Another Isolated Incident

Monday, October 24th, 2011

This one is from Richland County, South Carolina, home of Sheriff Leon Lott and his “Peacemaker” tank.

A Gibbs Road couple came home from work Thursday to find their home surrounded by Richland County sheriff’s deputies, their front door kicked in and their home ransacked.

Deputies were executing a search warrant at Wanda and Reginald Blanding’s home Thursday, after drug agents said a confidential informant “made a controlled purchase of crack cocaine from an unknown black male at the location,” according to the search warrant.

“He hit the door right here with it,” explained Wanda. “He still had the ram jack in his hand when I walked up.”

The informant told investigators the drug buy was made at 402 Gibbs Road. That’s where the sheriff’s drug unit staged its raid, looking into the one drug purchase the informant alleges happened there.

“They told me why they were here and I was like, ‘Okay, no one is supposed to be here. No one sells drugs out of this house,'” said Wanda.

Reginald is the only black male that lives at the home. He says when he arrived after the raid, deputies never searched him for drugs and never asked to look through his two cell phones even though the search warrant states that’s one of the things deputies were after.

Reginald says deputies told him they had his house under surveillance and know the drug buy went down.

The Blandings deny there ever was a drug buy at their home and think deputies got bad information from their informant.

Wanda says deputies emptied nearly every drawer in the home, searched through the attic and their daughter’s bedrooms.

Sheriff’s Capt. Chris Cowan says deputies made a purchase from the home and had every right to search it. “The drugs that we purchase were out of that home, we purchased from a family member of that home,” said Cowan. “We purchased the drugs out of that home.”

The only people who live there are the Blandings and their three high school-aged daughters.

When asked if enough due diligence was done in preparation for the raid, Cowan said the officers did everything they were supposed to do.

Meanwhile, the Blandings, who have been married for 20 years, say they both have clean records. Wanda has been a corrections employee for 21 years and Reginald has worked for Pepsi for just as long. Both say they have never gone near drugs and don’t allow them in their home.

“This is humiliation,” said Wanda. “I mean, come in, I can see the door, go through my room, clothes and everything all over the place. I mean, they went through every room in the house and just tore it up.”….

The sheriff’s office says an apology is just not happening, and they’ll continue investigating this case until they make an arrest.

Maybe the Blandings have some connection to Michael Phelps.

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25 Responses to “Another Isolated Incident”

  1. #1 |  CyniCAl | 

    “Sheriff’s Capt. Chris Cowan says deputies made a purchase from the home and had every right to search it.”

    The State has no rights, only powers. This is an important distinction.

    “Wanda has been a corrections employee for 21 years …”

    When State agents attack other State agents, only fun can ensue. Maybe Wanda’s eyes are open now and she’ll repent the error of her ways.

  2. #2 |  Dante | 

    “The sheriff’s office says an apology is just not happening, and they’ll continue investigating this case until they make an arrest.”

    Because, in light of no evidence, no arrests, no correlation to the facts, the sheriff is using the tried and true cop tactic – when you are totally in the wrong, double down and do the same thing even harder.

    The cops aren’t even trying to hide their incompetence, greed and sadism any more. They figure – what are you gonna do about it?

    Protect & Serve (Themselves!)

  3. #3 |  Bob | 

    “Sheriff’s Capt. Chris Cowan says deputies made a purchase from the home and had every right to search it.”

    I thought a CI made the buy. Let’s see… here it is:

    after drug agents said a confidential informant “made a controlled purchase of crack cocaine from an unknown black male at the location,” according to the search warrant.

    I call bullshit.

    In fact, I’ll go so far as to say the “affidavit” is probably the same boilerplate crap they use on all their warrants.

  4. #4 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Sheriff’s Capt. Chris Cowan says…“The drugs that we purchase were out of that home, we purchased from a family member of that home,” said Cowan. “We purchased the drugs out of that home.”

    Why is that when I say/do these things I’m arrested?

  5. #5 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I think you could cut down on posts a lot by simply reporting when cops do something right instead of when they are fucking up someone’s life.

  6. #6 |  Andrew S. | 

    “The sheriff’s office says an apology is just not happening, and they’ll continue investigating this case until they make an arrest.”

    Not until they determine whether anyone actually sold drugs out of the house. “Until they make an arrest”. Says a lot, doesn’t it?

  7. #7 |  Raybury | 

    Keep an eye on this one, I am guessing the cops’ real mistake might be saying anything other then “no comment” to the press.

    Does it occur to no one that while the parents may be innocent, while they are at their jobs a boyfriend of one if their high school aged daughters might have been dealing from their home?

  8. #8 |  Radley Balko | 

    Does it occur to no one that while the parents may be innocent, while they are at their jobs a boyfriend of one if their high school aged daughters might have been dealing from their home?

    I’m sure it’s possible. All the more reason not to use these sorts of raids for nonviolent drug crimes. If that’s what happened, you just terrorized an innocent family for the actions of a daughter’s boyfriend.

  9. #9 |  freedomfan | 

    Dave Krueger,

    I think you could cut down on posts a lot by simply reporting when cops do something right instead of when they are fucking up someone’s life.

    Heh. I think mainstream news outlets, ably assisted by police public relations officers and unions representatives, already have that news angle pretty well saturated.

    BTW, granting warrants based on the statement of a “confidential informant” needs to go the way of the dodo. If a judge is granting police the power to point guns at citizens and tear up their homes, then the least the police can do to ensure their CI isn’t just making shit up is to have his name and his specific claim written on the warrant. Meanwhile, for any judge reviewing a warrant application where the police are claiming to have made a controlled drug buy, it should be standard practice to start out by saying, “Okay, show me the video showing a buy going down where and when you say it is.”

  10. #10 |  Al V | 

    @ 9 “BTW, granting warrants based on the statement of a “confidential informant” needs to go the way of the dodo. If a judge is granting police the power to point guns at citizens and tear up their homes, then the least the police can do to ensure their CI isn’t just making shit up is to have his name and his specific claim written on the warrant. Meanwhile, for any judge reviewing a warrant application where the police are claiming to have made a controlled drug buy, it should be standard practice to start out by saying, “Okay, show me the video showing a buy going down where and when you say it is.”

    Not a big cop fam here, but if you list the CI in the warrant, and the warrant is a public record, won’t that result in some dead CI’s when the cops find an actual bad guy?
    I think the real solution here is end the war on drugs and treat it as a medical problem rather than a criminal problem.

  11. #11 |  cyto | 

    If the sheriff swore he’d keep invistigating my home until he made an arrest after being embarrassed in the local papers, I might just move out of the county. Seriously, what are the odds that the next raid comes up empty handed?

  12. #12 |  TJ | 

    Cyto, you are exactly correct. Mysteriously, miraculously, evidence will fall from the sky. They are “sure” of your guilt and will “prove” it, no matter what it takes to “make it happen”.

    Run! Be afraid, VERY afraid.

  13. #13 |  Brandon | 

    #11, next time they won’t forget to bring the stuff with them.

  14. #14 |  Brandon | 

    #10, why not just relegalize drugs and acknowledge that it’s none of the government’s damn business what substances people choose to ingest? Why does it have to be treated as a “problem?”

  15. #15 |  EH | 

    Ugh, I know the Blandings are probably just trying to be good citizens, but someone should step up and call the police chief “either stupid or a liar.” It would certainly seem to be excessive use of tank.

  16. #16 |  KRF | 

    The real reason for the cops anger is that there must not have been a dog to shoot.

  17. #17 |  supercat | 

    #10 | Al V | “Not a big cop fam here, but if you list the CI in the warrant, and the warrant is a public record, won’t that result in some dead CI’s when the cops find an actual bad guy?”

    It’s possible for a warrant judge to put under seal some of the evidence upon which a warrant was based. Determining under what circumstances the information should be unsealed may be tricky, but there is a huge difference between having a confidential informant give sworn testimony to a judge who then places the testimony under seal, versus having a cop claim that someone told him something. If the “oath or affirmation” clause wasn’t meant to require an oath or affirmation relating to *personal knowledge of the affiant*, what does it protect against?

    Even setting anonymity aside, if cop #1’s claim that cop #2 saw something is enough to grant cop #1 a warrant, would there be any way of holding anyone accountable even if it could be shown with absolute certainty that cop #2 could not possibly have seen what was claimed? If cop #1 claims he was faithfully repeating what cop #2 told him, and cop #2 claims that cop #1 made the whole thing up and he had nothing whatsoever to do with it, it may be absolutely clear that someone is lying, but it may very well be impossible to prove who. A warrant should only be issued if, in the event that if the information upon which it was based could be shown to be a lie, it would be possible to prosecute the liar.

  18. #18 |  BamBam | 

    Can you say “CI and Kathryn Johnston”? I suppose we should be grateful that no one was killed (yet), because that is the metric that should be used to determine “job well done, soldier”.

  19. #19 |  pam | 

    haha or maybe she’s bringing drugs into the correctional facility. It’s a pretty good supplement of the correctional wage…just a thought.

  20. #20 |  Marty | 

    I’m surprised they didn’t have a bunch of assets forfeited, a dog shot, and part of their house burned down from a flash grenade.

    they owe these people a lot more than an apology- the cops should be shit-canned and the people should be well-compensated for the crimes committed against them.

  21. #21 |  Being the Police Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry « Rough Ol' Boy | 

    [...] via–who else?–Radley Balko. LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", "other"); [...]

  22. #22 |  Official Misbehaving « Drug WarRant | 

    [...] More questionable raids… A Gibbs Road couple came home from work Thursday to find their home surrounded by Richland County sheriff’s deputies, their front door kicked in and their home ransacked. [...] [...]

  23. #23 |  The American Conservative » Being the Police Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry | 

    [...] Link via–who else?–Radley Balko. [...]

  24. #24 |  Mimi22 | 

    Hmmm, let me get this straight 1)The wife is a 21 year corrections employee; 2) the CI said the buy went down at this residence. Wow guess ex-inmates never hold a grudge against corrections employees.
    Another source reports the buy was made on the back porch and the seller went back into the house. Guess ex-inmates don’t know how to pick locks anymore or set someone up.
    I’m sure Cpt Chris Cowan did his research and made sure the CI isn’t an ex-inmate with a grudge against Mrs. Blanding before he had the warrant issued.

  25. #25 |  Dupree | 

    Even closer to home:The whacking of John Montgomery by LCSO Kill Team

    The editor describes the events surrounding the killing of John as a “firefight.” There was no firefight! John Montgomery was a threat to no one but himself. He fled into the woods(armed with a .22 cal. rifle) when the LCSO “gangbusters” and their kill team snipers arrived on the scene. John’s mother was on the scene and was could have easily talked John out of the wood with no violence. She was not permitted to do so. The deputies put four bullets into John’s chest.

    I do a “slow burn” everytime I pass his gravesite at Bethesda Baptist Church cemetery.

    http://packet-media.com/2011/05/14/firefight-with-deputies-ends-in-tragedy/

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