Police Raids

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Web Scan: Cato on Paramilitary Police Raids, John Fugelsang on Drug War for Daily Kos, Australia Institute Drug Prohibition Report

"Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America," report with interactive map by Radley Balko of the Cato Institute

Comedian John Fugelsang blogs about the drug war on Daily Kos in "Who Would Jesus Incarcerate?"

"Domestic Drug Markets and Prohibition," report by Andrew Macintosh of the Australia Institute, to the Australian Parliamentary Group on Drug Law Reform

Search and Seizure: Vermont Judge Says State Constitution Provides Protection Even if Federal Doesn't

The US Supreme Court ruled last month that police officers who violated "knock and announce" search warrant rules could use the ill-gotten evidence against defendants, but that's not good enough for at least one Vermont judge. In a Monday opinion, District Court Judge Robert Bent threw out the evidence in a "knock and announce" search where police rushed the home as soon as the door opened while they were gathering out front.

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warrant needed in Vermont
Under centuries-old common law and decades of US legal practice, most search warrants require police to knock and announce and allow the resident a reasonable time to answer the door. Police who can convince a judge special circumstances require them can apply for a "no-knock" warrant. Last month's Supreme Court ruling effectively gutted the "knock and announce" requirement -- at least in the federal courts.

Vermont should hold itself to a higher standard, said Bent in the case of Ellen Sheltra, who was arrested on marijuana charges after the cops rushed her door. "Evidence obtained in violation of the Vermont Constitution, or as the result of a violation, cannot be admitted at trial as a matter of state law," Bent wrote, citing an earlier state case as precedent. "Introduction of such evidence at trial eviscerates our most sacred rights, impinges on individual privacy, perverts our judicial process, distorts any notion of fairness and encourages official misconduct."

In their dissent in the US Supreme Court case, four justices warned that allowing police to use illegally obtained evidence would lead to police officers ignoring the law. Bent agreed. "The exclusionary remedy should remain in full force and effect," Bent wrote, "at least in our small corner of the nation."

The district court decision is not binding on other judges, but they are likely to take it into consideration in deciding similar cases. Prosecutors have not decided whether to appeal Bent's ruling to the Vermont Supreme Court, where, if it is upheld, it would become binding.

Law Enforcement: Goose Creek Agrees to Pay Up, Change Ways in Settlement of Notorious High School Drug Raid Case

A federal judge Tuesday gave final approval to a landmark settlement in the case of the heavy-handed 2003 police drug raid on students at Stratford High School in Goose Creek, South Carolina. Under the terms of the settlement, the Goose Creek Police Department, the City of Goose Creek, and the Berkeley County School District will pay $1.6 million for violating the rights of nearly 150 students caught in the raid. The trio also signed a consent decree barring police from conducting law enforcement activities on school grounds absent a warrant, probable cause, or voluntary consent.

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early morning high school raid: no drugs or guns found
Caught by both school and police surveillance cameras, video of the raid helped make the case a cause celebre. The tapes show students as young as 14 forced to the ground in handcuffs as officers in SWAT team uniforms and bulletproof vests aim guns at their heads and lead a drug dog to tear through their book bags. Authorized by Principal George McCrackin because he suspected a student was dealing marijuana, the raid came up empty: no drugs or weapons were found and none of the students were charged with any crime.

"They hit that school like it was a crack house, like they knew that there were crack dealers in there armed with guns," said 14-year-old Le'Quan Simpson, who was one of the students forced to kneel at gunpoint in the school hallway and whose father served on a SWAT team.

Simpson's father, Elijah Simpson, a local deputy sheriff who has served on SWAT teams, said, "This was clearly a no-shoot situation no matter how you look at it. A school drug raid is not a SWAT situation, but that's how the Goose Creek police handled it." The police raid was unnecessarily dangerous, the older Simpson added. "It was crossfire just waiting to happen. If one door slammed, one student dropped a book or screamed, and then those guns would have gone off all over the place. Did you see the way they were swinging those guns around? That's not how you do it."

Following the raid, the ACLU brought a lawsuit on behalf of students' families charging police and school officials with violating the students' right to be free from unlawful search and seizure and use of excessive force. The lawsuit demanded a court order declaring the raid unconstitutional and blocking the future use of such tactics, as well as damages on behalf of the students. Joined by local attorneys, the lawsuit grew to include 53 of the affected students.

The American Civil Liberties Union represented 20 of them, including Simpson. "Goose Creek students now have a unique place in our nation," said Graham Boyd, Director of the

ACLU Drug Law Reform Project. "They are the only students in the nation who have complete protection of their Fourth Amendment rights of search and seizure."

Marlon Kimpson, a lawyer with Motley Rice LLC, the firm that represented most of the students, said students involved in the drug sweep must file claims by July 28. A claims administrator appointed by the court will then evaluate each student's claim and determine which students are eligible for the funds, Kimpson said.

"Any student who was searched and seized on Nov. 5, 2003, is now eligible for compensation and they have received notice of that," Kimpson told the Charleston Post & Courier. "It is now incumbent on the students to take action and have their claim considered."

Under the terms of the settlement, the affected students will divide $1.2 million among themselves, while the lawyers will pocket $400,000. Depending on the number of students who agree to the settlement, each could walk away with between $6,000 and $12,000.

The powers that be have learned a lesson, said Kimpson. "McCrackin is no longer in charge, the police have agreed to additional training and school district has vowed to change its policies with respect to the way they conduct drug raids," Kimpson said. "You must conduct drug searches according to the US Constitution. This settlement and this class-action lawsuit is notice to police officers and school officials across the nation that students don't shed their constitutional rights merely by entering a schoolhouse door."

Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America

Localização: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
report from Cato Institute
URL: 
http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=6476

ACLU Wins Settlement for Goose Creek School Raid Victims

press release from the ACLU...
Landmark Settlement Reached in Notorious School Drug Raid Caught on Tape Victims of South Carolina Raid Become Only Students in America with Complete Freedom From Unconstitutional Search and Seizure FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 11, 2006 CONTACT: Daniel Berger, (917) 602-2445; [email protected] GOOSE CREEK, SC -- The American Civil Liberties Union announced today that a federal court has approved a landmark settlement in its lawsuit challenging police tactics in the high-profile drug raid of Stratford High School in Goose Creek, South Carolina. The settlement includes a consent decree that sets a new standard for students' rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. Absent a warrant, police will now need either to have probable cause and pressing circumstances or voluntary consent in order to conduct law enforcement activity on school grounds - effectively granting Goose Creek students the essential privacy rights enjoyed by all Americans. "Goose Creek students now have a unique place in our nation," said Graham Boyd, Director of the ACLU's Drug Law Reform Project. "They are the only students in the nation who have complete protection of their Fourth Amendment rights of search and seizure." The November 5, 2003 police raid of Stratford High School was recorded by both the school's surveillance cameras and a police camera. The tapes show students as young as 14 forced to the ground in handcuffs as officers in SWAT team uniforms and bulletproof vests aim guns at their heads and lead a drug dog to tear through their book bags. The ACLU represents 20 of the nearly 150 students caught up in the raid. The raid was initiated by the school's principal at the time, George McCrackin, who resigned shortly after the tapes surfaced on national television. The raid was authorized based on the principal's suspicion that a single student was dealing marijuana. The raid was carried out despite the suspected student being absent at the time. No drugs or weapons were found during the raid and no charges were filed. While African Americans represented less than a quarter of the high school's students, more than two-thirds of those caught up in the sweep were African American. The raid took place in the early morning hours when the school's hallways are predominantly populated with African American students whose buses -- which largely travel from different neighborhoods -- arrive before those of their white classmates. White students began to arrive during the raid and witnessed the hostile roundup and detention of their African American peers. As 16-year-old Joshua Ody, one of the students caught up in the raid, put it, "I felt like I had less rights than other people that day." Following the raid, the ACLU brought a lawsuit on behalf of students' families charging police and school officials with violating the students' right to be free from unlawful search and seizure and use of excessive force. The lawsuit demanded a court order declaring the raid unconstitutional and blocking the future use of such tactics, as well as damages on behalf of the students. In addition to recognizing students' rights to be free from unconstitutional search and seizure and restricting police tactics, the settlement establishes a $1.6 million dollar fund to compensate the students and help cover medical and counseling costs from the incident. The cost of the settlement will be paid by the city of Goose Creek, the Goose Creek Police Department, and the Berkeley County School District where the school is located, with assistance from their respective insurance companies. It is not yet known exactly how many of the nearly 150 students will accept the settlement. The offer came in response to a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 53 students, of which the ACLU's lawsuit is a part. Both sides agreed to the terms of the settlement earlier this year. The agreement received judicial approval yesterday. The ACLU's clients are: 15-year-old Carl Alexander, Jr.; 15-year-old Rodney Goodwin; 17-year-old Samuel Ody III; 17-year-old Micah Bryant; 15-year-old Marcus Blakeney; 14-year-old Danyielle Ashley Cills; 15-year-old Cedric Penn, Jr.; 14-year-old Elijah Le'Quan Simpson; 14-year-old Jeremy Bolger; 14-year-old Tristan Cills; 14-year-old Arielle Pena; 17-year-old Jalania McCullough; 17-year-old Cedric Simmons; 14-year-old Nathaniel Smalls; 15-year-old Timothy Rice; 15-year-old Shnikqua Simmons; 16-year-old Joshua Ody; 16-year-old De'Nea Dykes; 15-year-old Chernitua Bryant; and 18-year-old Rodricus Perry. A school surveillance video of the raid with narration by Principal McCrackin may be viewed at: http://stream.realimpact.net/?file=realimpact/aclu/20031205_ACLU_DrugBust.rm The essential terms of the settlement may be viewed at: www.aclu.org/drugpolicy/youth/24952lgl20060407.html
Localização: 
Goose Creek, SC
United States

Medical Marijuana: Five Arrested, 13 Dispensaries Raided by DEA in San Diego

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Feds Hit San Diego Medical Marijuana Co-ops Again
Just a week after the US House of Representatives voted to continue funding Justice Department raids on medical marijuana patients and providers in states where it is legal, the feds struck again. Five people have been arrested in a series of DEA and local police raids Thursday hitting 13 medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego County. Some people are being charged under state marijuana distribution laws in the cooperative federal-local effort. More arrests are expected, local law enforcement officials said.

The raids and arrests came as federal officials unsealed two indictments, one charging the Purple Bud Room and Tender Holistics Care dispensaries with illegally distributing marijuana, the other laying similar charges against five people who owned and operated Co-op San Diego.

The feds also went after four doctors on suspicion of providing medical marijuana recommendations for people the officials claimed did not legitimately need marijuana. State and federal officials have filed complaints with the state Medical Board against the doctors.

The San Diego District Attorney's Office announced it was filing marijuana distribution charges against five dispensaries: Ocean Beach Dispensary and Utopia, both on Voltaire Street in Ocean Beach; Native Sun Dispensary on Rosecrans Street, in the Midway District; THC Dispensary, no longer in business, in Pacific Beach; and the California Medical Center, on La Jolla Boulevard in La Jolla.

In a statement announcing the busts, the DA's Office said it was not aiming at medical marijuana patients, but at retail pot outlets disguised as dispensaries. "Our office has no intention of stopping those who are chronically ill with AIDS, glaucoma and cancer from obtaining any legally prescribed drug, including medical marijuana, to help them ease their pain," said DA Bonnie Dumanis said. But the state's medical marijuana law is "being severely abused and it has led to the neighborhood pot dealer opening up storefronts from La Jolla to Ocean Beach to North Park," she said.

Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the medical marijuana defense group, announced in an e-mail Thursday afternoon it was holding an emergency meeting in San Diego that evening to craft a response.

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