Monday, April 07, 2003

Deleware state troopers raid the wrong house. While serving a series of no-knock search warrants the troopers broke into a house occupied by an octogenarian & two septegenarians. The elderly man & women were scared to death by the incident. The troopers apologized profusely over their error but here's the interesting part:

"Walter Taplin, 83, his wife Patricia, 74, and guest Nancy Powers, 72, were awakened at 9:45 p.m. by the sounds of banging against the door. Moments later, troopers dressed in black came through the entrance and detained the residents before acknowledging their error and leaving the house shortly before midnight."

They violated these peoples' privacy at 9:45 p.m. & detained them untill shortly before 12:a.m.?!?!?! They broke into an elderly couples' home & didn't leave for two hours?

I have long been oppossed to no-knock warrants. They seem to cause more harm than good & the potential for violence is great. Officers are nervous & a little scared & have no qualms about using deadly force. Residents are scared & some have no qualms about using deadly force on unidentified intruders, & rightfully so. So the no-knock warrant creates a situation in which both parties feel justified in using deadly force. Back home we called that particular condition war. There are situations where a no-knock warrant is necessary but those situations always involve a hostage.

Neglecting the abysmal practice of no-knock warrants we still have a situation which should enrage us all: elderly people were detained in their own home by agents of the state for 2 hours while they tried to figure out if they had the right address. The only justification for the troopers staying around that long would be if they replaced the door they broke down & stationed troopers outside the door untill the replacement was functional. If that was not the reason the troopers stayed (& the use of the word "detained", along with the lack of accountability the police typically have while conducting such raids makes me believe that wasn't the case) then the elderly people should have a nice settlement coming from the taxpayers of Deleware. Personally I would have preferred one of the elderly people went back into the bedroom, retrieved a shotgun & escorted the troopers off their property. But given the old "An attack on the kings soldiers is an attack on the king!" mentality of most police departments that scenario would have ended in even worse tragedy for the residents.

So how long does it take to realize that the 72 & 74 year old women & the 83 year old man weren't the bank robbers/drug smugglers/terrorists they were looking for? Apparantly too long.

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