Another Isolated Incident

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Menlo Park, California:

When Menlo Park police officers busted into an East Palo Alto home and pointed a firearm at a two-year old girl in November, they had the wrong house, say the two homeowners, who are filing a $500,000 claim against both cities.

The cops did have a search warrant for a home on Garden Street on Nov. 2, 2010, but it wasn’t for the home of Carlos Nava and Melissa Verduzco, whose door cops broke down at 6:45 a.m. that day, reported the Palo Alto Daily News.

The East Palo Alto City Council rejected the claim on an unanimous vote. The Menlo Park City Council has yet to consider the case.

According to the claims, “A sergeant Cowans slammed (Nava’s) face to the ground and kneed him in the back of the head. Later, this officer punched (Nava) about the body,” the newspaper reported.

Other officers entered Verduzco’s room and “pointed laser-sighted firearms” at Verduzco and her 2-year-old daughter, the claims state.

It’s unclear which house cops intended to hit and what they were searching for. Menlo Park cops did not comment on the story, according to the newspaper.

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36 Responses to “Another Isolated Incident”

  1. #1 |  derfel cadarn | 

    More professionalism from Americas favorite terrorist group. I understand that it is very difficult for these mouth breathers of limited intellectual capacity to actually check the address before breaking down the door and abusing innocent people. These BOZOs and the city council should ALL be strung up by their BALLS or lips as the case may be. There is no longer any room in America for behavior like this. FREEDOM- I WON`T

  2. #2 |  Aresen | 

    If they didn’t shoot the dog, they’re not a real SWAT team

  3. #3 |  Aresen | 

    @ derfel cadarn

    Nice Eric Frank Russell reference.

  4. #4 |  Greg | 

    East Palo is, in comparison to it’s neighbors, kind of “rough” neighborhood. (“Jeezus Edith, der is dem poor dark types livin’ in der…)

    Therefore this kind of paramilitary nonsense is par for the course.

  5. #5 |  SJE | 

    I am glad that at least the opinion of the East Palo Alto City Council refusing to pay is not the end of the matter. It’s really up to the Courts to decide, and I hope they also get hit with the attorney costs.

  6. #6 |  Cyto | 

    The East Palo Alto City Council rejected the claim on an unanimous vote.

    I like that. For some reason it reminds me of Kevin Pollak in “A Few Good Men”: “”I strenuously object?” Is that how it works? Hm? “Objection.” “Overruled.” “Oh, no, no, no. No, I STRENUOUSLY object.”

    Although I don’t know who’s Demi Moore in this version. Is it the Nava/Verduzco family saying “I strenuously object to being slammed to the ground and beaten in my own home for no reason”, or is it the City Council saying “I strenuously object to having to pay for the misdeeds of my minions”?

    Hmmm… Since the police are probably fully protected in an “innocent mistake” situation, I’m going to go with the Nava/Verduzco family.

  7. #7 |  Chris Mallory | 

    Did the Menlo Park thugs have the help of the E.P.A. thugs? If not, then the E.P.A. city council was right in rejecting the claim. It is a Menlo Park issue.

  8. #8 |  Andrew S. | 

    Between this story, the Philadelphia DA story, and a few stories on H&R, I’ve hit about 500% of my RDA for outrage.

    Plus my balls hurt. Ow.

  9. #9 |  Dave Krueger | 

    You know, if a civilization is going to grant that kind of power to anyone, you’d think they would pick someone with a little more intellectual horsepower than cops.

  10. #10 |  Mannie | 

    #7 | Chris Mallory | May 19th, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Did the Menlo Park thugs have the help of the E.P.A. thugs? If not, then the E.P.A. city council was right in rejecting the claim. It is a Menlo Park issue.

    If they accepted the claim, the insurance may not have paid off. In addition, they may be able to beat it in court. There is no honor nor humanitarianism in government. None.

  11. #11 |  Fred Mangels | 

    I am glad that at least the opinion of the East Palo Alto City Council refusing to pay is not the end of the matter.

    I read somewhere it is routine for city councils to reject claims for legal reasons. They sort it all out later.

  12. #12 |  Andrew Roth | 

    My guess is that if cops did that in Palo Alto, heads would roll. You just don’t cross San Francisquito Creek with an attitude like that.

  13. #13 |  overgoverned | 

    “STOP RESISTING! STOP RESISTING!”

    “I’m two.”

    “Well, STOP RESISTING!”

  14. #14 |  Dr Duck | 

    #6 –

    >> Although I don’t know who’s Demi Moore in this version.

    If you figure it out, don’t say it. I can’t handle the truth.

  15. #15 |  Marty | 

    no mention of what the warrant was for…

    if any of us broke in a door and pointed our laser sights at a 2 year old, it’d be front page news on every newspaper in the country and we’d be looking at prison time. these people are gonna have to fight tooth and nail for an apology.

    I hope they cash in and the govt has to file bankruptcy and lay all those fuckers off.

  16. #16 |  Andre | 

    You know, my blood pressure was so much better the last two weeks with the guest bloggers. It’s good to have you back, Radley.

    Also, if you want to pass theagitator.com off to Dave once you make the leap to The Post, that would be a pretty good use of the domain name.

  17. #17 |  johnl | 

    Why were EPAPD in Menlo Park? Were they lost or does Menlo Park contract to them like Yorba Linda and Brea?

  18. #18 |  SJE | 

    “no mention of what the warrant was for…”

    Well, at least they got a warrant. These days you just have to listen for the toilet flushing and you’ve got the right to enter.

  19. #19 |  Aresen | 

    Dave Krueger | May 19th, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    You know, if a civilization is going to grant that kind of power to anyone, you’d think they would pick someone with a little more intellectual horsepower than cops.

    Dave, my horse is offended by that comparison.

  20. #20 |  Greg | 

    Why were EPAPD in Menlo Park?

    Other way ’round. Menlo Park was in EPA. EPA does have it’s own popo dept, so cross-jurisdiction without being in pursuit is a bit irregular.

    Oh, EPAPD has it’s own clusterfx in process, so maybe they were trying to lay low or something… http://www.topix.com/forum/source/palo-alto-daily-news/T0T492JKVPUNBT6F2

  21. #21 |  Joe | 

    I am not surprised the council denied a $500k claim, but the smart move would have voted to offer a lesser but reasonable amount. And at a minimum they should have offered something immediately like $10,000 with no conditions. That would have been politically smart, legally smart, and most importantly, it would have been the decent thing to do.

    Instead there will be a drawn out legal battle, and a settlement, and a lot of attorney fees incurred.

  22. #22 |  Kent | 

    A former Marine was shot sixty times by a Tucson SWAT team the other day, he thought it was a home invasion and armed himself. When the medics arrived the police held them back for over an hour before allowing them to render aid, of course he was dead by then.

    “The former Marine was sleeping about 9:30 a.m. after working the graveyard shift at Asarco’s Mission Mine when his wife woke him, saying she heard noises outside and saw a man was at their window. Guerena told his wife to hide in a closet with their 4-year-old son, his wife said. He grabbed an AR-15 rifle and moments later was slumped in the kitchen, mortally wounded from a hail of gunfire.”

    “Guerena did not fire a shot and his gun had the safety on, deputies said, after initially saying he had fired on the SWAT officers.”

    Clamor for information after raid led to erroneous report, department says
    Sheriff defends delay in SWAT info
    http://azstarnet.com/news/local/crime/article_22a8b889-e97f-55d1-b91a-41790ab94f38.html

    Family’s lawyer: Authorities trying to discredit man
    Attorney: Tucson man killed by SWAT linked to home invasion case
    http://azstarnet.com/news/local/crime/article_54486592-8257-11e0-950b-001cc4c002e0.html?mode=story

  23. #23 |  Mike T | 

    #21

    It would be a lot easier for the mayor or city executive to meet with the family and ask them if they’d agree to not sue the city if the city fires the police with cause. Most of the time, people just want justice. Seeing the cop stripped of his badge and gun and kicked to the curb in a bad economy would be enough for most people in their situation.

  24. #24 |  Mannie | 

    ask them if they’d agree to not sue the city if the city fires the police with cause.

    They’re too afraid of the cops, or at least the Cop Union to do that.

  25. #25 |  Roho | 

    Wow. What a quote in the AZ shooting link. From the lawyer for the SWAT team, referencing the shooting victim, and searches for any illegal activity that may have justified the shooting:

    ““Everything they think they’re going to find in there they find,” said Storie in a news conference”

    If that doesn’t sum up police procedure in a nutshell, I don’t know what does.

  26. #26 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    these mouth breathers of limited intellectual capacity

    Because there just aren’t that many smart people in Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Cupertino, San Jose, Sunnyvale, etc.

    If in the largest concentration of smart people in history (the Valley) you can’t even get non-retarded police, what hope does a place like Iowa have?

  27. #27 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    @22 (Marine murdered by SWAT)

    There have been enough of these murders now to establish the pecking order. Basically, all soldiers are heroes and amazing people…but they are dirty, stinking, lying, out-of-control, murdering, drug dealers preying on babies compared to any and all cops. Just so we’re clear about the state rankings. You can probably figure out where you rank.

  28. #28 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Sorry, one more note on

    Five members of the SWAT team fired 71 shots at Guerena while serving a search warrant at the family’s home

    That warrant better be important enough to risk bringing a deadly encounter to a 4-year old child and his mother (yes, I know they don’t think about that). This type of crap sounds/looks a lot like what the people of Iraq and Afghanistan deal with every day.

    Of course we’ve had SWAT execute children with bullets to the head before. Paperwork gets filed. “Officer tripped”, “gun fired by itself”, “no wrongdoing”…”medals awarded”, “backs patted”.

  29. #29 |  varmintito | 

    Thankfully all family membes survived this time. The Arizona raid resulted in the killing of a homeowner in his home, trying to protect his wife and child from armed invaders.

    If there is a better justification for picking up a gun and preparing to fight to the death, please say what it is.

    When a bunch of heavily armed, adrenaline-pumped cops break into a home, prepared to shoot to kill at the slightest hint of resistance, it takes very little to result in killing of somebody in the home. This massive level of hazard means that such raids should be reserved for only the most compelling circumstances, when every alternative carries an even greater risk that innocents will be killed.

    If the suspect named in the warrant is wanted for a serious violent crime, or is wanted for a serious non-violent felony and has a record of violent crime, then such a raid may be justified despite these risks.

    In any other situation, the justification disappears.

    The number one reform I would like to see is a strict liability standard when the person injured or killed is somebody other than the violent criminal named in the warrant. The grieving family, robbed of its dignity, its security, its happiness, and probably its primary earner, should be able to sue the PD for damages and win more or less automatically.

    The law should not require proof that a wrong door raid, or a raid conducted with innocent (i.e., non-accomplice in violent crime) adults and especially children present was based on some degree of fault by the police. Same thing if a legitimate suspect is shot because the cell phone he was holding when the door came down looked kinda sorta like a weapon.

    “Oops” doesn’t cut it when you’ve killed somebody who is doing precisely what the law says they have every right to do.

    If these rules constrain the police, and make it more time consuming and painstaking to plan such raids, that is not a bug, it is a feature. Getting the address wrong, or trusting a snitch who is more interested in getting charges dropped/high/revenge, is inexcusable. The purpose of the rule would be to create incentives to make such raids rare, meticulously planned, and without hazard to innocents or suspects who are not violently resisting arrest.

    To do it right would likely require long-term surveillance to ascertain who was in the house, and to provide a detailed description of the target premises — color, style, size, location of doors, identifying features, vehicles. It would mean waiting, with the raid team on alert, until everybody other than the suspect and known accomplices in violent crime had left the premises. In short, it would require the kind of patience and resources that are justified only in the most compelling and clear-cut circumstances.

  30. #30 |  Michael Chaney | 

    That warrant better be important enough to risk bringing a deadly encounter to a 4-year old child and his mother (yes, I know they don’t think about that). This type of crap sounds/looks a lot like what the people of Iraq and Afghanistan deal with every day.

    Actually, the people in Iraq and Afghanistan *don’t* have to deal with that, at least not since we’ve dispatched the despots that were terrorizing them. Radley had a quote not long ago from a soldier who was serving in one of those countries who noted that if they did something like this to the natives there, they would be severely disciplined for it.

    Our army treats people better than many or most of our police do.

  31. #31 |  Curt | 

    @22 Marine killed by SWAT.

    I found another link on the story with a lot more info…

    http://azstarnet.com/news/local/crime/article_a978c23a-a40f-5d0a-a203-76b88ac67e86.html

    They say it was an investigation into home invasions and drug rip-offs. According to the article, they found rifles, handguns, body armor, and a portion of a law enforcement uniform.

    A law enforcement uniform?!? My f’ing head is spinning. On the one hand, if the police account is true, karma is a bitch. On the other hand, it seems especially f’ed up in light of the recent rulings that give power to the cops to ignore the 4th amendment.

    If I’m not allowed to resist a cop’s warrant-less intrusion of my house, am I allowed to resist if this dude wore a cop uniform and tried to enter my house? But, I’m sure it’s okay… I can just settle the issue in court at a later date… or maybe my next-of-kin can do it.

  32. #32 |  Curt | 

    Two more questions from that article…

    Officers fired 71 rounds and hit him 60 times. Seem a little excessive. Also seems a little unlikely. Usually when you hear about cops firing 70 rounds, they only hit with about 5 of them.

    Also, the cops’ attorney says that if the SWAT team had been let into the home to serve the search warrant, the people inside probably wouldn’t have been arrested. But, if they found the guns, armor, and such they were looking for in connection to home invasions, why wouldn’t the guy have been arrested?

  33. #33 |  Joe | 

    Kent–that is a disgrace. Why have a second amendment if everytime you try to touch a gun or rifle you risk getting shot by the police. Either be armed and have the police kill you if you make a mistake, or be unarmed and be open to all sort of home invasion dangers from criminals. You are fucked either way.

  34. #34 |  Joe | 

    Although I just read Curt’s account, which gives the SWAT side of things. This is why we have trials.

    Nevertheless, my general comments at #33 are still valid.

  35. #35 |  Curt | 

    @ 34…

    I’m certainly not sticking up for the SWAT guys with my post. I was mostly interested by the fact that (if you believe what the article implied) this guy was using a law enforcement uniform as his tool to for home invasions.

    I think it’s pretty clear from the articles that the wife had no idea that the intruders were cops. As Radley always points out, the reason this turned lethal was the SWAT tactics. They were serving a search warrant on him to search for guns in his home. If they wanted to do it safely, wouldn’t they do it when he wasn’t home?

  36. #36 |  supercat | 

    Why don’t people refer to the home invaders in this story by the correct term: “robbers”? They broke into a home in a fashion they could not reasonably have believed to be legitimate (since any reasonable standard of care would require making sure the address was legitimate, attacking the wrong house is prima facie evidence that any belief of legitimacy was not reasonable) for the purpose of attacking the occupants therein. Since it is by definition impossible for a person’s legitimate duties to include illegitimate actions, and since no law can legitimately exempt someone from the Supreme Law of the Land, what legitimate reason is there not to prosecute the robbers?

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