Thursday, May 19, 2011

Marine Survives War in Iraq, Killed in War on Drugs

Jose Guerena, a 26-year-old marine who had completed two tours of duty in Iraq, was gunned down by a SWAT team in Arizona. His wife had told him she had seen someone lurking outside his home, and after he told her to hide in the closet with his child, he grabbed his rifle and went to to investigate. Outside, an officer with an itchy finger and poor trigger discipline accidentally fired a round into a door frame, which caused the rest of the team to rain gunfire down on the man to the tune of 71 bullets. Out of safety concerns, the police waited for an hour before they let the paramedics in. He had already bled to death by that time, his rifle having never having been switched off its safety.

The sheriff refuses to say if they found any contraband in Guerena's house, but does that really matter? Sure, sometimes you leave a soldier who served his country bleeding to death on his kitchen floor, and maybe his kid grows up without a father now, but at least we can breathe a sigh of relief that (possibly) less people are getting high in Arizona tonight. And isn't that worth it? Doesn't that make you feel safe?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"You Have No Right to Challenge Me"

This video says it all. A Philadelphia officer draws his gun on a man walking down the street merely because the guy has a pistol holstered on his waist (which is not illegal in Philly if you have a permit, which he does). The guy puts up his hands, speaks in a respectful tone, attempts to engage the officer in conversation to let him know he's wrong on the facts, and in return is verbally abused and detained by police officers while they verify that they are ignorant of their own rules.

The justification given by the police officer for this treatment?

"You have no right to challenge me."

As a bonus, after posting the audio to YouTube, the DA came back and charged the guy with "reckless endangerment" and "disorderly conduct", which is only an "interfering with a police officer" charge away from the "Contempt of Cop" trifecta.

I guess that's where our "Land of the Free" is these days. Obey or else.

4th Amendment Takes Two More Hits

Police are supposed to need a warrant to search your house, but the courts have previously carved out an exception for "exigent circumstances", where (for example) the police think that a person inside may be destroying evidence (as immortalized in the 4th amendment text, which reads "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, unless the police really want in."). That gap was widened quite a bit this week when the supreme court decided that the police can use exigent circumstance to search a home, even if they're the ones that created the exigent circumstances in the first place. Police in the case claimed they "heard movement" behind the door after they had knocked and shouted "Police!", and therefore feared the occupants were destroying evidence. Apparently, the appropriate thing to do to preserve your rights when the police knock on your door is to stay perfectly still, make absolutely no noise whatsoever, and hope to God your neighbor in the next apartment doesn't flush his toilet.

And in a second blow, the Indiana Supreme Court decided that you don't have the right to resist police when they illegally enter your home, under the argument that even if it's an illegal entry, you can always sue them later rather than resist them now (lawsuits against police misconduct being so easy to win, of course).

So there you have it. The police can easily manufacturer themselves a reason to enter your house without a warrant, but even if they don't bother, there's nothing you can do to stop them anyway. What's does the 4th Amendment actually guard against anymore?