Skip to comments.Police drug search intrudes on husband's final moments with deceased wife
Posted on 01/07/2013 1:48:37 AM PST by Slings and Arrows
VERNAL A man says Vernal police disrupted an intimate moment of mourning with his deceased wife of 58 years when they searched his house for her prescription medication without a warrant within minutes of her death.
Ben D. Mahaffey, 80, said he was distraught and trying to make sure his wife's body would be taken to the funeral home with dignity, when he says officers insisted he help them look for the drugs.
"I was holding her hand saying goodbye when all the intrusion happened," he told the Deseret News.
Mahaffey said he was treated as if he were going to sell the painkillers, which included OxyContin, oxycodone and morphine, on the street.
"I had no interest in the drugs," he said. "I'm no addict."
Mahaffey filed a federal lawsuit Thursday, alleging police violated his Fourth and 14th amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure and for equal protection under the law, respectively.
The officers' actions "at the deeply intimate setting, and during a highly distressing time, added a great amount of pain and distress to any already difficult situation," the lawsuit states.
Following the incident, Mahaffey asked Vernal city officials and police administrators why officers would search his home without a warrant. He said he was told the Utah Controlled Substances Act provides authority for the search.
According to the lawsuit, Mahaffey also said city manager Ken Bassett dismissed his concerns, saying he was "overly sensitive" and that police were just trying to protect the public from illegal use of prescription drugs.
Fackrell said there's nothing in the controlled substances act that allows police to enter a home and search for prescription drugs without a warrant.
He said it's apparently common practice for Vernal police when someone dies, but that it's selectively applied.
(Excerpt) Read more at deseretnews.com ...
Just wannabe cops...nothing more than that. They don’t know much better because they are really trained or qualified.
Something smells here. How did the police come to be at the home anyway? Does hospice in the state of Utah contact them in all death notice cases? My experience is that the Hospice nurse will collect all unused medications after the death and destroy them with witnesses. This is very bizarre.
As a police officer, we are called to almost all deaths as a matter of course. My guess here is they were attempting to establish a medical histroy on her in order to sign off and get out of there. It is an uncomfortable and intrusive time, and needs tact and empathey. And if they asked for his help and he gave it...no warrant is needed...its called consent.
I hope that guy wins the lawsuit in spades.
How dare subjects of the state attempt to treat or medicate themselves! It’s not like you have the right to treat your own body as you see fit. You will do as told, or you will be enslaved and sold.
“the Utah Controlled Substances Act provides authority for the search”
If true, would that law not be unconstitutional?
The Constitution isn’t much in fashion in policy-making circles.
No. The constitution is the rules for the Federal Government. Not the states.
Or at least that was the founders intent.
Close but not quite. The Constitution is the law of the land but whatever is doesn't cover is left to the States to decide. But no State can write a law the supersedes the Constitution.
"THAT" is what the Founders intended.
“But no State can write a law the supersedes the Constitution.”
Precisely the idea stated by the Virginia Supreme Court when striking down a city ordinance prevent open carry in the city of Norfolk. Virginia law allows open carry and the city cannot supercede the law of the state.
I know of several incidents locally wherein that happened. In fact it had become routine.
Or using them.
Turned the Po-Po into an armed militia with supra-constitutional authority.
There really is nothing here to “guess” about’
1. The Police wilfully and knowingly entered and searched this Man’s home without a Warrant. We call this BURGLARY or ARMED ROBBERY. The very instant they took control of the Prescription Drugs to which the Police Officers had no Prescription for and no “warrant” to seize or even search for, they were COMMITTING A FELONY by Being in Possession Of Said “DRUGS”. Just Like EVERYBODY ELSE, and They Belong in JAIL for a Minimum of 10 years. Unless they can show a Valid Warrant issued beforehand or a Valid Prescription they are nothing more than Jack Booted Gang Bangers.
Can you imagine? In the worst moments of this man’s life, he is harassed by the cops. Do they not have Mothers or Fathers? Don’t they have a heart of the least little bit of compassion? When Mom passed, I had a ton of drugs. I called the pharmacy thinking I could let them have it. Nope, once they give out drugs, they can’t be returned. I called her family doctor and offered them so perhaps someone on limited income could receive them for free. Nope.. same story. So, I flushed them down the toilet. I didn’t know what else to do with them. Took about five flushes but they were gone. What this man needed at the time was a kind word, a “I’m sorry for your loss”, a “can I call someone to come and be with you”. However, he was treated like a criminal and this is infuriating.
True. And very few people realize how routinely what we now consider "constitutional rights" were violated by the states in pre-civil war days.
However, the 14th Amendment has been interpreted to mean that most if not all of the Bill of Rights now applies to state and local governments.
It's doubtful those who wrote 14A intended that application, but that's how SCOTUS has interpreted it.
Note that the ones who may have acted wrongly are in absolutely no danger of being punished or paying for their own bad acts.
No police are called to in the home hospice deaths where ever I have lived. Just the funeral home.
surprised they didn’t try to confiscate his guns too
I hope he wins 100 million.
Unless you want an abortion or contraceptives.....then nobody can stand in your way!
The drug warriors will be by soon to defend this.
Jeez, this stuff was so much fun when it was just happening to those “undesiriable” types. Who could have guessed that these popular “Get Tough On Drugs”-style laws would be used against everybody?
The clearest explanation of the 14th Amendment and the Privileges or Immunities Clause is Clarence Thomas’s dissent in Saenz v Roe (1999). Short answer - the 14th was intended to apply the BOR to the states. See - http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/98-97.ZD1.html
See my previous post (#31).
Even the 4th Amendment wasn’t incorporated, it’s still unconstitutional under the Utah state constitution:
” Article I, Section 14. [Unreasonable searches forbidden — Issuance of warrant.]
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated; and no warrant shall issue but upon probable cause supported by oath or affirmation, particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or thing to be seized.”
So who notified the police? Or maybe they just have a death meter that tells them when people are about to die so they can just invade their home. Police investigate deaths all the time. They have to be signed off by the ME. i have done numerous death investigations over 21 years. I have never once taken drugs from a scene to just get them off the street. They always go with the body to the morgue. Of course the rescue personnel names are not on the medication either, so maybe we should he prosecuting them for posessing them on the ride to the morgue.
Since Hospice was involved, her death was not unexpected. The medical history was already established and the Hospice nurse should have been able to provide the information to the police.
Admittedly, my first response was one of indignation (sorry). Thinking it through to the end, I may have jumped the gun.
Doesn’t Hospice provide the narcotics for pain relief? In a clinical setting, used and unused narcotics must be accounted for by law. Unused dosages are either wasted (in the presence of a witness) or sent back to the pharmacy. This may be the case with Hospice, but I am just guessing.
Based on the dosages prescribed I would have a good idea of what should be remaining even if a patient had taken the maximum prescribed dosage. If I expected to find X amount and instead found none, you had better believe I would be looking for them. I would be asking if she got enough, too much or was this a case of someone helping themselves to the “leftovers.”
If the window for locating the narcotics was fast closing, I would mention it to the officers. I would document my concerns and also that I brought it to the attention of the officers. I am not sure if they had any choice but to ask the husband about at that point.
That may or may not have been the case. I can think of a dozen more variables which might put a different light on the story. This is just my long winded way of saying there are many unanswered questions before we can take the story at face value, especially since the author neglected to mention if the narcotics were found.
Unless they have a Warrant to Seize said items then YES we should Prosecute them, for they are willfully and knowingly in Felony Possession of Controlled Substances with the intent to Distribute. unless of course they maintain it was for personal use, I don’t believe they did, in fact they DID DISTRIBUTE THESE ILLEGALLY POSSESSED CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES. Which is exactly where I stand with the Jack Booted Gang Bangers that committed this ARMED ROBBERY in the First Place. And let’s not forget the Use of a Firearm during the commission of a violent felony, should be good for another 10 years.
Well, since the wife had passed on, then hubby no longer has standing to posess the drugs either. Hence, per your thinking...exactly who can take posession of the drugs?
Uhh...did you actually read the story?
cute, but that doesn’t change the facts in this case
1. The Police had NO reasonable suspicion a crime was committed or about to be committed.
2. they had no probable cause to get a warrant
3 They Had No Warrant, nada
4 Everything they did from the time they stepped in the door was “Outside the boundaries” of Law Enforcement, in other words they were acting in a “lawless manner”
5 They Robbed this Mans house While Armed
6 they Stole Dangerous Narcotics
7 They the Distributed Those Dangerous Narcotics to there Associates.
My world is pretty black and white, I would give them 20 years,no parole, general population.
On topic, I know of elderly couples with serious health issues, combined with a family history of physical and mental abuse of each other.
(It happens in the best of families)
If any local adult children are lucky enough to have had the abuse “documented” by police calls, they don't have to take extraordinary measures at or near the end of life of their parents, to determine if the death was natural,suicide or murder.If the police were never called,sometimes the hospice people are warned of the potential problem, if they are lucky.
I won't go into details, but as an outsider looking on, I am aware of a future similar situation where the police are going to need to recover the drugs remaining, and by autopsy levels measure the amount of drugs in the body, to finally determine if a death was due to natural causes, murder or suicide.
Yes, it sometimes does get exactly that ugly.
Just because someone is 80 years old, doesn't mean they are automatically above suspicion at any death scene, family or not.Probably especially not family.
Your #1-#7 is immediately invalidated because it is just your own ignorant opinion of a single “report”, unrelated to any actual factual knowledge regarding this particular case.
In a real black and white world, you would be instantly indicted for falsely attempting to portray your opinions as facts.
Please tell me you are a registered Democrat voter!
Every year, there is a drug take-back day in October. We gathered up all of our narcotics and some expired drugs and took them to the local police department. The officer on duty assured us they would all be destroyed.
I don’t like throwing drugs into the toilet, because there is a pollution problem with pharmaceuticals (even with water treatment). They can be detected in waterways at levels that may be hazardous to fish health, and with bioaccumulation, to the health of anything that consumes those fish. As much as possible, I want the drugs destroyed so they don’t harm wildlife. Also, so addicts don’t get them.
“No. The constitution is the rules for the Federal Government. Not the states.”
Amendment XIV (1868) Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
I see that my reply was far from timely.
Sorry. I been sick.
Just because someone is 80 years old, doesn’t mean they are automatically above suspicion at any death scene, family or not.Probably especially not family.
You might consider actually reading the article in question before making assumptions, she DIED OF NATURAL CAUSES, with Nurses at her side, there is NO SUSPICION INVOLVED. Now please tell us all what “right” the thugs had in forcing their way into this mans home at gunpoint?? We also learned in the OJ trial in Vegas that by definition they are also Guilty of FELONY KIDNAPPING. Unless the thugs can demonstrate “Reasonable Suspicion” or a “warrant” issued beforehand with “sworn statements” demonstrating “probable cause” they are as guilty as SIN. You also might want to check the inside label on floorsheim shoe polish, it states rather clearly that LICKING SHOE POLISH CAUSES MORAL BANKRUPTCY AND BRAIN DAMAGE.
Ignorance of the law is no excuse...unless you’re a cop.
No “nurses” were present. The Hospice nurse arrived later, along with the cops.
Nowhere in the article does it say the cops forced “their way into this man’s home at gunpoint”.
That’s just one example of your hyperbolic twisting of the supposed known facts reported to date.
Stop doing that.
It’s pretty simple, I don’t try to rationalize or make excuses for CRIMINAL ACTS it just is, but why do you insist on defending the morally bankrupt, ethically corrupt, Criminal Acts of the Police?? We know they ILLEGALLY searched his home, they admitted it, we Know they STOLE DRUGS from the House, they admitted it, we Know they DID NOT HAVE A WARRANT, they admitted it. there was No mention of Reasonable suspicion which even if there was, it is not enough to SEARCH A PRIVATE RESIDENCE in Every State of the Union, that requires a Judges Signature on a REAL SEARCH WARRANT. So I ask again Why do you blindly defend these criminal acts??
We are all really very impressed by your persuasive ...stawman/stupid troll/useless idiot additions to this thread.