Alameda Cops Raid the Wrong House, Residents Aren't Particularly Flustered About It

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[Read the update to this post here.]

Let's say you're getting ready for work one morning when you hear a noise outside your house. It's 7 a.m., and your wife, a TV reporter, is upstairs feeding your 7-month-old baby girl. You pull back the curtains to discover four armed men pointing guns at your head. The men open the door to your house, yank you outside, and shove your hands behind your back. As they're slapping the cuffs on, you happen to tell them that your wife is upstairs nursing your child. Also, that she's a CBS reporter. The cops stop.

Should you be outraged? Alex Clemens, a San Francisco political consultant, is apparently not outraged that Alameda police and the FBI raided his home looking for the drug dealer who soldit to them three months earlier, and who, at the time of the raid, was living across the damn street. 

"It was a surreal experience, I gotta say," Clemens told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I made it 44 years without having guns pointed at my face, and then all of a sudden having a whole bunch all at once."

Somebody should tell Clemens that it's perfectly acceptable to be livid when the cops jeopardize your safety, your family's safety, and your property. Everybody responds to trauma in his own way, but this is just ridiculous. 

(H/t Dan McQuade

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  1. What’s there to be outraged about? They were clearly following proper department procedures: do whatever you want, unless you might get caught, and if you get caught, circle the wagons and lie until it goes away.

    1. Right. At least there were no dead pets or husbands this time.

      1. “this is just ridiculous”

        Riggs is outraged! How can These People not see that they themselves should be outraged?! What is wrong with These People?!

        1. They somehow lost their balls.

  2. Priya David Clemens, 36, said she was surprised the agents didn’t do “more of a background check” on the home, but she would give them the benefit of the doubt. “I appreciate that they’re looking for bad guys,” she said.

    This is why the media is hopeless.

    1. right, because they should not quote people unless those quotes reflect negatively on the police.

      this is a weird article. riggs’ complaint is that the subject of the wrongful raid doesn’t FEEL the way riggs feels he should feel?

      um, ok.

      the cops obviously fucked up. bigtime.

      there’s little doubt about that.

      but the idea that some journalist should be telling some victim of police incompetence that their feelings about the incident are WRONG,and he knows better, and that they should be outraged, is very meta, and very weird.

      i’d probably be fucking pissed off, but that’s me. maybe this guy is all zen and shit. who fucking knows? or cares?

      1. I wonder if this sort of thing makes some people scared to criticize the police? I mean, it’s a little scary that it can happen much at all.

        1. i strongly doubt this guy was scared.

          have you ever had a gun(s) pointed at you? it’s a weird experience. i’ve had it happen several times. once,in central america, once by some cops (who did have RS to make a felony stop of me as a possible robbery suspect), and once a guy who not only pointed it at me, but shot at me.

          i wasn’t outraged in any of these cases, but they weren’t police fuckups, like this case.

          not sure how i’d feel if i was this guy.

          i SUSPECT i’d be fucking livid, but that’s just supposition

          1. I’d be pissed, too.

          2. I think the anger would come after the fact.

            1. this is what is unique. we are human beings. we differ, in emotional response (to some extent). as a street cop, i see this all the time. some people get pissed off at nothing, and right away. others stew and eventually snap. some people are more laissez faire than others.

              etc. etc.

              apparently, this guy was all… “whatEver”.

        2. I was just thinking that as I was finishing my last comment. Maybe he was intimidated into keeping his mouth shut, with his TV reporter wife and all.

      2. If a pizza place delivers a pizza to the wrong address, that’s one thing. But a law enforcement agency should have the highest standards for getting the information correct. It’s not like they moved into the house the day before the raid, or were even renting from the owner. They had been there for three months. Piss poor work by the LEOs, and of course the usual overwhelmingly violence approach to a “bad guy” mj grower/dealer.

        The point is she is oblivious to how close her family may have come to tragedy, just because the cops couldn’t be bothered to even get their information correct. I wonder how forgiving she would’ve been if her husband hadn’t revealed her job as a reporter and the cops had come busting in on her breastfeeding, grabbed her baby, and pinned her to the ground. Hey, just looking for bad guys!

        She has no idea how common this is, and apparently doesn’t even have the intellectual curiosity to wonder about it. So yeah, I think her response was pathetic, and I think it’s okay to point out that fact. Although the husband’s response might even be worse, since he actually did get some manhandling.

        1. But a law enforcement agency should have the highest standards for getting the information correct.

          Right.

      3. I’m actually with dunphy on this one. The botched raid has Balko written all over it, but calling it “just ridiculous” for the victim to take it in stride is odd.

        1. right.

          the cops fucked up! i’m totally with that.

          but the idea that journalist extraordinaire riggs has the chutzpah to tell the victim of the botched raid that his emotional response isn’t the correct one is really just … well… it speaks for itself.

          1. Raids like this should happen rarely, not every time some drugs or something else politically charged is involved. Like when the suspects are building bombs that they might set off, that sort of thing.

            Used to be a chore to get into someone’s house.

          2. I think it’s more a matter of perspective that chutzpah. To a political consultant and CNN reporter this is a strange aberation and law enforcement can be excused for making a mistake. To a Reason reader that sees this happen on a regular basis, they’re lucky that no one shot the dog or threw a flash bang into the baby’s crib and a reporter should be more aware.

            1. to some extent, that’s true. but of course (and for good reason ) reason, doesn’t report the XXX,XXX raids that DON’T go to the wrong address (unless other factors apply) but only the Y that do.

              imo, that it happens AT ALL is too much, but i can just say i’ve personally been involved in at least several dozen warrants/dynamic entries/etc. (combined), and none of them went to the wrong address, nor has my dept. ever gone to the wrong address, etc.

              iow, it’s rare. but it still happens WAY too often.

              mebbe if there was more opportunity for civil redress when these kind of fuckups happen, cops would be less likely to do it as often

              1. Agreed. And the notion that every warrant should be served by a dynamic entry SWAT type raid is becoming too common as well. It turns even an ordinary arrest at the correct address into a potentially violent situation that endangers all concerned. Due diligence to make sure that the right amount of force is applied in the right situation at the right address along with accountability when something does go wrong would go a long way.

                1. correct. imo, many agencies overuse SWAT. SWAT, like any govt. entity seeks to justify its existence and expansion

                  we had to fight it at our agency. we won.

                  we use a tight risk matrix and swat is only used when we have enough justification in our risk matrix. and “dealing drugs” in and of itself does NOT justify swat

                  1. sounds like your police agency has their stuff together dunphy. In your opinion would you say most departments are like yours? Or is yours the exception?

                    1. it’s difficult for me to put #’s on it. i think there is relatively wide variation, in standards, accountability, practices, etc.

                      as much as CALEA can be a pain in the ass, i think it helps encourage standardization of all sorts of stuff, so people don’t keep reinventing the fucking wheel over and over.

                      some dept’s just plain suck. no two ways about it. poorly run, poorly trained, etc.

                    2. dunphy, how can it be both “rare” and “happen WAY TOO OFTEN”?

                    3. those are not mutually exclusive.

                      do i need to explain this to you?

                      by rare, i mean the VAST majority of times, the cops get the address right.

                      but the fact that they get it wrong (assume arguendo .5% of the time) is still WAY TOO MUCH

                      it should not happen at all, save some sort of extraordinary situation beyond their control

                      it’s like unjustified police shootings.

                      those happen exceptionally rarely. but they still happen way too often, because even one is BAD.

                      cop shootings in general, are pretty fucking rare, when you account for how many arrests/violent fucksticks, etc. cops make. frankly, we do an excellent job.

                      but “bad shoots” still happen too often.

                    4. oh, and to clarify, while bad shoots are EXCEPTIONALLY rare, they are to some extent unavoidable due to the immediacy of the perceived threat, etc. officers respond to.

                      situations like THIS (bad addresses) give officers plenty of time to DO RESEARCH, double check, do due diligence, etc.

                      iow, there is no way ever that bad shoots can be eliminated.

                      there is a way bad address raids can be, and by bad i mean that officer error contributed to going to the wrong address.

              2. It doesn’t matter if it’s a million correct addresses to one wrong- the fact that over-militarized police are using excessive force in dynamic entry raids to serve routine warrants is a recipe for tragic outcomes.

                Using force that would be serious felonies (“pointing gun in face” = aggravated assault in my state, a 2nd degree felony that will get you a lot of prison time) is unreasonable on its face.

          3. “i’ve personally been involved in at least several dozen warrants/dynamic entries”

            Pig.

            1. smooches to you too!

  3. “I appreciate that they’re looking for bad guys,” [his wife] said.

    …police were searching for Sang Ung, 43, who made bail after being arrested in August in connection with an indoor marijuana-growing operation

    Fuck you, drug warrior bitch.

    1. Dude. That dealer was an obvious threat to society. Her 7-month old might have caught a wiff of the stuff and been hooked for life! Also, everyone knows that ALL drug dealers are dangerous, gun-wielding sociopaths.

    2. I didn’t click through and RTFA, but I was guessing this was exactly what the response would be.

    3. “I appreciate that they’re looking for bad guys,” [his wife] said.

      With loaded weapons free… in her house… containing her 7-month-old child. Appreciate away, honey.

  4. Any cops so fucking stupid they cannot run a simple registry search must be discharged.

    NOW.

    1. our policy requires multiple cross checks of addresses before any sort of dynamic entry is requested.

      you can use assessor’s website (which has helpful overhead map type thing), google earth type sites, various database searches, etc.

      the point is that, especially when you have ample time, there is NO NO NO NO excuse for getting the wrong house ( i guess if the house itself was wrongly marked and a bunch of other circ’s applied, i could see it happen once in a million, but ALMOST no excuse 🙂 )

      if it matters enough to send a fucking SWAT team, it matters enough to get the FUCKING ADDRESS RIGHT

      1. Just to stay with the times, you guys should rename “dynamic entry” to “kinetic entry.” It’s more politically correct.

      2. Agreed. Given the potential for a worse case outcome, police agencies getting the address correct is not just a good idea; it’s a absoloute requirement of the process.

        I work for an insurance carrier; we write insurance for Law Enforcement agencies. Now, imagine some yutz sitting in front of your Chief asking the following question: “How do you verifiy that the address you are about to conduct a high risk warrant service on is the correct one?” And the Chief knows you represent the company that the Municipality will turn to if the high risk warrant service goes wrong and someone or ones name the Municipality in the following lawsuits:
        Violation of Civil Rights, False Arrest, Use of Excessive Force, Malicious Injury and Property Damage. Said lawsuits cost Hundereds of Thousands in legal defense expenses; even on the losing end.

        Just what answer do you think the yutz, who by the way, knows something about Use of Force (armed citizen with extensive knowledge of the legal environment of the use of force, especially in NYS) and procedures for conducting a High Risk Warrant Service, really wants to hear?

        What the Chief, and Tactical Officers usually do not know is that the yutz recieving the information has the Underwriting Department on speed dial on thier cell phone. When the Municipality gets the fax (followed up by a return reciept requested certified mail letter) indicating their Law Enforcement Liability premium has been increased by, say 50 – 100%, well, does the process change!

        The free market rocks! Especially at controlling stupid human tricks and cops who don’t want to suddenly lose their fortune, house and future earnings in a lawsuit.

        1. many, if not most, large police agencies are self-insured btw

          1. …and backstopped by the taxpayer!

            1. yup. and our budgets are public record, too.

              agencies that incur a lot of civil liability get a lot of political pressure ot knock it off , ime

  5. I imagine his lack of outrage had to do with the idea he wasn’t one of the defenseless little people. He knew that mentioning that his wife was a CBS correspondent would make SWAT aware of the kind of light-of-day hell could have been unleashed upon them if they pressed on with their fuckup. That defused the situation in a way that could be duplicated by nothing short of a extraordinarily self-restrained and professional LEO.

  6. It might be worth considering that a San Francisco political consultant might not necessarily consider it good for business to be lashing out and complaining about Excesses of the State?

    Just as SWAT cops might naturally pause in their taser-practice when being told the ‘suspect’ is in fact the husband of a major-network TV reporter.

    1. That’s probably a better explanation.

    2. It’s probably some of both. If someone had farted and the cops started spraying bullets everywhere, his level of indignation might be slightly higher. At least he didn’t have a dog.

      1. not in evidence. contrary to popular belief, we don’t shoot EVERY dog present!

        1. Excellent point! I understand that it’s a reaction to movement kind of like the T-Rex in Jurrasic Park. The dog must make a threatening move like wagging it’s tail or running away to merit being shot. As long as the dog is stuffed or stands perfectly still it should safe. lol.

          1. well, “it’s coming right at us, jim-bob”

            blam blam blam!

            1. Interesting question…let’s say I adopt a retired police dog. Then the SWAT hits my house accidentally and kills the dog. Would they be charged with a felony?

              Or, after the dog “retires”, does it lose its LEO status and go back to being just a “little canine”?

              1. Then the SWAT hits my house accidentally and kills the dog. Would they be charged with a felony?

                No cop in history has ever gotten a felony for killing a police dog. That’s only for the “sheep”.

                “Sheep” get 5 years just for trying to keep the dog from eating their dick.

                  1. Yes, we get it. It’s funny to you. That’s cool. One day you’ll retire. Maybe then the blatant double standards will bother you.

    3. yeah, when your job is to destroy the 4th amendment, then you must accept this as an isolated incident.

    4. What Gilmore said. I’m also guessing that it’s not a bad thing for a reporter to stay on the cops’ good side should she ever need cooperation on a story.

  7. Alameda police and the FBI raided his home looking for the drug dealer who soldit to them three months earlier, and who, at the time of the raid, was living across the damn street.

    Do the police even do police work anymore?

    1. They break down peoples doors, shoot their dogs, and seize their assets. Doesn’t that count?

  8. Mr. Clemens’ knowledge of firearms may come from TV and movies, and therefore he may not appreciate how easily he could have been killed.

  9. That guy is a True Believer.

    I’m surprised he didn’t say, “Wow; I’m a drug dealer, and I didn’t even know it until the Authorities told me.”

  10. How about if the feds arrested and strip searched you when your flight landed, just because the guys next to you went to the bathroom a lot?

    http://www.firstcoastnews.com/…..in-Detroit

  11. Maybe being captured and held hostage by armed goons makes him feel safer.

    1. alameda syndrome

  12. This is the part that bugs me:

    “Also, that she’s a CBS reporter. The cops stop.”

    What stops them is not the notion that they have the wrong place – but the fact that they might get caught.

    1. She’s safe so long as she doesn’t actually tape them.

    2. lol. right. because if that wasn;’t the case, NOBODY would have found out they raided the wrong fucking address.

      heck, we’ve never had any articles like that before, because there weren’t any CBS reporters present when cops have raided the wrong address in the past (rolls eyes)

      1. heck, we’ve never had any articles like that before, because there weren’t any CBS reporters present when cops have raided the wrong address in the past (rolls eyes)

        You’re missing the point. Out of all the times we’ve read about this, they don’t stop when they’re shown they’re wrong. This time they did. Any other time, they would’ve proned them both and torn the house apart looking for a joint or mis-labeled pill bottle to justify their actions. They didn’t this time because she was a reporter for a major network.

        1. that’s an excellent point, coeus, and i clearly missed it.

      2. Wrong end of the stick. Of course they get caught doing wrong door raids all the time.

        The point is that, with a network news reporter, they know that they aren’t going to be able to make their usual cover story stick or make the issue go away by saying “proper procedures were followed.”

        1. which “usual cover story?”

          in the wrong door raids, i’ve seen i haven’t seen much in the way of cover stories except “oops, we fucked up!”

          *if* proper procedures were followed, they would have an excuse. i would suggest that in the VAST majority of wrong door raids, proper procedures were NOT followed, since it’s not that fucking difficult to ensure you got the right address, and if you are NOT sure, you don’t send fucking SWAT until you ARE sure. this isn’t an emergent/exigent circ, where one would expect mistakes made due to the necessity of near instant response.

          this is a nice cold fucking warrant and they should have done their due fucking diligence.

          period

    3. “A CBS reporter” … Yeah, that’s the ticket!

  13. “It was a surreal experience, I gotta say,” Clemens told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I made it 44 years without having guns pointed at my face, and then all of a sudden having a whole bunch all at once.”

    The only time they ever had guns pointed at them was done wrongfully by cops.

    I’d bet that they both support strict gun restrictions, however.

    1. She’s a CBS reporter, so in her mind the only people who have the right to bear firearms were the group pointing them at her.

      1. Absolutley. And if they’d killed her husband it would have been the gun’s fault, not the police. Hence she would support greater gun control for everyone except the police and the military.

        The “Alex Clemmons Gun Control Act of 2011”. Has a nice ring to it.

      2. I feel kind of bad saying this…but maybe she was sort of turned on by the whole ordeal.

    2. I won’t take that bet.

      I’d bet that they would both support strict gun restrictions even if their kid had been killed.

      1. She would support strict gun restrictions especially if their kid had been killed.

  14. the Chief knows you represent the company that the Municipality will turn to if the high risk warrant service goes wrong and someone or ones name the Municipality in the following lawsuits:
    Violation of Civil Rights, False Arrest, Use of Excessive Force, Malicious Injury and Property Damage. Said lawsuits cost Hundereds of Thousands in legal defense expenses; even on the losing end.

    But the pigs never see the bill.

    1. they most definitely do.

  15. Too fucking bad Vicki Weaver didn’t work for CBS. Those assault infants really scare Officer Safety.

  16. Hey, the raids are conducted for our protection. LEOs are just trying to root out dangerous scumbags and real Americans need to cut them some slack. If more citizens cooperated as this guy did, and gave Our Heroes the benefit of the doubt, there would be fewer injuries and fatalities. Mistakes happen. Good citizens don’t compound them.

    1. if the legislators would just END the stupid fucking war on drugs, or at least the stupid fucking war on mj, we COULD stop this shit.

      1. If the federal government would drop law enforcement (except maybe for some cross-state-lines crimes), I think it would help. Then states and maybe even local governments could decide whether to prosecute or even criminalize drug possession.

        1. and god knows, the push for decrim, and even legalization of MJ is coming ENTIRELY at the state level. the feds are still gung ho 100% on the war on MJ, and obama , despite his claims, is going full bore in medical mj clinic raids.

          it’s a fucking travesty.

  17. Actually these kinds of situations are part of our only hope. Better yet would be the cops from the next town over raid a different cops house and shoot his dog. People get OUTRAGED when the dogs get shot.

  18. You think a reporter would really be this nonchalant?

    I mean, really? Reporters can be real kooks, but unquestioning lovers of the cops? Quite the contrary.

    I’m thinking that someone got paid off quietly.

    1. doesn’t follow. iow, faulty logic. he wasn’t particularly upset. it does not therefore follow in any way, shape or form, that he is an “unquestioning lover of cops”

      that’s not even remotely the same thing.

  19. Of course, this isn’t the worst thing the Alameda Police Department has done this year. That would be this.

    1. Why? He commited suicide in a way that wouldn’t have harmed anyone else. They did exactly what someone who valued personal autonomy should want them to do.

  20. It’s Alameda y’all. Alameda is a Really Nice Place To Live and the people who live there are nice people who are law-abiding, liberal, and have a great relationship with the local police force. People in Alameda know the police are there to help them preserve their idyllic community where everyone really cares about their neighbors. People in Alameda only get outraged when bad kids from Oakland come over and commit crimes. Or when the Alameda Fire Department refuses to rescue a suicidal man standing in the bay for over an hour letting the tide wash over him until he drowns because they’re not certified in water rescue, even though it’s clear the Coast Guard can’t get in close enough with their boats to save the guy. Alamedans did get upset with that, but they didn’t seem very angry. It’s just too nice a place for anger. For full disclosure, I might mention I’ve spent a lot of time there, though I’ve never lived there, but I would really love to live there if I could afford to.

    1. the fire dept. thing is sadly how modern police and fire are trained. it’s been institutionalized. i know a couple of officers who were “investigated” for DARING to go into the water w/o proper rescue equipment (which of course our dept. doesn’t provide us with).

      seriously.

      the fact that they were trying to help somebody barely helped them

      it’s the columbine attitude – stand by and wait for people with the “proper” training , equipment, etc. to do it.

      it’s c omplete crap

      sometimes, you take calculated risks. part of the job

      fwiw, scores of officers every year go into the water to save people’s lives. good for them

    2. Or when the Alameda Fire Department refuses to rescue a suicidal man standing in the bay for over an hour letting the tide wash over him until he drowns because they’re not certified in water rescue,

      Why? He commited suicide in a way that wouldn’t have harmed anyone else. They did exactly what someone who valued personal autonomy should want them to do.

  21. Ah, I see above someone beat me to the suicide story. FYI, they are certified in water rescue now.

  22. Can you tell us how to get to A-la-meda? We are looking for the nooo-clay-ar wessels.

  23. Here’s a hypothetical scenario:

    Let’s say you’re a TV reporter, and that your job often involves asking the police for information. Your husband is a political consultant, and some of his clients deem it necessary to make law-and-order appeals, or even to solicit votes and donations from police.

    One day, the cops mess up and do a SWAT raid on your house even though you’ve done nothing wrong. Then reporters call to ask how you feel. Do you (a) alienate potential sources and political clients by expressing your true feelings and denouncing the police, or (b) use your public-relations skills and tell the reporters that it’s no big deal, it happens all the time, etc?

  24. “Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_safety

    Do private gun owners follow stricter safety rules than the police? Do the police get trained with such rules but then ignore them in practice? Or does a non-hostile suspect of a non-violent crime qualify as a target the police are “willing to destroy”?

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