Police Abuse

The Cops Trashed Her House. She Says She Was Targeted for Retaliation.

A Virginia lawyer successfully defended her stepson in court. Three days later, police raided her house using a flimsy search warrant.

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A Virginia attorney says police destroyed her unlocked front door and ransacked her house based on a bogus search warrant, all as an act of retaliation.

In a civil rights lawsuit filed this week in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Roanoke resident Cathy Reynolds alleges several officers in the Roanoke City Police Department obtained a search warrant on false information, despite her giving consent to a search, and then tore her house apart while a huge crowd watched.

"I was humiliated," Reynolds says. "I was embarrassed, hurt. I felt like I was treated like a common criminal. I'm still wrapping my head around it right now, to be honest, still trying to sort through why it happened, and I don't know if I have words for it all to this day."

Three days prior to the raid, Reynolds' stepson was acquitted of murder charges. Reynolds represented her stepson in the case. The lawsuit says the acquittal "sparked outrage in the Roanoke law enforcement community."

On September 29, 2019, several officers from the Roanoke City Police Department showed up at Reynolds' front door looking for Ozmeik Clements, who had an arrest warrant for an unrelated murder.

Reynolds says she told them Clements wasn't there, and had never heard of him. She says she eventually gave the officers consent to search her house, but instead, they left. According to the lawsuit, Reynolds "specifically informed officers that her front door was unlocked and would remain unlocked should they desire to enter her home to look for Clements."

About two hours later, a mix of local police and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents arrived, cordoned off the street, and brought in a SWAT team and armored vehicle.

According to a search warrant issued at 6 p.m. that evening, an ATF agent had called a Roanoke police officer to tell him that a confidential informant had seen Clements hanging out with Reynolds' stepson at her house several times over the past few days.

Reynolds' lawsuit alleges the phone call and tip were fabricated. The officer "knew that no tip had been received from a confidential informant, but provided this information in his affidavit for the purpose of misleading the magistrate in order to secure a search warrant of Ms. Reynolds' home."

By this time, a large crowd, including local news outlets, had gathered to watch. Police then used an entry tool attached to the front of the armored vehicle to rip the unlocked screen door of Reynolds' house out of its frame.

Local TV news footage and Facebook videos from neighbors show the door being destroyed (at around 39:00 in the video below).

The lawsuit dryly notes that SWAT officers then entered her home "by turning the doorknob of the storm door which remained on Ms. Reynolds' home, still unlocked, and pushing the door open in the manner a door is designed to operate."

Reynolds says officers then went room to room through her house, emptying drawers and dressers.

"My daughter has an armoire in her room, and they opened that and took all the clothes out of it and left them on the floor," Reynolds says. "The house was undergoing renovation prior to all of this going on, so we still had some of the installation in one of the closets in my kitchen. They ripped all of that stuff out, left it on the floor."

The lawsuit says police flipped mattresses and poured open cans of soda onto the floor.

No sign of Clements, though. Reynolds says the police left without an apology.

Several days later, Clements turned himself in. He pleaded guilty to murder this March.

As for Reynolds, she says she had trouble finding a contractor to repair the damage to her house, and on top of that, her homeowners insurance wouldn't cover it, leaving her to foot the bill for the mess.

Reynolds' suit seeks damages for violating her Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures, as well as her First Amendment rights, exercised in the defense of her stepson, and 14th Amendment rights against discrimination based on race.

Reason has reported for years on destructive, dangerous police raids based on sloppy search warrants. The Chicago Police Department drew national condemnation last year after body camera footage was released showing police handcuffing and humiliating a naked woman during a wrong-door raid. 

Another federal civil rights lawsuit filed last August alleges Chicago police ransacked a woman's house and held a grandmother and 4-year-old at gunpoint based on a sloppy search warrant.

The city of Roanoke did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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    3. A.C.A.B.
      All
      Cops
      Are
      Bureaucrats

      “A bureaucrat is the most despicable of men. I have yet to meet a bureaucrat who was not petty, dull, almost witless, crafty or stupid, an oppressor or a thief. A holder of a little authority in which he delights. Who can trust such creatures?” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

      “If you do not want the State to act like a criminal, you must disarm it as you would a criminal; you must keep it weak. The State will always be criminal in proportion to its strength; …” ~ Albert J. Nock

      We must institute much tighter limits and oversight on police authority and mostly disarm police, very severely restricting their access to arms in both circumstance and type. Their armored vehicles as abused in this case of retaliatory policing are the first of their armaments that must be taken.

  1. No warrants on “confidential informants” word. Ever.

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  2. The lawsuit says police flipped mattresses and poured open cans of soda onto the floor.

    Perps have been known to hide inside cans of soda. Why do you people hate cops so much?!!?

    1. Perps have been known to hide inside cans of soda.

      “We leave no stone unturned in our search!”

      Moreover, open cans of soda leak CO2 into the atmosphere. The cops were helping save the planet!

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      1. They also leave no tern unstoned when “contempt of cop” has been committed. To bad for the birds. Removal of “qualified immunity” would do more than any other single factor to stop this sort of police terrorism. Why call it police terrorism? If a search warrant says you are looking for a person, looking in a drawer is going beyond the warrant unless your target is known to be a midget. Opening a closed small container, in and of itself, goes beyond the purview of the warrant. And this sort of “punishment” for committing contempt of cop won’t be stopped until individual police, not their employers, are held financially liable to the injured parties.

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        2. I call contempt for little people!

    2. That should be the giveaway. Tossing drawers when supposedly searching for a person?

      If the facts are as given, it will take a special agent of the state to deny her lawsuit.

      I am sure they have already picked the appropriate judge and appellate circuits out. The king does not allow challenges to his power.

  3. Sounds like this Reynolds murder case was… complicated.

    “Once I went in, I ended up getting sidetracked,” Bonds testified Thursday. She and Nkurunziza, 26, were longtime friends. They were never romantically involved, but she later acknowledged to prosecutors she believed he had feelings for her.

    Security footage showed them meeting at the counter and hugging, then going out and getting into her car, where they sat for more than 10 minutes.

    Cameras also captured Darreonta Reynolds arriving at the store soon after, finding Bonds in her car, then having words with Nkurunziza. Reynolds claimed this week he had no problem with their friendship but maintained that Nkurunziza got combative with him, so he knocked him to the ground.

    That part of their conflict was not fully visible on camera, but it’s clear Reynolds had a pistol held low and, soon after, Nkurunziza could be seen going into the store to get a gun as well.

    1. Hoo boy:

      Toxicology reports show Nkurunziza had been drinking and using methamphetamine, which a forensic scientist testified could have left him in “an exaggerated emotional state,” angrier and more impulsive.

      Another Triangle Mart employee, Abraheem Kofahi, was the prosecution’s sole eyewitness and said Nkurunziza “made a beeline right behind the counter to the gun.”

      “Before I realized what was going on … he was already out the door,” Kofahi said. “That’s when they started shooting at each other.”

      “It happened so quickly, I really don’t know who fired first,” he added.

      After the shooting, Bonds drove Reynolds away , and they did not call the police. He covered his girlfriend’s damaged car with a tarp and threw his shell casings into a nearby yard.

      1. This is relevant to the shoddy warrant and destructive search, how exactly?.

        1. Because the cops were so miffed at the lawyer because their shoddy policework or incompetent DA wasn’t good enough for the conviction, even though they were sure he was guilty.

  4. Is she libertarian? If not, this is just kabuki theater and the problem of police abuse will continue despite our best efforts and intentions.

    1. What does her political ideology have to do with this incident?

    2. Now that Biden is president and Chauvin takes the fall, I agree that the problem of police abuse will continue. He picked Harris who never prosecuted a crooked or racist cop in her 6 years as the CA AG, in spite of many requests from citizens there for several cop shootings of people.

  5. You can expect more of this when democrats stay in power. It’s best to remove them from office and reeducate their leaders.

    1. Yes, because the Republicans haven’t been the ones bending the knee to law enforcement all these years.
      It was Republicans who rallied behind Colin Kapernick when he took a knee in protest of our broken system of law enforcement.

      It was Republicans who took to the streets last summer to protest injustices just like this one, including one which took the life of an innocent woman.

      Yep, we need to get the dems out of there if we want to restructure policing in this country from the ground up.

  6. It’s kinda weird Reason only goes after local cops.
    The feds have had a bunch of people locked up and denied bail for months for trespassing.
    I’d assume some of them were even in the vicinity of the unarmed Ashli Babbitt when she was executed by a cop.
    But I guess since the feds are doing this, it’s not local enough for Reason to object…

    1. Yeah… Funny that the entire nation has to mouth the proper words on that one.

    2. Yeah after a couple of decades reading Reason the “insurrection” was the last straw for me. The entire magazine and all of the writers have given up any pretense of being libertarian.

    3. “It’s kinda weird Reason only goes after local cops.”

      Maybe, you should take a break from alternately tongue polishing Trump’s and cops’ shoes to read the articles on which you comment.

      “About two hours later, a mix of local police and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents arrived, cordoned off the street, and brought in a SWAT team and armored vehicle.

      According to a search warrant issued at 6 p.m. that evening, an ATF agent had called a Roanoke police officer to tell him that a confidential informant had seen Clements hanging out with Reynolds’ stepson at her house several times over the past few days.”

      BATFE is the very worst of the Feds!

    4. Who are these people you claim have been locked up and denied bail for months on trespassing charges?

      If they were in cahoots with Ashli Babbit they should count themselves lucky they haven’t been charged with her murder as often happens when cops kill a member of a group of coconspirators.

    5. So all the people arrested and charged in the insurrection were denied bail? Or just the nuttier ones?

  7. I guess I just don’t get it.
    Article after article of cops being jerks.
    Yea, cops are often jerks.
    But, other than the articles regarding the murders in the Houston raid, they’re not all that significant.
    So what’s the point?
    What is Reason trying to achieve?
    Seems like nothing but superficial manipulation.

    This week, Reason had an opportunity to examine a tough case if they were inclined to be anything more than mindless ACAB hacks.
    But Reason has been conspicuously silent on the Columbus officer shooting of Makhia Bryant.
    A cop shot and killed a teenage girl, but likely saved the life of the other teenage girl she was attempting to stab.
    Any thoughts?
    Any implications for your philosophy regarding law enforcement?
    Or are you just mindless ACAB hacks publishing minor LEO snuff to jack off to?

    1. I cannot understand how that case could be viewed as complicated.

      Best talking point so far? That he should have “de-escalated” the situation. That one is hilarious.

      1. He did de-escalate the situation. No one was stabbed after he took action.

        1. He should have just let the kids get stabby with it.

          1. And the next cop just *might*.

            “Fuck it, not worth the hassle.”

    2. What, exactly, about the Ma’Khia Bryant shooting do you feel puts it in line with the editorial focus of Reason?

      A cop shot a girl trying to stab another girl. I would much rather have cops never kill anyone, but I’m a realist, so when lethal force is used it should only be in cases like this, to stop an immediate threat towards a member of the public.

      Why do you need Reason to stroke this cop’s ego?

      1. It gives you credibility.

        The BLM crowd is trying very hard to derail any attempts at actual reforms that might improve things. They wrecked any chance of reform after “hands up, don’t shoot”, even though folks like Balko had prepared the way for meaningful reforms very well.

        When Floyd was killed, another moment of unity arrived. Nobody was against reforms. Not even the police.

        And then BLM happened. They made it all about racism… And then they went for “defund the police” as a strategic choice.

        Why?

        No serious person was in favor of defunding police as a reform. But they went that route and the press backed them all-in. And they filibuster Tim Scott’s reforms. Because they want people hating each other, not an end to bad policing.

    3. Doesn’t the fact that Reason didn’t jump on that bandwagon kind of undermine your persecution complex? Sure, they might report it as another case of BLM going off half-cocked without information, but Reason is a libertarian outlet focused on state malfeasance, not just people with wrong opinions.

    4. If she had really wanted to stab the girl the girl would have been stabbed in the previous scuffles. She was posturing, trying to look tough, and probably not as stab happy as you would like. A lot of people do get stabbed. It usually isn’t fatal when there are people twenty feet away. But anyway most likely the cop did not save anybody by killing a girl.

  8. Well just call those bogus confidential informant warrants Goines warrants.

    1. Fuzzy Dunlop? Really?

  9. Citizen journalism with comedic voice-over and commercials…

  10. “I felt like I was treated like a common criminal.” How criminal-phobic of her. If there’s anything that George Floyd, Michael Brown, et al., have taught us, it’s that criminals are the very best of what our society has to offer.

    Sounds like she needed the re-education reminder.

    1. The sad part is that you think that was somehow clever or poignant.

  11. Of course you need SWAT team or a T-Rex, she’s a lawyer. And lawyers are insanely dangerous. Of course, police officers who behaved in such despicable way are not personally responsible for breaching her rights. Qualified immunity is an unqualified shame.

  12. “Hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned.” ~ Milton Friedman

    “The only good bureaucrat is one with a pistol at his head. Put it in his hand and it’s good-bye to the Bill of Rights.” ~ H. L. Mencken

    1. Lawsuit my ass, if they did what she alleges they should be criminally charged and given the maximum penalty. If they made fraudulent claims to obtain the search warrant, what would a normal person get for falsifying information on a government form? I believe it is imprisonment for not more than 5 years. As I stated before the press focuses on the few times a death occurs however for every one of those there are a thousand or more encounters like this, where they use their power to go after those they do not like or have pissed them off in some fashion, and not just the cops but functionaries at every level. Always remember it was not someone getting killed that started the Arab spring but some low level functionary in the permit office abusing a street vendor.

    2. Like in this articles case of retaliation against the lawyer for beating them in court, the general police profession seems to be retaliating against our general population since their beating in the Chauvin trial.

      “6 police killings occurred in the 24 hours after verdict in Chauvin trial”
      https://www.axios.com/chauvin-verdict-police-killing-makhia-bryant-andrew-brown-cd6bad02-8c04-4ce9-885d-fb552b6897f4.html

      Police are proving Friedman and Mencken correct in both the specific and the general cases.

  13. Government employees should be required to be personally responsible for any damages done to a citizen’s property during a search and be required to restore all property to the state it was in before the search . If they sweep a shelf or dump a drawer, they should be required to put it back in place as the citizen had it.

  14. Anyone who’s been alive for the last forty years intuitively knows that there is more to this story that what is being claimed here.

    Even the worst of cops isn’t so dumb as to go after someone brazenly out in the open like this.

  15. One misleading thing about the article. Some people might say “Her kid just acquitted of murder and a supposed murderer in her house?”

    The fact seems to be that the ‘acquitted murderer’, her step son, would have been killed if he had not shot the person who was going to shoot him.

    The police ‘raid’ is silly. You can watch a tank roll up and use its turret to take off her screen door. No doubt those cops are deficient in many respects, and it does appear that they fabricated the evidence for the search warrant, but in order to investigate would require examining police documents and questioning cops. Zero chance that will happen, so it’s kind of a pointless endeavor.

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  18. ‘She says she eventually gave the officers consent to search her house,”

    What fucking law school did she go too?

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