Friday, November 05, 2010

Fearing the Government

When we were children, and even now with our children, they learmn that the police are your friend. That if you are lost or scared and can't find your mommy or daddy, you should go to a police officer and they will help you. And I am sure that most of the time that they do. But sometimes, officers who are not as professional as the old guys become far too much the cowboy, and rather than relying on the force of personality, they prefer the gun to settle things down. And it works, to a point.
Except if you want to have a friendly poker game at your house. Then, you better be prepared for a battering ram followed by gunfire.
A relatively routine raid of a low-stakes poker game in Greenville, South Carolina turned bloody yesterday night — as police tried to gain entry to a poker house. The game host, now known to be Aaron Awtry, 72, shot through the front door, striking sheriff’s deputy Matthew May with a bullet that went through his arm.

A vice squad in SWAT gear returned fire, hitting Awtry with multiple rounds in his arm and thumb … which was followed by a 20-minute standoff between cops and players, according to a spokesman for the Greenville County Sheriff’s Department. Both shooting victims were taken to the hospital where they are in stable condition.

There were 12 people and Awtry in the house at 502 Pine Knoll Drive when police arrived at about 9:20 pm last night. According to frontline witnesses, they had just finished a small buy-in dinnertime tourney … and a 1/2 cash game was just getting underway when someone saw 5-0 approaching on a security monitor. Before he could clearly vocalize an alert, a battery [sic] ram begin slamming the front door and players froze. Awtry, who players say has notoriously bad hearing in his senior years and presumably believed the game was being robbed, began shooting at the door with his pistol, firing “at least once” according to a player, “multiple shots” according to police. At least four officers returned fire at the door with at least 20 bullets from their higher-powered assault weapons.

As Awtry fell back into the poker room entryway, he balked, “Why didn’t you tell me it was the cops?”
But that was South Carolina, and we know that they are all crazy there. It wouldn't happen in Montana.
Except. Now I am relating this from hearsay of people who were there, so I can't vouch for the accuracy of anyone other than the people who told me are very reliable. Apparently, one of the legal assistants of the Office of the Public Defender in Kalispell lived across the street from a house that a friend of hers owns but is letting her young son live there. The legal assistant got a call from the son, saying that the police were wanting to come into the house because they suspected an underage party. The kid told them that they had to get a warrant (smart kid), so they left. Apparently, they didn't have enough information for a warrant, because unknown til later, the officers came back to the house, crossed onto private property in order to look into the windows of the house where they saw a young girl asleep on the bed in a bedroom. Naturally, the officers thought that she must be drunk. Now they had the information they needed to get a warrant (not really but this is Kalispell, where the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures doesn't apply).
The legal assistant had gone over at the request of the mother to see what was going on, and yes, there was an underage party going on. The assistant called an attorney she works for and was on the phone when the cops started banging on the door again, saying that this time they had a warrant. The assistant was still talking to the attorney (who can run on at times) when the cops entered with guns drawn. Luckily none were so clumsy so as to trip and fire a warning shot through some drunk kid. A cop approached her and ordered her to hang up, which she was trying to do by ending the conversation. When she didn't hang up, the cop smacked it out of her hand, where it landed still transmitting to the lawyer the entire unjust entry and arrest. To make a long story short, the legal assistant was arrested and charged with obstructing justice.
She pled not guilty and had to go to trial, where the cops lied about hitting her, and the amateur hour judge allowed in so much extraneous bs it was a miracle that the jury reached the right conclusion and found her not guilty. Now, I am not saying that officers have to be placed in jeopardy when they are doing their jobs, but trespassing, lying to get a warrant, then lying in court are not going to be justified by "officer safety."
What it really does, is instill a distrust of law enforcement by the people who's rights they abuse, and their friends and family. And yes this is Kalispell, but I know that similar things have happened in Missoula and Hamilton. Don't think it hasn't happened in your town. Or maybe some night, someone could be smashing your door in and start shooting at you, and it will all be perfectly legal under "officer safety."


Kevin K. said...

“...maybe some night, someone could be smashing your door in and start shooting at you, and it will all be perfectly legal under "officer safety."

First, you shouldn’t have an outside door that can be smashed in without the assistance of a backhoe or C4.

Second, if you're a law-abiding citizen, anybody who smashes his way into your house, no matter what paperwork he has or what crazy uniform he's wearing, gets killed.

Steve said...

I could agree with you except for a guy in Alabama who shot cops executing a warrant, just on the wrong house. He was sentenced to death, but last I remember, it was being appealed.
Of course it helped convict him that he was black and the cop that died was white and the son of the police chief.

Not advocating violence, but we have less rights than people realize when it comes to defending our homes, except through some help from the legislature and Gary Marbut.

His self defense statute change won't stop the cops from assaulting your house, but will make it more difficult for the county attorney to prosecute you.