her. More than 24 supporters were in the courtroom for her bail hearing on Thursday, including family, friends, her pastor and other church members, LkldNow reported.

The Hillsborough County, Fla., state attorney John Morgan and Florida state Rep. Anna Eskamani are also sticking up for her. They are asking Polk County State Attorney Brian Haas not to pursue the charges brought against her.

“She was literally asking for help,” Eskamani 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.”

Irby’s sister, Haley Burke, also spoke up in her sister’s defense.

“My sister was hysterical,” Burke wrote in an email to LkldNow. “She knew that this just poked the bear, and he would be coming after her. In the (hopes) of protecting herself and her children, she did the one thing that she thought would help save her life. She went to his apartment, gathered his arsenal of firearms and Kevlar and took them to the police station. She just knew that if the police had the guns, she would be safe for just a little while longer.”

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  1. Saphronia Young

    Every person with a role in the system needs to examine how they reinforce the existing power structure, instead of furthering the true goals and ends of justice. This woman did not go into his apartment and trash his belongings, or otherwise act out of malice. She apparently knew that the police could not take away his guns unless and until he is convicted on the domestic violence, traffic assault charges. The district attorney bringing those charges against the husband could have and should have asked the court for a condition of his release that all weapons in his possession be held by the court until his case was resolved, which would include law officers immediately going to his residence (before he cleared them out). Here, the existing dominant power structure was simply allowed to be maintained, which is how women and people of color end up dead and everyone else ends up wringing their hands.

  2. Would the police have felt better if the abusive husband was released and was looking for payback against Ms. Irby for turning him in? How the law is interpreted and practiced is so very skewed and uneven, in this country. Clearly, Ms. Irby feared for her life and rightly so. I’m glad her support system was there for her and hope they continue to be there as time moves along because she’s going to need it. I’d hate to hear about yet another woman/mom/wife missing or worse, killed, by their loser husband.

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