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