Botched Drug Raid or Botched Drug Robbery?

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Excerpts are from a recent news story. You make the call.

The problem is that they broke into the wrong house . . . Attorney Michael J. Balskus, pointed out.

“They put guns to their heads and threatened to kill them if they did not turn over marijuana,” Balskus said . . .

Judge Barbara Key cited . . the emotional trauma . . .caused [to] the occupants of the house . .

“These were innocent college students going about their business with guns held to their heads thinking they were going to die,” Hart said. “They will suffer the trauma all the rest of their lives.”

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18 Responses to “Botched Drug Raid or Botched Drug Robbery?”

  1. #1 |  Anonymous | 

    Pretty easy to guess from the excerpt where the judge empathizes with the victims. You don’t see that sort of thing in a police misconduct case.

    Actually, the fact that a judge is involved at all is a pretty rock-solid indicator.

  2. #2 |  CyniCAl | 

    The State is the great magic washing machine. Even the most heinous violent criminal behavior is made pure when committed in its Name. All hail the State!

  3. #3 |  nigmalg | 

    Ah! You gave it away.

    ‘Judge Barbara Key cited . . the emotional trauma . . .caused [to] the occupants of the house . .”

    No Judge would ever admit to emotional trama if it implicated their execution division. Clearly this atrocity was committed by a “regular” criminal.

  4. #4 |  Michael Chaney | 

    I came here to post exactly what #2 posted.

  5. #5 |  primus | 

    give us a real challenge next time.

  6. #6 |  John | 

    35 pounds of grass? Hell, they should have gone to the UN mailroom, where they could have gone after 35 pounds of coke. What losers.

  7. #7 |  dunphy | 

    “Pretty easy to guess from the excerpt where the judge empathizes with the victims. You don’t see that sort of thing in a police misconduct case”

    utter rubbish. you see it all the time.

  8. #8 |  croaker | 

    Of course it was a robbery. You don’t see sympathetic judges when it’s a drug raid by the JBTs.

  9. #9 |  CyniCAl | 

    @#7

    True, there are exceptions. Those exceptions are almost always remedied on appeal. And how many cases even make it to trial? So we’re back to the obviousness of the initial example.

  10. #10 |  Stephen | 

    I’m going with “Botched Drug Robbery”. Haven’t clicked the link yet.

    (pause while I click the link in another tab)

    Now…Looks like I was correct.

  11. #11 |  Lior | 

    In a botched police raid case the judge would be emphasizing the psychological trauma the officers suffered when they discovered they harassed the wrong citizens.

  12. #12 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Pretty easy to guess from the excerpt where the judge empathizes with the victims. You don’t see that sort of thing in a police misconduct case.

    In my experience, when a court opinion in a civil case against the police empathizes with the plaintiff-slash-victim, it usually means that the opinion will give police immunity.

    “The Court is not unmindful of plaintiff’s suffering inflicted by the police here, BUT . . .”

    that is how that cookie crumbles. It is like the empathy is a sort of consolation prize in a close case where the court is ultimately going to side with the policemen when it comes to the money part of the case.

    When a court is is deciding in favor of the victim, then the opinion is usually pretty dry and just-the-facts-ma’am.

  13. #13 |  freedomfan | 

    I agree that the giveaway was at “Judge Barbara Key cited . . the emotional trauma . . .caused [to] the occupants of the house . .” But, really just the “Judge Barbara Key cited” part, because it’s not so much because the judge sided with the occupants, but because there was a judge involved at all. That indicates that a district attorney had chosen to press charges, which we know wouldn’t have happened if the people committing violent acts at the wrong address had been wearing badges.

  14. #14 |  Cyto | 

    To Dunphy’s point, police officers committing burglary will regularly get prosecuted. Internal affairs divisions live for that kind of thing. They usually end up spending a large chunk of their time investigating things like “misuse of official vehicles” or “hooking up with a girlfriend while on the clock”.

    However, a prosecution for actual on-the-job officers who follow procedures and just happen to raid the wrong address, assaulting and hogtying the occupants at gunpoint? Nah, that’s not likely at all. In fact, absent egregious additional conduct, like a video that shows that they knowingly went to the wrong address or knowingly conducted a raid without a warrant, the likelihood of a prosecution, or any negative consequences at all are very close to zero. In fact, they probably should be immune from criminal prosecution at that point. It would be impossible to do any kind of police work if a case of mistaken identity were to be a criminal offense.

    The “criminal” notion is the very idea that officers should so routinely be put in the position of kicking in doors and pointing guns at people in their own homes. Although the rank and file are probably very close to 100% in support of this style of raid (for officer safety – that comes first, you know), it is those in charge who carry the blame for these dangerous tactics. Ending the policy of routinely using military style raids for drug warrants wouldn’t do as much good as ending the drug war, but it is a good start.

  15. #15 |  Matt in Cincy | 

    I got it wrong. But I realized it when I read the headline saying he got 8 years.

  16. #16 |  plutosdad | 

    “The problem is that they broke into the wrong house”

    As with the drug war and SWAT raids, the problem started long before picking the wrong house.

    But even this journalist, while reporting on violent crime, can’t see it.

  17. #17 |  perlhaqr | 

    Dunphy! Get that cop dick out of your mouth. You don’t know where it’s been.

  18. #18 |  Deoxy | 

    In fact, they probably should be immune from criminal prosecution at that point. It would be impossible to do any kind of police work if a case of mistaken identity were to be a criminal offense.

    Barge into the wrong house and point guns at a bunch of people you DON’T have a warrant for is not simply a case of “mistaken identity” – it’s an unreasonable search (among other things) without a warrant. It’s a violation of the Constitution.

    If it were exceedingly rare, and the vast majority of cases were ones where the criminals had in fact taken great pains to hide themselves (like switching the numbers on their house with the same-paint-job house 2 doors down and switching them back, back and forth, on a regular basis), then I could see a lack of prosecution being legitimate.

    But otherwise? Seriously, you’re about to violently assault some people. The situations where that is OK should be VERY specific, and every officer involved should be on the hook as to having made at least reasonable precautions and checks that, yes, indeed, this IS one of those very specific situations.

    If those checks are made, and there’s a legitimate mistake made, that’s one thing. But where those checks don’t even EXIST as a policy or a thought process, much less get done, um… seriously, yes, that’s a crime, and it should get prosecuted. There are VAST amounts of police work that can and would still be done just fine.

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