Turns Out, They Had Nothing To Hide

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Good reporting by Lucy Steigerwald on an outrageous 13-man SWAT raid, with flashbangs, on a home suspected of illegally growing medical marijuana. It’s of course legal to grow the stuff in Colorado if you have a patient card and stay under the state limit. The residents appear to have received the full brunt force of the SWAT team because they dared to exercise their constitutional rights.

Further details from KRDO reveal that when the police came to the home previously (at around 10 p.m. on Christmas 2011), Ball and Glandorf showed their medical marijuana cards, but refused to let officers in because they didn’t have a warrant. This, says Colorado Springs police spokesperson Barbara Miller, is kind of dubious:

“If you have nothing to hide, most people would open the door and say, ‘Yes, please come in and and let’s dispel any information you have because it’s false.”

Can we please send every cop who utters the “if you have nothing to hide . . . ” line to Fourth Amendment reeducation camp?

Miller, however, told Reason that she understood that the reaction to a so-called “knock and talk” on Christmas was understandable, and she might have done the same thing. And also that she “really appreciate[s] everybody’s constitution rights” and “everybody should use them.” However . . .

Whenever a police spokesperson talks about respecting constitutional rights, you can expect a however isn’t far behind.

 . . . Miller said officers smelled a very strong presence of marijuana in the home, and continued their investigation. Miller said police found out that someone living in the house had a prior felony weapons charge, and also noted that the electric bill was very high for the property.”That’s really important when you’re talking narcotics because that’s a tell-tale sign that they’re doing a grow there.”

Tell-tale. And in this case, false.

And after that, no arrests were made or charges were filed, because the patients were not growing more than Colorado state law permitted after all. Supposedly a handgun was found,  but Glandorf denies this.

Two dogs were apparently injured by the flashbangs. The police deny this. Because, as we all know, flashbangs are perfectly safe. I mean, except when they aren’t.

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54 Responses to “Turns Out, They Had Nothing To Hide”

  1. #1 |  UCrawford | 

    A good rule of thumb for gauging sincerity in conversations…nothing anyone says before the words “but” or “however” counts.

  2. #2 |  UCrawford | 

    And I’m a big fan these days of saying the victims of these raids should sue. Yes, it rarely changes the police department’s policies, and yes it really only hurts the taxpayer, but I’ve come to the conclusion that since most taxpayers in districts with overly aggressive cops tend to either ignore or defer to whatever the cops do, they probably deserve to get hurt in the wallet. Ignorance and stupidity should have a cost. Maybe eventually they’ll figure out that badly run police departments aren’t something you should ignore.

  3. #3 |  Deoxy | 

    So, when it’s clear that they WOULD let them in with a warrant, is there any way to make a case that using SWAT was punitive? I mean, clearly, that was the case here… but is there any way to get a court to see that?

  4. #4 |  derfel cadarn | 

    If they have nothing to hide then why are police forces so unwilling to expose dash cam and other video and details of alleged misconduct? Why is their response not Yes, please come and look so we can dispel any concern of corruption and or maleficence. Because they believe themselves to be above we mere mundanes. It is clear that they need to be shown otherwise.

  5. #5 |  djm | 

    Radley, can you put together a roundup of the books or shorter pieces exploring the impetus behind the drug war? I mean on this site we get stories nearly every day over its brutality, unconstitutionality, or collateral damage. Or we see law enforcement lying and covering up misdeeds. Or to a non-American like myself, wonder why the Land Of The Free puts up with this when tactics to the same extent would never play in Canada or Europe.

    In short, I’d like to understand more about why, culturally or politically, Americans still pursue the drug war. Any suggestions?

  6. #6 |  Roho | 

    And once again:
    “But if you put yourself in a police officer’s shoes, they’ve been to many of these where you never know how it’s going to play out, if weapons are involved, if someone’s going to use it.”

    If “The officers deserve to go home to their families at night” covers more than a dozen heavily-armed police firing potentially-lethal explosives at disabled, unarmed, non-violent people in their own home…precisely what *doesn’t* that clause cover?

    Oh yeah, we already know the answer…nothing. The police are free to do anything they want to us, under the blanket of ‘feared for my life’, ‘it was confusing’, and ‘I just wanted to go home at the end of the day’. Even if they caused the violence and confusion. We civilians, are not permitted to be afraid, confused, or to desire just to continue our lives.

  7. #7 |  Onlooker | 

    “Can we please send every cop who utters the “if you have nothing to hide . . . ” line to Fourth Amendment reeducation camp?”

    God yes, please. Along with every other naive’ jackass in this country who utters that nonsense. Of course that would unfortunately be a VERY large number of people.

    I’d say that we really should teach this to our children in school better, but I realize that is unrealistic, given the terrible level of understanding that our general populace possesses.

  8. #8 |  Radley Balko | 

    djm:

    It’s a bit dated now (I think it came out in 1994) but Dan Baum’s “Smoke and Mirrors” is still the best book on the drug war ever written.

  9. #9 |  Onlooker | 

    UCrawford,

    I completely agree. The only way this will be remedied is for economic pressure to be put on those who can make things change – the taxpayers/citizens. Otherwise they go on with their lives with a “it won’t happen to me” attitude – until it does happen to them.

  10. #10 |  Jay | 

    Wow, I’m stunned that the police didn’t empty their weapons into the dogs. Isn’t that standard police procedure these days? See a dog, shoot it?

  11. #11 |  Mario | 

    “If you have nothing to hide…” Funny how we were just looking at that video posted here a few days ago of police intimidating people, chasing them out of the police station, in some cases arresting them, and in one case threatening to shoot — and all because the people had the nerve to ask for a complaint form.

  12. #12 |  Steve in Clearwater | 

    “….because when you’re talking narcotics and investigating an alleged medical marijuana grow, you’re obviously a dumbass police officer who does not realize that marijuana is not a narcotic…”

    (fixed the muddled quote from story….you’re welcome)

  13. #13 |  Waste | 

    I know everyone is concentrating on the cops in this. But I’d also like to see some exposure on the judge that signed off on warrant. What was the PC that he felt warranted it?

  14. #14 |  Comrade Dread | 

    Can we please send every cop who utters the “if you have nothing to hide . . . ” line to Fourth Amendment reeducation camp?

    I say we just fire them, maybe out of a catapult in a few cases, but definitely from their job.

  15. #15 |  ClubMedSux | 

    Funny how the “if you have nothing to hide” argument is airtight logic when a cop is asking you to waive your constitutional rights, but when the issue is recording cops, suddenly it’s inapplicable.

  16. #16 |  PermaLurker | 

    But I DO have things to hide…they’re just not illegal: my pornography collection, nude paintings, sex toys, dirty laundry and dishes, political books (no matter what the demonized minority du jour is, anarchists are always included), religious displays, etc.

  17. #17 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    “If you have nothing to hide, why can’t I search?”

    “Because if you are the sort of official who isn’t willing to follow correct legal procedure, then I have no reason to believe that the results of such a search will be honest.”

  18. #18 |  Mike T | 

    “If you have nothing to hide, why can’t I search?”

    My response to other conservatives to this, which always shuts them up, is “because do-gooders and evil men are not only often one in the same, but tend to see evil where it doesn’t exist.”

  19. #19 |  Mike T | 

    We can save money by creating a Tolerance and 4th amendment camp modeled on the tolerance concentration camp in south park.

  20. #20 |  MassHole | 

    How stupid can these cops be? I don’t care if it’s the fucking Pope. You show up at my door at 10 PM without an appointment, especially on Christmas, you can take a hike. No prudent individual would agree to an off the cuff interview with the po-po like that. At 10 PM on christmas, there’s a good chance most people aren’t even sober! Maybe the local media should randomly knock on Barbara Miller’s door at 10 PM and see how willing she is to have an interview.

  21. #21 |  a_random_guy | 

    “I’d also like to see some exposure on the judge that signed off on warrant.”

    This. Judges need to be held accountable for the warrants they sign. Otherwise, what incentive do they have not to just sign everything put in front of them?

  22. #22 |  JOR | 

    “Let me sack your home/car/whatever first, then you can do mine. Problem, officer?”

  23. #23 |  kant | 

    Is there anyway to get a copy of the warrant? $10 says they didn’t inform the judge that the people in the home had a valid mmj license.

    I really wish that full disclosure were required to obtain a search warrant.

  24. #24 |  Onlooker | 

    Very good points about judges signing off on crappy warrants. This needs addressing too, along with the cop side of this police state-like activity.

  25. #25 |  Whim | 

    The Police, the Prosecutors, and the Judges (who are mostly former Prosecutors) are collectively a system of Injustice and Oppression.

    What those poor citizens in Colorado Springs experienced is Oppression, pure and simple. I am thankful that they are even still alive, albeit suffering PTSD, and having injured pets and a damaged home.

    Make marijuana legal. Make it legal NOW. Even if you have 100 lbs. of it.

    Perfectly legal.

    What folly to try and control people that are simply trying to:

    Escape Reality.

    Folly.

  26. #26 |  SJE | 

    I wonder if local citizens go the local PD to file a complaint, will they be met with the same BS that you see on yesterday’s Agitator posting? Funny how the “nothing to hide” argument only goes one way.

  27. #27 |  Billy Beck | 

    “If you have nothing to hide, why can’t I search?”

    Because it’s none of your fucking *business*. That’s why.

  28. #28 |  Player1 | 

    C. S. P. Schofield

    hit the god damn nail on the god damn head.
    why would anyone trust a public servant who knowingly
    and willingly breaks the law for their own benefit?

  29. #29 |  nigmalg | 

    “I really wish that full disclosure were required to obtain a search warrant.”

    Based on precedent around the exclusionary rule, full disclosure is already required. The problem is that enforcement only exists once you’re at an evidentiary hearing, e.g., getting the evidence thrown out before trial.

    If the cops want to just evade the truth and harass you with a search, there is very little recourse outside of a paltry civil suit after the fact.

  30. #30 |  orangeyouglad | 

    I think the utterance of the “if you have nothing to hide…” cliche, is the perfect opportunity to ask for full disclosure of the records of everyone involved in the incident.

  31. #31 |  terrence | 

    Even more evidence that PIGS are sociopathic goons.

    The so-called “good cops” who do not publicly denounce the sociopathic goons, are just as bad as the sociopathic goons.

    Sue the PIGS! Hit the taxpayers in the pocket – they may wake up and clean up their police forces.

  32. #32 |  Dante | 

    While I agree that the police need a refresher course in the constitution, and that judges should be held accountable for the bad warrants they sign, and the police should not shoot or explode things where dogs and their owners live, there is another pressing question:

    Why must the SWAT team break the dishes?

    In most SWAT raids I’ve seen via this site or Youtube, the police behave like drunken vikings – smashing china and windows and basically destroying the otherwise-neat house. Why? What is the purpose of that? What safety enhancement is obtained by destroying china and such?

  33. #33 |  Mike | 

    Please note that the people doing all the heavy lifting were LOCAL COPS.

    I’ve said it a million times: if the local/county/state cops don’t support these raids, the Feds will not have the manpower needed to prosecute the War on Drugs.

    CO is set to put a marijuana legalization referendum on the ballot. Even if it passes, it will make no difference because the state-level LEOs will continue to provide the muscle to enforce federal laws and regulations on marijuana. These LEOs will gladly trade their manpower in exchange for federal grants for all sort of goodies (machine guns, armored battle vehicles, and so on).

    Make LEOs choose: 30 pieces of silver from the FEDGOV or a long stint in state prison for breaking state law. In other words, any LEO who attempts to enforce federal law in contravention of a state law legalizing marijuana will be tried in state court, by a jury drawn from citizens of that state, and sent to state prison for 10-to-20.

    Simple.

  34. #34 |  Roho | 

    Dante –

    My armchair-take is it’s pure intimidation. The same as screaming obscenities at the occupants. There’s no safety aspect to it, no tactical advantage; but there sure is a large intimidation factor to having a knee on the back of your neck, and an armed thug threatening to shoot your effing brains out, while another goon smashes all your family’s heirlooms.

    After all, it’s a technique that’s worked for the mob for generations.

  35. #35 |  V-Man | 

    @#32

    It’s part efficiency, part punishment, part fun.

    Efficiency: it’s faster and easier to throw stuff on the ground (breaking it) to check if there’s a small bag of weed hidden behind them than picking up piles of plates one by one and placing them delicately on the counter.

    Punishment: F***ing hippies and their dangerous drugs, we’ll teach them a lesson. …Whaddya mean, wrong house?

    Fun: smashing things is a great way to evacuate stress, especially when you don’t have to pay for them.

  36. #36 |  J | 

    @Waste-
    I know everyone is concentrating on the cops in this. But I’d also like to see some exposure on the judge that signed off on warrant. What was the PC that he felt warranted it?

    Cops usually work with either the South Metro Drug Task Force or the North Metro DTF. Both are notoriously corrupt and can’t stand legal medical marijuana.

    I had my six plants growing in my basement for my medical condition, and a neighbor or someone else went through my trash and found evidence of a grow. Empty nutrient bottles and dead marijuana leaves. South Metro showed up, warrant in hand, ‘reasonable suspicion of illegal cultivation’.

    There were no issues, odor or otherwise, and no one ever came to investigate or question whether I was even a legit card holder. Just the task force with a dozen cars and even more officers. Thankfully the dogs escaped to the neighbors before they could be shot by the cops.

  37. #37 |  lunchstealer | 

    If I have nothing to hide, then you cops don’t need to go rooting through my stuff.

  38. #38 |  Brian | 

    “And no Warrants shall issue, but upon Tell-tale sign …”

    Hmmmmm, I think I misspelled something there.

  39. #39 |  croaker | 

    @14 How about we duct tape a cherry bomb to their scrotum and light the fuze?

  40. #40 |  Kevin Carson | 

    “Can we please send every cop who utters the ‘if you have nothing to hide . . . ‘ line to Fourth Amendment reeducation camp?”

    Or at least quote it back to them when they stomp the shit out of somebody for recording them?

    Also, an electric utility that provides customer information to cops without a warrant should be civilly liable for violating customer privacy.

  41. #41 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

    “If you have nothing to hide, why can’t I search?”

    Because the last time I let you pukes search my property a $50 bill and an ipod turned up missing from my center console. That’s why.

  42. #42 |  Burgers Allday | 

    So, when it’s clear that they WOULD let them in with a warrant, is there any way to make a case that using SWAT was punitive? I mean, clearly, that was the case here… but is there any way to get a court to see that?

    This is an interesting set of legal issues that is in the long, long process of being resolved. A lawyer is going to think about the Constitution first.

    Is the punishment being doled out in retaliation against something the regcit said (possible 1A violation)?

    Did the SWAT team do an essentially punitive confiscation of any guns (as they did in the recent Millender case) (Possible 2A violation)?

    Did the punitive aspect extend the SWAT team’s stay beyond the time that was reasonably justified them being in there under all circumstances (possible 3A violation)?

    Was it excessive force (4a violation)?

    5A violation? 6A violation? There probably is no 7A violation.

    Does it amount to cruel and unusual, or disproportionate, punishment (possible 8A violation)?

    Is it punitive because they are illegal immigrants (possible 10A violation, although there is an obvious standing issue on this one)?

    Is it because they are black or Hispanic (possible equal protection violation)? I think this may require the showing of a pattern of discrimination, which can make it difficult. On the other hand, with the right jury!

    Due process violation under the 14th? Other types of due process violation?

    I think these are most of the possible Constitutionally based claims. Then there is state constitutional law, state law and federal law.

    Most of the foregoing types of claims have not really been legally tested in the context of a “punitive” SWAT raid. For example, while the taking of Augusta Millender’s rifle during a (probably punitive) police raid, SCOTUS recently decided that this may or may not be a 4A violation. I don’t think they touched, for example, whether there was 2A violation. I know they didn’t touch on whether there was an 8A violation, etc., etc. Law moves slow.

    CUT TO THE CHASE

    Of course, the big one is excessive force under 4a. A “punitive” SWAT raid. The punitive motivation does not matter in and of itself for 4A based claims. What has to happen for police liability (and/or other remedies) is that the punitive motivation must cause the policeman to do something that she is not justified in doing (even if her motivations had been pure). Which is a long way of saying that the punitive motivation does not matter. This is why, for example, the possible punitive motivation was not discussed in the Millender case (where the cops were looking for a bad man who had made the police look very, very, very bad). The fact that police were looking for a bad man was assumed to justify ultraviolence, as it would apparently have been justified if the police officers involved had been emotionless individuals. Under 4A based claims, the key thing is not what police think, but rather what they do.

    A good case to think about is Peyton Strickland. Punitive SWAT raid killed him. The raid was based on a possible robbery (it looks like the “victim” may have been the one with the knife and there was some suggestion that he had agreed in advance to deliver the game console to the “robbers”) which Peyton may or may not have been indirectly involved with (that is, he may or may not have been one of the “robbers”). Despite the (laudable) efforts of ppl like Mr. Balko, the Strickland family (father a big shot civil lawyer) kept the matter hush hush and settled (fairly quickly) for somewhere upwards of $4million, with most of it going to charity IIRC. This is the kind of case where the law works. Great police deterent (don’t think it wasn’t just because you didn’t hear about the settlement). No windfall for random relative either. No expensive litigation and attendant windfall for litigation attys. When the law works well, this is how it works. Pity that most don’t get to see it.

  43. #43 |  Burgers Allday | 

    “(that is, he may or may not have been one of the “robbers”)”

    should have been:

    –(IIIRC the police thought he was only a “fence” but the evidence of that was not terribly strong)–

    FURTHER COMMENT:

    I don’t remember if it was ever announced whether the video game console Peyton was playing on when he perished was one allegedly misappropriated, allegedly by Peyton’s alleged co-conspirators.

  44. #44 |  Deoxy | 

    The punitive motivation does not matter in and of itself for 4A based claims.

    OK, I think I can get there (if it was reasonable to do something, it doesn’t matter if the reasonable reasons are why it was done)… but it SHOULD matter for cases where there was a violation, right?

    So, in this case, when it was clear that the people would certainly let them in and comply with a warrant, would it not be that there was no reasonable case for the SWAT team?

    For simplicity of discussion, let’s assume that there’s some kind of “smoking gun” evidence that the guy whose decision it was to send in SWAT did so for entirely punitive reasons (a recording of “Let’s bust his A– with the SWAT team – don’t NOBODY say no to us!” or something obvious like that), and further assume that it was very clear that there was no other justification for SWAT (“I will certainly not give you permission to search, but if you have a warrant, I will certainly comply” or something like that).

    What are the remedies?

  45. #45 |  Jack Dunphy's Evil Twin | 

    Can we please send every cop who utters the “if you have nothing to hide . . . ” line to Fourth Amendment reeducation camp?

    Fuck that shit, straight to Gitmo.

  46. #46 |  Burgers Allday | 

    @44: i ASKED THAT exact question at the Orin Kerr forum of VC the other day. I don’t know the answer.

  47. #47 |  John | 

    The cops simply don’t care about any of the amendments except the 5th — and involving that one is a confession in their minds.

  48. #48 |  croaker | 

    @47 That’s why some of them have “MIRANDA” tattooed on their knuckles.

  49. #49 |  tired dog | 

    Collateral damage is not relevant to the enrichment of the drugwarrior class whose appetite for more money, more toys and less freedom for you must be fed.

  50. #50 |  buzz | 

    “My response to other conservatives to this, which always shuts them up, is “because do-gooders and evil men are not only often one in the same, but tend to see evil where it doesn’t exist.””

    that’s nice. What’s your response to Liberals? I doubt that your pity comment always shuts either liberal or conservatives up.

  51. #51 |  Aaron | 

    When your only tool is a hammer (or SWAT gear and submachine guns), everything starts to look like a nail..

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