Willie Heard, 46, of Osawatomie, Kansas was shot dead in his home on Saturday (2/13), by officers who were enforcing a no-knock search warrant. Officers from the Osawatomie and Paola police departments as well as sheriff's deputies from Miami County took part in the middle of the night raid.
The search warrant indicated crack cocaine, pipes, scales and paraphernalia as the items sought, but a search of the house after the shooting, including the use of a drug-sniffing dog, turned up only "two or three" marijuana cigarette butts.
According to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the officers announced their identities upon entering and found Mr. Heard in his bedroom with a .22 caliber rifle. Heard's 16 year-old daughter told the Topeka Capital-Journal that the officers never identified themselves.
"When they came in, all I heard them say was 'get down! Freeze!'" she told the Journal. "I screamed, 'Daddy!' and I think he thought (I) was in danger. He didn't know they were police officers, because he wouldn't hurt a police officer."
William Delaney, spokesperson for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, told The Week Online that his office was just beginning its investigation, but that video and audio tapes of the raid were made by police, which he had not seen yet. Delaney did confirm that none of the items specified by the warrant were found in the home.
Dick Kurtenbach, executive director of the Missouri chapter of the ACLU, told The Week Online that the judgment shown by the Kansas police was questionable.
"For some reason, the police in this case felt that it was necessary to enter the home at 1:30 in the morning, when the family was sleeping, on a no-knock warrant. Mr. Heard, one would have to assume, thought that his home was being violated and grabbed his rifle to defend it, for which he was shot to death. On top of that, it would appear that the evidence with which the police attained the warrant was faulty as they found none of what they were looking for. No cocaine, no cocaine paraphernalia, just traces of smoked marijuana."
Mr. Kurtenbach noted that drug law enforcement in the region seems to be getting more aggressive. "Most of the complaints that we get here have to do with state police stops on I-70 in Kansas and Missouri and on I-44 in Southern Missouri. Typically, the police have made an alleged traffic stop and then seek permission to search the car. Motorists are often threatened with arrest if they refuse to consent to a search, which is their right. These complaints seem to be on the upswing around here."