It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,[a] 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.
Earlier this month, a three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued an appalling decision in a lawsuit stemming from a fatal 2005 drug raid in Maryland. In fact, the opinion encapsulates everything that’s wrong with sending militarized police barreling into homes to serve search warrants on people suspected of nonviolent, consensual crimes.
Here’s what happened:
In May 2005, police in Cambridge, Md., received an anonymous tip that there was drug activity going on in the duplex at 408 High St. (Yes, that’s the real name of the street.) They did a trash pull and found what they claimed to be two plastic bags, one from each apartment, that contained marijuana residue. That’s it. That’s the probable cause for what happened next.
At 4:30 a.m. on May 6, SWAT teams from the Cambridge Police Department conducted simultaneous raids on the two apartments. According to the police, during the raid on the upstairs apartment, resident Andrew Cornish emerged from his bedroom carrying a knife, which was still in its sheath. The police say Cornish then confronted them, at which point one of the officers shot Cornish in the face and forehead. Cornish died. According to the court, the police found “a small amount of marijuana” in the apartment. By the officers’ testimony, the raid took less than a minute.
But it’s worth considering the absurdity of that position. In the 20 or so years leading up to the American Revolution, the British crown began stationing troops in the streets of Boston to enforce England’s tax and import laws. The British troops and enforcement officers were armed with writs of assistance, or general warrants that gave them broad powers to search colonists’ homes. They didn’t need to establish probable cause, or even specificity as to a person or residence. The abuse that came with those warrants made Boston a hub of revolutionary fervor, and memories of that abuse are why the Founders created a Fourth Amendment after the war.
But while today’s search warrants require both specificity and some evidence of wrongdoing, in many ways the colonists had more protections than we do today. For example, the British soldiers could serve warrants only during the day. And they were always required to knock, announce themselves, announce their purpose and give the resident time and opportunity to come to the door to let them in peacefully. This was all in observance of the Castle Doctrine, or the idea that the home should be a place of peace and sanctuary and that it should be violated only in the most extreme circumstances. Even then, the Castle Doctrine had a rich history in English common law, a tradition that carried over in the United States until the Supreme Court began chipping away at it in drug cases, beginning in about the 1960s.
Which brings us back to the Maryland raid that ended Andrew Cornish’s life. In that raid, the police actually violated the already watered-down knock-and-announce requirement. In fact, they were caught lying about whether they knocked and announced before entering. They initially claimed that they pounded on the door and loudly announced themselves two times before taking a battering ram to the door. But the residents of the downstairs apartment, which was raided at the same time, testified that they never heard a knock or an announcement. Moreover, the outer door to Cornish’s apartment showed no signs of having been smashed open with a ram. Both the trial court and the appeals court that ruled against Cornish’s father acknowledge that the police violated the knock-and-announce rule and that they lied about doing so.
That still wasn’t enough for Cornish’s father to win damages. That’s because the majority found that even though the police violated Cornish’s constitutional rights by failing to give him the opportunity to come to the door and let them in peacefully — as required by centuries of common law — Cornish’s death wasn’t the fault of the police officer who shot him. Instead, the majority ruled that Cornish is responsible for his own death, because according to police, he should have known that they were the police when he attacked them with a sheathed knife, and his act of knowingly attacking the police after they had entered his home supersedes their failure to knock and announce.
But what’s especially troubling about this ruling is that the majority not only gives enormous deference to police and shows little to no consideration for Cornish, but it also gives deference to the police even while acknowledging that the police have already lied about both knocking and announcing and the method by which they entered Cornish’s apartment. They simply assume that everything in the police narrative after those lies is accurate. For example, it defers to the police account that the room in which Cornish confronted the officers was “illuminated” (which leads it to conclude that he should have seen the relatively small police insignia on their uniforms). But Harris points out that there’s good reason to think the room wasn’t all that illuminated. Indeed, it’s likely that the jury didn’t think so.
Moreover, if Scalia was right in Hudson — if lawsuits can serve as a deterrent to knock-and-announce violations — it’s hard to think of a better case to support his point than this one. Even here, the amount of the award is relatively small, and it would have been paid by the taxpayers of Cambridge, not the individual officers. Which is to say that even with this pretty ideal case, the deterrent effect would have been slight. And yet even here, a federal appeals court has refused to impose any sort of sanction against the officers, even after acknowledging that the officers did indeed commit a Fourth Amendment violation, and even after acknowledging that they subsequently lied about it. And the court refused to impose a sanction because, according to the court, no reasonable person could possibly have been confused about the identity of the armed intruders, even though said intruders violated the requirement that exists for the very purpose of assuring there is no such confusion.
Cornish’s death wasn’t the fault of the police officer who shot him. Instead, the majority ruled that Cornish is responsible for his own death, because according to police, he should have known that they were the police when he attacked them with a sheathed knife, and his act of knowingly attacking the police after they had entered his home supersedes their failure to knock and announce.
It is an utterly absurd ruling. Police don’t raid homes at 4:30 a.m, with battering rams in order to let suspects know that they’re the police. They raid homes at 4:30 a.m. with battering rams for the very purpose of disorienting and confusing suspects so that they can take them by surprise. You can’t simultaneously argue that confusing and disorienting a suspect is necessary to protect the safety of police officers, and that the same suspect you’re trying to confuse and disorient should be able to wake from a sleep, process what’s going on around him, immediately discern that the armed men who have just broken into his home are police serving a warrant and not criminals there to do him harm, and that should he make an error in judgment, he alone is responsible for the consequences — whether it’s the end of his own life, or his killing, or the injuring of one of the police officers.
originally posted by: FalcoFan
a reply to: Krazysh0t
Drugs aren't the main reason these animals are in gangs-they know that it is easier to rape,rob,and murder in large groups.
2 good sweeps in my city would work wonders.
The trick is to make them fear joining gangs-by having the military/cops kill them in large numbers.
Are they not terrorists?