On July 28, 2012 a terrorism prank in the middle of Phoenix rush hour traffic could have turned deadly. Michael David Turley, a 40-year old filmmaker, is charged with endangering the life of his 16-year of nephew in an incident that occurred on a busy intersection in the city. The plot involved sending the teen into the middle of traffic with a pretend grenade launcher while Turley filmed the action. The ten pointed the weapon at the vehicles on the street. Another charge against the accused is that of engaging in mock terrorism activity.
The trial began on June 12, 2013. Turley has pleaded not guilty to both charges. Both lawyers presented their opening arguments to the jury.
In his opening statement, the prosecuting attorney, Michael Anderson described the costume that the teen was wearing. He wore a sheet over his body and had his head wrapped in a scarf to look somewhat similar to the clothing worn by those in Middle Eastern countries. In addition to endangerment of life, he stated that the accused is also guilty of stereotyping in the worst possible way.
The lawyer for Turley, Brad Rideout, admits that this was a serious prank that showed a lack of judgment on the part of his client. However he said that there were no injuries in the prank so there was no harm done.
Evidence presented in court included frantic calls to 911 from people in the vehicles. In fact some of the drivers were tempted to run down the teenager thinking that this was a real terrorist attack. There were also recordings of 911 callers who suspected that the weapon was not real and that this was some kind of prank.
Turley posted his video on You Tube and jurors watched this in court. The narrator, who said he was the filmmaker, stated that his purpose in making this video was to test the time it took the police to respond to the situation. In the video he made reference to a shooting that had occurred two weeks prior to this event. The police arrived and asked the teen to put down his weapon, which he did immediately. The police officer on the scene did not have to draw his weapon.