Posts Tagged ‘4th amendment’

Efforts to limit seizures of money, homes and other property from people who may never be convicted of a crime are stalling out amid a wave of pressure from prosecutors and police.

Their effort, at least at the state level, appears to be working. At least a dozen states considered bills restricting or even abolishing forfeiture that isn’t accompanied by a conviction or gives law enforcement less control over forfeited proceeds. But most measures failed to pass.

Civil asset forfeiture is state-sanctioned theft. There is no other way around it. The entire concept violates the spirit of the 4th, 5th and 6th amendments to the Constitution. In case you have any doubt:

The 4th Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The 5th Amendment: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The 6th Amendment: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

Civil asset forfeiture is a civil rights issue, and it should be seen as such by everyone. Just because it targets the entire population as opposed to a specific race, gender or sexual orientation doesn’t make it less important.

Read the whole thing @ http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-06-04/us-police-and-prosecutors-fight-retain-barbaric-right-%E2%80%9Ccivil-asset-forfeiture%E2%80%9D

via Wirecutter

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. (CBS4)– The man whose home was destroyed during a standoff with police believes officers took extreme measures when they tried to capture the suspect.

“This is a para-military action, done by para-military thugs. This is not a police force,” said homeowner Leo Lech. “To blow holes in every side of this house for one suspect with a handgun.”

Robert Seacat was holed up in the Greenwood Village home for nearly 19 hours before officers were able to take him into custody on Thursday.

The home following the standoff (credit: CBS)

Lech is upset at how Greenwood Village police treated his home during the standoff that began Wednesday afternoon and ended about 9 a.m. Thursday. Seacat, 33, barricaded himself inside Lech’s home after seemingly running into it at random.

“If you look at the photos of Osama Bin Laden’s compound I would say his house looks better than mine does,” said Lech.

Mugshots Robert Jonathan Seacat from previous arrests

Mugshots Robert Jonathon Seacat from previous arrests (credit: Greenwood Village Police)

Lech does not agree with police tactics used that included a robot, explosives and a breaching ram that punctured exterior walls.

“The home is still a crime scene at this point,” said Matt Cohrs, Assistant to the City Manager of Greenwood Village.

According to police, just after 1:30 p.m. Wednesday there was a shoplifting reported at a Walmart on East Hampden in Aurora. The suspect, believed to be Seacat, fled in a vehicle to a light rail station where he ditched the vehicle and was seen with a gun. Police attempted to chase him but were unsuccessful in apprehending him.

The home following the standoff (credit: CBS)

Police said Seacat somehow made his way to Greenwood Village where he entered Lech’s home with a 9-year-old boy inside. The boy managed to call 911, safely leave the home and was reunited with his mother. That’s when the standoff began.

Cohrs said they are working to determine who will be responsible for the home’s repairs.

“These incidents don’t happen every single day. Every incident is different and that’s why there’s a process that you follow and referring it to our insurance carrier already and beginning the work through that process,” said Cohrs.

Police sources at other local agencies told CBS4 that they too, would have used similar tactics to remove an armed suspect and that they didn’t feel the approach was excessive.

Those sources also said homes can be rebuilt but human lives cannot, whether its a police officer or a citizen.

Lech wants his home fixed but said some things cannot be repaired.

“There are things in there that can’t be replaced. You’ve destroyed a family’s life for nothing, absolutely nothing, due to poor decision making on the part of government officials,” said Lech.

Lech said his homeowner’s insurance company has warned him there is a small chance his policy won’t cover the damage because of a clause for “incompetent goverment” action.

h/t Brittius
The FBI says this program is not secret, but the planes are registered to fictitious companies. The planes also can capture information from cell phones in the area.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the country carrying video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology — all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government, The Associated Press has learned.

The planes’ surveillance equipment is generally used without a judge’s approval, and the FBI said the flights are used for specific, ongoing investigations. In a recent 30-day period, the agency flew above more than 30 cities in 11 states across the country, an AP review found.

Aerial surveillance represents a changing frontier for law enforcement, providing what the government maintains is an important tool in criminal, terrorism or intelligence probes. But the program raises questions about whether there should be updated policies protecting civil liberties as new technologies pose intrusive opportunities for government spying.

U.S. law enforcement officials confirmed for the first time the wide-scale use of the aircraft, which the AP traced to at least 13 fake companies, such as FVX Research, KQM Aviation, NBR Aviation and PXW Services. Even basic aspects of the program are withheld from the public in censored versions of official reports from the Justice Department’s inspector general.

“The FBI’s aviation program is not secret,” spokesman Christopher Allen said in a statement. “Specific aircraft and their capabilities are protected for operational security purposes.” Allen added that the FBI’s planes “are not equipped, designed or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance.”

But the planes can capture video of unrelated criminal activity on the ground that could be handed over for prosecutions.

Some of the aircraft can also be equipped with technology that can identify thousands of people below through the cellphones they carry, even if they’re not making a call or in public. Officials said that practice, which mimics cell towers and gets phones to reveal basic subscriber information, is rare.

Details confirmed by the FBI track closely with published reports since at least 2003 that a government surveillance program might be behind suspicious-looking planes slowly circling neighborhoods. The AP traced at least 50 aircraft back to the FBI, and identified more than 100 flights since late April orbiting both major cities and rural areas.

One of the planes, photographed in flight last week by the AP in northern Virginia, bristled with unusual antennas under its fuselage and a camera on its left side. A federal budget document from 2010 mentioned at least 115 planes, including 90 Cessna aircraft, in the FBI’s surveillance fleet.

The FBI also occasionally helps local police with aerial support, such as during the recent disturbance in Baltimore that followed the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who sustained grievous injuries while in police custody. Those types of requests are reviewed by senior FBI officials.

The surveillance flights comply with agency rules, an FBI spokesman said. Those rules, which are heavily redacted in publicly available documents, limit the types of equipment the agency can use, as well as the justifications and duration of the surveillance.

Details about the flights come as the Justice Department seeks to navigate privacy concerns arising from aerial surveillance by unmanned aircrafts, or drones. President Barack Obama has said he welcomes a debate on government surveillance, and has called for more transparency about spying in the wake of disclosures about classified programs.

“These are not your grandparents’ surveillance aircraft,” said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union, calling the flights significant “if the federal government is maintaining a fleet of aircraft whose purpose is to circle over American cities, especially with the technology we know can be attached to those aircraft.”

During the past few weeks, the AP tracked planes from the FBI’s fleet on more than 100 flights over at least 11 states plus the District of Columbia, most with Cessna 182T Skylane aircraft. These included parts of Houston, Phoenix, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis and Southern California.

Evolving technology can record higher-quality video from long distances, even at night, and can capture certain identifying information from cellphones using a device known as a “cell-site simulator” — or Stingray, to use one of the product’s brand names. These can trick pinpointed cellphones into revealing identification numbers of subscribers, including those not suspected of a crime.

Officials say cellphone surveillance is rare, although the AP found in recent weeks FBI flights orbiting large, enclosed buildings for extended periods where aerial photography would be less effective than electronic signals collection. Those included above Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.

After The Washington Post revealed flights by two planes circling over Baltimore in early May, the AP began analyzing detailed flight data and aircraft-ownership registrations that shared similar addresses and flight patterns. That review found some FBI missions circled above at least 40,000 residents during a single flight over Anaheim, California, in late May, according to Census data and records provided by the website FlightRadar24.com.

Most flight patterns occurred in counter-clockwise orbits up to several miles wide and roughly one mile above the ground at slow speeds. A 2003 newsletter from the company FLIR Systems Inc., which makes camera technology such as seen on the planes, described flying slowly in left-handed patterns.

“Aircraft surveillance has become an indispensable intelligence collection and investigative technique which serves as a force multiplier to the ground teams,” the FBI said in 2009 when it asked Congress for $5.1 million for the program.

Recently, independent journalists and websites have cited companies traced to post office boxes in Virginia, including one shared with the Justice Department. The AP analyzed similar data since early May, while also drawing upon aircraft registration documents, business records and interviews with U.S. officials to understand the scope of the operations.

The FBI asked the AP not to disclose the names of the fake companies it uncovered, saying that would saddle taxpayers with the expense of creating new cover companies to shield the government’s involvement, and could endanger the planes and integrity of the surveillance missions. The AP declined the FBI’s request because the companies’ names — as well as common addresses linked to the Justice Department — are listed on public documents and in government databases.

At least 13 front companies that AP identified being actively used by the FBI are registered to post office boxes in Bristow, Virginia, which is near a regional airport used for private and charter flights. Only one of them appears in state business records.

Included on most aircraft registrations is a mysterious name, Robert Lindley. He is listed as chief executive and has at least three distinct signatures among the companies. Two documents include a signature for Robert Taylor, which is strikingly similar to one of Lindley’s three handwriting patterns.

The FBI would not say whether Lindley is a U.S. government employee. The AP unsuccessfully tried to reach Lindley at phone numbers registered to people of the same name in the Washington area since Monday.

Law enforcement officials said Justice Department lawyers approved the decision to create fictitious companies to protect the flights’ operational security and that the Federal Aviation Administration was aware of the practice. One of the Lindley-headed companies shares a post office box openly used by the Justice Department.

Such elusive practices have endured for decades. A 1990 report by the then-General Accounting Office noted that, in July 1988, the FBI had moved its “headquarters-operated” aircraft into a company thathttps://wordpress.com/post/71052805/new/ wasn’t publicly linked to the bureau.

The FBI does not generally obtain warrants to record video from its planes of people moving outside in the open, but it also said that under a new policy it has recently begun obtaining court orders to use cell-site simulators. The Obama administration had until recently been directing local authorities through secret agreements not to reveal their own use of the devices, even encouraging prosecutors to drop cases rather than disclose the technology’s use in open court.

A Justice Department memo last month also expressly barred its component law enforcement agencies from using unmanned drones “solely for the purpose of monitoring activities protected by the First Amendment” and said they are to be used only in connection with authorized investigations and activities. A department spokeswoman said the policy applied only to unmanned aircraft systems rather than piloted airplanes.

Our children live in a world where they pass through a military-style checkpoint every morning and afternoon for school. Every time their parents take them to Tucson shopping. Every time they go to a friends house in Amado, or to Karate in Sahuarita. Men carry guns, dogs bark, lights flash.

dozens-shutdown-us-border-checkpoint

Amado, AZ — In one of the most uplifting acts of civil disobedience this year, the residents of Arivaca, Arizona showed an astonishing level of dedication to freedom. Approximately 100 residents turned out for the public hearing in which citizens demanded the unconstitutional and heavily militarized checkpoint, more than 25 miles inland on Arivaca road be shut down.

According to BorderCommunityAction.org:

Community members called on US Congressman Grijalva to deliver on his promise to hold a federal hearing on the issue before Department of Homeland Security officials.Arivaca residents and supporters gathered at 10am and peacefully proceeded to the checkpoint to hold the hearing. Upon entering the checkpoint, they were met with a blockade of armed Border Patrol agents who used physical force, attempting to move the residents back. Despite this intimidation, protesters held their ground and sat-in while community members held a public hearing calling for the removal of the checkpoint.

From elderly men and women to the children, the attendees remained unfazed in the face of this tyranny. Many of the residents voiced their concern over the entirely unnecessary and despotic checkpoint.

Local business owner Maggie Milinovich said, “our reverse-gated community is a barrier to tourists…this checkpoint is choking our community.”

Carlotta Wray spoke about her experiences being racially profiled by Border Patrol, saying, “because of our brown skin, me and most of my family have to reach into our pockets for ID at the checkpoint to prove that we’re legal citizens in our own town, I’m sick of it.”

Patty Miller said of the ongoing military-style presence of Border Patrol in the Arivaca community, “it’s like a war zone all the time.”

The event was organized by the Community Organization to End Border Patrol Checkpoints. Their mission is described on their Facebook Page.

Arivaca, AZ is a small rural community located in the militarized zone of the border region between the United States and Mexico. With a population of about 700, Arivaca is also a vibrant loving community that cares for each other. As with many border communities, residential life in Arivaca has been deeply impacted by mass migration and the subsequent arrival of thousands of border patrol agents and expansive enforcement infrastructure to the area. Locals routinely encounter federal agents on their property, in town, on the road, or in the many helicopters flying overhead. All residents and visitors to the area must pass through an immigration checkpoint to confirm their citizenship status.And yet while living under this sizable presence of immigration enforcement for years, Arivacans routinely provide critical care and humanitarian aid to migrants in distress. This beautiful community of diverse people care about human dignity and helping others. Arivaca will not turn a blind eye to the death and suffering that occurs in our backyard by the hands of Homeland Security and the US government.

The militarization and its subsequent effect on the lives of the children in the town is well documented by the group.
Read more at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/dozens-turn-epic-border-checkpoint-refusal-ever/#ubYT1fkGPDuHSDWd.99

Officers could be hesitant to draw their guns because doing so would result in more paperwork under the terms of the agreement, Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association president Steve Loomis said Wednesday. The agreement requires an officer to complete a report each time he or she points a gun at a suspect.

“It’s going to get somebody killed,” Loomis said. “There’s going to be a time when someone isn’t going to want to do that paperwork, so he’s going to keep that gun in its holster.”

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The head of the Cleveland police department’s patrol union said aspects of the agreement that mandates sweeping reforms to the city’s police department could put officers in danger.

Officers could be hesitant to draw their guns because doing so would result in more paperwork under the terms of the agreement, Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association president Steve Loomis said Wednesday. The agreement requires an officer to complete a report each time he or she points a gun at a suspect.

“It’s going to get somebody killed,” Loomis said. “There’s going to be a time when someone isn’t going to want to do that paperwork, so he’s going to keep that gun in its holster.”

Cleveland and the U.S. Department of Justice unveiled the agreement, known as a consent decree, Tuesday. It is meant to transform a police department that too often used excessive force and failed to conduct thorough internal investigations, according to an investigation by the Justice Department. The agreement will become legally binding once approved by a federal judge.

Loomis said he believes the 105 pages of reforms are a response to high-profile incidents that have happened nationwide, rather than to incidents that have happened in Cleveland, including the 2012 police chase that saw 13 officers fire at two unarmed people 137 times, the police shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice and the death of a mentally ill woman after officers forced her to the ground.

“This is a political agenda,” he said. “This has nothing to do with the actions of the men and women of the Cleveland police department.”

Read the rest @ http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2015/05/union_head_says_aspects_of_cle.html#incart_m-rpt-1

In Fort Worth, the family of a 72-year-old man killed by police who responded to the wrong address after a burglary call has filed a wrongful death suit.

The suit, filed Tuesday, alleges that an officer admitted that he never identified himself as an officer before shooting Jerry Waller, that police moved Waller’s body after the shooting, and that investigators questioned the officers involved in a way to “provide a defense to the police shooting of an unarmed innocent man.”

The lawsuit alleges that officer Richard Hoeppner trespassed on the Wallers’ property, used excessive force against Waller, and destroyed or altered evidence to make it appear as if Waller was armed and posed a threat.

Brender alleges that Waller, a father and grandfather, had been standing in his own garage, unarmed and with both hands in the air, when he was shot and killed by Hoeppner.

In addition to Hoeppner, the suit also names as defendants Hoeppner’s then-partner on the call, Benjamin Hanlon, former Police Chief Jeff Halstead, investigators Dana Baggott and Merle Davon Green, and officers B.S. Hardin and A. Chambers.

Hanlon was later fired from the department for falsifying a report on an unrelated case.

City officials did not immediately return a message seeking comment on the lawsuit. A police spokesman said the department would not be commenting. Halstead also declined to comment.

Police officials have previously said Hoeppner shot Waller after the man pointed a gun at the officer.

A Tarrant County grand jury declined to indict Hoeppner in January 2014.

Halstead, who has since retired, told the Star-Telegram at that time that the grand jury made the right decision.

“I think it was proven through the autopsy and evidence that a gun was pointed directly at officer Hoeppner and he was forced to make his decision ” Halstead said.

But Brender said Tuesday that police relied largely on “junk science” and that the autopsy and crime scene photographs indicate that Waller was unarmed and would have had his hands up at the time he was shot. He released a video Tuesday of a forensic reenactment of the shooting that he said is supported by evidence in the case.

I’m not sure an autopsy can really prove that the decedent was pointing a gun when he was shot. In any case, even assuming what the police say is true, Waller was only defending his home. There’s zero reason to think that a 72-year-old man with no criminal record would knowingly point his gun at police officers who had mistakenly entered the wrong home. Incidentally, a year after Hoeppner shot Waller, he was nominated for an award for exemplary service.

Our next story is also about a lawsuit, also in Texas, also involving an elderly man.

A lawsuit filed against the Georgetown police department alleges unnecessary force against an 81-year-old man.

The suit comes after 81-year-old Herman Crisp says he was the target of unnecessary police force and that officers left him with a broken hip. Then, the lawsuit states, police got no care for him and family members discovered him the next day.

The police were looking for Crisp’s nephew. I suspect that if Crisp had a gun, or was holding something that resembled one, he’d have met the same fate as Waller.

The final story comes from Florida.

On May 11, Justin Way was drinking and threatening to kill himself. His father, George Way, said his son was a recovering alcoholic and had been alcohol-free for five weeks.

“He just lost his job, and he had a setback,” he said.

Way’s live-in girlfriend, Kaitlyn Christine Lyons, said she’d caught Justin drinking a bottle of vodka, which she took away from him to pour out. She said he was drunk, lying in their bed with a large knife, saying he would hurt himself with it. She called a non-emergency number in an attempt to get her boyfriend to a local St. Augustine, Florida, hospital for help—and told them she did not feel threatened.

“My brother has been Baker Acted three times because he was threatening to hurt himself so I figured that would happen with Justin,” said Lyons. Florida’s Baker Act allows the involuntary institutionalization of an individual, and it can be initiated by law-enforcement officials.

“The only person Justin threatened was himself and I honestly don’t think he wanted to die.”

Minutes later, two St. Johns County Sheriff’s deputies, 26-year-old Jonas Carballosa and 32-year-old Kyle Braig, arrived at the home, armed with assault rifles, and told Kaitlyn to wait outside.

“I thought they were going into war,” she remembered thinking when she first saw the large guns. Within moments, Justin was shot dead.

This is normally where’d I’d strongly caution against ever calling the police if you believe a loved one is unstable or a threat to himself. Too many police departments get too little training in how to resolve these situations peacefully. But that isn’t even what happened here. His girlfriend called a help line. I can’t think of a more inappropriate first response to someone in the midst of a breakdown than to send the SWAT team. But it’s not uncommon. Nor is the result that we saw here.

Source http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2015/05/28/this-week-in-excessive-force/

This is a valid point- 

“I can guarantee if you look up here and look down there, it might be five people who ain’t been fucked over by the police,” says Baltimore resident Shaun Young, waving a hand at a crowd of maybe a hundred people gathered at Penn and North, site of the protests. “It’s small shit — they get taken advantage of.”

When Baltimore exploded in protests a few weeks ago following the unexplained paddy-wagon death of a young African-American man named Freddie Gray, America responded the way it usually does in a race crisis: It changed the subject.

Instead of using the incident to talk about a campaign of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of illegal searches and arrests across decades of discriminatory policing policies, the debate revolved around whether or not the teenagers who set fire to two West Baltimore CVS stores after Gray’s death were “thugs,” or merely wrongheaded criminals.

From Eric Garner to Michael Brown to Akai Gurley to Tamir Rice to Walter Scott and now Freddie Gray, there have now been so many police killings of African-American men and boys in the past calendar year or so that it’s been easy for both the media and the political mainstream to sell us on the idea that the killings are the whole story.

Fix that little in-custody death problem, we’re told, perhaps with the aid of “better training” or body cameras (which Baltimore has already promised to install by the end of the year), and we can comfortably go back to ignoring poverty, race, abuse, all that depressing inner-city stuff. But body cameras won’t fix it. You can’t put body cameras on a system.

As a visit to post-uprising Baltimore confirms, high-profile police murders are only part of the problem. An equally large issue is the obscene quantity of smaller daily outrages and abuses that regularly go unpunished by a complex network of local criminal-justice bureaucracies, many of which are designed to cover up bad police work and keep all our worst behaviors hidden, even from ourselves.

Go to any predominantly minority neighborhood in any major American city and you’ll hear the same stories: decades of being sworn at, thrown against walls, kicked, searched without cause, stripped naked on busy city streets, threatened with visits from child protective services, chased by dogs, and arrested and jailed not merely on false pretenses, but for reasons that often don’t even rise to the level of being stupid.

“I can guarantee if you look up here and look down there, it might be five people who ain’t been fucked over by the police,” says Baltimore resident Shaun Young, waving a hand at a crowd of maybe a hundred people gathered at Penn and North, site of the protests. “It’s small shit — they get taken advantage of.”

Even though Rolling Stone is a leftist rag that’s not even good for lining bird cages,hell,it ain’t even good enough for starting fires. I don’t think kids even read it any more-never seen any of our six kids,or their boyfriends/husbands or any of their friends reading a copy.

Matt Taibbi does come up with a good one once in a while, like this…

From the article on the LeBron James: Global Superdouche broadcast-

See if those reality-show zoom-ins don’t start to creep into interviews with candidates-

This is the beginning of our big Lost in Space journey together, where news and reality-show programming fuse completely and we all end up complete morons, voting strippers and X-games athletes into the White House. I’m psyched. Are you?

Sacramento, CA — Sacramento cops are rolling out a new program this Memorial day to allegedly combat drunk drivers. While the reasoning for this new program may sound just, its implementation is anything but.

If you are out in a bar this weekend, be prepared to have multiple officers come in and ask the patrons in the bar to blow into a breathalyzer.

DUI roadblocks are apparently not invasive enough, so the Sacramento PD instituted a program to attack the source, the places where alcohol is consumed.

Obviously the site of several armed officers walking into a bar with breathalyzers in hand is a buzz kill, to say the least.

One of the bar patrons who’s been exposed to the program explains, “Admittedly we were a bit put off when we were gonna walk in and saw a bunch of cops with breathalyzers.”

A “bit put off” is an understatement, however

While these officers are promising not to “test and arrest,” the very idea of police entering private property and having people submit to breathalyzer tests is appalling. The inside of your body is no business of the state and when this clear violation of your personal space is accepted, freedom loses.

This program also leaves the door wide open for entrapment and further rights violating searches by creating unnecessary confrontations.

Hopefully, this program does not take wings and spread to other municipalities as it is a leap forward for the nanny surveillance state, and giant step back for liberty.
Read more at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/dui-checkpoints-tip-iceberg-cops-bars-breathalyzers/#OVamTCcgwfsDpPcy.99

Anyone still doubt that we are living in a police state?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/05/13/the-fourth-amendment-and-open-carry-of-guns-where-such-open-carry-is-legal/

More…

APPEALS COURT RULING

Detention of person carrying gun illegal

Toledo man can sue city police

Read more at http://www.toledoblade.com/Courts/2015/05/14/Detention-of-person-carrying-gun-illegal.html#TbwOZvYB5h78EzLs.99