Courtney Taylor Irby is a Florida woman who was arrested while trying to turn her estranged husband’s guns over to police before he was released on bail following a domestic violence arrest.
Irby, 32, was arrested after she gathered her estranged husband’s guns and brought them to the Lakeland Police Department on June 15, The Ledger reports.
Irby told police that her husband, Joseph Irby, was in jail for trying to run her over with her car and had gathered his guns after a judge ordered him to turn them over.
“So are you telling me that you committed an armed burglary?” Lakeland Police Officer Brent Behrens asked Irby, according to the report. Behrens, who joined the Lakeland Police Department in April 2018, according to a department Facebook post, was the desk officer that night.
“Yes, I am, but he wasn’t going to turn them in, so I am doing it,” Irby replied.
Officers called her husband, who was being held at Polk County Jail, and he told police that he wanted to press charges.
Irby was charged grand theft of a firearm and armed burglary.
She was jailed without bail for five days and six nights, until June 21, when a judge ordered her bail to be set at $5,000. Joseph Irby was arrested June 14 and released on $10,000 bail on June 17. Both cases are being prosecuted by the Polk County State’s Attorney’s Office. The Lakeland Police Department and the prosecutor’s office have not commented about the case. Joseph Irby is scheduled for his next court appearance on July 16. Courtney Irby’s arraignment is scheduled for that same day.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Courtney Irby & Joseph Irby Are Divorcing After Separating in December
Courtney Taylor Irby and husband Joseph Irby separated in December and were leaving a divorce hearing before Joseph’s arrest, LkldNow reported.
According to a police affidavit obtained by the outlet, Courtney told officers that “after court the victim and the defendant engaged in a verbal altercation.”
“The victim arrived to her vehicle and attempted to leave the courthouse,” police said. “The defendant followed behind her in his vehicle and began ramming his vehicle front bumper into the back of the victim’s rear bumper.”
Polk County court records show that Courtney Irby filed for a domestic violence restraining order against her estranged husband in January 2019.
2. Joseph Was Arrested for Trying to Run Courtney Over With His Car, Police Say
Courtney told police she was able to get away and fled to the Barstow Police Department where an officer reported that she “observed scratches on the victim’s rear bumper.”
While at the police office, Joseph sent Courtney a photo indicating he was at their child’s day camp where Courtney was going to pick up their child.
An officer escorted Courtney to the camp where Joseph was waiting.
“The defendant further stated he had scratches on his vehicle however, they were old damages,” the officer wrote. The officer also “observed (several) scratches and what appeared to be transferred pain from the victim’s vehicle on the defendant’s left side bumper.”
Joseph was arrested. During the arrest, he told the officer that Courtney “a man hater and an a**hole.”
He was charged with domestic violence – aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. According to court documents, Joseph Irby works as a regional medical account manager for Sage Services Group, a medical equipment supplier. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment about his arrest. His pretrial release conditions were modified by a judge so he could leave Florida to attend a work conference in Columbus, Ohio.
3. A Judge Ordered Joseph Irby to Turn Over His Guns
Courtney Irby was granted a temporary restraining order against Joseph following the arrest, LkldNow reported. A hearing to extend or retract the order is scheduled for June 28.
Joseph Irby was set to be released on Saturday on $10,000 bail when Courtney testified at a hearing “about her fear of danger from Joseph,” her attorney told LkldNow.
As part of his bail conditions, Joseph Irby was ordered not to use, possess or carry any weapons or ammunition.
“My sister was hysterical,” Courtney’s sister Haley Burke told 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.”
LPD spokeswoman Robin Tillett told the outlet that while the situation was “complicated,” Courtney had no right to enter her husband’s home.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Brian Bruchey explained that there is no automatic enforcement mechanism to take guns away from people who have been ordered to hand them over as part of a pre-trial release.
“We really don’t have authority to take firearms from people unless they are surrendered or there is a court order,” Bruchey said. “We can’t do anything, unless they willfully do it — release them to us.”
“Technically if the person does have firearms they are in violation of the injunction or pre-trial release but it’s one of those things — it’s kind of hard to enforce, really. You’d have to have somebody to say ‘I know exactly where they are’ … and you’d have to get a search warrant for it. It’s one of those things you hope people do the right thing and surrender their guns,” Bruchey explained.
4. Courtney Was Charged With Grand Theft & Burglary For Turning Joseph’s Guns In
Irby brought the guns to the Lakeland police and explained that she wanted to turn them in.
“So are you telling me that you committed an armed burglary?” Officer Brent Behrens asked her, according to court documents
“Yes, I am, but he wasn’t going to turn them in, so I am doing it,” she said.
The officer contacted Joseph, who was still being held at the Polk County Jail, and he told police that he wanted to press charges against Courtney for entering his apartment and taking his guns.
Joseph also requested a restraining order against Courtney, accusing her of being “(volatile) and aggressive during divorce proceedings” and making false statements. He claimed that Courtney had “previously stolen a third firearm which is still in her possession. I didn’t report this gun as stolen because she has tried to portray me as the aggressor and I was advised that pursuing this would poorly reflect on me for ‘trying to get the gun back for aggressive reasons.’”
His request for a temporary injunction was denied but a hearing is set for June 28.
Courtney was charged with two counts of grand theft of a firearm and one count of armed burglary. She was denied bail on the armed burglary charge until June 21, when Judge Robert Fegers granted her request for bail and set it at $5,000, LkldNow reported.
Assistant State Attorney Roger Powell said neither Joseph Irby nor the state opposed her being granted bail.
Fegers ordered her to have no contact with her husband and to not possess any firearms.
Her attorney, Lawrence Shearer, said in a court motion that the action did not constitute theft because Joseph would have been able to retrieve his guns from the police, LkldNow reported. He added that Courtney turned the guns over and had no intention to “appropriate the property to her own use or the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property.”
Shearer also cited Courtney’s lack of criminal history and her “great many ties to the community, to be demonstrated at a hearing on this motion.” Shearer said in the filing that the officer calling Joseph Irby her “ex-husband,” was inaccurate because they are still married.
You can see the court filing below:
Florida State Rep. Anna Eskamani said in a news release that the case against Courtney Irby highlights the need for better laws protecting survivors of domestic violence.
“The case of Courtney Taylor Irby demonstrates once more the dangerous linkage between intimate partner violence and access to firearms. Court records show that Irby applied for a temporary injunction against her husband and the two were in the process of a divorce. She was actively protecting herself and her family from an estranged husband who had not turned over his firearms to law enforcement, and was arrested for it. We should be outraged by her arrest, and Irby should not be prosecuted by the local State Attorney’s office,” Eskamani said in a statement.
5. Courtney Irby Is the Founder of a Fashion Accessory Company
Irby is a native of Charleston, South Carolina who moved to Lakeland years earlier with Joseph and their two children, according to her bio at The Lakelander, where she was a contributor and style editor.
Courtney, who goes by her middle name Taylor, founded a small fashion accessory company called East of These.
“Her love for style, design, and philanthropy were leading contributing factors to begin her own fashion accessory company… that benefits orphan care ministries as well as provides custom products for individuals who are fundraising for philanthropic causes. She is passionate about telling stories through style as an artistic form of expression and finds great satisfaction in working within and for the Lakeland community,” the bio says.
A GoFundMe has been set up by Irby’s friends.