Drug Policy

In Atlanta: The Worst-Case Scenario

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Two police officers in the Kathryn Johnston case have pled guilty of manslaughter. They face 10 and 12 years in prison, respectively. They pled in exchange for testimony about the "culture of corruption" among narcotics officers in the Atlanta Police Department.

As I've written before, I'm not particularly fond of felony murder in principle, so I think this is an appropriate charge. And if the plea helps to uncover more fundamental problems with the way Atlanta police its drug crimes, all the better. And it looks like it's doing exactly that.

We now know that Kathryn Johnston fired only a single bullet, through the door as police were trying to break in. They responded with a storm of bullets, which apparently both wounded Johnston and the officers themselves. When they realized their fatal error, they planted cocaine and marijuana in the woman's home. They then pressured an uninvolved informant to testify to having made controlled buys at Johnston's home to cover their tracks.

The New York Times is now reporting that the officers have told federal investigators that their behavior was not out of the ordinary. That corruption, planting evidence, and giving false testimony are routine at APD. That's not surprising. The only way these officers could think they'd get away with all of this is if they were operating within a system that routinely allows for—or even encourages—such behavior. APD's focus on arrest numbers and professional rewards for the big bust apparently incentivized such short cuts.

It's also important to remember that it's possible we wouldn't know any of this were it not for the uncooperative informant who admirably refused to help the cops cover their asses. Had he gone along with the plan, much of the public may well still think Kathryn Johnston was a geriatric dope pusher, and that her death was unfortunate, but a justifiable use of force by the raiding police. The failure here is not just with these three police officers. It's with their supervisors who failed to provide adequate oversight. It's with the prosecutors who failed to ask the right questions. And it's with the judges who, according to an investigation by the Atlanta Journal, routinely signed off on these types of warrants with no scrutiny at all.

Of course, much of the blame belongs on drug prohibition itself. We shouldn't be so naive as to think that this kind of corruption is limited to APD. A couple of dozen news stories prior to this case alone should quell such notions. More fundamentally, the very nature of narcotics policing lends itself to corruption. That's not to say all narcotics cops are corrupt. But it is to say that they often have to break the very laws they're paid to enforce in order to enforce them. The job begins, then, with a rather awkward approach to the rule of law. If your job is to buy and sell drugs in order to catch people who buy and sell drugs, it's a short leap to justifying other extra-legal shortcuts to catch the bad guys, too.

Finally, this case should serve as yet another reminder of just how dangerous and volatile these police home invasions really are, and why we should stop using them to serve search warrants for nonviolent crimes. They offer no margin for error. That they're used primarily in drug policing, which as noted is fraught with bad incentives and possibilities for error, is particularly absurd. To listen to some defenders of these tactics, the difference between Kathryn Johnston's death being an outrage or an unfortunate but justified police action comes down to nothing more than the legality of the warrant—that is, if the warrant had been legal, then Johnston had no right to defend her home. This is preposterous. There are multiple scenarios under which the warrant could have been legitimate, yet Johnston still innocent. This is what prosecutors said in the Cory Maye case, too. The warrant was legal. Therefore, he had no right to defend his home. Nevermind that self-defense is going to be the natural reaction any time someone violently breaks into your home in the middle of the night. Or that the lack of oversight, transparency, or real scrutiny in narcotics policing can routinely lead to legal but mistkaen warrants on the wrong people.

Kathryn Johnston obviously didn't know that the invaders forcing their way into her home were police. She had the right to defend her home. That's true now that we know that the drugs the police claim to have found in her home were planted. But it would have been just as true if she were, say, a medical marijuana user. Or if someone had been using her porch as a drug perch without her knowledge.

This case also ought to remind us not to automatically trust police accounts of what transpired during one of these raids, and reinforces many of the recommendations I've made, including that forced-entry raids be recorded in an untamperable video format.

NEXT: Friday Funnies

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  1. Glad to finally see some cops being punished for their ‘tactics’. Ashame folks have to die for this sort of shit to come to light.

    Thanks for the update Radley. Keep ’em coming.

  2. The failure here is not just with these three police officers. It’s with their supervisors ho

    The real question is whether or not this supervisor’s ho was nappy-headed.

  3. To me the truly disturbing thing about the no-knock search or the “knock with your fingertips and say ‘Police’ sotto voce at 3 in the morning before kicking in the door” search is that the justification for them has never REALLY been that the police are concerned for their safety.

    It’s been that if defendants know they’re coming, they can flush the evidence down the toilet.

    To me, if your contraband laws can’t be enforced without ludicrously violent searches, you should take that as a sign that something is wrong with your contraband laws. Naturally that’s not the conclusion drug warriors reach, though, since their instinct is always to escalate.

  4. There’s nothing to bash. If it was what the cops say it was (a huge mistake), then it is a tragedy all the way around.

  5. If it was what the cops say it was (a huge mistake)

    No, lying and planting evidence is not a “mistake.”

  6. There’s nothing to bash. If it was what the cops say it was (a huge mistake), then it is a tragedy all the way around.

    That’s right, hrygeek. Sometimes accidents happen, like when some cops accidentally kill an old woman, accidentally plant marijuana and cocaine, and then accidentally pressure an informant to lie about it.

    Those poor cops.

  7. hrygeek:

    An isolated, unforseeable incident is a tragedy. A pattern borne of deliberate escalation of violence is a problem.

  8. I’m just thinking, but I’d say that planting evidence should get you 20 years all by itself. There’s nothing accidental here, unless by accidental you mean “systemic”.

    One thing about being a libertarian–we’re proven right about our distrust of government power time and time and time and time, and, yes, time again.

  9. Just curious on opinions…

    In large cities, or maybe even most cities, could corruption be lessened by having in place various decentralized police forces?

    One would think that it’s easier for corruption to take place when you have a massive organization such as the APD, NYPD, LAPD, etc to clean up messes. However, if they became smaller departments, working in a somewhat loose network so that their operations don’t clash, it’s possible that they would keep check on each other.

    Could this be feasible? Logical?

  10. They face 10 and 12 years in prison, respectively.

    The punishment doesn’t fit the crime.
    I wonder what the punishment would be for the average joe who killed a police officer in one of these no knock raids?

  11. I’m charging you with illegal possession of whatever we happen to have down there. I must warn you that anything you may say will be ignored and furthermore, given half a chance I’ll put my fist through your teeth. F’tang. F’tang.

  12. Felonies committed under color of law ought to come with double the price tag. But here in real life they seem to come with half.

    Take the sentence you would give an armed gang that blasted an old lady, vandalized her house with drugs, then lied to the cops about what happened. Double that. That’s where sentencing should start when that armed gang is pretending to be cops enforcing the law.

  13. What do you mean don’t trust the police or something?

  14. I wonder what the punishment would be for the average joe who killed a police officer in one of these no knock raids?

    A trip to death row followed by execution.

  15. A Roman historian once said “people do not just become depraved”. Never has a truer statement been uttered. You don’t just one day decide to lie to get a search warrant and plant evidence. Indeed, if you did, the chances of it going this badly the first time you did such a thing is pretty slim. There was nothing special about Kathryn Johnson. There is nothing about Kathryn Johnson that would have warranted special attention from the cops. No reason to believe that there was some deep conspiracy to frame an elderly woman. If there was this case would be less disturbing.

    Instead, this appears to be what I said it was from the begining; just another day at the office for the Atlanta PD. Pick a house in a poor minority neighborhood at random, lie on an affidavit, kick down the door, plant some drugs and go home. Yeah, the latter planted drugs after the woman died, but where did they get the drugs to plant? It is not like cops should be carrying around an extra stash? No, they had the drugs with them because they were intending to frame whoever was in the house from the beginning. They just ended up planting evidence to cover up a murder.

    If I actually thought this would lead to other arrests and a change at the APD, I might support this plea. But, I doubt it will. These guys will take the fall, there will be investigation that will result in “taking a hard look at APD” and “changes in procedure” and other meaningless crap, the cops will stop framing people for a few months and then go back to business as usual. Given that inevitability, I wish these guys had gotten what they deserve, to be locked up forever.

  16. It took a snitch standing up to reveal the plot.

    How many times in how many cities is this same process being repeated every single day?

    How many people are in jail or dead now from such raids?

    A hell of a lot I expect.

    I expect no matter what they tell the feds or anyone else this deadly charade (paramilitary drug raids) will continue “for the children”.

  17. With just a few well placed informant tips to poiticians families homes we can keep the ball rolling on changing thing forever.

    I want to hear about the charges they face for drug possession, distribution, evidence planting etc. They should be getting 10-12 just on those counts alone.

    Sad fucking day when cops are getting cut plea deals for murder so that we can get info on how corrupt the LAW Enforcers actually are.

    When no one polices the police not even themselves what should we really expect?

  18. You, Radley Balko are doing good work. This case might have ended differently if it wasn’t for the scrutiny you gave it.

    Justice is being dispensed today that might not have been dispensed if you had gone into sportswriting or fashion journalism.

  19. “This case also ought to remind us not to automatically trust police accounts of what transpired during one of these raids, and reinforces many of the recommendations I’ve made, including that forced-entry raids be recorded in an untamperable video format.”

    This is an awful solution! Are you kidding? I can see keeping a video record of one’s police force, but doing it inside someone’s house is yet another invasion, and an escalation of the intensity of the search.

    Once a year a video like this might catch some police misconduct. Once a week a video like this would be used as grounds for further search warrants and re-invasions of the same homes.

  20. The best of the new fall fashions were on display as Officer Martinez came out in a ravishing tactical vest and balaclava ensemble. The musical clacking of his assault rifle against his web gear provided a subtle counterpoint to the rhythmic clomping of his exquisitely polished steel-toed boots, a look which is all the rage in Paris and Milan!

  21. As for the video taping. The government seems fit to put them up to watch us, perhaps we should put them in our homes to watch them.

  22. Once a year a video like this might catch some police misconduct.

    You think such incidents as this happen only once a year?

  23. I hate cops.

    Yeah, maybe your uncle was “a great cop”, but the system is broken, and I am addressing cops systemically. And the truth is the leading, brutal edge of excessive government power in this country are cops, for about 95% of us (the exceptions would be those in prison or the armed forces, who have their own masters).

    Yes, some cops are “dedicated” and “just following orders”–but these virtues can only take you so far (see Nuremberg). This case demonstrates it all–the excessive, and self-righteous, use of force, and the casual corruption inherent in the “War on Drugs” (just as the War on Alcohol produced), which have made a bad system intolerable to anyone with a conscience.

  24. Thanks for following this, Radley!

  25. There’s nothing to bash. If it was what the cops say it was (a huge mistake), then it is a tragedy all the way around.

    That’s right, hrygeek. Sometimes accidents happen, like when some cops accidentally kill an old woman, accidentally plant marijuana and cocaine, and then accidentally pressure an informant to lie about it.

    Those poor cops.

    IMHO, in the LEOs’ collective minds, the “accident” was getting caught. Like everything’s normal, going to a minority house gonna plant some drugs…oops killed a poor black woman, oops someone talked, oops now the intertubes got a hold of it anyway you get the picture. The accident was the thing that got them caught, period. Poor cops, indeed, poor us.

  26. Like I said above Cliff; what is so special about Kathryn Johnson? Nothing. It would have been one thing if Johnson were some notorious character who was causing the police all kinds of problems. Then you could see how she would have warrented some big plot to frame her. The fact that Johnsons was so non-descript tells you that this is nothing out of the ordinary. Further, the fact that Johnson was such an unbelievable drug suspect (how many drug dealing 90 year old women are there?), tells you that they were just picking houses in bad neighborhoods at random to kick in the door and plant drugs.

  27. Reality has well-known Law Enforcement bias.

  28. Untamperable video format?

    What I’ve learned from the DRM debates is that no video format is untamperable.

  29. Maybe we should assign special Cop Observer Units to watch live feeds of cop cams. Yes, that means no more privacy for some, but it might stop some of this nonsense.

    This whole event should garner huge coverage, wailing, and the gnashing of teeth. But it won’t.

  30. When you consider people who have regular evidence planting episodes with the police frequently, the OJ verdict makes a lot ,more sense.

    We know the police didn’t plant the evidence in the OJ case because there was a sufficient “trial by media” to convince us (me included!) that the police did not plant the blood and gloves and such.

    However, if all you had to go on was the OJ trial, and your previous experiences with police integrity, as did the jurors, then the ill-fitting glove can and should take on a lot more significance.

  31. “Untamperable video format?

    What I’ve learned from the DRM debates is that no video format is untamperable.”

    That’s true so far with DRM. I think a strict video protocol plus hardware would work. Something like two separate cameras in the same houseing linked to the US naval atomic clock. Both would record locally one would transmitt video to police HQ and the other to, let’s say, the FBI.

    This could all be done with of the shelf tech.

  32. This is why I’m never seated in a jury. I will never take the word of a cop over a suspect “just because he’s a cop”. In fact, if that were the only factor on which credibility hinged I’d give the defendant the benefit of the doubt every time.

  33. As I’ve written before, I’m not particularly fond of felony murder in principle

    Actually, I’ve followed your own blog and your writing here for a while and I’m a bit vague what you mean, here.

  34. Let’s just remember that the cops will be serving 10 and 12 in a cell block with the very people they’ve been setting up and framing for years. Sleep well, men.

  35. Let’s just remember that the cops will be serving 10 and 12 in a cell block with the very people they’ve been setting up and framing for years.

    Unless the COs want to cut them a break for some reason.

  36. Maybe we should assign special Cop Observer Units to watch live feeds of cop cams. Yes, that means no more privacy for some, but it might stop some of this nonsense.

    I think once your door has been kicked down by The Law, your expectation of privacy is pretty well gone.

  37. Radley Balko | April 27, 2007, 7:44am
    This case also ought to remind us not to automatically trust police accounts of what transpired during one of these raids, and reinforces many of the recommendations I’ve made, including that forced-entry raids be recorded in an untamperable video format.

    Eventually our telescreens will record these raids.

    But members of the Inner Party will be able to turn them off.

    Rocky Mountain News. February 9, 2007

    What is known for certain is that Jamaal Bonner died completely unarmed. And that he is alleged to have sold a policewoman a $60 rock of crack cocaine.

    Remember, too, that everything Jamaal Bonner did up until the time officers burst into the room was videotaped, available for courtroom viewing. His killing, his family was told, was not. Imagine that.

    In the meantime, we’ll have to settle for the film crew from COPS and photographers like Justin Cook recording these events. Maybe if COPS was broadcast live…

    What is obviously need to prevent tragedies during home invasions^H^H^H^H^H^ police raids are yellow circles on the walls of every house, just like in The Fifth Element.

    …Spread your legs and place your
    hands in the yellow circles, please.

    Put your hands in the yellow circles,
    please.

    Anyone who doesn’t have their hands in the yellow circles will be presumed fair game.

    On a lighter note:
    http://www.theonion.com/content/news_in_photos/law_enforcement

  38. The failure here is not just with these three police officers. It’s with their supervisors who failed to provide adequate oversight. It’s with the prosecutors who failed to ask the right questions. And it’s with the judges who, according to an investigation by the Atlanta Journal, routinely signed off on these types of warrants with no scrutiny at all.

    Add the politicians who wrote the laws and the people who vote for them, or at least didn’t vote against them.

    “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

  39. Actually, some weeks ago near Montreal, a policeman was killed by a suspected drug dealer during a violent burst-in drug raid in the wee hours of the morning.

    The defendant was granted bail by the judge, as the search warrant did not allow for a night time nor a burst-in raid, and was done by the police of another city, well outside their jurisdiction.

    The raid did not yield any drug-related evidence, nor any drug charges were laid, and the weapon used to kill the police officer was legitimately licensed.

  40. “Add the politicians who wrote the laws and the people who vote for them, or at least didn’t vote against them.

    ‘We have met the enemy, and he is us.'”

    You sound like a self-flagellating Christian. I get where you’re going, but I will not feel guilty for the crimes of others just because I didn’t feel like pretending there was a meaningful choice between Bush and Kerry.

  41. The prison I was in didn’t keep fallen cops in with the general pop.

    For safety’s sake, busted cops were sent to B-house (where they kept a closer than usual eye on the rapists, she-males, kiddie fiddlers, fallen from grace gang members, and other obviously safety impaired, but sane, inmates).

    Imagine living, safely, alongside:

    a revolving cast of dudes with boobs (bet you’d be surprised at how many gay whores with fake titties end up getting busted and going to prison…with their fake titties intact)

    a lifer nicknamed Peg-Leg (a sick fuck who, back in the ’60s, kidnapped a little girl, raped her, killed her, and…drum roll please…shit in her mouth)

    and a glib self-avowed satanist (who ax murdered 5 family members because of his parents’ stand on some German kerrang band).

    (sorry ’bout the reverie)

    The point is:

    Being a fallen cop sent to prison isn’t as dangerous as some would fantasize, but it’s miserable nonetheless. I’d wager that the absence of danger is a big part of the misery.

    As for this case

    What was the cash motive?

    How much money did the scoundrels stand to make by setting up an innocent old spinster shut-in for a (at the time, anyhow) state sanctioned home invasions?

    Bet it was under 1,000 dollars total.

    Split between the three conspirators.

    Which brings me to the disturbing notion that some of our nominal protectors will out and out victimize citizens for under 500 bucks in ill gotten gains.

    Disturbing.

    Although I do draw some solace from the belief that the cash threshhold for enticing a cop to engage in such criminal activity would be much higher if the proposed victim was middle-class suburban white (like me) instead of lower-class urban black, like poor old Miss Johnson.

  42. God bless america…Why were the police carrying coccain and marijuana with them anyways

  43. “What was the cash motive?”

    The motive was to make a bust that day and pad their stats. The cops are blamming “pressure from Police brass” for their actions. Translation; we were under pressure to make arrests and didn’t want to do our jobs so we just faked. I honestly do not think the cops even knew who was in the house. It didn’t matter. All that mattered was that it was a house in a poor black neighborhood. Hell somebody had to be in there worth arresting. They just picked a house at random, faked an affadavit, and planned to kick in the door and plant drugs. Case closed, another arrest and conviction, really who is going to beleive some dumb nigger found with drugs in his house? And one step closer to promotion. That is what this whole thing is about.

    I am sure prison is miserable even for cops, but these fuckers handcuffed the woman as she lay bleeding to death. Life without parole in general population is too good for them.

  44. I wonder what the punishment would be for the average joe who killed a police officer in one of these no knock raids

    See Cory Maye.

  45. scottp | April 27, 2007, 9:36am
    I wonder what the punishment would be for the average joe who killed a police officer in one of these no knock raids?

    Also see the last item at http://www.theagitator.com/archives/027259.php

    Edward Benavides. In November 1993, police in Houston, Texas conduct a pre-dawn no-knock raid on the home of 21-year-old Edward John Benavides. As Officer Leslie I. Early enters the room where Benavides is sleeping, Benavides awakes, grabs his gun, points it at the door, and fires. Early is struck and killed. Upon realizing the raiders are police, Benavides immediately surrenders himself.

    A subsequent investigative report by the Houston Chronicle found significant problems with the police investigation and execution of the raid, not least of which was the fact that Benavides didn’t know it was police officers who were invading his home until after he’d fired. One officer told the paper, “I think the Task Force may have had more to do with getting [Officer Early] killed than the kid [Benavides] did.” Police would not tell the paper the identity of the informant whose tip led to the raid, nor would they say whether or how much the informant was paid. Police found some weapons and $290,000 in cash in Benavides’ home (it’s not uncommon for immigrants to carry large amounts of cash), but no drugs.

    In 1994, a jury convicted Benavides of murder, and sentenced him to life in prison. He wasn’t convicted of capital murder and was spared the death penalty because, according to the Houston Chronicle, “jurors had some doubt he knew pre-dawn raiders were police.”

    So if you mistake police for criminal intruders, and a jury actually concludes that you probably didn’t know the men breaking down your door were police, and you consequently shoot and kill one of them, you can still go to prison for life. Because you should have known better. You don’t get the benefit that comes with the volatility and confrontational nature of these raids, because you aren’t a police officer.

    And then there’s this:

    In Findlay, Ohio, a police officer allowed an official police dog to escape his property. The dog wandered a quarter mile to the home of a neighbor, where, according to the man how charged, it temporarily kept him and his young son trapped in their own car, on their own property. After managing to get out of the car and into the house, the man came back out with a gun to get his son out of the car. He says he felt threatened by the dog, and shot it once in the chest.

    The local police department is now charging the man with felony assault, punishable by 5 years in prison. They’re also demanding the man pay $11,000 for the dog.

    Pretty aggravating when you consider the callousness with which police sometimes treat others’ family pets.

  46. Great job, Radley. Keep up the good work.

    Kathryn Johnston obviously didn’t know that the invaders forcing their way into her home were police. She had the right to defend her home. That’s true now that we know that the drugs the police claim to have found in her home were planted. But it would have been just as true if she were, say, a medical marijuana user. Or if someone had been using her porch as a drug perch without her knowledge.

    I’d go one step farther and say that even if Kathryn Johnson were actually dealing from her apartment, she has a right to defend it until the cops actually notify her that they are the police and they have a legitimate search warrant.

    That will be satisfactory until we can end the war on some drugs.

  47. “The motive was to make a bust that day and pad their stats. The cops are blamming “pressure from Police brass” for their actions. Translation; we were under pressure to make arrests and didn’t want to do our jobs so we just faked. I honestly do not think the cops even knew who was in the house. It didn’t matter. All that mattered was that it was a house in a poor black neighborhood. Hell somebody had to be in there worth arresting. They just picked a house at random, faked an affadavit, and planned to kick in the door and plant drugs. Case closed, another arrest and conviction, really who is going to beleive some dumb nigger found with drugs in his house? And one step closer to promotion. That is what this whole thing is about.”

    here’s how I have it down

    the cops came up with a low end scam

    by running faked informant information by judges, they were able to get gigs kicking down doors in low end neighborhoods

    the beauty of the scam is that, by picking houses that weren’t really hotbeds of crime, they were spared the danger of having to come into contact with real bad guys (many of whom are crazy violent and unpredictable men who hate cops)

    hazardous duty pay…without the hazard

    throw in that they get to pocket the cash they told their bosses they needed to pay out to (phony) confidential informants in order to get the buy and bust info (I read somewhere that Atlanta pays $500 for an informant to buy crack cocaine)

    mix 3 fake raids a month in with the legit ones, earn extra money, and the bosses will bend over backwards to keep the frauds from being detected, much less challenged

    not a bad deal for the cops

    foolproof really

    at least until something unintended happened, everything spun out of control, and the bosses had no choice but to throw the exposed errant cops overboard

  48. So why isn’t this sensational story all over the headlines then? I haven’t heard a word about it in months except for here and at Agitator. The apparent disinterest of the media and the general public in the criminality of the drug war continues to dismay me.

  49. “””We know the police didn’t plant the evidence in the OJ case because there was a sufficient “trial by media” to convince us (me included!) that the police did not plant the blood and gloves and such.”””

    Your kidding, right?

    There was blood missing from one of the viles, when the LAPD officer was asked about it, he pleaded the fifth. If I’m on a jury and the cop takes the 5th about the handling of evidence, I couldn’t take them serious with anything else.

  50. There was blood missing from one of the viles

    Wishful thinking.

  51. TrickyVic:

    can you provide documentation for the claim that a police officer took the fifth re: evidence handling?

    (“vials”, btw)

  52. viles works better

  53. Here’s a scenario. Corrupt cops bust down door of house owned by crazy old vet. He’s waiting, like he always does, for the VC or the Muj to come in. He takes out the whole corrupt crew.

  54. Leveling the playing field:

    The cops who planted the evidence:

    1), were in possession of an illegal, controlled substance

    2), they left it in the possession of someone else

    3), they did so in the attempt to dodge responsiblity for their actions

    1 + 2 + 3 = distribution of a controlled substance for gain . . .in other words, the legal definition of pushing dope! This is a felony.

    Now add:

    4), a person died during and/or as a direct result of the felony action mentioned above, which fits the definition of homicide in the first degree, with the rider that this is murder committed during a drug crime, thus a Federal offense.

    Plus:

    5), the crime was committed as a conspiracy between two or more persons

    6), the crime involved firearms and was a felony in an of itself (separate from the gun-related crime).

    Gee, don’t the dope laws and their enforcers make you feel safer?

  55. specialforces:

    I have always wondered what would have happened in the following scenario that I read:

    Imagine at Waco, the kgBATF rolls up in their horse trailers and storms the place in front of the TV cameras . . .then silence. The front door closes. After a while, one of the reporters timidly knocks. A child answers, only to ask “What Federal agents???”

  56. Reality check stopping by!
    “Sentencing in both courts has been deferred until later to allow the men to cooperate with a federal investigation into the Atlanta police department’s narcotics unit.”

    They will get one day suspended sentences, if that.

  57. The local police department is now charging the man with felony assault, punishable by 5 years in prison. They’re also demanding the man pay $11,000 for the dog.

    At least he’s not on death row for “murder of a peace officer”.

    Seriously, that was discussed in Florida a few years ago when some guy shot a police dog.

  58. we should just kill them all and start over.

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  60. Here’s a sobering thought for you:

    45-7-302. Obstructing peace officer or other public servant. (1) A person commits the offense of obstructing a peace officer or public servant if the person knowingly obstructs, impairs, or hinders the enforcement of the criminal law, the preservation of the peace, or the performance of a governmental function, including service of process.

    (2) It is no defense to a prosecution under this section that the peace officer was acting in an illegal manner, provided that the peace officer was acting under the peace officer’s official authority.

    (3) A person convicted of the offense of obstructing a peace officer or other public servant, including a person serving process, shall be fined not to exceed $500 or be imprisoned in the county jail for a term not to exceed 6 months, or both.

    In the state of Montana, it is theoretically illegal to point a loaded gun at a police officer who is beating a suspect half to death as part of the arrest. Even if you don’t shoot the cop, and all you are doing is preventing a crime from happening, because the cop is acting under official capacity by placing someone under arrest, you are now a criminal. Would a jury let you off? I couldn’t imagine there being anyone that “law and order.”

    Additional considerations. It is also illegal to defend your private property from armed robbery, your wife from being sexually assaulted and a host of other things if a cop has a search warrant in Montana. To put it nicely, while the cop may face criminal prosecution later, you may face it as well, provided that the cop’s behavior is not so over-the-top illegal that it would cause another Freeman-style standoff in Montana.

    Remind anyone of the first steps toward a behavior that pissed off our forefathers?

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