Militarization of Police

And Another One

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New York City:

Cops in New York City are accused of wrongly breaking into a local man's home this month, holding him at gunpoint, then stealing $2,000 from a jacket.

The May 9 incident was a result of a raid in which the police officers were given faulty information, the New York Daily News reported Sunday.

"They didn't tell me what they were looking for or why they were here," said Alisaleh Moshad Ali, 50, the Yemeni immigrant whose house was broken into. "They just told me to get on the floor."

The police later apologized, after finding that they were at the wrong address. However, Ali and his wife, Leslie, 30, have not received any explanation for the $2,000 Ali says went missing from his jacket, which was in a closet.

Police argue Ali left the house for 30 minutes after the incident, leaving someone else the opportunity to steal the money since the door was reportedly broken.

The Daily News reported the police department has been receiving an increased number of complaints involving raids on the wrong homes.

As this Metafilter post points out, that's six botched raids in the last five weeks. That we know of.

Last September, civil rights attorney Joel Berger and I wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal about how New York City officials have reneged on their promises to reform the way drug raids are executed after the 2003 wrong-door raid that resulted in the death of 57-year-old Alberta Spruill. Looks like they've not only not learned much, but the problem is getting worse. There are some pretty striking similarities between Spruill's death and that of Kathryn Johnston. I hope Atlanta learns better than New York. I have my doubts.

Meanwhile, the family of Sal Culosi tells me that the Justice Department has found no criminal civil rights violations in the SWAT shooting of the 37-year old Virginia optometrist, who was under investigation for gambling on football with friends. While I understand the finding, it's still frustrating when combined with the fact that no state criminal charges will be filed, either. If a non-police citizen of Virginia pointed a loaded weapon at a fellow citizen which resulted in an accidental discharge and death, he'd almost certainly face charges, at least of some sort of criminal negligence. This police officer got a short suspension, and will keep his job.

The Culosi family is moving forward with a civil suit.

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  1. There’s no such thing as an accidental discharge, only a negligent one.

  2. Police argue Ali left the house for 30 minutes after the incident, leaving someone else the opportunity to steal the money since the door was reportedly broken.

    Then they’re still negligently responsible for the loss of the money because they broke the door. I understand that there are times when they have to break doors based on tips, and that sometimes those tips are going to be bum steers. But that doesn’t mean that the police aren’t responsible for the damage they do. If they break a door, especially in error, they should be responsible for providing security until that door is repaired, and the repairs should be done within seventy-two hours at their expense.

  3. Just to prevent him from showing up…

    <Dan T>If society determines that gamblers are a horrible people, then they deserve whatever punishment they get. If citizens don’t like police raiding their homes for no reason, they can move to a city with no police force.</Dan T>

  4. I think it would be interesting to do a study to determine which H&R issues the average American cares about the least

    Unfortunately I think this would win. The average American not only doesn’t care, they actually feel pretty good about the fact that the police kick down doors and shoot old ladies in their quest to find drugs. They feel so good about it that they want the police to kick down doors and shoot old ladies looking for illegal immigrants, too.

  5. “Looks like they’ve not only not learned much, but the problem is getting worse”

    Too true, albeit inelegantly expressed.

  6. Anyone watching Nancy Grace going insane of the Paris Hilton thing? I’ve never seen a woman have an erection before.

    I think it would be interesting to do a study to determine which H&R issues the average American cares about the least

    Unfortunately I think this would win. The average American not only doesn’t care, they actually feel pretty good about the fact that the police kick down doors and shoot old ladies in their quest to find drugs. They feel so good about it that they want the police to kick down doors and shoot old ladies looking for illegal immigrants, too.
    Although I have a feeling that people don’t care that much over Wrong-Door Searches, I think you’d be underestimating the people of “Average America” if you think that people would be OK with murdering old ladies and stealing $2,000

  7. Remember folks, if you have not committed a crime, then you have nothing to fear from the cops.

  8. Jonathan Hohensee,
    Sure, if you word it like that everybody has a problem with cops shooting old ladies and stealing dough. If you word it as “In the pursuit of Justice against drug pushers, blah, blah blah, accidents happen, blah, blah, blah” I bet the numbers will fall in line with Fluffy’s predictions.

  9. Brandybuck subbing for Juanita today?

    Anyway, surely this will result in a massive public outcry against the wrongful use of police force against innocent citizens. I just can’t see how the public at large will tolerate this much longer than the next 20 or 30 years, tops. Probably just until somebody important gets killed or roughed up, not just an old lady or an some immigrants.

  10. I think Young Master Meriadoc was being all ironical. You know hobbits.

  11. Brandybuck subbing for Juanita today?

    The Ali family must have done something wrong. Maybe not yesterday, maybe not today, but they would have in the future. Stuff like this doesn’t happen to people who keep their noses clean and vote for Giuliani. We would all have been better off if Mr. Ali had just turned himself in. The cops were right to take that $2000 as compensation for this unecessary door battery.

    p.s. This substitute shilling sucks. If it wasn’t for the pay I wouldn’t do it.

  12. I think Young Master Meriadoc was being all ironical. You know hobbits.

    Curse those hobbits, with their ironical wit and their sultry gazes…

  13. p.s. This substitute shilling sucks. If it wasn’t for the pay I wouldn’t do it.

    That was an excellent Juanita-ish post. Most excellent.

  14. if you think that people would be OK with murdering old ladies and stealing $2,000

    They’re not OK with it. They love it.

    If they didn’t, there’d be more than seventeen libertarians.

  15. Maybe the problem isn’t common enough that the only people who pay attention to it are those who have their eyes trained unflinchingly on civil rights/drug war issues.

    Yes this is shitty, VERY shitty, but The People aren’t idiots for paying attention to something more imporant like, say, the Iraqi War or the election than a horrible breach of civil rights that effect about 11 household a year

  16. Yes this is shitty, VERY shitty, but The People aren’t idiots for paying attention to something more imporant like, say, the Iraqi War or the election than a horrible breach of civil rights that effect about 11 household a year

    The People are idiots for not realizing that the same government that thinks you too stupid to make choices about your body is the one bringing bodies ravaged by far worse than drugs back from far away lands.

    Free is free.

  17. Go back to sleep, America! Your government is in control. Look! Here is American Gladiator Idol! Here is 56 channels of American Gladiator Idol!

    You are free, to do as we tell you!
    You are free, to do as we tell you!
    You are free, to do as we tell you!

  18. I for one support the police. Most are hardworking and honest. It’s a tough job with many, many tough calls.

    I also support Catholic priests, of whom a tiny minority have ever molested a child. Theirs is also a tough job with many, many tough calls. Five Hail Marys or ten Hail Marys?

  19. Free is free. What’s all this freedom shit. Ever hear of responsibility?

  20. SON OF A BITCH!

    AOBP Keep at it Radley

  21. So where is Michael Medved since hes so against the government promoting “Disgusting, immoral behavior”?

    Oh? I guess this doesn’t qualify, but gay sex does.

  22. I for one support the police. Most are hardworking and honest. It’s a tough job with many, many tough calls. I also support Catholic priests, of whom a tiny minority have ever molested a child. Theirs is also a tough job with many, many tough calls. Five Hail Marys or ten Hail Marys?

    But I don’t support the church leaders who kept sending the pedophile priests back into new parishes instead of making sure the child abuse would never happen again.

    As this Metafilter post points out, that’s six botched raids in the last five weeks. That we know of.

    That’s a little past Hail Marys. If the PD can’t keep its own house clean it’s time to do it for them, starting at the top.

  23. “If the PD can’t keep its own house clean it’s time to do it for them, starting at the top.”

    I agree, but that isn’t the real thrust of all the posts on H&R decrying police abuse. The subtext is that police operating under the auspices of the state are bound to be oppressive. Private police are what’s wanted. Ask Tony Soprano how that works.

  24. Edward-

    I believe the real subtext is that first of all, police must be greatly restricted in what they can do in order to prevent abuses.

    And secondly, that trying to criminalize victimless crimes–such as drug use–leads to outrageous abuses such as the above example.

    Being a libertarian magazine and not anarchist, I don’t think Reason favors a private police force as far as I know.

  25. Jonathan Hohensee:
    Yes this is shitty, VERY shitty, but The People aren’t idiots for paying attention to something more imporant like, say, the Iraqi War or the election than a horrible breach of civil rights that effect about 11 household a year

    Probably quite true; and these egregious cases are only a minuscule portion of the damage the gov’t does to individuals in the W.O.D. Last night my GF and I watched some (A&E?) show about meth, and I provided an obnoxious commentary about their false statements and misleading innuendoes (i.e., entire program), but I thought the kicker was: does meth make people dress up like Nazis and wave guns at people? (A la “fiery liquors that produce madness in total abstainers.” – Bierce)

    Fluffy:
    [Nonsense snipped] They feel so good about it that they want the police to kick down doors and shoot old ladies looking for illegal immigrants, too.

    Old ladies are looking for illegal immigrants?

  26. Cesar

    I stand corrected. I assumed many right-libertarians here are anarcho-capitalists.

  27. “Police argue Ali left the house for 30 minutes after the incident, leaving someone else the opportunity to steal the money since the door was reportedly broken.”

    I’m curious about the wording here. Does “after the incident” mean that the police left (in which case their knowledge that he left for 30 minutes comes from…) or do they mean they took him downtown so they knew he was gone and anyone could have walked in?

  28. 11 households a year? I’ll quote the guy from Metafilter that Radley linked to above:

    “This happens a lot. I mean a lot. All over the place. All these stories are within the last five weeks.”

    I find the War on Drugs every bit as egregious as the War in Iraq, actually. Drugs and terrorism — two of the major pretexts for the current, deteriorating, state of our civil liberties. Including right to life, if you haven’t noticed, because a lot of innocent people are being killed.

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