A Colorado family had their front door kicked down as a squad of SWAT officers with drawn guns stormed into the home handcuffing the parents and placing all of the occupants face-down on the floor at gunpoint. The object of the raid was 10-year old son John who had fallen and bumped his head the previous day. A neighbor who saw the fall called paramedics who barged uninvited into the boy's home where he was being treated by his father. The paramedics wanted to transport the boy to the hospital even though they saw no sign of serious injury. The father, who was a combat medic in Vietnam, preferred to keep the boy under observation at home and refused to allow him to be taken to the hospital. The paramedics called police and 24 hours later, after the boy had been checked by police and social workers and showed no signs of complications from the fall, Sheriff's deputies acting on a warrant signed by a Magistrate, burst into the family's home and took the boy. Doctors examined the boy, promptly gave him a clean bill of health, and released him into his parent's custody.
This outrage highlights what I have been saying about the problems of "no-knock" warrants and the militarization of the police. The mere existence of "no-knock" or "announce and enter" warrants is an affront to the constitution and a threat to life and liberty. The fact that such a warrant can be issued by a Magistrate – often a political appointee with no formal legal training – is beyond outrageous. The idea that such a warrant could be issued in a case like this – a family matter – is unbelievable. And the fact that the warrant would be executed by a SWAT team with drawn weapons is absolutely criminal.
Every official involved in this aberration from the pushy ambulance crew, to the SWAT officers, to the Sheriff, and the Magistrate, should be held personally, civilly liable. The SWAT officers need to receive remedial training in personal responsibility and be forced to review the Nuremburg trials. The Magistrate should lose his job, and the Sheriff should be recalled. All of that should happen on top of substantial amounts of money coming out of all of those individuals' pockets as well as the County treasury.
Unfortunately, the US Supreme Court recently eased restrictions on issuance and use of "no-knock" warrants, pointing to the professionalism and integrity of today's police departments and officers as justification for expanded discretion. As I have said before, such warrants should be virtually impossible to obtain and if they must exist, they should require the approval of a senior judge with specific knowledge and experience in the Constitutional ramifications of such warrants. Every officer involved in executing such warrants should be held personally responsible and face strict liability for his participation.
This outrage must not go unanswered and should be used to work toward reformation of the entire warrant system.
The entire story can be read here or by going to: http://wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=59566
Thanks to our good friend Jim Tomes of the Indiana Second Amendment Patriots for bringing this story to my attention.
January 8, 2008