Now These Are Questionable Police Tactics

Last week, I made fun of a guy who had been shot and killed by the police when they came to his property to serve a few warrants on him (for gun related crimes) and found themselves staring at his two pistols. More ridiculous than this wanna-be cowboy, in the news and on local blogs, most of the comments questioned the actions of  . . . the police. There are plenty of cases where the cops are to blame for shootings, that was not one of them.

This is.

A 31-year-old man was sentenced to five years in prison Monday shortly after pleading guilty to shooting two narcotics detectives when they tried to execute a “no-knock’’ search warrant at his north Baton Rouge home in 2008.

How, you ask? Well, consider . . .

One, Louisiana has a castle doctrine. That means you have the right to use deadly force to defend yourself from armed home invaders. If someone breaks into your house in the middle of the night, you have the legal right to use a gun to protect yourself.

Two, this was a “no-knock” warrant. Here’s what the cops say happened:

they knocked on the door with a battering ram, and used emergency lights from two patrol vehicles to illuminate the house.

That means no one identified themselves prior to the entry. No one tried to enter peacefully. The point of a no knock warrant is surprise.

Third, in light of those first two points, imagine you are the homeowner, either asleep or relaxing in front of the television. Next thing you know, super bright lights are blinding you, and your door is smashed open by a group of darkly dressed and heavily armed men who are now rushing into your home. This is also in a high crime neighborhood. What’s your initial reaction?

This guy’s was to call 911 and then try to defend himself. Can you fault him for that? I can’t. Yes, the cops say they yelled “Sheriff’s Office” and had “Sheriff” on their shirts. Witnesses dispute that. Even if they did, in the middle of the night, with all the blinding lights and the noise of the break-in (all of which is designed to confuse people in the house), I’m sure no one noticed. The only obvious fact was that several heavily armed men were breaking into the home.

Finally, note the rationale for this military-style raid. Was this guy a serial killer with hostages? A heavily armed organized crime boss? A terrorist with a bomb strapped to him? Oh no:

The affidavit of probable cause says detectives obtained the no-knock search warrant after a confidential informant bought suspected crack cocaine from Henry.

So based on the word of a snitch that this guy had what might be some crack, the cops endanger their own lives and those of whoever is in the house. That’s an insanely disproportional use of force. As this story illustrates, no-knock warrants are highly dangerous for the cops. Hence, they ought to be used only when absolutely necessary. Suspicions of low level drug dealing shouldn’t cut it.

Worse, nothing in the paper says anything about the dude being arrested for any drugs. His only crime was defending himself from what he thought were armed thugs. He made a reasonable mistake, one it appears the cops unnecessarily caused. Now two of them have serious injuries and this guy is going to prison. Everyone lost in this situation.

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4 Comments on “Now These Are Questionable Police Tactics”

  1. KC Says:

    why do the search at night in the first place?

  2. wheeler Says:

    surprise, i guess.

  3. Jim Says:

    Wheeler, I think you are wrong about the Morneau shooting. The coroner ruled that he was shot in the back. Today he changed his mind and said that he was shot in the chest.
    John Morneau would not have pulled a gun on a law enforcement officer. He was eccentric to some extent, but was a very decent person.

  4. wheeler Says:

    i’m only going on what the initial story said.

    the coroner thing is new, and does sound very suspicious.

    as for the “he would never pull a gun,” all i can say is that as a former defense attorney, if i had a dime for every time i heard that defense, i’d be rich.

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