Customs Officer Sues After Wrong-Door Immigration Raid on His Home

Whoops.

James and Sheila Slaughter said that when they answered the door of their home in San Luis, Ariz., on a July afternoon last year, they were surprised to find five armed Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers strapped into bulky bulletproof vests accusing them of harboring an illegal immigrant.

“Is this ‘Candid Camera’?” Mrs. Slaughter recalled asking.

That irritated the lead officer, her husband said Tuesday. “He said: ‘No, it isn’t “Candid Camera.” You need to step back into the middle of the room.’ ”

The couple said they complied, and the officers prepared to search their home. Mr. Slaughter, a six-foot, 285-pound former Marine, said he then told them, “Look fellas, do you guys realize that I’m a U.S. Customs K-9 officer at the San Luis land port?”

“The lead officer’s eyes got about as big and round as silver dollars, and the three guys who were standing just inside the door went straight outside,” said Mr. Slaughter, 51, who with a Labrador retriever, Whitey, searches cars at the Mexican border for narcotics. “They left without saying a word. They knew they messed up.”...

Mr. Slaughter, whose family lives on East 26th Street, said he learned later that the illegal immigrant sought by the officers lived on East 26th Place. He recognized the immigrant’s name from junk mail that accidentally came to the Slaughter home.

The officers, Mr. Slaughter said, should have checked the name on property records, “or they could have watched me walk out of my house every day wearing my uniform.”

“They bullied their way into my house — the same organization that I work for, doing 16-hour shifts,” Mr. Slaughter said. “I bleed red, white and blue. I serve my country, and then they do this to me?”

The Slaughters are suing each of the five officers for $500,000.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Jeff P||

    And hopefully some of that money will be used to fund an anti-SWAT tactic PSA or payola for a high-profile news story on 20/20 or 60 minutes, or any other medium outside the confines of this esteemed blog.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Mr. Slaughter said. "I bleed red, white and blue. I serve my country, and then they do this to me?"



    Perhaps I do Mr. Slaughter an injustice, but this reads like he thinks it is outrageous, not on the face of it, but because he is not one of the little people.

    I going to pretend that that isn't what he meant. I'll have a better day that way.

  • ||

    Gotta love the "But I'm not one of *those* people!" attitude on his part. Also notable that they seem to have a much less violent and confrontational experience than your average wrong-door paramilitary raid.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    ...but then it appears that he's right. There is certainly nothing that Joe Q. Citizen could have said to convince the arrest team (or how ever they characterize themselves) to walk away.

    Meh.

    Balko, I'll get you for this. I'll get you!

    (I'm going to have to get Andy Craig too, for beating me to the punch.)

  • Xeones||

    Yeah, it kind of sucks that the only reason Mr. Slaughter didn't wind up face down, cuffed, and dogless is because he was "one of them." Still, i'd like to see more faulty raids result in the perpetrators being sued into oblivion.

    And less raids, period.

    And while i'm at it i'd like a pony.

  • ||

    "or they could have watched me walk out of my house every day wearing my uniform."

    Yeah - the reason he thinks this is outrageous is because he's an officer - not because he is a citizen. He thinks he is special. I lost a certain amount of sympathy for him after readin that. Especially since the net result of this is likely to be that LEO's won't get raided by mistake as much - but the rest of us will.

  • ||

    "They bullied their way into my house - the same organization that I work for, doing 16-hour shifts," Mr. Slaughter said. "I bleed red, white and blue. I serve my country, and then they do this to me?"



    [Asshole] Your outspoken fourth amendment advocacy when it was routinely happening to others (would those be "little people", James?) is duly noted.[/Asshole]

  • Naga Sadow||

    Whoa! Was this some sorta botched Cobra raid to drum up interest in the new movie?

  • Kolohe||

    Can't believe no dogs were hurt in this story. Surprised the K-9 officer didn't have a dog himself.

  • ||

    I find it rather ironic that a guy who routinely violates other people's privacy and searches people at the border objects to something similar when it happens to him. I wonder if someone who his cop dog signals at can make the same excuses he does. What, no? That's what I thought.

    I hope he wins his lawsuit, though.

  • Trevor||

    A dark and evil part of me almost wishes they had shot the dog. The inevitable public funeral for a 'police dog' shot by 'brother officers' would have been black comedy gold.

  • T||

    The only way wrong door raids will decrease significantly is if departments and individual officers are held financially liable. Otherwise, oh well, who cares.

  • Naga Sadow||

    T,

    So what you're saying is that there will never be an end to no knock raids?

  • ||

    "They bullied their way into my house - the same organization that I work for, doing 16-hour shifts," Mr. Slaughter said. "I bleed red, white and blue. I serve my country, and then they do this to me?"

    Poor fucking baby Mr Slaughter...they do this to anyone. *YOU* aren't special. And *YOU* don't deserve special treatment just because you are a Custom's agent.

    If you want to be outraged, be outraged that this would/could happen to ANYONE -- not that it happened to *YOU*

  • ||

    Did ICE have a warrant?

  • ||

    How dare they do this to one of their own! LEO don't answer to the law. What the fuck were they thinking?

  • Untermensch||

    I doubt he gets a dime though. If those who have suffered manifest harm don't get anything, the response of a jury will most likely be "no harm, no foul." Just based on the little bit I see here, I would be hard pressed to justify granting this guy $2.5 million for his inconvenience, especially since they did leave when they found out who he was. Had they roughed him up or something, but if officers can get away with the "it was an honest mistake" routine when people are actually hurt, I think they'll have a hard time making this stick when no one was hurt and it sounds like our hero suffered only a few minutes of inconvenience.

  • ||

    "A dark and evil part of me almost wishes they had shot the dog."

    Obviously, Sargent Slaughter has no pet dog, else the heroic cops would have exterminated it instantar. Cops always kill the dog first, even before double checking the address. It's SOP.

    They have no choice: it's a kill-or-be-killed situation. I haven't seen any statistics, but I'm sure tons of cops have been killed by vicious guard dogs in 08-09. What? None have been killed by dogs? Well, that proves the shoot-first policy's wisdom.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Untermench,
    He might be looking for a nuisance settlement. Even a few thousand dollars would be a nice payday, and it's not like it would actually be paid by the officers. It would come from the public treasury.

  • ||

    "Look fellas, do you guys realize that I'm a U.S. Customs K-9 officer at the San Luis land port?" ... They left without saying a word.

    I can't believe that worked.

  • ||

    Of course it worked.

    The intruders surely thought, "A guy this dirty is working the border? He must be in close with organized crime, helping their smuggling. We better get out of here before we find ourselves wearing cement galoshes."

  • ||

    To be fair (aren't I alweays?) the address screwup, East 26th Street/East 26th Place, is understandable. Even a pizza delivery guy could make that mistake once.

    Jamacha Lane, Jamacha Road and Jamacha Blvd were all in my Spring Valley CA neighborhood. It made given driving directions tricky.

  • ||

    What everyone said about crying that it happened to HIM, a FELLOW OFFICER.

    But he at least had the guts to sue the bastards, not just honor the code of silence.

  • ||

    Maybe SWAT teams should order a pizza for the suspected house and then bust in behind the delivery guy. Wrong address? Blame Domino's.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    J sub D on address confusion:

    Understandable mistake as these things go, sure.

    But if I'm expected to give them a break on that, then Mr. Slaughter get to, too.

    If, on the other hand, it make sense of James (can I call you James?) to sue for a ginormous pile of cash, then J. Q. should be up tor two ginormous piles of cash after he get a gun shoved in face and face in the carpet, right?

    Right?!?

  • The Jew (but you can call me T||

    "The Slaughters are suing each of the five officers for $500,000."

    Sweet!

  • ||

    It's too bad they didn't knock his teeth out with a rifle butt when he dared to remain upright.

    ------

    The inevitable public funeral for a 'police dog' shot by 'brother officers' would have been black comedy gold.

    I concur, but somehow, I suspect the story in the paper would be nothing more than "Noble Bowser Dies in Line of Duty."

  • Hugh Akston||

    who with a Labrador retriever, Whitey, searches cars at the Mexican border for narcotics.

    What else can you say, really?

  • ||

    Well, even though he had the "this is only supposed to happen to little people" attitude, it's hugely significant that he broke ranks and reported this to the press. He's crossed the thin blue line and will need every penny of settlement because he'll probably never work in LE again.

    It's sad that this has to be brought home in this fashion before certain people in society start "getting it" but every cop or elected official who gets raided helps build momentum in our direction.

    The search dog is most likely kenneled at his HQ.

  • ||

    This asshole thinks he is performing a noble service by trampling the Fourth Amendment rights of people whose only "suspicious behavior" is their naive delusion that they are free to travel.

    Fuck him.

  • Atlanta||

    "Jamacha Lane, Jamacha Road and Jamacha Blvd were all in my Spring Valley CA neighborhood. It made given driving directions tricky."

    One word - Peachtree.

  • ||

    If they had shot the dog there'd be a fucking state funeral for it at our expense. "Fido the Hero"--for sniffing crotches. It's kind of fucked up that the pigs are beyond parody.

  • ||

    Especially since the net result of this is likely to be that LEO's won't get raided by mistake as much - but the rest of us will.

    I don't see it that way, Domo. I think this was the result of a typo by someone at HQ, or poor reading skills on the part of the raiders. Just happened that a cop lived at the address that was raided.

    Many LE organizations maintain lists of all cops, judges, politicians, prosecutors, etc living in their jurisdiction, so as to prevent this sort of embarrassment. Either ICE doesn't, or didn't read the list (properly) or whatever.

  • VM||

    Chicago Tom - I can dig it!

  • T||

    So what you're saying is that there will never be an end to no knock raids?

    Not under our current system, anyway.

  • ||

    So I am to assume that an immigration officer can't possibly be harboring an illegal alien? I hadn't realized that this entire cohort is above using their position to break the law

  • Michael||

    Wow. $2,500,000 for what seemingly amounts to nothing more than...

    "Immigration raid. Don't move."

    "I'm a cop."

    "Oh. Sorry about that. Have a nice day."

    For those of you that missed it, that's $2,500,000. I'd hate to see the total if they, say, knocked a vase over or something.

  • ||

    Too lazy to find a link, but there was a story about a female police officer in England having her house raided because police in the helicopter they use to monitor such things detected too much thermal radiation coming from the roof concluded she had a grow-op going on.

    It turned out she just didn't have enough insulation in her attic. Knowing the pommies they probably came back to give her a summons for that.

    In another story from over there a retired schoolteacher was raided because an informant thought her tomatoes were pot plants.

    Though both were shocked that this had happened to them there was nothing reported that either of them had any problem with this kind of thing happening to...well...you know..."other people".

  • Michael||

    http://www.ugo.com/sports/best-wrestling-faces/images/entries/sergeant-slaughter.jpg

  • I Kahn O\'Clast||

    Filing a complaint, maybe, but suing each of the officers $500,000 is ridiculous. Everyone is looking for a payday. He should be shot.

  • mi coño es su coño||

    "Everyone is looking for a payday. He should be shot."

    To quote the great bard Bob Dylan, "Money doesn't talk; it swears."

  • Warty||

    The raid was actually meant for the James Blaughter, but a fly got into the printer and screwed up the warrant.

  • Paul||

    Mr. Slaughter, a six-foot, 285-pound former Marine, said he then told them, "Look fellas, do you guys realize that I'm a U.S. Customs K-9 officer at the San Luis land port?"



    This is all well and good. But I'm visualizing myself in this situation saying "Look fellas, do you guys realize I'm a network admin at a major healthcare company in Seattle?".

    I have a funny feeling they wouldn't have left "knowing they messed up".

    "They bullied their way into my house - the same organization that I work for, doing 16-hour shifts," Mr. Slaughter said. "I bleed red, white and blue. I serve my country, and then they do this to me?"



    You should quit that organization and withdraw your support for their nazi tactics. That would be justice.

  • Paul||

    The raid was actually meant for the James Blaughter, but a fly got into the printer and screwed up the warrant.

    What was his hat size?

  • Joel||

    But he at least had the guts to sue the bastards, not just honor the code of silence.

    The code of silence applies only when "brother officers" have done something criminally bad to mere civilians. It doesn't apply when something mildly amusing happens to you, and you can turn it around for a huge payday. Then it's straight to the news cameras for "Oh, the trauma! The trauma!"

  • Spoonman||

    I wish there'd been a shootout; might have been down a pig or two.

  • ||

    If, on the other hand, it make sense of James (can I call you James?) to sue for a ginormous pile of cash, then J. Q. should be up tor two ginormous piles of cash after he get a gun shoved in face and face in the carpet, right?

    Right?!?


    If A then B. Yep. But A ain't gonna happen and we all know it. The only good to come out of this is the hypocrisy displayed for all to see.

  • phalkor||

    are those helicopter infrared searches legal? they just seem so fucked to me.

  • ||

    He is lucky the dog is alive. If he were accused of dealing drugs they would have just busted down the door, shot the dog, arrested them, smashed up the house while searching, eventually releasing them with a "we did nothing wrong"

  • ||

    The raid was actually meant for the James Blaughter, but a fly got into the printer and screwed up the warrant.

    If Robert DeNiro shows up as an AC repairman, this is going to get good.

  • ||

    Right Mr. Slaughter, exalted 'only ones' such as you must never feel the boot on the neck...that's reserved for we lesser serfs.

  • ||

    I like this story for so many reasons, which others have outlined already.

    But $2,500,000 for simply inconveniencing him and his wife? I don't think he personally deserves more than an apology.

    Someone like Cheyne Calvo deserves $2.5 million, at least.

    This guy deserves being charged court costs for wasting taxpayer time and money.

  • ||

    Filing a complaint, maybe, but suing each of the officers $500,000 is ridiculous. Everyone is looking for a payday.

    I agree that in an ideal world that USD 2.5M is a ridiculous amount for this sort of inconvenience. However, a number of multi-million dollar settlements is a small price to pay to stop the madness.

    Also, as I pointed out upthread, Slaughter will probably never work in LE again after ratting out his fellow officers.

    We may not like him personally, but supporting him is in our best interests.

  • ||

    are those helicopter infrared searches legal? they just seem so fucked to me.



    They are legal in Blighty, phalkor, and in most of the rest of Euroland.

    Interesting how some the people bitching about Bush's rights overstepping were talking about "escaping" to countries where such things were already business as usual.

    Of course, the fact that we haven't caught up with the rest of the world yet is no reason to give W a pass.

    "America, it doesn't suck as bad as the rest of the world" is not the kind of thing I feel like bragging about.

  • PR||

    I'm sure government employees sue their employer at a much higher rate than private sector employees. It's what they do. The taxpayers pays. No one gets fired.

  • Beaker||

    I'm surprised they didn't shoot the K-9 dog on sigjt. Normally I would be incensed by this, but since he's a drug-sniffing narco-asshole during his day job I just can't summon any rage. I hope he wins the lawsuit though.

  • JB||

    I hope they are suing them in both their personal and professional capacities. Make their agency pay and make them personally pay.

  • phalkor||

    America - over 7% less suck than Europe!

    -now with more blow!

  • shecky||

    The whole story sounds fishy. Did ICE have a warrant? They really took Slaughter's word for truth?

    While it's kind of a fuck up, it's nice that there was no actual harm done. Or does this lack of harm count as incompetence with ICE officers?

    Does Slaughter simply go back to work and view his old job the same way, as if nothing ever happened?

  • ||

    Mr. Slaughter, 51, who with a Labrador retriever, Whitey,

    Seriously? The dog they use to search Mexicans for drugs is named "Whitey"?

  • ||

    He bleeds red, white and blue? Not if you are wearing one of the state's clown costumes. Basic oxymoronic type situation.

  • mi coño es su coño||

    Seriously? The dog they use to search Mexicans for drugs is named "Whitey"?

    Only because cabron was already taken.

  • Invisible Finger||

    "I bleed red, white and blue. I serve my country, and then they do this to me?"

    Haha, sucker!

  • Medic||

    Ha ha ha. Join the club sir.

    Of course he will get his money, they make sure of that.

  • ||

    Does Slaughter simply go back to work and view his old job the same way, as if nothing ever happened?

    Well no, not as if nothing happened...he and his fellow Custom's agents will dicuss the insanity of this happening to a God fearing american like himself, while at the same never even thinking of how it affects others.

    I believe it's called compartmentalizing.

    One thing that's been bugging me though is why is ICE doing the equivalent of SWAT style raids for illegal immigrants? Is this a common occurrence? How is that acceptable? What is the justification for a raid like this rather than say knocking on the door and just searching the house like any other old search warrant?

  • To Many Jews||

    "What is the justification for a raid like this rather than say knocking on the door and just searching the house like any other old search warrant?"

    Wobs is fast.

  • Confused Drug Warrior||

    What is the justification for a raid like this rather than say knocking on the door and just searching the house like any other old search warrant?



    One spic could stall at he door while the rest flushed themselves down the toilet.

  • ||

    The lead officer's eyes got about as big and round as silver dollars...

    What's a "silver dollar" ?

  • ||

    There is the possibility that this incident will convert officer Slaughter from part of the problem to part of the solution. Let's see how it plays out over the next couple of years.

    -jcr

  • Paul||

    We may not like him personally, but supporting him is in our best interests.

    It's not that (I) dislike him personally. It's that the situation suggests that there's two different levels of law enforcement. One for cops, and another for the rest of him.

    This situation is clear, had the guy not been a cop, this story would have ended very differently.

  • Paul||

    Well no, not as if nothing happened...he and his fellow Custom's agents will dicuss the insanity of this happening to a God fearing american like himself, while at the same never even thinking of how it affects others.

    I believe it's called compartmentalizing.


    win.

    That's the term I've been looking for for a long time, ChiTom. Thank you.

  • ||

    BTW, I just have to wonder something that the article didn't mention. Did the perps who invaded Slaughter's home have a warrant?

    -jcr

  • anarch||

    All you tech-savvy guys, and no one has predicted the next step? That will be for the Regime to compile a list of its own agents, whose addresses shall be immune from intrusion.

    Just like this, with the role of Yahweh assigned to Pharaoh -

    In the story of the Exodus, the Bible tells that God inflicted ten plagues upon the Egyptians before Pharaoh would release his Hebrew slaves, with the tenth plague being the killing of firstborn sons. The Hebrews were instructed to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a spring lamb and, upon seeing this, the spirit of the Lord passed over these homes, hence the term "passover".

    - and a micro-chip in place of blood. So simple.

  • ||

    The aggrieved party's boss: We believe in, and support unconditionally, our man slaughter. Oh, and we feel the same way about Sgt. Jim over there, too.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement