Friday, August 8, 2008

Police Brutality (and why No-Knock Warrants are Crap)

Go ahead and read this story. If this doesn't make you angry, perhaps you should check yourself for a pulse and look for the nearest AED.

For those of you too lazy, or simply disinclined, to read the article, let me summarize it here:
A group of drug dealers had a deal going where they would post packages of drugs to legitimate addresses. As soon as the packages were delivered, they would swoop in and pick them up from the doorstep. Brilliant, right?

Well, a drug dog at one of the delivery warehouses alerted to a package, headed to a home in Maryland. The police obtain a warrant, then run in, not having identified themselves, arrest everyone, and shoot the families 2 pet Labrador retrievers in front of them. Then find out they were innocent.

Now, I've met a few Labs in my time, and let me tell you, the only thing they are a particular threat to are shoes and the occasional tennis ball.

But you think that's bad? The police shot one of the dogs while it was running away.

In case your Civics are a little rusty, here is the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Now, I have to ask you, a reasonable person, does this seem like an unreasonable search?

I completely agree that knowledge that a package containing drugs being delivered to their house would be excellent grounds for a warranted search. Consider this, however: Was a reasonable search conducted?

Does the level of this search meet the idea of reasonable? This home invasion was conducted by plain-clothes police, wearing ski-masks, who did not stop to identify themselves upon entry.

This was one legally owned 12 gage away from a tragedy! If your door was suddenly smashed in by masked invaders with guns, what would you assume? That Officer O'Leary, whose kid plays soccer with your kid, had come to ask you some questions?

Or would you have reached under the bed, grabbed your gun, and tried to defend yourself and your wife from these people threatening your lives in the sanctity of your home?!

Are you sure you could tell they were police? You have only seconds, and you are startled.

The best part is, it appears that the police may not have actually had a no-knock warrant.

You may think I am taking things too far, but its already happened. Do any of you recall what happened to Kathryn Johnston, formerly of Atlanta, GA? I say formerly, because in November of 2006, police executed a no-knock warrant on her home. After prying the burglar bars off her door and smashing their way inside, she fired a shot into the ceiling to try to scare off the invaders. The police responded with a fusilade of 39 shots, six of which hit her--killing her instantly.

And she isn't the only one.

I cannot express how angy reading this article has made me. I feel this family's civil rights have been violated, their name should be cleared, restitution made for their pets, and criminal charges filed against the officer(s) who killed the dogs.

Then, they, the officer in charge of the raid, and the Sherrif should be fired immediately and a Federal investigation conducted into all the "law enforcement" agencies of Prince George County (who are apparently prone to killing innocent dogs, anyhow--see last page of linked article).

I will never live, or visit there--and I am ashamed and agahst that this goes on anywhere in America.

Because police can already enter a residence without a warrant to save lives or stop crime they know for a fact is already in progress, I firmly believe that no-knock warrants violate the reasonableness clause of the Fourth Amendment, and put at risk both officers of the law, and citizens, unneccesarily.

That's some fine police work, Lou.

By the way, contact info for the Prince George County, Maryland Sherrif's office is as follows:

Michael Jackson, Sheriff

Prince George's County
Office Of The Sheriff
1601 McCormick Drive
Largo, MD 20774

Phone: (301) 883-7000


Brian said...

I can understand the theory behind a no knock warrant. When you have a crack dealing house with gang bangers in it that are going to resist or put up a fight it might save lives on both sides. BUT crap like this makes my blood boil. I hope the cops, city and anybody else involved gets charged, sued, and tarred and feathered.

Old Man said...

I am not one prone to litigations against law enforcement. This is one obvious instance the honorable mayor and his family, after the initial settlement, should buy his own island in the Caribbean and retire away from the insanity that he endured. After retirement he should then sue for psychological damage, lack of consortium, mental anguish, illegal trespass, violation of Constitutional Rights (, then sell the damn town that he, by then, owned to some burned out 1960's hippies for $10! I cannot imagine any legal justification for what happened. It is frightening that these Gestapo tactics are becoming the norm and not an aberration.

This what I sent to th Nazi sheriff's department: "What were you people doing? Seems like a nazi invasion into a private home. In Minnesota we have something called the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The actions scares me. Do I have a shotgun by my bedside? A permit to carry a handgun is permissible in MN - do I have one?. If I had tried to protect myself from what seemed to be a home invasion I, and possibly others, would have died. Either way, I would have been the target! Dead over a scam by druggies. Get your shit together before some innocent family is killed instead of their dogs!"