Skip to comments.Largo (Florida) police apologize for entering home without search warrant
Posted on 03/05/2014 6:56:40 AM PST by rarestia
Largo police have apologized for entering a home without a search warrant and kicking in a bedroom door at a transitional housing property where they believed vagrants had taken over an empty home, according to a Sergeant who was there at the time.
The incident happened around noon on Sunday at a home located on 128th Lane N., in Largo, according to dispatch records.
"We explained to them why we were there and why we were in the house," said Sgt. Andrew Hill. "(We) immediately told them that we were absolutely sorry for coming into the house."
Tenant Keith Montgomery said he was lying on his bed, listening to music on his headphones, when two officers knocked on his bedroom door.
"I get up and answer the door and the next thing I know I have weapons pulled on me, and they say, 'get down on the ground, get down on the ground.' It scared me to death," he said. "Then they proceeded to tell me I was a vagrant and I needed to vacate the building because this house is supposed to be empty."
Montgomery said two weeks earlier he signed a month-to-month lease for $500 to rent a bedroom inside that home. Property manager Teresa Webb said 5 people were living in the 7-unit transitional housing property. Webb said police kicked in the door to the bedroom of another tenant who was out getting a sandwich.
"The guy that lives in (that) room had gone to get something to eat," Webb said. "They kicked in the door and realized that it was just the TV that they were hearing."
Hill said police received complaints from neighbors that vagrants were trespassing inside a vacant home.
"We responded there under the impression that it was a house that was either in foreclosure or that was vacant," he said. "We do have several of those in the city, and we do have problems with vagrants moving into those houses."
Hill said he and Officer Carl Carbaugh made numerous attempts to get someone to come to the front door before they entered the home.
"We banged on the door, we banged on the windows. I felt that the officer had kind of used due diligence to try and make them come out and nobody had responded," Hill said. "At that point, we tried the front door and it was open."
The sergeant said he and Carbaugh had a gun and stun gun drawn when they entered the home as proper safety protocol. Hill said after they found out the tenants had leases, he offered to have the city pay to fix the minor damage to the bedroom door frame that Officer Carbaugh kicked in.
"I told them that I would be sending an email and that we would completely take care of the problem for them," he said. "Again, I apologized, hoping that they would have come out a little sooner and told us what was going on."
Unlocked door leads to "common area"
Attorney Jay Hebert, who has no connection to the incident, said generally speaking, law enforcement can only enter a home when they've been invited, have a search warrant or just witnessed a forcible felony.
"There's no right for them to break that door down," he said. "There's no right for them to go in there."
Hebert said that under the law nobody has to answer a knock at the door by an officer. But it can prevent problems.
"Once nobody answered the door, we then create a new problem. When does law enforcement get to cross that threshold and go in and start that investigation?," he said. "What's unique about this situation is the concept that these rooms were being rented out individually."
Hebert said the officers could argue they opened the unlocked front door to a "common area" but crossed the line when they kicked in the locked bedroom door.
"Once you go into a common area, now you start breaking down doors inside that common area, that's a problem. Every citizen has under the 4th amendment the right to be free from illegal search and seizures," said Hebert. "We have a right to privacy and a right to make those decisions for ourselves. Whether we let law enforcement in."
Hill said officers do not go into homes unless they have to.
"Police protocol, we can't just walk away," he said. "Especially if we think that it's a house that's being occupied by vagrants or trespassers. ... We would go in to protect the property."
Hebert said it's refreshing that Largo police offered to correct a mistake, but he doesn't think the officers should have entered the home in the first place.
"The prudent thing would've probably been to get a search warrant if they felt that that situation was so dangerous," he said. "They do warrants every day, and it would've been very simple to do that."
"They just walked in off of hearsay," Montgomery said. "That's all it was, hearsay."
Montgomery said he's having trouble sleeping since the incident because he's worried officers are going to invade his home again.
"This is a good place. It's to help people get back on their feet," he said. "I don't need to be invaded by police just because somebody has an idea in their head."
How’s the dog???
I think the police force’s explanation is BULLSHIT! Too many out-of-control cops out there who need to be put in their place.
Sorry? Just like the guy that shot the cops in Pheonix is sorry..
“, law enforcement can only enter a home when they’ve been invited, have a search warrant or just witnessed a forcible felony. “
They can also enter an abandoned dwelling. We used to do that when I was in EMS.
..sue their badges off
An American peasant's natural position in front of his Owners' violent sheepdogs...
Geez. Didn't these peasants know that they IMMEDIATELY have to stop what they're doing, and grovel in front of the .gov gunthugs?
They're lucky they didn't get what that woman who reported someone trying to pass a counterfeit bill at her place of work got...
Maybe they’ll send the dog an email too
CONFRONTATION Uber Alles!!!
I am sure there are many good cops and that is my experience with them, mostly positive. But more and more I hear stories of people on stuff as innocuous as a traffic stop with a cop with a real attitude. With the buzzcut, the leather gloves, the gortex military style holster and a huge canon in it. The cops that have a hair trigger tempers and just want to provoke a physical confrontation to show how tough they are. I had one state trooper outside Orlando who pulled my daughter and I over for speeding. After the normal “license and registration” I was waiting in the car talking with my daughter. The tropper pokes his head in the car abruptly..”What the F*** did you say, get out of the car Sir....”. My daughter got upset and I was being calm and asked the trooper...”Sorry sir what did I say?... Long story short, I got out of the car and he got in my face and then on a dime calmed down, gave me my ticket and left. I was like “WTF was that!”
I do Grav Maga and a few guys in my class, cops who should NOT be learning Grav. They are like the HS bully with a badge
In before the “in before” people get here.
“Wolves” is more accurate.
“Sheepdogs” is more apt for those of us who speak out against them, IMHO.
Who officially said it was an abandoned dwelling?
The voices in their heads.
If they had had a K-9 unit with them, it could have given them a warrant...
There is another finer point here. VACANT does not officially mean abandoned.
by Brenda Lee
No one. I was just clarifying.
Okay...no problem. We have entirely too large a percentage of police in this country who seem to think because they have a badge can do whatever the hell they want and then cite procedure or some other specious bullsh!t. Couple that attitude with an entirely too seeming willingness to hide the facts, evidence and anything else exculpatory for a victim and you have a Jackbooted tyranny. Just way too much of it in my opinion.
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