Another Isolated Incident

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

This is what 54-year-old Tomas Torres looked like after Connecticut State Police served a drug warrant on his home. From the New Haven Independent:

A state police raid on a Winthrop Avenue apartment netted no drugs or arrests—but it left Tomas Torres hospitalized and his apartment in tatters.

Torres, who’s 54, said state cops broke down the door of his first-floor Winthrop Avenue apartment Wednesday afternoon, punched him in the face, stomped on his head, and then laughed at him as they tossed his apartment looking for drugs.

Police said he tried to jump out the window, then resisted their efforts to detain and handcuff him.

They had the wrong guy, said Torres. The police found nothing in his apartment and released him to go to the hospital, where he said he was told he has a fractured arm, he said.

Here comes the comedy.

Lt. J. Paul Vance, spokesman for the state police, said he had no record of state police action anywhere in New Haven on Wednesday. That doesn’t mean that a search warrant wasn’t executed, he said. He’d have a record if an arrest were made, he said.

“That sounds a little suspect right off the bat,” Vance said when told of Torres’ complaints. “We don’t beat people up as a regular course of business.”

The Independent wryly links the second part of Vance’s quote to this story, about another Connecticut state drug cop who recently beat someone up.

“I know that the task force had a lawful search and seizure warrant for that apartment,” [police spokesman] Hoffman said. He said he wasn’t present at the police action. Cops have to convince a judge that they have evidence that drugs are being sold at a location in order to obtain a warrant.

Hoffman said Torres tried to jump out the window when police showed up. Then he resisted detention when police pulled him back in, he said.

Cops always knock and announce when they execute warrants; Torres must have known police were at the door, Hoffman argued.

Police did not charge Torres with any offense . . .

“They way that guy was, they didn’t need to go that far,” said someone with knowledge of the incident. “They had enough guys. They must have had at least seven. I’m talking about big guys, husky, [handling] an old man. Even the short guy [the state cop Torres said hit him]—he was stocky.”

Here’s Torres’ account:

He was cooking pasteles and watching “Caso Cerrado” on TV when he heard someone pounding on his door.

Torres thought it was the crack dealers or users who sometimes hang out in the hallway of the building along with prostitutes. He said he keeps a pool stick behind the door to protect himself because he’s worried for his safety with the dealers hanging around.

He asked who was there. No answer.

Torres looked out the window and saw cop cars. As he moved to the door, it flew open and cops poured in. Someone punched him in the face. They shoved him to the ground. One state cop, a short man, ground his boot into Torres’ face as he lay on the floor.

The cops kept asking him, “Where are the drugs?” Torres said he didn’t have any drugs.

The cops put Torres in a chair and handcuffed him, still asking where the drugs were. They laughed as they teased a cop who had gotten Torres’ blood on his jeans.

The cops started claiming they had fought with him because he had the pool stick nearby and it posed a threat to their safety . . .

His sister, who lives nearby, expressed outrage at the incident.

“He’s a human,” she said. “Not an animal.”

Well, no. He is—or at least was—a drug suspect. That probably does give him more rights than animals, who are summarily executed in these raids. But it still puts him far short of “human.”

Thanks to Mike Magnus for the link.

(Photo credits to the Independent.)

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32 Responses to “Another Isolated Incident”

  1. #1 |  Burgers Allday | 

    I was kind of hoping to see a Jennifer A. byline on the linked newspaper account. Oh, well, terrible story. all to common, etc.

  2. #2 |  Jay Ramey | 

    Another very, very, very, very isolated incident. Rarely happens. Practically unheard of. Of course, police NEVER beat people up as a regular course of business. Never happens to any of my clients. Its the victims fault anyway.

  3. #3 |  claude | 

    “A state police raid on a Winthrop Avenue apartment netted no drugs or arrests—but it left Tomas Torres hospitalized and his apartment in tatters.”

    The original seems to have a typo.

    “A police state raid….”

    There, its fixed.

  4. #4 |  Mattocracy | 

    “That sounds a little suspect right off the bat,” Vance said when told of Torres’ complaints. “We don’t beat people up as a regular course of business.”

    Did he have a straight face when he said that?

  5. #5 |  a_random_guy | 

    There are so many thing wrong here. From the obvious to the less-obvious:

    – The warrant shouldn’t have issued.

    – Serving a warrant should not involve breaking down a door. What does it cost to knock and wait like civilized people?

    – If the police damage your property (or your person), they ought to pay up without you having to sue them.

    – What with the hollow-core door and crappy locks?

    There’s nothing we, as individuals, can do about the first three. However, anyone can take care of the fourth one. Install a solid-core (preferably metal) door, use well-secured hinges, and put high-quality locks on it that secure the top, bottom and center of the opening-side solidly to the wall. It should not be possible for a cop (or anyone else) to punch through your door.

  6. #6 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    One of the tragedies of the Prohibition debacle was that people starting hating police.
    Instead of sticking to rape, murders, and bank robberies cops
    started wanting to bust into houses or know what was in your car trunk,
    brewing in your cellar, your barn, your shed, under your sink, how you knew the guy down the street. Same deal with drugs, but even worse.
    “He’d have a record if an arrest were made, he said.”
    Obviously, these “unaccounted for” arrests are a drug cop’s wet dream.
    One hears more and more about them these days…

  7. #7 |  glknjkglf | 

    no joke post thier addresses and we can send a couple of ex marines to thier door at 3:oo am
    dont post them if you wont like the out come no BS…..

  8. #8 |  Mike T | 

    #6,

    The cops hate those crimes because they’re actually hard work. Most rape accusations are impossible to get a constitutionally-sound conviction because rape is almost always comes down to he-said, she-said. Similarly, most murderers don’t leave enough clues to make it easy for the cops to track them down. Bank robbers? This is the 21st century. The average bank robber is some Russian mafioso whose could do to a typical cop what a chipper shredder does to brush.

    What’s needed is for some massive Ryan Frederick-like episode, except where they hit some Tier 1 operator’s household and wipe out half his family and he goes berserk in retaliation (and survives).

  9. #9 |  Dante | 

    Interesting coincidence.

    From the article:
    ““That sounds a little suspect right off the bat,” Vance said when told of Torres’ complaints. “We don’t beat people up as a regular course of business.”

    Last week there was an article about cops beating an innocent man who was cutting his grass and smoking. The judge, when discounting his story of an unjustified beat-down, said much the same thing: the police don’t go around beating people up.

    So there are two stories now, involving the police just beating innocent people for no reason, where judges and law enforcement claim it simply cannot happen because the police don’t do that.

    Can anyone be that stupid? No. The judge and the police know that the police do “just go around beating people”. They don’t care, and believe there is nothing you can do about it.

    Protect & Serve (Themselves!)

  10. #10 |  nospam | 

    Totally off topic, but on the recent death of Siobhan Reynolds, one of the local shit factories, er, I mean TV news departments covered it…barely.

    http://www.10tv.com/content/stories/2011/12/25/vinton-county-pilot-dies-in-plane-crash.html

    No mention of her work at all, but they managed to revise the story…to make sure they covered the fact that the pilot was a lawyer. Glad they got that important nugget out to the news consuming masses. I swear the only things made in this hell hole are lawyers, soccer moms. I would add dumb-ass TV news reporters to the list, but we import those from other cities.

  11. #11 |  Mr. Mojo | 

    Cops should be required to carry malpractice insurance so when they break the law and assault and murder people the taxpayer doesn’t have to pay to cover their criminal actions. Eventually most cops would not be able to afford the premiums as their rates go up from their thuggery. Then they would have to become ordinary thugs without the uniform and badge but at least you could fight back without getting shot 70 times.

  12. #12 |  albatross | 

    My, what an interesting few years we will have when the public perception (and trailing that, the media narrative) finishes transitioning from “the police are basically good guys with a few bad apples” to “the police are basically thugs.” I’m very glad that my freedom and my family’s financial future aren’t dependent on that transition not happening, or on elected prosecutors and elected or appointed-by-politiicans judges going against that perception when it becomes widespread.

  13. #13 |  gyuyuf | 

    sit and gawk at freedom, the tyranny and death you spread through the world creeps ever closer to home

  14. #14 |  Donald | 

    Here is an idea mister polyester costume man, don’t want to feel threatend, stay the hell home.

  15. #15 |  marco73 | 

    Scalia’s new professionalism in action.

    And the first spokesman was stupid enough to talk to the press before checking on any details of the raid? What the hell do they pay that guy for? Comic relief?

  16. #16 |  Arthur | 

    “Lt. J. Paul Vance, spokesman for the state police, said he had no record of state police action anywhere in New Haven on Wednesday. That doesn’t mean that a search warrant wasn’t executed, he said. He’d have a record if an arrest were made, he said.”

    So the issuance and execution of the warrant are not part of the public record? Is he trying to say that any police action short of arrest creates no record? WTF is this guy talking about? Might as well admit that despite his state compensation, job title, and documented duties as the department spokesperson he considers it his duty to impede the dissemination of information between the department and the public. God, Orwell was a fucking prophet!

  17. #17 |  derfel cadarn | 

    It is glaringly apparent that the J in J. Paul Vance stands for jerkoff. This is an example of disinformation at its best,

  18. #18 |  Romantic Violence | 

    This is a matter of rule instead of the exception. Alexandr Solzhenitsyn? Anybody? Is anyone familiar with Gulag Archipelago? That’s when our lot will change. For millennium, people have always complied and submitted to the will of a very small minority so therefore, nothing has changed nor will it change. People have not given the police or any other alphabet soup security agency, a viable reason not to brutalize, humiliate, and kill you. Until you assert yourselves, the police believe that you like it.

    1789

  19. #19 |  JSL | 

    “What’s needed is for some massive Ryan Frederick-like episode, except where they hit some Tier 1 operator’s household and wipe out half his family and he goes berserk in retaliation (and survives).”

    The movie Law Abiding Citizen touched on that. Sadly, the ending wasn’t that satisfying as the DAs were still alive.

  20. #20 |  picachu | 

    Yizmo Gizmo “One of the tragedies of the Prohibition debacle was that people starting hating police.”

    That doesn’t sound like a tragedy to me. it’s a shame that attitude didn’t last and increase until the public eventually demanded and end to before it came to where it is today.

  21. #21 |  Dan | 

    @15 Arthur:

    “So the issuance and execution of the warrant are not part of the public record? Is he trying to say that any police action short of arrest creates no record?”

    I caught that too. Pretty handy thing; to not maintain a record of raids that don’t result in an arrest.

  22. #22 |  Jack Dempsey | 

    @ a_random_guy

    That is when they would just drive a tank through your house.

  23. #23 |  supercat | 

    #19 | Dan | “Pretty handy thing; to not maintain a record of raids that don’t result in an arrest.”

    It does seem odd. If nothing else, the police should maintain a record so that someone who was raided could find out whether the people who attacked him were on the government payroll, or were private free-lancers. In the latter state, the government would probably want to take action against the robbers, but if it’s not possible to distinguish the private robbers from the government-sponsored kind, taking action against the free-lancers would be difficult.

  24. #24 |  Charlie O | 

    Balko, do you still think they shouldn’t be shot as they come through the door? (the police, that is).

  25. #25 |  JOR | 

    It might be unwise to shoot them. Then again there are at least two cases I can think of where a guy shot at the cops invading his home and then surrendered, and may well have survived only because he shot at them – Cory Maye is one of these – but in both of these cases the guys didn’t know it was cops they were shooting at, and surrendered as soon as they found out. I still wouldn’t advise shooting at them, especially if a convincing case can be made to a jury that you know it’s cops you’re shooting at.

    But not because it would be wrong to shoot them. Anyone who shoots a cop busting into his house on a drug warrant (whether or not that warrant is legit or whatever) is doing a good thing that is unfortunately likely to have unpleasant consequences for him. Any cop who gets himself hurt or killed in such a raid brought it on himself and deserves no sympathy.

  26. #26 |  StrangeOne | 

    It’s just remarkable how in denial of reality the authorities are in making their excuses: They maintain the police always announced themselves and their entry, that they never beat people up, and that they had good reason to raid the home in the first place. But the reality is a broken front door, a destroyed home, a beaten man with a broken arm, and not a single arrest made.

    If even one element of the official story was true none of this would have happened. The reality is so far removed from the official narrative its impossible to give them the benefit of the doubt on ignorance, they are simply the worst sort of malicious liars.

    They are completely unconcerned with their bald faced objection to reality because they know they will never suffer consequences for their actions. No judge will be held accountable for the authorizing the clearly flimsy warrant, no cops will suffer for ganging up on an old man and destroying his home, and none of their superiors or prosecutors will every be called to task for letting such behavior run wild.

    They can do it again tomorrow and every day after that, and so long as they keep telling the same lies, no one of consequence will object.

  27. #27 |  FloO | 

    They are like animals, except they lie.

  28. #28 |  Arthur | 

    #26 StrangeOne: Well said! But if they lie, we can prove they lie and oust them…cept we gotta do it in the liars own court. I have much faith in the American public to eventuallly see the light and insist that we are in fact the highest court in the land…long after it’s too late.

  29. #29 |  My heroes | Ontoliberty | 

    […] Story here. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  30. #30 |  indio007 | 

    I bet if you go look up the warrant at the court it’s sealed now. I would also bet it wasn’t sworn to by an actual witness to the alleged crime as the law required but made “on information and belief” based on an anonymous phone call and a tip from a concerned citizen who will never be found.

    This happens all the time. People need to start suing the judge’s that rubber stamp these bogus warrants . When is the last time you heard of someone doing that? Never. There is no accountability for this crap. The average citizen has become a a dumb cow.

  31. #31 |  Matt | 

    “- What with the hollow-core door and crappy locks?

    There’s nothing we, as individuals, can do about the first three. However, anyone can take care of the fourth one. Install a solid-core (preferably metal) door, use well-secured hinges, and put high-quality locks on it that secure the top, bottom and center of the opening-side solidly to the wall. It should not be possible for a cop (or anyone else) to punch through your door.”

    Good advice. I’ve lately been thinking that the next time I install an exterior door I’ll install it so it opens outward, so that the entire door is supported by the jamb and not just the locks and hinges.

  32. #32 |  Why “Criminals” Should Have Rights Pt 3 « The Blog For Truth, Justice, & The Josh Way | 

    […] *Police execute a drug raid on an apartment. The tenant is physically assaulted, ending up with a fractured arm and a bruised-up face (as depicted in the picture). The apartment is plundered. Drugs are not found. No arrests are made. An unreasonable search and seizure, with the destroyed property and the unnecessary assault (according to the cops in the story, a necessary assault). […]

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