Police Abuse

Texas Cops Realized They Raided the Wrong House. They Kept Searching Anyway.

Three of the officers were denied qualified immunity, but accountability is a long way off.

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In November of 2018, Lucil Basco of Bexar County, Texas, awoke to a thunderous boom, followed by a parade of eight cops barging through her front door. She was handcuffed, and, with her screaming child, removed from the premises. The officers soon realized they made a mistake: They had the wrong house, based on incorrect information from a confidential informant. Yet they continued the operation anyway.

Three of those Bexar County sheriff's deputies—James Hancock, Jacob Rodriguez, and Bryan Smith—are not entitled to qualified immunity, the legal doctrine that allows state actors to violate your rights if the precise scenario in question has not yet been ruled unconstitutional in a prior court precedent. They can thus be sued for it, a federal court said this week.

But the case is a crash course in the levers available to the monopoly on state power—from the drug war, to surveillance, to no-knock entries, to botched warrants—and the importance of government accountability in such circumstances.

The search on Basco's home was a drug raid planned in response to an anonymous source's alleged claim that he or she had reason to believe whoever lived at the residence possessed methamphetamine. In the warrant application, Deputy Rodriguez wrote that the tip came from a "credible and reliable person" and that he had verified it via "personal investigation and/or through discussions with other law enforcement personnel."

It appears the informant was not reliable—something that the source does not even dispute. Under oath, he or she alleges that, along with Deputy Smith, the two zeroed in on the house by process of elimination, and that it was never an unequivocal declaration.

The informant did, however, confirm a photo of the "guard"—the person he or she knew to be occupying the meth house. Rodriguez and Smith's investigation found no connection between Basco and the guard, yet they proceeded anyway. "Beyond the [informant's] say-so," says Judge Jason Pulliam of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, "the deputies did scant investigation to confirm the assertion that [Basco's address] was a stash house."

Sergeant Hancock then "reviewed the affidavit for [the] search warrant, that everything in the affidavit was true, and that he drove by the house and provided a description of the house for the search warrant," notes Pulliam.

Deputies arrived and broke into Basco's home that evening, despite there being no reason to believe such force was required. Though it appears they did not do the requisite research to confirm she was involved in the drug trade, they did conduct plenty of surveillance: "Officers conducted a traffic stop of Mrs. Basco shortly before the raid during which they searched her vehicle and learned that she is a nurse," writes Pulliam. "And officers were surveilling the home both when Mrs. Basco left to collect her child and when she returned with him."

The officers and the informant disagree about the level of certainty conveyed during the "investigation." But there are a few things that are past debate: "Here, it is undisputed that law enforcement had the wrong address," notes the court. "The video evidence…shows that law enforcement remained in the home after the sweep was concluded….That the home was damaged during the raid is [also] undisputed." Basco was handcuffed, and, according to the video evidence presented to the court, those cuffs were not removed immediately after the cops realized they had targeted an innocent woman.

It is not uncommon for police departments to leverage confidential sources to carry out violent, no-knock raids. The Chicago Police Department, for example, is well-known for its so-called John Doe warrants, based solely on anonymous tips.

In 2019, a cadre of male cops knocked down the door to a Chicago apartment, handcuffing a naked woman while they ransacked her home. The officers elicited nearly 100 misconduct allegations during that one raid because they had the wrong address and had not bothered to do rudimentary verification beforehand. The city has a pile of similar suits.

The raids are not exclusive to Illinois and Texas. Onree Norris was 78 years old when cops with the Henry County Sheriff's Office threw flash-bang grenades into his Georgia home before busting down the door with a battering ram and placing Norris under arrest. He, too, was innocent: The SWAT team meant to target his next-door neighbor. Upon arriving, they confessed that the house looked a bit different than expected, so, without any investigation, they turned their attention to Norris' instead, whose house also did not match the description. Those officers all received qualified immunity, and Norris was thus barred from suing.

Although Basco overcame qualified immunity at the district level, she is still a long way off from seeing any sort of justice or compensation. The state will almost certainly appeal the decision, which is a yearslong process. Presiding over the case will be the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which arguably boasts one of the most sordid track records on the subject.

The court granted qualified immunity to a corrections officer who pepper-sprayed an inmate for the fun of it, as well as a group of prison guards who locked a naked inmate in cells covered in feces, sewage, and urine. Those decisions were so egregious that they attracted the eyes of the Supreme Court, which, in a highly unusual move, reversed both of them. Should Basco meet a similar fate in the 5th Circuit, she is unfortunately entitled to no such security.

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  1. “those cuffs were not removed immediately after the cops realized they had targeted an innocent woman.”
    So the officers are going to be criminally charged, right??

    1. Kidnapping is a serious offense.

      1. EXCEPT (VERY important exception here!) if you are the former TrumpfenFuhrer, advocating for the kidnapping of democracy itself! Trying your DAMNEDESS to kidnap democracy! Our guy and our tribe good! You and YOUR tribe BAD!!!

        This (below) poetry inspired by the REAL facts of a REAL nightmare!
        https://www.salon.com/2021/04/11/trumps-big-lie-and-hitlers-is-this-how-americas-slide-into-totalitarianism-begins/
        Trump’s Big Lie and Hitler’s: Is this how America’s slide into totalitarianism begins?

        “The Sound Of Despots”

        Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again
        Because a nightmare in jackboots, left its seeds while I was sleeping
        And the nightmare that was planted in my brain, still remains
        Within the sound of despots

        In nightmares I ran alone, narrow streets of cobblestone
        Neath the halo of a streetlamp, I turned my collar to the cold and damp
        When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of an orange blight, split the night
        And touched the sound of despots

        And in their naked greed I saw, millions of sheeple, maybe more
        Sheeple talking without speaking, sheeple hearing without listening
        Sheeple’s thoughts, sanity never shared, and no one dared
        To question the despots!

        Fool, said I, you do not know, despots, like a cancer, grows
        Hear my words and I might teach you, take my arms then I might reach you
        But my words, like silent raindrops fell, and echoed in the wells of despots

        And the morons bowed and prayed to the orange god they’d made
        And the sign flashed its warning in the words that it was forming
        And the sign said the words of the despots are written in the Biggest Lies
        And tenement halls, and shouted, in the sounds of despots

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        2. Irrelevant and lame.

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  2. >>Officers conducted a traffic stop of Mrs. Basco shortly before the raid

    “we’ll see you in a couple hours, sweet-cheeks. leave it unlocked.”

    1. If unlocked they would still break in.

  3. Expect far more of this during Senile Joe’s reign of terror and treasonous democrats decide that your speech is violence.

    1. Yeah, we need those Republicans to keep the cops in check, lol.

      1. You leftists are the last ones that should be throwing stones.

        1. And that is one lefty bitch.

    2. God’s Own Prohibitionist platform: “In the past, judicial discretion about sentences led to serious mistakes concerning dangerous criminals. Mandatory minimum sentencing became an important tool for keeping them off the streets. … The progress made over the last three decades against drug abuse is eroding, whether for cultural reasons or for lack of national leadership. In many jurisdictions, marijuana is virtually legalized despite its illegality under federal law.” Welcome again to faith-based nationalsocialism!

      1. Faith based nationalism? The country is being run by atheist marxists.

      2. Marxism is a faith requiring unthinking belief in things far weirder than virgin birth or transubstantiation.

  4. Dumb Shit Republican of the Day:


    Elise Stefanik
    @EliseStefanik
    ·
    7h
    Today’s Anniversary of Medicare & Medicaid reminds us to reflect on the critical role these programs have played to protect the healthcare of millions of families. To safeguard our future, we must reject Socialist healthcare schemes.
    Quote Tweet
    The Post-Star
    @poststar
    · 10h
    In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a measure creating Medicare, which began operating the following year, and more eve

    Twitter

    GOP SOCIALISM GOOD! DEMOCRAT SOCIALISM BAD!

    1. For Team Red, “Socialism” is like “CRT”: dog whistles to their base meaning “bad ideas that Democrats like”.

      1. Ken’s beloved Republicans jump all over each other to show love for Medicare. They even added on to it considerably during Dubya’s reign.

        However, IMO, we should not be in medical care at all (exception for veterans).

        Here is what a small government GOP with courage would do. (Yes, I know that doesn’t exist but play along).

        Start with the most expensive and worst of the systems – Medicare. Kill it. Completely.

        then kill Medicaid the second most expensive of the three.

        Then finally we can kill the ACA.

        Do that Ken. Earn some respect.

        1. I’m fine with it continuing as long as I can opt out, which includes getting the money I paid in back and not being forced to pay into it ever again.

        2. Ken: “But but but if Republicans run on a platform of ending Medicare, they will certainly lose at the polls! That means Democrats would win and then President AOC would be free to set up Soviet death camps and ban cows! We must argue in favor of Medicare to help Republicans keep power!”

      2. Hey Jeffy, you found a pal. You’re a supporter of child molesters, and Buttplug IS a child molester. And you’re both progs! It’s a twofer!

    2. That is hilarious.

      1. Wow. This is Trump’s fault. Just. Fucking. Wow.

    3. To be fair Medicare and Medicaid are more Ponzi schemes than Socialist schemes.

    4. LBJ bad. W bad. Biden bad. AOC bad. Stefanik stupid.

  5. To err is human
    To double down on it and say you have the authority anyway is government

    1. This is just funny because it’s so true.

  6. Judges to have an obligation to verify Search warrants. It should not be a rubber stamp. Don’t think the cops don’t know which judge to see. Accountability needs to work on all aspects of the justice system. Judges, cops, DA’s, everybody. The bill of rights is not there to be a work around. It needs to be respected for what it is. It’s a serious document that seems to be more of an annoyance to the very people who should honor it.

    1. They arguably have a moral obligation to do so, but as there is no accountability for when they just rubber stamp there’s no actual obligation.

      The police state believes Americans have no rights they need respect, and many so-called Americans agree with them.

  7. No-knock raids should be presumptively illegal. I don’t know why this is a point of serious contention.

    1. Hey. No knocking no knocking. Knock it off.

    2. Asset-forfeiture looting, plus jobs for illiterate thugs, plus scary hobgoblins for faith-based, anti-fact, subsidized political campaigns courtesy of Tricky Dick from Yorba Linda and God’s Own Prohibition party.

      1. Fuck off. You’re a baby murdering, rabid atheist weirdo. No one thinks you’re clever, or funny.

    3. Florida has banned no knock raids for years,
      It just led to completely unnecessary shootouts between police and ordinary citizens.

  8. I know how to end the false statements of the “anonymous informants” game. God in His word clearly states that when someone “bears false witness” against someone else ( I KNOW that’s crack house, and this woman is the kingpin, and there are GUNNNNzzzzzz inside there….) the one proving the false “information” WILL have the consequences of their like brought upon their own head, or if the lie is discovered before acting on it, the consequences that WOULD have fallen on the accused had the lie been true.

    So we will suddenly have “anonymous informants” who have thus far spewed endless lies with no consequences, will be serving the prison sentneces that would have fallen on their falsy accused victims had the lies been true. Word would get around in less than a week, and no squeakers would be making stuff up. Rhogena Nichols and her usband might still be dead, but so would the “informant” who made his declarations about what those two ere doing inside their home. He’d be dead…. the fate the inocent couple in the home suffered in direct result of that informant’s lies.
    Since the head copper on any such bust has the responsibility to verify every detail of the warrant and raid PRIOR to launch, when hes bought off on some lies and it is proven, HE should suffer the same fate as would have fallen on the victims.

    Run this profile for a half year, and we’d have done with such lie-based raids. Same fate with “watters” who make phoney calls to LE to sic the coppers on someone they don’t like. And yes, judges SHOULD be held accountable for not checking and verifying the information in those falsified warrants.
    Innocent scitizens are far too often the victims of gummit gone bad/mad. time to end that carp.

    1. And we should write a precept of your particular superstition into law, why? Especially in light of the “no establishment” clause of the First Amendment? Perjury is already against the law. So is suborning perjury. Those laws should be enforced.

      Deut 19:18–19 is Old Testament, anyway, and aren’t only the Jews under the “old dispensation?”

      https://bible.usccb.org/bible/deuteronomy/19

  9. Land mines should be allowed under the second amendment.

  10. An important question remains: Why?

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  11. The day will come when an award of qualified immunity will be a death warrant for the officer receiving it. That will be a Very Bad Day for everyone.

    1. That already happened in Utah a couple years back. It was a no knock raid on the wrong apartment and the guy who lived there shot and killed on of the cops. I’m pretty sure he got off too. Reason had a story on it.

      1. Nah, that’s not what croaker was saying, I don’t think.

        I believe the point being made was that some day, some cop is going to do something egregious, and get QI, and lacking any other recourse to justice, the victim is going to shoot the cop dead for what the cop did to them.

        1. Exactly. The whole point of the justice system is to give victims an outlet for their rage. Their day in court, so to speak. If the justice system is ignored, ie dismissed by QI, then you leave the victim with the choice of sucking it up or resorting to violence.
          Most people are not willing to sacrifice themselves for revenge but eventually someone’s gonna be pissed enough to do it.

  12. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence set a bad example.
    In order to catch an exstacy dealer, they:
    – got in a high speed shoot out where they continued chasing suspects as vehicles were hurled at them from a car carrier on the freeway, without any traffic blocked off
    – destroyed a private business while conducting an illegal search
    – used an inmate they’d previously busted to illegally wiretap someone’s phone
    – played a sexually explicit video on every TV screen in Best Buy during store hours
    – got in another high speed chase, this time with cadavers being tossed at them, leaving the streets of Miami littered with corpses
    – stuffed a suspect in custody inside the trunk of a car prior to one of those high speed chases, which continued with him still locked in the trunk
    – invaded Cuba

    1. Please do another one for tango and cash!

    2. Also 2,3, and 6 are sop for Chicago pd. At least in the moveies the cops don’t have black sites.

  13. >he had verified it via “personal investigation and/or through discussions with other law enforcement personnel.”

    That’s a weirdly uninformitve phrase. Like, did he not know if it was “and” or “or”? On its face this could mean anything from actually investigating to chatting about it in the break room. Judges should get in trouble for failing to vet these warrants.

  14. The Kleptocracy is funded by the initiation of coercive and deadly force. That funding hires infiltrators to wreck the LP and keep the original Libertarian Party off the ballot. The resulting fake LP adds planks to import dangerous murderers and make them a public charge instead of hanging them when they murder people. Small wonder coercion attracts voters and violent cops.

    1. Goddamn you’re tedious, and repetitive. If you speak the way you write, I can’t imagine anyone tolerating your conversation for more than a minute or two at most.

  15. Sometimes it happens. But Such things should not happen again!! Cops are Disturbing Innocent People. It’s Better to Clarify Before raiding Someone’s House.https://getmyoffer.biz/

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  17. Well they must be guilty of something, if we search long enough we can always find a crime!!!!

  18. The imbecile, criminally corrupt cops are one thing. I want to know who’s name is on that warrant approving this racketeering mob activity and what charges are they facing? The entire reason a Judges wet ink, pen in hand to paper signature is required, is to have someone, supposedly with a brain, making sure that the criminals in blue are 100% fully compliant with Due Process of LAW (not code or policy or statute) REQUIREMENTS. There is no grey area here, the warrant is either compliant with constitutional common law, law of the land requirements or it’s not. Somebody needs to be accountable for this. And these middle of the night terrorist raids need to stop!

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