Cops Confront Judge, Her Family at Gunpoint

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

In Florida.

Broward Circuit Court Judge Ilona Holmes, her sister and her sister’s family says they were ordered at gun point by several Broward Sheriffs Deputies on Easter Sunday to come out of her sister’s home with their hands up.

It was no evening of peace for the Deerfield Beach family, who’d just finished dinner with friends and family, and sent extra Easter dinner to a needy family connected with their church. Then, at 8:20 p.m., police got a call about a possible burglary next door. But a bad address caused police to go to the wrong home.

“Do I feel safe?” asked Carmita Scarlett, the homeowner and sister of Judge Holmes. “No, absolutely not. No, no. So much confusion, so much anger. So much, almost like, resentment. You know, ‘you made the mistake and,’ I told them, ‘I’m the victim and you’re upset with me?’”

The call to police said there might be a burglar inside 235 Southwest 4th Street. But there is no 235. Only 236 and 230.

Arriving police outside spotted someone inside 230 – Neville Scarlett was in the kitchen cleaning up the Easter dinner plates – and thought he might be the burglar.

He was not…

“There’s a man with a gun and he’s going to shoot me!!” yelled Carmita. “I thought it was the robber!” Her sister, Judge Holmes, came running to the kitchen. The judge carries a legal firearm and immediately pulled it out and held it in her hand.

“She said ‘Who are you!? What are you doing?!’ He said ‘this is BSO.’ She said, ‘this is Circuit Court Judge Ilona Holmes!!’” Carmita said.

“‘I’m the owner of this home. I’m Carmita Scarlett. Why are you at my home?’ I kept saying that. They said ‘put your hands up and come outside,'” she said.

If this had been a drug raid and the police had actually broken into the home, we’d probably be looking at a body or two.

Digg it |  reddit |  del.icio.us |  Fark

39 Responses to “Cops Confront Judge, Her Family at Gunpoint”

  1. #1 |  SJE | 

    Welcome to the real world that we occupy, Judge. No doubt about it, a few wrong door raids on Justice Scalia for a taste of “new professionalism” would change things.

  2. #2 |  Michael Chaney | 

    1. Not just Florida – Broward County, Florida.
    2. The last 4 paragraphs are golden, where the judge tries to get an apology out of them and is lectured about them being afraid and having families and all that. Her family, of course, doesn’t matter to them.

  3. #3 |  Robert | 

    EVERY judge and prosecutor needs to experience this. They should also spend two weeks in a jail. Just to get the true resonance of the system they administrate.

  4. #4 |  Stephen | 

    Good news! Looks like we have another Libertarian judge.

  5. #5 |  Marty | 

    I’d love to see the Judge have her on his show- that’d be an interesting discussion.

  6. #6 |  Brandon | 

    I wonder how many warrants she has rubber-stamped?

  7. #7 |  Bob | 

    Something about this confuses me.

    The narrative reads as if the police were not immediately identifiable as Police. Were they not in uniform?

    So basically, they roll up to where the house they want should be, but there is no such address… But hey! There’s some civilian washing dishes across the street! Let’s go shove guns in their face!

    These clowns came this close to smoking a totally innocent civilian. Good work, assholes.

  8. #8 |  Mike | 

    The cop said he had his gun out and ready because he “feared for his life”. He’s got the language so down, it comes out without thinking, an automatic response. If things had gone bad, don’t worry, just repeat the mantra – “I feared for my life, I feared for my life.”

    Do we need to arm ourselves, for protection from the police?

  9. #9 |  Angie | 

    Brandon – I wonder how many she’ll keep rubber-stamping.

  10. #10 |  Professor Hale | 

    Do we need to arm ourselves, for protection from the police?

    Only if you fear for your life…

    … just kidding. That won’t save you. It seems most courts will not let you shoot police in self defense.

  11. #11 |  kant | 

    So is this the new legal justification for entering a home now? we got a call; when we arrived we saw someone in a house (different address but those are minor details); we entered;

    Another fine example of Radley’s idea: “Libertarianism happens to people”

  12. #12 |  Highway | 

    So basically, they roll up to where the house they want should be, but there is no such address… But hey! There’s some civilian washing dishes across the street! Let’s go shove guns in their face!

    Wow, that didn’t even occur to me that 235 would be a different side of the street than 230 and 236. That makes this even stupider.

    I do wonder if the judge realizes how close she was to being shot. We see so many stories on this site that have the exact same things happen, but one of the cops goes just a little farther and ‘feels threatened’ and pulls that trigger. And then people are dead, because one shot turns into multiple shots.

    There are so many procedural problems with all of this, from not wearing uniforms (Think the lady would have said “there’s a man with a gun” out there if the officer was wearing a conspicuous uniform?) to the presumption of violence (deploying for neighborhood reconnaissance with weapon drawn). I’m certainly not an expert on what police are taught. I’m just saying what I see that seem like obvious aspects of situation escalation. If you start out with gun drawn and assuming someone’s going to shoot you, that’s the first thing you are going to see.

  13. #13 |  Juice | 

    Oh my, what an Easter Sunday Carmita had. She and her husband and granddaughter have seen stuff like this on TV and never believed it. “There’s no way that cops would really – because I’ve never had a run in with the cops – really go in and do stuff like that,” she said.

    And now what does Carmita believe?

    “Oh God.” She buries her face in her hands.

    There’s the money quote.

  14. #14 |  Charlie O | 

    #10 Professor Hale,

    It’s possible. Google Sagon Penn, San Diego, California. He killed an SD cop, pled self defense and was acquitted.

  15. #15 |  DarkEFang | 

    “So is this the new legal justification for entering a home now? we got a call; when we arrived we saw someone in a house (different address but those are minor details); we entered;”

    It’s along the lines of the DWB probable cause. This time, the justification is DDWB: Doing the Dishes While Black.

  16. #16 |  Charlie O | 

    Interesting that the comments are pretty much 100 to 1 against law enforcement. I think folks may be seeing the light and are tired of this crap happening every day.

  17. #17 |  Bob | 

    Highway:

    Wow, that didn’t even occur to me that 235 would be a different side of the street than 230 and 236. That makes this even stupider.

    It’s the first thing I look for. And it seems that they’re on the wrong side of the street 50% of the time. That should be statistically impossible.

    What this tells me is that people that call the cops on possible burglars are idiots that get the address wrong virtually every time, and the cops know this. So, the cops just show up looking for people to jack, then make it sound like there was some procedural or intelligence based reason for their actions.

  18. #18 |  Z | 

    So I got a hunch when I read her name (and the name Neville) and the whole “well any house will do” attitude of the cops. So I did a google image search on Judge Holmes and found her pic at this site:

    http://jaablog.jaablaw.com/2009/02/05/ilona-to-the-rescue.aspx

    Hunch confirmed.

  19. #19 |  perlhaqr | 

    Frankly, I kinda wish the judge had plugged one of the cops. It would have been really interesting to watch them try to Frederick Ryan her.

  20. #20 |  Charlie Potts | 

    I predict that the coming internal police investigation will find that the officers did nothing wrong.

  21. #21 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    I like the “Snake swallowing its own tail” aspect of the story, ie
    out of control cops raiding judge–oops. That’s what happens when
    it becomes all about being the biggest baddest gang on the streets.

    How come they never show crap like this
    on “Keystone Cops of Broward County”?

  22. #22 |  random guy | 

    I get the feeling that the only reason everybody didn’t eat pavement at gunpoint was because she immediately identified herself as a judge. And had a gun. We all know how this would have turned out if the very real fear of somebody with pull hadn’t gripped the cop at that moment. Thats really all they do fear; someone higher on the food chain bringing the boot down on them like they do to us lowly citizens.

    I know its illegal to pretend to be an officer of the law, but what about a judge in a non-official capacity? That would be great if I could just say “I’m Judge so-and-so, what the hell are you doing officer?” and you know, actually stand a chance at getting the minimum respect that affords. Hell if anything it might buy you enough time for the cops to come down off the adrenaline high and significantly reduce the chance of getting a few new holes.

  23. #23 |  J.S. | 

    “The judge carries a legal firearm and immediately pulled it out and held it in her hand.”

    Hmm, a legal firearm eh? Be curious to see this judge’s political views on the 2nd ammendment and self-defense before this and after. Oh, who am I kidding, it doesn’t matter. She’s a judge, of course she should be allowed to defend herself with a firearm.

  24. #24 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “I know its illegal to pretend to be an officer of the law, but what about a judge in a non-official capacity? That would be great if I could just say “I’m Judge so-and-so, what the hell are you doing officer?”

    That’s what the actor Judge Reinhold used to do. Ever notice how he
    never gets arrested?

  25. #25 |  Marty | 

    #19- good point- I didn’t think of that scenario.

  26. #26 |  Gideon Darrow | 

    “…officers explained to her that they have families, too, and they want to make it home alive each night.”

    And of course, the best way to ensure that is to burst into random peoples’ homes unannounced with guns drawn. Because that’s never been known to cause people to panic and make their self-preservation instincts kick in.

  27. #27 |  marco73 | 

    You’ll notice in the story that things only cooled down once one of the higher ranking officers recognized the judge.
    I love how one cop is pointing a gun at a glass window at someone washing dishes at the kitchen sink. Honestly, how many burglars clean up after themselves?
    Previous commentators are correct: the internal investigation will drag on for months, and the cops will be cleared of violating any procedures.

  28. #28 |  Jess | 

    Two things: first, since the comments on the linked article are run through Facebook (not that I’m a fan of that), it hasn’t been overrun by bootlicking copfans, since those cretins don’t yet have a quiver of FB sockpuppets at their disposal. As a result, the comments reflect the sentiments of the average Floridian, and run 100-to-1 against triggerhappy police. Second, the only way this would ever happen to a judge is if she’s at someone else’s house. They know which houses they are never to investigate, and which houses they need to call first. Somehow this judge hadn’t gotten her sister on the list yet.

  29. #29 |  Michael Chaney | 

    More information that’s missing from the linked article. This is even worse for the sheriff’s office:

    The deputies eventually left but returned to the home for unexplained reasons and another heated exchange took place, the family said.

    “One of them told me the only thing he was concerned with was [their] safety,” Carmita Scarlett said, fighting back tears as she spoke to a reporter. “They made a mistake and I thought they were coming back to apologize – but they said they were upset with us.”

    http://www.sfltimes.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6947&Itemid=1

    So the idiots came back to argue again with the homeowners. Holy crap.

  30. #30 |  croaker | 

    I love it when our masters end up on the wrong end of the thugs they hire to beat up on us slaves.

  31. #31 |  EH | 

    #29 : I bet they returned to explain, maybe even apologize, and “hey don’t tell our boss, ok?” to which the judge might understandably not have been charitable towards (terrible grammar, I know). Perhaps the cops figured if they begged for mercy the judge could have been relied on to be on the proper side of the blue line, heck if it got heated then they maybe felt entitled.

    If my fantasy (-ies) matches reality, these cops are fucked, especially those who returned to the house. Everybody (save one, I see) knows odd-numbered and even-numbered addresses are on opposite sides of the street.

  32. #32 |  Sean L. | 

    “And it seems that they’re on the wrong side of the street 50% of the time. That should be statistically impossible.”

    Actually, 50% street-side accuracy is exactly what you would expect if they were simply picking houses at random.

  33. #33 |  Bob | 

    #32: sean L.

    “And it seems that they’re on the wrong side of the street 50% of the time. That should be statistically impossible.”

    Actually, 50% street-side accuracy is exactly what you would expect if they were simply picking houses at random.

    The only way to pick anything at ‘random’ is to have a blind selection mechanism. If the cops were picking the house they wanted despite the info of the call, it would be with biased intent, and they would likely just say the one they picked was the one from the call.

    But if they’re just showing up with no real plan, knowing full well that the caller is almost certainly wrong about the address, they’ll just go into search mode, looking for someone to jack. And THAT matches the data.

    Feel safer yet?

  34. #34 |  Buddy Hinton | 

    Police’s side of the story:

    http://www.sun-sentinel.com/media/acrobat/2011-04/61194478.pdf

  35. #35 |  How win the fight for freedom in America | Nobody's Business | 

    […] story first came out yesterday afternoon of yet another screwed-up police raid. If you read Radley Balko a lot, you won’t be surprised to learn that it happened in Broward County, Florida, although […]

  36. #36 |  CTD | 

    #34 – Did you notice how the street number was blacked out throughout the entire document? Covering their incompetence with a sharpie.

  37. #37 |  Buddy Hinton | 

    The redaction was unuual given that the names were not redacted. Not sure that part was sinister, though. What was sinister was: (i) ignoring that dishes were being washed in what police thought was the target house (this militates against PC and should not be ignored); (ii) not clarifying an apparently equivocal (at best) identification of the target house; (iii) not using flashers and sirens to clearly identify to the occupants of the target house; and (iv) deciding that the turning on and off of lights was indicative of burglary and/or substantial corroboration of the neighbor’s misunderstood story.

    If police want to make these sorts of “little mistakes,” then they shouldn’t be pulling people out at gunpoint and then going in the house themselves. On the other hand, if police want to prone people out at gunpoint, then they need to be significantly more careful in their investigation prior to the giving of orders and the pointing of guns. It is their choice, but what happened here is unacceptable.

  38. #38 |  The Team | 

    We learned about this WTF? story via (SJ) Simple Justice. This one is for the history books due not being able to locate any similar event. It’s probably happened but got the – ‘this never happened’ nod from all involved to avoid reporters and reports.

    When you get time check out (IE) Injustice Everywhere and it won’t take long for you to realize that there is an epidemic of so-called wrong-door raids. Despite quite a few being captured on film and/or being witnessed by passerbys, the Police IAs are shown slapping hands. Those that go to trial mostly end up in the hands of goofball Juries and the Judges side with…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Question – Anyone happen to know if the police checked out the neighbors property or houses for the “possible burglar next door”?

  39. #39 |  I hate to turn up out of the blue, uninvited | Pink Bunny Ears | 

    […] organizations and have been doing some pretty outragous things. Like ordering a judge to “come out with your hands up“.  Or shooting the wrong guy.  Recently I’ve seen several reports of police doing a […]

Leave a Reply