Tracy Ingle: Another Drug War Outrage

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

About a month ago I got a call from a reporter for the Arkansas Times inquiring about my research into paramilitary drug raids. He’d been reporting on a raid in North Little Rock involving a 40-year-old man named Tracy Ingle. When he told me the story over the phone, I was floored, even given all the abuses and mistakes I’ve reported and read about over the last few years. What makes the case especially egregious is not that the police may have gotten the wrong home, that they shot a man, or that they were covering it up or going silent. We’ve seen all that before. What’s mind-blowing about this one is that they’ve continued abusing the poorTracy Ingle's door. guy, even after it should have been clear for some time now that they made a mistake.

From the outset, it should be noted that Tracy Ingle has had some trouble with the law in the past, though nothing violent, and nothing drug-related. He has had a couple of DWI’s, and a citation for failing to appear in court. He apparently also agreed to do some repair work on a friend’s car that later turned out to be stolen.

That said, what’s happened to him over the last few months is pretty outrageous.

Here’s the Arkansas Times piece, which I’d encourage you to read in full. And here’s a follow-up interview with North Little Rock Police Chief Danny Bradley about SWAT tactics.

I’ve since spoken again to the reporter and to Tracy Ingle’s sister, Tiffney Forrester, who herself is a former sheriff’s deputy. I’ve also had a chance to review the warrants and return sheets (pdf).

The North Little Rock Police Department wouldn’t discuss the case with me.

Here’s a quick rundown:

• On January 7, 2008 a paramilitary police unit in North Little Rock, Arkansas conducted a drug raid on Tracy Ingle’s home. Ingle says he had fallen asleep for several hours, and was asleep when the raid happened. He awoke when the police took a battering ram to his door. Another team of officers approached form the outside of the house, and shattered the window to his bedroom.

• When he awoke, Ingle says he thought his home was being invaded by armed robbers. He reached for a broken gun, a pretty clear indication that he had no intention of killing anyone, but rather was trying to scare away the intruders. When he grabbed the gun, an officer inside the house fired his weapon. The bullet hit Ingle just above the knee, shattered his thigh bone, and nearly severed his lower leg. When the outside officers heard the shot, they opened up on Ingle, hitting him four more times. According to Ingle’s sister, one bullet still rests just above Ingle’s heart, and can’t be removed.

• Ingle was taken to the hospital, and spent a week-and-a-half in intensive care. He was then removed from intensive care—still in his hospital pajamas—and taken to the North Little Rock police department, where he was questioned for five hours. He was not told he was suspected of a crime, and his family wasn’t allowed to speak with him. After the interrogation, he was arrested and transferred to the county jail.

• Ingle spent the next four days in jail. He says he was never given his pain medication or his antibiotics. Though hospital nurses told him to change his bandages and clean his wounds every 4-6 hours, Ingle told the Arkansas Times that jail officials changed them only twice in four days. Ingle’s wounds became infected during the time he was in jail.

• Police found no illegal drugs in Ingle’s home. They did find a scale, which Ingle’s sister tells me she was an extra she was given when she worked at a medical testing facility for use in her jewelry-making hobby. They also found a bunch of small plastic bags. Again, Ingle’s sister says these were part of her business. "I was leaving the country for a while, and I stored a lot of my stuff at his house," she told me. "The scales and bags were mine, and are both common things to have for anyone who makes jewelry." Police also found the broken gun and a broken police scanner.

• From those items, the police charged Ingle with running a drug enterprise. They also charged him with assault, for pointing his broken gun at the police officers who had just barged into his home. The judge set Ingle’s bail at $250,000, explaining that it had to be set high because Ingle had engaged in a shootout with police—never mind that Ingle didn’t fire a shot. Ingle was able to sell his car to pay a bail bondsman. But with no car, his injuries render him basically immobile.  He had to walk two miles on crutches and an infected leg to his hearing last week.

• The police obtained a no-knock warrant for Ingle’s home about three weeks prior to the raid. The warrant itself (pdf) reads like boilerplate, with no specific references to Ingle (other than his address), or why he specifically posed a risk to police safety, or of disposing of drugs before coming to answer the door. It mentions no controlled buys. It doesn’t even mention an informant. In fact, someone scratched out "crack cocaine" and hand-wrote in "methamphetamine" on the type-written warrant, suggesting a cut, plug, and paste job. The Supreme Court has ruled that police must show case-specific evidence of exigent circumstances in order to be issued a no-knock warrant. The mere fact that it’s a drug case isn’t enough. The warrant for Ingle’s home contains no such specific information.

Many times, information specific to the investigation is contained in the affidavit the investigating officer files for the search warrant, not in the warrant itself. Forrester says she has called the North Little Rock Police Department more than 20 times in an effort to obtain a copy of the affidavits. She says they at first refused to return her phone calls. When she was finally able to speak with a lieutenant, he became angry when she told she had contacted the media. She then says he told her to "dream on" when she asked for copies of the affidavits.

• According to Forrester, Ingle’s neighbor had a direct line of sight into the bedroom, and saw the entire raid. His account initially matched Ingle’s. But that changed. "We have a witness, a next door neighbor that saw the entire incident," Forrester told me. "He came forward on his own to give a statement to the family. Police never questioned him until a month or so after the shooting, at my insistence. They kept this neighbor in his home, and questioned him for at least four hours, refusing to let the man’s wife come home, of for other people to see him. When the police finished intimidating the man, they told him specifically that ‘he did not see what he thought he saw.’ The neighbor is now afraid to talk to the media." I have not yet been able to speak with the neighbor.

• Ingle’s family was able to put up $1,000 to retain an attorney, but can’t afford the extra $6,000 the attorney has asked to represent Ingle. Ingle is therefore still looking for representation. He has no health insurance, and no money to pay for medication, or to continue treatment of his injuries.

• Last week, after the Arkansas Times article appeared, the judge in the case issued a gag order, preventing Ingle and any future attorney he may have from talking to the media about what happened to him. This is puzzling. Before today there had been exactly two articles about this case—not exactly a media circus. It’s hard to understand why a gag order was necessary. It’s only real purpose is to prevent more people from learning about what’s increasingly looking like a railroading. And it’s only effect is to lend more support to the possibility that it is, in fact, a cover-up and railroading.

As noted, the police aren’t talking. And the prosecutor is now bound by the gag order. Perhaps there’s some piece of information damning to Ingle I’m not yet aware of—though it’s hard to imagine what that might be.

Barring that, what’s happening to Tracy Ingle is pretty outrageous.

UPDATE: The Arkansas Times reports that the gag order in Ingle’s case was withdrawn late yesterday. I don’t know that this will make the police or prosecutors any more likely to talk about the case, but if I have time this afternoon, I’ll try again to give them a call.

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57 Responses to “Tracy Ingle: Another Drug War Outrage”

  1. #1 |  Nick | 

    It sounds like a very corrupt court, IMHO. I would suggest appealing into a federal court. Under the situation that you feel that the local courts and or jury would have prejudice against the case, you have the right to take the case to federal court to be heard by a impartial Jury and Judge.

  2. #2 |  qwerty | 

    This is the reason I want to kill someone. This is the reason I want to kill myself. If I was Tracy I would be long gone to my own hands; That gun would have been repaired and used as my own suicide weapon. HOW IS THIS GOING ON. HOW. I simply CANNOT FUCKING BELIEVE IT. If there were capital letters squared I would be using them. Let me tell you if I was a half decent lawyer living near there I would be representing you for free. If I had money, more than the $6k you need would already be in that paypal account. I am being destroyed mentally right now reading about how this is being looked at by the criminals who broke into his house as well as the criminal judges. Gag order? The ONLY reason for that is to cover up what they are doing wrong. I am one strong-at-mind person and if Tracy gets any word of these comments, or any other family of his, let me tell you, I am almost in tears right now. Tears of FUCKING HAWEUFSZIDFSD JHGRI@ WAF.

    I was arrested recently for possession of cannabis. Luckily it will be dropped on successful completion of some community hours since I am a young offender in Canada but this.. this is.. wow. I just have nothing else to say. I’m sorry that gun didn’t work, if it did I would be content for the rest of my life to sit in jail knowing that at least one of those fucking criminals who broke into my house and tried to shoot me and cover this up is DEAD.

    …………….

  3. #3 |  Cow Girl Thoughts | 

    Out here on the wind swept plains, we have been having problems with METH. To many losers, with nothing else to do, and to stupid to try to actually working hard for a living out here, resort to deadly illegal drug trades and sales. Many kids have died. We’re outraged as well. WE have taken local and regional actions. It is that serious of a threat to our kids. We are trying to shut it down out here. The progress has been slow.
    All illegal drugs trade, and activity since the 60’s has escalated ten fold. Too many malcontents with little will to work for a living, then cop out and become dregs of the society with their drug addictions and crimes. I’d like to see them all rounded up and disposed of. As in executed! No mercy!
    The cops/police have had enough of the trouble makers shooting people over drugs and money, and killing cops who stop suspicious vehicles. Sometimes, someone is going to get caught up in the insanity of this illegal drug activity, and they will be innocent. SHIT HAPPENS as the say. Mistakes are made. Law Enforcement is no exception. But, when they do make a huge blunder, and attack an innocent citizen, and will not apologize, and or try to cover the ass with lies, then they become part of the drug problem themselves.
    Cops careers depend upon performance reports and their arrest records, law enforcement quota’s, test scores. They will do anything to keep their BADGE and to advance. Rouge cops exist, and they are dangerous, because they don’t care what the law says. To them, it is a game. It is us against them, and they are determined to win, at any cost.

  4. #4 |  Quiet Desperation | 

    Where is the ACLU? Isn’t this sort of case right up their alley?

  5. #5 |  The Big Raven | 

    You americants are getting just what YOU suckers bought into THE FEAR , The fear of your fellow humans pretend terrorism to justify the police state so the corporations can keep selling you fear based products so you can look better with whiter skin and a big house and kraft dinner and oscer myer weiners and of course your big assed suv.
    911 inside job, iraq phoney war, oh yeah watch out for the Mexicans. or wasting BILLIONS on a phoney drug war when your own goverment cia brings the stuff in by the TONs.
    yup your screwed! can you please revolt and join humanity? PLEASE! you police (and mine ) are out of control with FEAR tazering old folks shooting inocents enough is enough!

  6. #6 |  Ed | 

    #53 Cow Girl Thoughts: “Too many malcontents with little will to work for a living, then cop out and become dregs of the society with their drug addictions and crimes. I’d like to see them all rounded up and disposed of. As in executed! No mercy!”

    Too many “citizens” supporting, through “taxes” and voting, the murdererous oppressers that call themselves “government”. I’d like to see them all rounded up and disposed of. As in executed! No mercy!

  7. #7 |  Bruce Liddel | 

    There is still one thing you can do about such abuse, that is in fact your civic duty to do. We have elections, where the media would have you believe that your only choice in government is Democrat or Republican. The media is blatantly dishonest about this. If you are unhappy with the authoritarian corrupt inept unresponsive and largely unaccountable government that Democrats and Republicans have amassed at your expense, under the guise of protecting you, then vote for Libertarian party candidates whenever possible, and give other third-party candidates a fair consideration.