Militarization of Police

Another Isolated Incident


Near Durango, Colorado:

Law-enforcement officers raided the wrong house and forced a 77-year-old La Plata County woman on oxygen to the ground last week in search of methamphetamine.

The raid occurred about 11 a.m. June 8, as Virginia Herrick was settling in to watch "The Price is Right." She heard a rustling outside her mobile home in Durango West I and looked out to see several men with gas masks and bulletproof vests, she said.

Herrick went to the back door to have a look.

"I thought there was a gas leak or something," she said.

But before reaching the door, La Plata County Sheriff's deputies shouted "search warrant, search warrant" and barged in with guns drawn, she said. They ordered Herrick to the ground and began searching the home.

"They didn't give me a chance to ask for a search warrant or see a search warrant or anything," she said in a phone interview Thursday. "I'm not about to argue with those big old guys, especially when they've got guns and those big old sledgehammers."

They'd been investigating the trailer next door for a month, but still managed to hit the wrong home.

Herrick's son, David Herrick, said investigators surveilled the neighbor's house before the raid, and it was extremely unprofessional to enter the wrong house.

"There is a big difference between 74 and 82," he said, referring to the house numbers.

What's more, Herrick doesn't understand why his 77-year-old mother was handcuffed.

"Why they thought it was necessary to handcuff her and put her on the floor I don't know," he said. "And then they had to ask her what the address was."

(Link fixed—sorry.) 

NEXT: Some Good News in the Cory Maye Case

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  1. Geez, Balko, you’d probably find fault with the Gestapo, too!

  2. Yeah, I bet he’d find fault with the GPU and the Stasi too! Mr. Balko, are you not aware of the existential threat posed by elderly women? The police are aware . . . VERY aware.
    But seriously . . . it’s bad enough that the coppers have arrogated extraordinary powers to themselves in order to bust “bad” guys . . . but this is all beginning to approach Keystone Cops Land. That is, if it were funny . . .

  3. A link to the original article please! I’d like to read the whole thing.

  4. This is a clear-cut example of why the Second Amendment must never be interpreted to protect individual gun ownership. Just imagine if the cops busted in on some innocent old lady who was packing a shotgun under her sofa. One of them might get hurt.

    We need to keep guns where they belong, in the hands of responsible government agents.

  5. Responsible government agents.

  6. if only they’d been armed with DONUTS…

  7. You do realize that a tank of pure oxygen is a lethal weapon, right? I’d rather face a 20-something guy with an AK-47 than an old lady with a match and 10 gallons of compressed O2. 😉

    Also, I can’t help but wonder if this guy living in a trailer with his mom is our old friend “Herrick and his balls”. That would explain a lot.

  8. Also, I can’t help but wonder if this guy living in a trailer with his mom is our old friend “Herrick and his balls”. That would explain a lot.

    Crimethink, are you suggesting Herrick was a dick?

    [ducks, scurries away…]

  9. It seems like the police department discovered a problem – an old lady on oxygen – and corrected it. What’s the problem?

  10. We should commend the officers for handcuffing that lady for her own protection.

  11. When you can post unbroken links the first time, every time, then start telling the police how to do their jobs.

  12. Becoming a cop is not something that happens overnight. It takes one solid weekend of training to get that badge.

  13. Maybe if we call all these incidents an “epidemic” the MSM would pay attention to them.

  14. After a hollow apology and the barest show of public hand-wringing, this will be called a genuinely “isolated incident,” and thugs with badges will again be free to conduct themselves like the government-sanctioned violators of liberty they really are.

    Way to serve and protect, fellows.

    Why do I never see, in these threads, someone claiming to be a cop and defending the officers’ actions?

  15. Geez, Balko, you’d probably find fault with the Gestapo, too!

    No doubt, Ridgely, old top.

    Why does Radley Balko hate America?

    Sorry, had to do it once. From tradition don’t you know?

    Actually for what it’s worth, this is one reason to hate America. Other countries are almost as dickish about the WOD but they seem to manage without incidents like these (for the most part).

  16. Well, On reading the entire link, I think it has to be admit the police behaved better than in the usual police screw up. Read the link. At least the sherriff apologized profusely and explained why he thought a 77 year-old should be handcuffed and placed on the floor until the situation was controlled. I, for one, will have to wonder if he is right, but I wasn’t there and don’t know that much about how chaotic such a situation is after the first 15 seconds. People make mistakes, after all, and this is the first time I saw a post where the police didn’t act dishonest or overbearing when caught making one.
    Of course, we read about these police screw-ups frequently, but these articles do not address what I see as the real issue. The issue isn’t how the police accidently treat those who obey the law like lawbreakers, but how the legislature gives them the right to treat any American like this. How can it be a free society, when the legislature is allowed to outlaw behaviors it doesn’t like for the opaque, derivative reasons they have outlawed drugs? No, the real problem is the anti-American “war on drugs”. If supposedly free Americans could do what they wanted with their lives and merely take responsibility for their direct injuries to others – wait, I hear my alarm clock ringing………….

  17. as Virginia Herrick was settling in to watch “The Price is Right.”

    Well, the price is right!

  18. Yes, the price IS right . . . it costs approximately two hundred dollars to arm yourself with a good and reliable handgun and some ammo. So, if the bacon comes a’ knockin down doors, then you can give em a good slug in the temple.

  19. At least the sherriff apologized profusely and explained why he thought a 77 year-old should be handcuffed and placed on the floor until the situation was controlled.

    Here’s the Sheriff’s explanation.

    “It’s just safe for everybody if they’re controlled on the ground,” he said.

    Because you can’t control a 77 year old woman on the ground without cuffing her. Because when the government says you need to be physically restrained for your own safety, you really must need to be physically restrained.

    No, sorry. Acting “better than the usual police screw-up” is not acceptable or admirable in any way.

  20. Solve for x –

    Muslim : Allah :: US Citizens : x

  21. Keep up the good work Radley. (first spelled as god wrok. Oh…Dr. Freud?) Maybe someone with some authority and a backbone will notice one day.

    Maybe your friend Ron Paul could hold hearings on how DHS funds are being misused to harrass and occassionaly kill the public?

  22. The price is WRONG, bitch!

  23. goo-goo-ga-joob

  24. I smell bacon, I smell ham . . . I smell a pig in a white sedan.

  25. What gets me is why anyone who hears of stories like this one 1) wouldn’t vote; and 2) wouldn’t vote for candidates who are pledged (or for measures that aim) to end the obviously failed and corrosive drug prohibition.

    I’m sorry, but it’s not enough anymore even to oppose escalation of the Drug War. Even maintaining the status quo through inaction is tantamount to collaboration. On second thought, I’m not sorry. After this long and so many reports of bogus raids and other clear violations of citizen rights by the Drug Warriors, anyone who isn’t voting to end the drug war can no longer plead innocence — they are as bad as the drug warriors themselves. It’s time to take responsibility.

    You want to know how Hitler came to power? It was through the enthusiastic, nationalistic support of some, certainly, but mostly through the acquiescence the the great majority. Quit acquiescing, already!

  26. SWAT team? SWAT team? We dont need no stinkin’ SWAT team.

  27. Russell has it right, I think. Better to handcuff her than shoot her (or have her shoot you). It’s hard to make the case that she was just at the very most a harmless old lady, what with Kathryn Johnston busting off a couple of rounds well into her 70s. They should be way more careful about whose home they’re busting into, but while this stupid war on drugs is law, police are going to make mistakes on drug busts, and this is probably one of the better forms one of these mistakes can take.

  28. What gets me is why anyone who hears of stories like this one 1) wouldn’t vote; and 2) wouldn’t vote for candidates who are pledged (or for measures that aim) to end the obviously failed and corrosive drug prohibition.

    Let me know when you run across one. I’ve never voted in an election where anti-drug war was a choice.

    Maybe Ron Paul. I keep hoping.

  29. Neil says:

    “Open Up! It’s the Pigs.”

  30. Sam,

    Ms Johnson only got one round off at her murderers before they gunned her down. Furthermore, her murderers hadn’t actually made it into the house before whe fired.

    If the police were truly intereseted in officer and civlian safety, they would ring the doorbell and announce that they had a search warrant.

    These no-knock raids or violent entries have one purpose: to terrorize the populace. As such, I have as much sympathy for policemen killed on those sorts of raids as I do for these guys.

  31. Faggots are gay!
    I eat cock!

  32. Better to handcuff her than shoot her (or have her shoot you).

    Anyone who can’t keep an old woman who’s on the floor from being a threat (even without guns drawn) shouldn’t be a cop. Maybe they should stop hiring such obvious pussies.

  33. Enough of this shit. We need to legalize all drugs, right now. The war on (some) drugs has too many civilian casualties.


  34. Les,

    Have you ever seen the havoc an emphysemiac septagenarian can create by using her O2 tank as a flamethrower?

    I haven’t either, but I’m sure it’s not a pretty sight. Officer safety is the first concern, period.

  35. Not to mention when she’s an undercover agent.

  36. crimethink,

    I beg to differ. I’m almost certain it’s an absolutely beautiful thing to behold. 😉

  37. Oxygen doesn’t burn.

  38. Oxygen doesn’t burn.

    But add hair spray and a match and you’ve got a hell of a blowtorch.


    Your 7:26 link is a hoot! I haven’t looked at the Darwin Awards for some time.

  39. But if we don’t keep drugs out of the hands of irresponsible grandparents, The Children will suffer! Do you all hate children? And didn’t you consent to the police making justified raids seeking dangerous drugs when you consented to the social contract by not leaving the country?

  40. Tarran | June 16, 2007, 7:37pm | #

    Faggots are gay!
    I eat cock!

    Ummm, thank you for sharing that … but out of curiosity, WTF does that have to do with this thread?

    Ease off on the tokes, dude.

  41. What does it mean when a person who once not so very long ago had great respect and admiration for the police and the profession, (one of my family professions btw) after reading about the handcuffing and brutalizing of this elderly woman; that person has a profound sense of disappointment that the entire entry team wasn’t shot and killed when serving the subsequent actual raid or that the elderly woman herself didn’t grease the whole crew of miscreants thugs.

    I suppose when “law enforcement” activities illicit that kind of visceral response in 100% peaceable law abiding citizens maybe they and their masters need to take a serious look at what they are doing.

  42. Oxygen doesn’t burn.

    Tell that to my emphysemiac (former) neighbor, who burned down his house ’cause he couldn’t resist lighting up.

    I would think there’d be plenty of combustible material around.

  43. Time for this beautiful, inspiring Ice T blast from the past . . . blazin up some bacon!

  44. Cops are called “Law Enforcement” for a reason. When the laws are evil necessarily they become a tool of evil. Does that excuse their actions “I’m just doing my job”? Hell no.

    In fact I think the situation is rapidly deteriorating because anyone with human empathy or conscious has left the profession rather than become a tool of the evil thugs making our laws.

  45. ugh . . .

    conscious = conscience

  46. Oxygen doesn’t burn.

    Technically. But pretty much any other material in the presence of pure oxygen will, spectacularly.

  47. The handcuff this is true. It may seem silly but ya never know when someone’s going to grab a knife, gun, whatever. Unlikely but then again people have been known to do that WHEN YOU CAN’T EVEN FIGURE OUT THE RIGHT HOUSE TO HIT FOR A SEARCH WARRANT. Seriously, it’s not rocket science. Please tell me someone got fired over this one.

  48. “There is a big difference between 74 and 82,”

    Check you out, genius! Able to figure out that one number is bigger than another.

    *Psst- the amount in the difference is 8*

  49. Its a state job no one ever gets fired they just get paid vacations.

    And I agree I have no sympathy for any cops killed “in the line of duty” raiding someones home. If your stupid enough to kick in doors your unsure of to begin with you deserve to be shot. Furthermore when you do it simply because some other jackass says you need to makes you even more unable to think critically and you should not be wielding any guns around.

    Its obvious the WoD is a loser. With that in mind why would anyone risk their life knowing they are pissing in the wind to stop anything? More yet why would they risk their life to try and stop something they know they can not and only make 30K a year doing it? You either have to be A) VERY STUPID B) Wanting to get away with breaking the law yourself and get kick backs C) A kid that got his ass kicked and wants his authoritie respected D) VERY STUPID or E) All the Above.

    We have to get the right peoples doors kicked in folks thats all there is to this and the problem will disappear like bribe money in Jeffersons freezer. Not until they feel their laws unjust ways will they do a damn thing about it. Nothing matters unless its happening to them, remember that whole bit about being our servant is all crap, never forget that no matter what they say while running for election.

  50. I just want to know what kind of genius sees the cops bust in the trailer next door, handcuff the old lady living there, clean up the place, come back and apologize, and still doesn’t think to run with their $51k in meth.

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