State rep says woman ‘treated like criminal’ after taking husband’s guns

Polk County

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – State Rep. Anna Eskamani represents people in Orange County. But, she’s taken on a new mission and it involves a woman from Polk County.

On Friday, she came to the 8 On Your Side studios with a bold message to police and prosecutors.

“I think that Ms. Irby was absolutely treated like a criminal in the sense that she was incarcerated,” Eskamani said.

Courtney Taylor Irby went to jail a week ago, after Lakeland Police Department officers said she broke into her husband’s apartment and took his guns.

At the time, Joseph Irby was in jail for aggravated assault against his wife, records show.

But, a Lakeland officer told Irby she committed a crime and would also head to jail.

“I think that law enforcement has to use discretion, and of course, based on how the law is crafted,” Eskamani said.

Had the officer known all the pieces to the case, like a plea Irby made to a judge, Eskamani doesn’t think the outcome would’ve been the same.

“Yesterday he was on the phone screaming and cursing at me. And my children are in the car with him, and they’re screaming and crying. He is mentally unstable. He is armed, and I am fearful. I am so fearful,” Irby said in the court recording.

Eskamani sent a two-page letter to Polk County State Attorney Brian Haas requesting that he avoid prosecution. It’s her hope that he makes the right decision.

“To ensure that we don’t create a culture of where domestic violence survivors are feared to ask for help,” Eskamani said.


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