Militarization of Police

Another Isolated Incident

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Last June, police in St. Louis broke in to the home of an 86-year-old woman, deployed a "smoke bomb," and turned her place upside down in what looks to be a mistaken drug raid.  A clergyman from the woman's church has been trying to get an apology and compensation, but thus far has been rebuffed by city officials.

"We've been battling since June," Brown said. "The (police) board is for the birds, when it comes to citizens. I talked to one board member, but he was very insulting. They just closed the door in our face."

Valentine wants an apology from the department and compensation for the damage done to her psyche and home.

"She's scared, and when she hears loud noises outside she thinks it's the police coming in her house," Brown said.

[…]

"When they realized they'd been had, why didn't they just get everyone's information and write a report for a complaint number and take it to the City counselor, who could get the right department to pay for damages?" Broughton said.

Instead, Valentine and Brown said the officers threatened to the take the elderly lady's house when they left.

Police tore down Valentine's door, ripped up her walls, sliced open her mattress, and seized a safe containing stationery.  They found no drugs, made no arrests, and, three months later, have made no offer to compensate her for the damage done to her home.

NEXT: Internal Investigation: Slaughter of Mayor's Dogs During Botched Drug Raid Justified

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  1. Bitch was askin’ for it, if you ask me. How dare she? Livin in St. Louis like that…

  2. Missouri cops are the worst I’ve ever seen, and I’ve lived in Alabama.

  3. Officers involved in wrongful raids should face some form of harsh punishment — like the loss of a week’s pay or elimination of a week’s vacation — and the department should be forced to pay for compensation out of any overtime or other payroll related budget to encourage officers to pay more attention, think twice about each raid and possible conduct them with a lighter touch.

    As it is now, raids are all fun and games and a chance to wreak havoc.

  4. They could at least use her stationery to write her an apology.

    However, they’ll probably use it to print the results of the official investigation which comes to the inevitable conclusion that the raid was justified.

  5. Dammit Radley!! It’s Friday for Chrissakes. Just because you had a nice vacation doesn’t give you license to screw up our weekend with yet another depressing story of the PoPo fucking over a citizen. Have some respect!!!

    Just kidding of course. While it makes my blood boil it’s nice to see coverage of “isolated incidents” that really aren’t and in fact may be getting more common. Scalia’s “Police Professionalism” my ass.

  6. That’s absolutly crazy…surely if you’ve made a mistake you have to repair things…poor old lady who probably worked hard all her life to have a good home…and now finds it upside down.
    http://mylifeiscrap.com

  7. Completely outrageous!

    A clergyman from the woman’s church has been trying to get an apology and compensation, but thus far has been rebuffed by city officials.

    When will these nutty Jesusers learn the meaning of separation of church and state!

  8. Beloved pets and elderly grannies… this is one PR campaign that just can’t fail!

  9. Thats it Radley. Keep at em’.

    “I’m not fluent in the language of violence, but I know enough to get around in places where it’s spoken.”

  10. This is why little old ladies should be well-armed. It would make bullies think twice about fucking with granny if she could give them a lead salad.

  11. I have never heard an explanation of why the police need to trash a house in order to search it. It seems to me that once they have everything under control, if they would take their time and carefully look everywhere, they would be less likely to miss something important and wouldn’t look like assholes if they don’t find what they are looking for. I think that even the subjects of legitimate, justified search warrants should be compensated for unnecessary damage to their property. We shouldn’t even be discussing whether victims of wrong door raids or bad tips should be compensated.

  12. Dagny T. | September 5, 2008, 1:12pm | #
    Beloved pets and elderly grannies… this is one PR campaign that just can’t fail!

    I said it in the god thread, I’ll say it here.

    Fuckin’ cops.

  13. Is there an organization that will take on these cases pro-bono? Or is the judicial path for justice too difficult?

    It seems to me that standard for these “isolated incidents” is that if a compliant is filed, the same department that conducted the raid investigates themselves and inevitably finds no wrong doing. The best case scenario so far seems to be the police coughing up a hundred bucks to replace a door as part of a drawn out settlement.

    Balko is doing the good fight bringing these to our attention but until the police are held accountable and the judges granting these warrants based on the flimsiest of evidence are held accountable, the rate of these “isolated incidents” is only going to increase. What’s the next step?

  14. That would be the god thread … damn my fingers.

  15. Haven’t read the links yet and Mr. Balko did not mention it, so I’ve got to ask –

    Is Ms Valentine a poor black person?

  16. Where’s the ACLU? If they aren’t “up to it,”
    then the Institute for Justice needs to add a new division focused on getting justice for the victims of police totalitarian behavior.

  17. I have never heard an explanation of why the police need to trash a house in order to search it.

    Fear. Now put your fucking face on the floor and don’t turn around or I’ll put a bullet in the back of your head.

    Same shit. They don’t need to hold people face down on the floor with a foot on their neck and a gun to their head either.

  18. That damn headline again.

    It’s like a smack whenever I open up the page and see it up top.

    At least no one died. This time.

  19. Idea for bumpersticker, to be applied to police force vehicles via stealth:

    “What Would Andy Do?”

  20. Beloved pets and elderly grannies… this is one PR campaign that just can’t fail!

    Well, that’s exactly why this is a perfect example of their arrogance. You’d think that fucking up and raiding a granny would make them say “ok, that looked bad, let’s just apologize, pay, and sweep this under the rug”. But no, even with this, it’s “fuck you, we do as we please”.

    I hate cops.

  21. With a little bit of luck the officer in charge of the operation will run into his bookie ensuring “Pulp Fiction” shenanigans on the streets that ends with the LEO being raped.

  22. You know, I think I’m going to watch Assault on Precinct 13 again and root against the cops. The Carpenter version, obviously, not the new one.

  23. I have never heard an explanation of why the police need to trash a house in order to search it.

    They’re not doing because they need to, they’re doing it because they want to.

    Hell, if I knew I wasn’t going to be held accountable for my actions, I’d probably bust up a few houses, too.

  24. I love this line:

    On Valentine’s behalf, Brown tried to talk with then-Police Chief Joe Mokwa before the towing scandal broke and he resigned.

    So, something to do with out-of-the-ordinary towing (they don’t elaborate for us non-Louisers) will cause you to fall on your sword, but violently raiding the house of an innocent granny is cause to just not give shit.

    Lovely. Remind me not to relocate to St. Louie.

  25. Officers involved in wrongful raids should face some form of harsh punishment — like the loss of a week’s pay or elimination of a week’s vacation — and the department should be forced to pay for compensation out of any overtime or other payroll related budget to encourage officers to pay more attention, think twice about each raid and possible conduct them with a lighter touch.

    Monetary penalties? No. Fucking shoot them. In the foot, say, or the dominant hand, with something small like a .22 or .38 pistol. Unlikely to be fatal, but potentially permanently crippling, and most certainly extremly painful.

  26. Epi–Just skip to the police house scene in Terminator. Much quicker and a far better tag line.

  27. JW, I’ve seen that scene so many times that there’s no freshness in it. Besides, Paul Winfield and Lance Henriksen are too sympathetic.

  28. Is Ms Valentine a poor black person?

    Neither of the linked articles mentioned it. However, the first link is to The St. Louis American, which according to their website

    is Missouri’s largest, most widely-read weekly newspaper targeted to African Americans.

    So I’m just gonna guess yes, the War on Drugs Minorities continues.

  29. Elemenope, you know that would just give the cops an excuse to burst into houses with even more overwhelming force. “We had to use shoulder-fired missiles, the elderly woman our shifty-assed informant told us was selling drugs might have had a gun!”

  30. “That coffee’s two hours cold. I put a cigarette out in it.”

  31. America’s at that awkward age. Too late to work within the system. Too early to start shooting government officials at random.

  32. Ahhhhhhhh . . . if you gotta dream, dream big.

    John Hull: Gerry, I sold drugs, I’ve watched people die, and I didn’t do nothing. I killed people. You lied to me.
    Carver: They lied to me, John. How naive can you get, man? What, what, are you so stupid you can’t see that? You think I like this? Huh? John, I’m sorry. Huh? It’s all shit, you know. It’s all bullshit. You know that. I know that.
    John Hull: What the fuck am I gonna do now?
    Carver: Hey, you know they’re bringing me to Washington? Come along with me, man. We’ll go to Washington. We’ll have a budget, huh? We’ll have some clout, we’ll have some…
    John Hull: I didn’t get into this for that.
    Carver: Well, neither did I. But that’s all there is. They’re the fucking spoils of war. You might as well enjoy it.
    John Hull: Well, if that’s all there is, I’ve been wasting my motherfucking time with you. I can get more clout and more money on the street than I can get following your ass to Washington. Know what? This whole fucking time, I’m a cop pretending to be a drug dealer. I ain’t nothing but a drug dealer pretending to be a cop. I ain’t gonna pretend no more, Gerry. I quit.

  33. The St. Louis American, which according to their website is Missouri’s largest, most widely-read weekly newspaper targeted to African Americans.

    Ah. Otherwise, I would have cynically guessed that she probably wasn’t poor and black, or this might not have made news at all.

  34. Pay attention, we’re gonna ask questions later!

  35. rain, rain, go away…

    no, keep shining the spotlight on them balko. and others.

  36. Well, if Ms. Valentine doesn’t like the police busting into her home without provocation, then she should just move someplace else.

  37. “So, something to do with out-of-the-ordinary towing (they don’t elaborate for us non-Louisers)”

    Essentially, crooked towing companies would tow cars and then cops and the chief’s daughter would drive them around for their own personal reasons. At least that’s the gist of it.

  38. Deep Cover, Naga? You can do better than that.

  39. “I think that even the subjects of legitimate, justified search warrants should be compensated for unnecessary damage to their property. We shouldn’t even be discussing whether victims of wrong door raids or bad tips should be compensated.”

    Wouldnt that be nice? Then I would have some money coming to me…
    Unfortunately, I have lived through this experience… in my case it was a knock-raid (thankfully). They were looking for my roomate… Needless to say, they trashed the entire place and took great joy doing so (even perusing through personal pictures and commenting on them). It’s like they were expecting to catch the next Pablo Escobar. Boy, were they dissapointed when they found NOTHING.
    I, foolishly, asked if they were also going to clean up the place afterward… They didnt find my question amusing.

  40. Hey! That was a good movie. I can’t believe I even remembered the name to quote from it.

    “Drop your cocks and grab your socks!”

    “The reality is that we do not wash our own laundry – it just gets dirtier.”

  41. Naga, were you about to call me an asshole?

  42. No. I smoked a lotta weed around the time I saw the movie. I was astounded I remembered the movie at all. Are you used to people calling you an asshole or somethin’?

  43. You guys are putting the cart before the horse. Penalties? Why? What they are doing is not against the law. We will not see a change until a law forbiding cops to shoot innocent people hit the books. Until then, it’s buisness as usual.

    The really sad part is that few people really care. The prevailing attitude is if the cops shot you, you deserved it.

  44. Full Metal Jacket, Naga. Said by R. Lee. Ermey, the drill sergeant.

    in my case it was a knock-raid (thankfully). They were looking for my roomate.

    What for? Do you shack up with murderers? 😉

  45. You know when I was in Iraq we would never get away with this sort of jackbooted thuggery. Whenever we searched a home we would ask the head of house for permission before we did any physical searching of the home or their personal effects. Furthermore, if anything was destroyed they were fully compensated. Even when we would raid the home of a known (not just suspected, but known) bad guy we would still fully compensate the family for any damage. I find it appalling that LEOs have no problem trashing and terrorizing US citizens while the military goes to great lengths to do the exact opposite to people who, perhaps just the day before, were trying to kill them. Of course maybe that’s the lesson here. Maybe Ms. Valentine should become an insurgent and plant IEDs along the LEOs patrol routes?

  46. Ha!!! It was Serpico, sucka fool! Wow . . . I think this is the first time I got one over on you. What does that make the score?

    Epsiarch: 325

    to

    Naga Sadow: 1

    I’m making a comeback at last!

  47. What for? Do you shack up with murderers poker players? 😉

    Fixed it for you.

  48. “What for? Do you shack up with murderers? ;-)”

    Drugs. They (DEA) came in with guns drawn. It was scary.

  49. “What for? Do you shack up with poker players? ;-)”

    I have nothing against poker players… or should I?

    But I don’t get the reference. Please enlighten me.

  50. rana,

    The poker player reference was in regard to the fact that the cops tend to do no-knock raids looking for gamblers, not murderers.

  51. Epi is not invulnerable on inane cultural trivia. Pheer the man who is, for he truly has no life.

  52. Thanks Mister DNA.

    Note to self:
    1. Do not shack up with druggies, murderers or poker-players.
    2. Do not own dog or let granma stay over.

  53. … to avoid further encounters with the DEA.

  54. Rana,

    What were the DEA doing in Venezeula or did you use to live in the USA?

  55. Epi is not invulnerable on inane cultural trivia

    Oh, certainly. For some reason, though, I have a good memory for it, yet I can’t remember much of my past. It’s crazy. Or the drugs, that could be it.

  56. “What were the DEA doing in Venezeula or did you use to live in the USA?”

    I went to college in the U.S. It happened in Colorado.

  57. I went to college in the U.S. It happened in Colorado

    Don’t let LoneDipshit know! U took ur jerbs college admissions!

  58. Hands up:

    Who here likes plaintiff’s lawyers?

  59. Who here likes plaintiff’s lawyers?

    You talking broiled or pan-fried?

  60. An old Dragnet episode, Sgt. Friday shot a man that shot at him. He got into a lot of trouble because they couldn’t find the bullet (it hit a shelf a glancing blow that lifted the shelf enough to hid the bullet hole when it fell back). Now a good excuse is “I thought his wallet was a gun,” or “I thought he might have a gun,” or even “My finger slipped on the trigger.” New professionalism, yeah right.

  61. the fourth amendment foundation founded by Hunter Thompson may be the kind of organization that could help someone like this

  62. The Fourth Amendment, at this point, is as dead as Hunter S. Thompson. We just haven’t bothered to hold a wake & shoot its ashes out of a cannon.

  63. Ghost of DT:

    heh 🙂

  64. . . . and that’s the problem. This lady needs a lawyer. Just like if she was sick she would need a doctor. But you guys (not talking about Mr. Balko here) think you can shame the cops with comments onna msg board. People like the victim here need to lawyer up, and they need your encouragement and possibly even help along these lines. Time to look inside selves and change some ‘tudes.

  65. “I have never heard an explanation of why the police need to trash a house in order to search it. It seems to me that once they have everything under control, if they would take their time and carefully look everywhere, they would be less likely to miss something important and wouldn’t look like assholes if they don’t find what they are looking for.”

    The searches are carried out as consious pre-emptive punishment designed to show the person/s being victimized who is in charge and that their possessions are trash and are treated as such. Ransacked residences are also left wide open for passers by to look at or loot.

    There is absolutly no professionalism or courtesy extended to any person/s mistakenly raided and ransacked property. Take a look at publicity photos of SWAT teams, many times their weapons are aimed straight at the camera, to show the viewer how they are regarded by these jackboots.

    We’re all potential perps and need to be put in our place.

  66. What really sucks is there’s no “new world” left to discover and start a new country.

    This one’s gone to shit.

    You know it’s bad when the democrats even ignore old ladies getting terrorized by cops, and major media is too busy with political and hollywood sex scandals to care.

  67. These cops are going to HELL!

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