Skip to comments.Police Commandeer Homes, Get Sued
Posted on 07/04/2013 8:30:11 AM PDT by Altariel
LAS VEGAS (CN) - Henderson police arrested a family for refusing to let officers use their homes as lookouts for a domestic violence investigation of their neighbors, the family claims in court.
Anthony Mitchell and his parents Michael and Linda Mitchell sued the City of Henderson, its Police Chief Jutta Chambers, Officers Garret Poiner, Ronald Feola, Ramona Walls, Angela Walker, and Christopher Worley, and City of North Las Vegas and its Police Chief Joseph Chronister, in Federal Court.
Henderson, pop. 257,000, is a suburb of Las Vegas.
The Mitchell family's claim includes Third Amendment violations, a rare claim in the United States. The Third Amendment prohibits quartering soldiers in citizens' homes in times of peace without the consent of the owner.
"On the morning of July 10th, 2011, officers from the Henderson Police Department responded to a domestic violence call at a neighbor's residence," the Mitchells say in the complaint.
It continues: "At 10:45 a.m. defendant Officer Christopher Worley (HPD) contacted plaintiff Anthony Mitchell via his telephone. Worley told plaintiff that police needed to occupy his home in order to gain a 'tactical advantage' against the occupant of the neighboring house. Anthony Mitchell told the officer that he did not want to become involved and that he did not want police to enter his residence. Although Worley continued to insist that plaintiff should leave his residence, plaintiff clearly explained that he did not intend to leave his home or to allow police to occupy his home. Worley then ended the phone call.
Mitchell claims that defendant officers, including Cawthorn and Worley and Sgt. Michael Waller then "conspired among themselves to force Anthony Mitchell out of his residence and to occupy his home for their own use." (Waller is identified as a defendant in the body of the complaint, but not in the heading of it.)
The complaint continues: "Defendant Officer David Cawthorn outlined the defendants' plan in his official report: 'It was determined to move to 367 Evening Side and attempt to contact Mitchell. If Mitchell answered the door he would be asked to leave. If he refused to leave he would be arrested for Obstructing a Police Officer. If Mitchell refused to answer the door, force entry would be made and Mitchell would be arrested.'"
At a few minutes before noon, at least five defendant officers "arrayed themselves in front of plaintiff Anthony Mitchell's house and prepared to execute their plan," the complaint states.
It continues: "The officers banged forcefully on the door and loudly commanded Anthony Mitchell to open the door to his residence.
"Surprised and perturbed, plaintiff Anthony Mitchell immediately called his mother (plaintiff Linda Mitchell) on the phone, exclaiming to her that the police were beating on his front door.
"Seconds later, officers, including Officer Rockwell, smashed open plaintiff Anthony Mitchell's front door with a metal ram as plaintiff stood in his living room.
"As plaintiff Anthony Mitchell stood in shock, the officers aimed their weapons at Anthony Mitchell and shouted obscenities at him and ordered him to lie down on the floor.
"Fearing for his life, plaintiff Anthony Mitchell dropped his phone and prostrated himself onto the floor of his living room, covering his face and hands.
"Addressing plaintiff as 'asshole', officers, including Officer Snyder, shouted conflicting orders at Anthony Mitchell, commanding him to both shut off his phone, which was on the floor in front of his head, and simultaneously commanding him to 'crawl' toward the officers.
"Confused and terrified, plaintiff Anthony Mitchell remained curled on the floor of his living room, with his hands over his face, and made no movement.
"Although plaintiff Anthony Mitchell was lying motionless on the ground and posed no threat, officers, including Officer David Cawthorn, then fired multiple 'pepperball' rounds at plaintiff as he lay defenseless on the floor of his living room. Anthony Mitchell was struck at least three times by shots fired from close range, injuring him and causing him severe pain." (Parentheses in complaint.)
Officers then arrested him for obstructing a police officer, searched the house and moved furniture without his permission and set up a place in his home for a lookout, Mitchell says in the complaint.
He says they also hurt his pet dog for no reason whatsoever: "Plaintiff Anthony Mitchell's pet, a female dog named 'Sam,' was cowering in the corner when officers smashed through the front door. Although the terrified animal posed no threat to officers, they gratuitously shot it with one or more pepperball rounds. The panicked animal howled in fear and pain and fled from the residence. Sam was subsequently left trapped outside in a fenced alcove without access to water, food, or shelter from the sun for much of the day, while temperatures outside soared to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit."
Anthony and his parents live in separate houses, close to one another on the same street. He claims that police treated his parents the same way.
"Meanwhile, starting at approximately 10:45 a.m., police officers entered the back yard of plaintiffs Michael Mitchell and Linda Mitchell's residence at 362 Eveningside Avenue. The officers asked plaintiff Michael Mitchell if he would be willing to vacate his residence and accompany them to their 'command center' under the guise that the officers wanted Michael Mitchell's assistance in negotiating the surrender of the neighboring suspect at 363 Eveningside Avenue. Plaintiff Michael Mitchell reluctantly agreed to follow the officers from his back yard to the HPD command center, which was approximately one quarter mile away," the complaint states.
"When plaintiff Michael Mitchell arrived at the HPD command center, he was informed that the suspect was 'not taking any calls' and that plaintiff Michael Mitchell would not be permitted to call the suspect neighbor from his own phone. At that time, Mr. Mitchell realized that the request to accompany officers to the HPD command center was a tactic to remove him from his house. He waited approximately ten minutes at the HPD command center and was told he could not return to his home.
"Plaintiff Michael Mitchell then left HPD command center and walked down Mauve Street toward the exit of the neighborhood. After walking for less than five minutes, an HPD car pulled up next to him. He was told that his wife, Linda Mitchell, had 'left the house' and would meet him at the HPD command center. Michael Mitchell then walked back up Mauve Street to the HPD command center. He called his son, James Mitchell, to pick him up at the HPD command center. When plaintiff Michael Mitchell attempted to leave the HPD command center to meet James, he was arrested, handcuffed and placed in the back of a marked police car.
"Officers had no reasonable grounds to detain plaintiff Michael Mitchell, nor probable cause to suspect him of committing any crime.
"At approximately 1:45 p.m., a group of officers entered the backyard of plaintiffs Michael Mitchell and Linda Mitchell's residence at 362 Eveningside Avenue. They banged on the back door of the house and demanded that plaintiff Linda Mitchell open the door.
"Plaintiff Linda Mitchell complied and opened the door to her home. When she told officers that they could not enter her home without a warrant, the officers ignored her. One officer, defendant Doe 1, seized her by the arm, and other officers entered her home without permission.
"Defendant Doe 1 then forcibly pulled plaintiff Linda Mitchell out of her house.
"Another unidentified officer, defendant Doe 2, then seized plaintiff Linda Mitchell's purse and began rummaging through it, without permission, consent, or a warrant.
"Defendant Doe 1 then escorted Linda Mitchell at a brisk pace through her yard and up the hill toward the 'Command Post' while maintaining a firm grip on her upper arm. Plaintiff Linda Mitchell is physically frail and had difficulty breathing due to the heat and the swift pace. However, Doe 1 ignored her pleas to be released or to at least slow down, and refused to provide any explanation for why she was being treated in such a manner.
"In the meantime, the officers searched and occupied plaintiffs Michael Mitchell and Linda Mitchell's house. When plaintiff Linda Mitchell returned to her home, the cabinets and closet doors throughout the house had been left open and their contents moved about. Water had been consumed from their water dispenser. Even the refrigerator door had been left ajar and mustard and mayonnaise had been left on their kitchen floor."
Police took Anthony and Michael Mitchell to jail and booked them for obstructing an officer. They were jailed for at least nine hours before they bailed out, they say in the complaint. All criminals charged were dismissed with prejudice. They claim the defendants filed the baseless criminal charges "to provide cover for defendants' wrongful actions, to frustrate and impede plaintiffs' ability to seek relief for those actions, and to further intimidate and retaliate against plaintiffs."
None of the officers were ever subjected to official discipline or even inquiry, the complaint states.
The Mitchells seek punitive damages for violations of the third, fourth and 14th Amendments, assault and battery, conspiracy, defamation, abuse of process, malicious prosecution, negligence and emotional distress.
They are represented by Benjamin C. Durham, with Cofer, Geller & Durham, in Las Vegas.
Oh man, it’s just one thing after another isn’t it?
For a domestic violence case??? Not for a BOMB MAKING case or MURDER case.....OMG.
I hope all involved got medical treatment upon release. They’re going to need those records. From what I can see, the only witnesses are the cops and the defendants.
Absolutely, no one has to allow government to use privately owned property for government operations, violation of the third amendment. These police have gone too far.
I certainly hope these officers, and their commanding officer, will be held PERSONALLY liable for this travesty. I hate it when the taxpayers end up paying for this BS.
Criminal prosecution is warranted. Up to and including the police chief.
We now live in a police state, where the police make their own rules and laws.
Question: if one were well-armed, with plenty of ammo and “assault weapons” in the home - would it not have been suicidal to attempt to protect oneself from such illegal actions?
I.e., we are helpless.
How soon before the cop quislings come on this thread to defend what the HPD did?
Aren't these the same LEOs who murdered a shopper at Costco ?
Hey! I know! Let’s just make-up the laws on the fly...!
I think that was Las Vegas' finest [sic]
Not for ANYTHING,Got it?
I think that was Las Vegas' finest [sic]
It seems that the Lawlessness is spreading.
Got it, however it would make a TAD bit of difference, but just a tad.
Bunch of gestapo pig bastards. Henderson is off my “places I’d like to visit” list.
I am a LEO, who will in no way defend these dirt bag street cops. I hope they are held personally liable, so the tax payer does not foot the bill, then prosecuted for this travesty. I am not hopeful, however.
Welcome to the USSA, comrades!
Felony - depravation of rights under color of law. This is a federal felony in the US code.
It may work (emphasis on "may") when you have good people in power - good Executive, good Federal, good cops - but get some bad eggs like our current feral occupant of the White House, and these ignoramuses in the Henderson PD, and you see the result.
I think most of the people that support LEO when they do this sort of craziness are in complete denial. Their knowledge of LEO is either very dated or they live in an area where this type of thing has never happened. They just have no concept that LEO could act this way.
Years ago, I read a novel that had as it’s first scene the following:
Couple sitting at home read or watching TV and the SWAT team shows up and orders them out of the house because they need it for a sniper position. The couple leaves without making any fuss and as they exit the door they hear... Hey check the fridge maybe they’ve got some beer!
It sounded so d*mn far-fetched at the time. Today though? Yeah, totally believable.
The end result in the novel was an ‘underground resistance’ dedicated to eliminating the government and restoring it with a constitutional one. (It’s a NOVEL, NSA!)
Still it makes you wonder what the author saw so many decades ago that made him write such a story.
How predictable. I would have actually been surprised if they had NOT hurt the dog... sadistic, pea-brained monkeys.
Thank you for speaking out against this.
The tax-payers can change their city gubmit. Yes they should pay for enabling this culture to have free run in Henderson.
Things have become so out of hand with LEO in the past twenty years. This strong-arm LEO culture not going to end well, FOR THEM.
I agree with you. We still have Andy Taylors out there, but there are too many idiots like the ones in Henderson, unfortunately. Would that we had more Sheriff Andys...
A benevolent dictatorship is a dictatorship nonetheless. I want nothing of it.
We don't need the ideological cripples that make up the SCOTUS to determine constitutionality of this garbage. Thinking men know it is unconstitutional. Period.
Henderson’s finest performing to their usual standard of excellence.
This tactic of two or more police yelling conflicting orders at a person has even been shown on the Fox show, "Cops."
The advantage is that no matter what the person does, a charge of disobeying the lawful order of a policeman can always be made.
they are getting us used to totalitarianism
Point well taken. I didn't mean to imply that I was in favor of the Patriot Act.
I have often joked that now that the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 9th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution are now null and void, as soon as the Government started quartering troops in people’s homes without permission in violation of the 3th Amendment, I was going to have to take action.
Looks like they are going to put me to the test...
shocked and disgusted ping
The police report citing the multiple plans for dealing with the residents will also play well, as will a good examination of the use of force against the son on the first entry.
One of the huge things that will cost the city a lot of money is picking the wrong guy to contact the victims in the first place. If they were dealing with a barricaded suspect and wanted access to the other properties, it is all in the way you sell it. There are probably several guys in that department that could have gotten access to those home with a smile, a handshake and an expression of concern for the homeowners' safety, but they didn't one of those guys.
I am sure that the legal pleading puts the worst spin possible on it, but there is still a huge WTF factor on this whole event. The saddest part of this story is that they were able to assemble so many officers willing to do something that screwed up, without somebody saying stop and think about this.
I don’t have time to read this piece now, but I did read the other day that all Rand Paul needed to have a perfect straight (my phrase) was to have the 3rd amendment become controversial.
Freaking cops are out of control all over the country, I find that puzzling and disturbing.
BBL to read it all.
“would it not have been suicidal to attempt to protect oneself from such illegal actions?”
The account lists 5 hostiles attacking. Not good odds, but not suicide either.
There are certain circumstances in which this behavior might have been somewhat justified.
Such as cops involved in an actual firefight. At that point the necessity to protect human life takes precedence, quite rightly, over the formalities of warrants and such.
For instance, imagine terrorists taking over a school and holding children hostage. Cops should not have to wait for warrants to take tactical positions in adjoining homes.
But that does not appear to have been what was happening in this case.
BTW, I doubt violation of 3rd applies. “Quartering of soldiers” has a pretty specific meaning, and it isn’t cops taking up tactical positions in your home. Other constitutional violations may definitely apply, but not the 3rd.
When such accounts are read, it should be kept in mind that they are one side of a story as written by an attorney. They are not necessarily the truth, whole truth and nothing but.
I did not think you meant that. I was more or less adding to your comment.
Okay, let's assume you engage all five hostiles and wound, kill or drive them all off.
Is that the end of the story?
Hardly. They will call in SWAT. Especially if you managed to kill one or more of the "hostiles," your chance of committing suicide in the long run (as in a couple of hours) is excellent.
You are NOT going to "win" a firefight with the cops. Not if they know who and where you are.
I'm perfectly willing to admit there are circumstances in which it's appropriate to die on a particular hill. But before deciding to engage in a firefight with LEO you should at least be aware that is what you are doing.
"The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the force of the crown. It may be frailits roof may shakethe wind may blow through itthe storm may enter, the rain may enterbut the King of England cannot enterall his force dares not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement."
This is the foundation of the Fourth Amendment.
Time has not made it irrelevant.
But this police operation saved hundreds of lives, so we must be willing to trade a small amount of freedom. /s
They would all have been wearing body armor. Just have to make sure you aim where G. Gordon Liddy said.
You may not win the firefight.
But you will stand before God, able to tell Him. “Lord, I defended my wife and the children you gave me, while wicked men attacked me without cause. Forgive me for my trespasses and protect my widow and orphaned children.”
If you are the one invading an innocent man’s home, and you make his wife a widow and his children orphans, it is not the man whom you murdered to whom you will ultimately answer.
Isn't that what caused a legally armed person to lose his life outside of Costco in Las Vegas a couple of years ago?
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