We all know firearms can be dangerous in the wrong hands. It is why there are certain and very specific laws about them in every single state in our nation – and also why gun safety is so crucial.
Toy guns, on the other hand, not so much.
There is no law against owning them or even brandishing them in public, although it is generally frowned upon. And yet, when a woman in NYC was found with 22 of them in her home, she was arrested, jailed, and charged with a menagerie of felonies.
Meet Elizaveta Zlatkis. She is a 31-year-old wife and mother of two who lives in New York City.
Last year, her home in Queens was raided last December by police at 6 am after receiving a tip that illegal firearms were in the home.
What police found were indeed firearms, but not a single was either real or in working order.
According to later police reports and other sources, only one of the 22 “weapons” could even be designated as a “real” gun. The other 21 were either replicas, airsoft guns, toys, or starter pistols. And the one that could be considered real was missing the handgrip, trigger, and basically, all working internal parts that would make the gun operable on any level.
And yet, Zlatkis was charged with four counts of criminal possession of a weapon, eight counts of violating local law, and one count of acting “injuriously” to a child under 17.
Now, one could argue that, at the time, police were not aware that the guns were not real. After all, most had been painted to look very real indeed. According to Zlatkis, she and her husband were involved in the making of music videos and often used the guns as props – hence the need to look realistic.
However, you would also think that a trained police officer, and one who should be very familiar with weapons, would be able to identify a fake when he or she saw it. I mean, the weight alone of several should have been a clue.
And yet, the fact that they were fake guns wasn’t released until months later.
Detective Denise Moroney, a spokeswoman for the NYPD, told the Queens Daily Eagle, “Firearms were recovered on Friday, December 27, 2019, in regard to a search warrant and deemed inoperable at a later date.”
Which makes the photo of the involved officers posing around a table filled with the “toy” guns, as if it were a trophy, rather comical.
Thankfully, not everyone believes Zlatkis is dangerous.
Zlatkis’s attorney and former Queens DA candidate, Joe Murray, says he has promised to “clear her name. She’s not a gangster.” And the initial judge must have believed similarly, as he released her on her own recognizance after spending only one night in jail.
If she was really dangerous and a threat to others, wouldn’t the judge have posted a large bail or kept her locked up for much longer?
But that apparently means little to District Attorney Melinda Katz, who a year later still has the charges against Zlatkis listed as “pending,” and as such refuses to comment on the case. Spokeswoman Kim Livingston told the Patch recently, “We do not comment on pending cases.”
Although, honestly, I can see why Katz would want to steer clear of making any comments. After all, at this point, everyone knows these are trumped-up charges just to make an example of Zlatkis.
However, fake or not, Zlatkis is still feeling the consequences of such charges. Due to the still pending charges and the near-constant media attention her name garners life has taken a downward turn.
She stated, “I look completely crazy. It’s humiliating.” And that humiliation has cost her a few jobs. Recently she had to turn down a job offer after she learned that a detailed background check would be performed.
She can only hope that the case will soon be dropped so her life can return to some semblance of order, the pandemic notwithstanding. And with any luck, DA Katz and her office will be held in check for rendering Zlatkis as a criminal without probable cause.