This past December, I wrote a pretty lengthy piece on No-Knock warrants, and why they are not only unconstitutional, but just plain wrong.
Well, just a few days ago, there was another case of a no-knock raid that got botched all to hell.
In my previous article, I argued that no-knock warrants lend for violations of the 4th and 5th amendments based strictly on their very nature. This latest botched raid only further proves that point.Some "highlights" from this raid:
- No communication with local law enforcement
- The person dropping off the package was actually a cop acting like a delivery person.
- The cops killed the family's dogs, one of which was running away
- One of the detectives thought it was a good idea to be making personal calls while on the job. She even stated that she was excited to have her first raid made on the mayor's house.
and here's the doozy, kids:
- The warrant issued was a standard warrant.
Let me repeat -
That's right kids, why bother with even getting a no-knock in the first place - just get a regular one (or none at all) and kick down the door! It's a party for the whole family! You can thank the SCOTUS for that one. In that decision, the Supreme Court decided that the exclusionary rule doesn't apply if the knock and announce provision of standard warrants aren't adhered to. Problem is that the people who ruled in favor of that are the (in)justices that I would normally agree with (and wouldn't expect to make a stupid ruling like this).
The problem here is that there is absolutely no recourse for these botched raids. Sure you might get a judge that would actually make use of the exclusionary rule (where the case actually goes to trial), and in this instance, Mayor Calvo is filing a complaint with the justice department. However the former doesn't really matter if someone dies (especially an innocent) as a result; the latter is situation specific, and certainly not guaranteed to produce any results.
Now before I continue on to my personal recommendations, I would like to make light of more information I have found since the writing of my last piece regarding no-knocks. The last sentence of the previous article is as follows:
This is why any claims made to the rarity of incorrectly served no-knocks should countered with the fact that, as stated above, the mere possibility of an incorrectly served no-knock warrant violates not just Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution as stated earlier, but also the Fifth Amendment as well by denying liberties without due process.
Here's the truth of the matter folks: these botched raids aren't as rare as the SCOTUS would like you to believe as stated in their ruling on Hudson v. Michigan. The CATO Institute has a map of botched police raids with information about each one with supporting sources. The number is HUGE.
So with all that out of the way, here are some ideas that I have to try and solve the problem of no-knock warrants:
- In cases where citizens have the ability to elect judges (such as the Michigan State Supreme Court or local courts), vet candidates as to whether they will actually uphold the exclusionary rule in cases where no-knock raids occur when only a standard warrant is issued.
- Vet the local judicial candidates about their views on no-knock warrants.
- Vet sheriff candidates about their views on the use of no-knock warrants. Pressure them to make it department policy to not use no-knock warrants.
- Press legislators to enact legislation that would assess civil and criminal penalties upon everyone involved in these raids when things go wrong, especially when innocent people die. This would include, judges/magistrates who issue warrants (gives them a good incentive to make sure the information is good, doesn't it?), the person who gave the go ahead, and those who actually took part in the raid. Make the sentences stiff, too. Kill an innocent? Go to the clink for life, no parole.
- Press legislators to enact legislation that would absolve those subject to a no-knock raid from any penalties that would normally be associated with raid participants getting injured or killed.
- Stop the drug war. It's stupid, it costs way too much money ($1 would be way too much money spent on it), and it's the driving impetus for these no-knock warrants.
Of course I know that there are people looking at recommendations 4 and 5 while subsequently thinking I'm insane. Let me explain my rationale. With recommendation 4, the idea is that if we can't keep the no-knocks from happening, we need to make it so that they have incentive to make sure they are absolutely damn sure that the target of their raid is legitimate.
In terms of recommendation 5 (admittedly the most controversial), we'll start by taking a look at the case of Cory Maye. In this case, the police broke into the apartment of Cory Maye, despite the fact he wasn't even the one listed on the warrant. Maye, unsure of who was trying to enter his home, understandably grabbed his pistol and proceeded to take a defensive posture. When the door was kicked open, Maye fired off 3 rounds. One of the rounds struck a cop just under his vest - this proved fatal for the officer. Maye was subsequently convicted of murder.
Now I know what your thinking, "The officers announced themselves Gillman. Why the hell did he shoot if he knew it was them coming through!? After all, they announced themselves!" Even if this was true, there's a logical explanation why that shouldn't matter: couldn't a criminal announce themselves as law enforcement before kicking down the door? Even if a resident were to have time to safely get eyes on the intruders before making a decision, what's to keep criminals from dressing up as law enforcement? Given the situation, there is absolutely no way to determine the legitimacy of those entering a dwelling before shots start getting fired, and I'll be damned if a homeowner is required to suffer because of the fear of shooting a cop instead of a criminal. That is why I propose solution number 5.
Hopefully the information presented helps in seeing the severity of problems associated with no-knock raids, as well as offer some ideas on how to fix the problem of such raids.