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Old July 16, 2012, 08:58 AM   #1
Botswana
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Deputies shoot and kill man after knocking on the wrong door

Deputies knock on door, shoot and kill the wrong man

1. The deputies believed they were at the house of a possible murder suspect
2. The deputies did not identify themselves as law enforcement officers
3. The occupant of the house answered the door with gun drawn and pointed at the deputies
4. This all took place around 1:30am

Clearly the owner should have taken more care to open the door with a drawn weapon. I too would be cautious answering the door at 1:30 in the morning.

I also have been subjected to LEO's banging on my door who had the wrong address (They had the right apartment # but the wrong street address!) However, the officer identified himself just fine through the door and I was quick to answer because I was afraid he was about to kick the door down.

If the deputies had been similarly forceful, they might have scared this man half to death if he did not know they were law enforcement.

Even if they were perfectly civil though, they should have identified themselves. If I knew police were on the other side of the door, I'm not going to have a weapon in sight.

The story claims wrongdoing on both sides, which may be somewhat true. I wonder how "politely" the deputies were knocking considering people would likely be in bed. The failure to identify part really nags at me.
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Old July 16, 2012, 09:22 AM   #2
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As far as I am concerned when LE goes to the wrong house and bad things happen they are almost fully responsible for the outcome. I hope they get sued into the "poorhouse."

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Old July 16, 2012, 09:42 AM   #3
aarondhgraham
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"When we knocked on the door, the door opened and the occupant of that apartment was pointing a gun at deputies and that's when we opened fire and killed him," Lt. John Herrell said.

"It's just a bizarre set of circumstances. The bottom line is, you point a gun at a deputy sheriff or police office, you're going to get shot," Herrell said.
<RANT>
Basically this Lt. Herrell believes he has the right to kill at his own whim because he is a cop.

These cops will probably get off scott free,,,
And reinforce that they can do this with impunity.
</RANT>

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Old July 16, 2012, 09:50 AM   #4
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As far as I am concerned when LE goes to the wrong house and bad things happen they are almost fully responsible for the outcome. I hope they get sued into the "poorhouse."
I don’t know all the laws, but I believe LEOs are protected by some law and cannot be sued for “accidents” that happen on duty.
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Old July 16, 2012, 10:04 AM   #5
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IMHO the PD should be held accountable. The wrong address, no announcement, coupled with the statement by the Lt. Points to a poorly trained team. If I was the victims family I would get a very good lawyer and take it to the court system. I also believe the incident will not get any continued press coverages and if it does it wll be to cover the gross errors committed by the PD. Just my opinion based on past stories such as this one.
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Old July 16, 2012, 10:07 AM   #6
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This was no accident. The deputies willfully and knowingly shot the guy. That he wasn't person they were looking for does not really matter.

The family can certainly file a wrongful death suit and sue the deputies in addition to suing the department.
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Old July 16, 2012, 10:39 AM   #7
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Barrylee, the law covers them when they are doing their job properly. When they do illegal things under color of law, things can go very badly for the officers involved.This is not a "mistake". Mistakes don't deliberately kill people, and those shots were fired deliberately. They made the fatal error - the gentleman who was killed did not. I would answer a knock at 01:30 armed as well, and as a law abiding person I have no reasonable expectation of having police attempting to serve any warrant, arrest of otherwise, on me at all, much less at such an hour.
The officers and supervisors involved should face criminal negligence charges, at the very least. I suspect they will not.
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Old July 16, 2012, 10:45 AM   #8
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Note to self, Look before I leap and do NOT open door at 0 dark thirty with firearm visible or pointing at door knockers. Heck do NOT open door at all. Let them do that.

It might be that my civil rights will or will not be violated and/or that I might or might not be around to pursue that avenue of recourse. But that is more of a tactics than law & civil rights discussion.

Coppers have every right to knock on my door whenever they need to. Could be bad guys in my back yard, one of my kids in a bad car accident or they might need the entire neighborhood to evacuate for some reason unknown to me. I choose to open door (after I turn on outside lights) or not.
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Old July 16, 2012, 10:48 AM   #9
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At this point, it's only an allegation that the firearm was pointed at deputies. It is to the benefit of those making the allegation, now that Scott is dead, that they were threatened with a gun pointed at them.

Answering a knock at the door with no knowledge of who is knocking is not always a wise move.
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Old July 16, 2012, 12:13 PM   #10
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Opening the door with a gun pointing out may not be the best course either, it could be the cops or a neighbor just trying to alert you that your roof is on fire

Peep holes were invented for a reason folks. If you don't have one, get one.
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Old July 16, 2012, 12:16 PM   #11
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I wonder what was so danged important that they felt the need to do this at 1:30am.

I don't see any fault on the part of the homeowner... I'd be answering a knock at the door at that hour with a gun in my hand too. I'd probably be confirming who is on the other side before opening it though. Still, it's the police's responsibility to GET IT RIGHT. Or just stake the place out and take the guy down when he goes out to get on his motorcycle.

I doubt there will be any specific liability for the officers involved (including the incompetent moron among them who got the wrong place), but I do hope they can't go a day without thinking they killed an innocent man because they did their jobs poorly.
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Old July 16, 2012, 12:21 PM   #12
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The life of one innocent person is not the price we should have to pay to catch any bad guy. The errors commited by these officers have become a common occurrence throughout the U.S., and if necessary the elimination of the SWAT and special operations drug teams to stop the deaths of innocent people. IMO we don't need special para military teams within any municipal police department.
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Old July 16, 2012, 12:30 PM   #13
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What a joke, I think we need manslaughter charges here against the supervising officer.If through moral fault or the fault of poor training the supervising officer(sound like the LT) failed big time.
The officers failed to properly identify themselves and this resulted in a horrible misunderstanding that got someone killed. The details are somewhat vague but it sounds like they did not even have a search warrant or know for sure their suspect was inside.


The last time someone came to my door unannounced early in the morning I came to the door armed. Once I looked through the peephole to see it wasn't a threat I put the weapon in my back pants pocket and answered the door.

If you saw several men knocking on your door @ 1:30AM what would you do? I wouldn't open the door but I imagine that the officers next step was going to be kicking the door in. I would for sure open fire without question on three guys kicking my door in that did not identify themselves as cops. I am sure most of you would.

IMO the fact the officers failed to identify themselves properly is inexcusable and criminal; especially in a case where they have no warrant and no positive confirmation their suspect is inside.


I think that LEO's in some parts of the country need better training in the fact that not everyone with a gun is a bad guy. They need to understand That people have the right to keep and bear arms and that ESPECIALLY when you are entering a private residence you need to be mindful that the occupant(unless a known felons etc) has the right to keep and bear arms within his own home and that YOU are an intruder in the eyes of a home owner until you properly identify yourself as a police officer. This is not Iraq, this kick the door in, throw a frag, free fire zone mentality has to stop.

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Old July 16, 2012, 12:34 PM   #14
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Good post, Chuckusaret.
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Old July 16, 2012, 01:27 PM   #15
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I think the officers are to blame but I am going to play devil's advocate for a minute.

Who is saying that the cops did not announce themselves? The only witnesses they would have are neighbors who would more than likely have been sleeping, so they would not have heard the announcement.

So let's assume they didn't announce because they were hoping to catch the real criminal opening the door. From the article it says that the criminal's motorcycle was parked across from Scott's apartment, so they had reason to believe that he was in that apartment. Now assuming they did not have a warrant to enter the apartment, they would not be able to legally enter unless invited in or the criminal were to answer the door; otherwise they would have entered right away. So perhaps the officers were expecting to see the criminal but all they see is a gun pointing at them. Training and the law says they react the way they did. All they know is that they had a threat on the other side of the door, which they expected to be an attempted murder suspect. They did not know it was the wrong person until after the fact.

Now my real beliefs. I don't think you should answer the door with the muzzle pointing out the door when you open it. You never know who is there. If it is a threat you have your firearm in your hand and it takes a split second to bring gun up to engage the threat. Also, Scott should have questioned the people before ever opening the door.

The police are to blame for creating the situation. They assumed the criminal was in there without any real intel. They should have been extremely loud with their announcements of being police and had someone watching the windows in case their suspect tries to flee. But they should not have been knocking unless they had eyes on surveillance that the suspect was at some point in that apartment and not where he parked his motorcycle.
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Old July 16, 2012, 01:36 PM   #16
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I wonder what was so danged important that they felt the need to do this at 1:30am
Common tactic. Circadian rhythm is a very useful option in the LE tool bag.
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Old July 16, 2012, 01:45 PM   #17
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I believe in NYS the leo and prison officers can only be sued for the sum of $1.00, the department and or county, city or state can be sued for any amount.
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Old July 16, 2012, 01:51 PM   #18
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I believe LEOs are protected by some law and cannot be sued for “accidents” that happen on duty.
There's a doctrine of qualified immunity that's subject to wide interpretation in some jurisdictions.

We've had threads about no-knock warrants and possible police over-reach before. They usually end badly.

Let's remember that the article could be biased, and it could have its facts wrong. Let's also strive to avoid baseless bashing or "if they kick in my door, Imma gun 'em down" silliness.
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Old July 16, 2012, 02:36 PM   #19
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There's some facts presented in the article that I summarized in the original post. You could argue any of them and they may yet be disproven, but I'm going to keep them in mind.

Who said the guy had the gun drawn? The deputies? Ok, obviously that helps explain the shooting but it also doesn't mean it isn't true.

Who is saying the cops didn't announce themselves? Again, we don't know. However, I do think this part is true because who in their right mind answers the door with a loaded weapon pointed at police officers if they know law enforcement is on the other side of the door?

If you assume that the resident answered with the gun drawn and pointed at the officers then it makes sense if officers did not identify themselves first.

It actually gets worse if you do it the other way. If the officers DID identify themselves and the resident was not pointing the gun at the officers then why did they shoot?

This was not a "no knock raid" however, unless there are further facts not being reported, but I don't care to speculate.

I do wonder if the deputies were in uniform. It may not matter if it was dark enough in the neighborhood. Even through a peephole the victim may not have been able to tell. That is all speculation as well, so I can give it no weight.

My one takeaway from this story is that it is crucial for law enforcement personnel to identify themselves. If the deputies had identified themselves and they were still greeted with an armed homeowner levelling a weapon at them, maybe it would make some sense. Still a tragedy, but the circumstances easier to comprehend.

I personally believe that law enforcement officers have a duty to identify themselves when they are on official business. In the case where I had a police officer POUNDING on my door, had he not identified himself as law enforcement I certainly would have been armed. It sounded like someone was breaking in and I was scared out of my wits being woken at 3am. The officer's sense of urgency was justified because he was responding to a violent domestic disturbance and once he verified he had the wrong street number he sped away without so much as a "sorry for waking you". (He did take a moment to make sure I wasn't the one beating my wife. A little insulting but understandable)

What bothers me the most about this story is what appears to be a consistent laxity about following procedures by various police departments and doing it with the justification that the system "handcuffs" their ability to catch bad guys. Maybe so, but the rules have come about for a reason.
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Old July 16, 2012, 03:27 PM   #20
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LEO's that commit horrors, such as this, should be required to defend their actions in a court of law or an impartial investigation board as do our combat troops when they inadvertently kill civilians during a combat engagement with a suspected hostile force. I was a member of a standing review board in my town that heard cases similar to this, but in the 12 years I served, and of all the cases very few LEO/Fireman appeared before the board. The cases were either turned over to the state attorney, accepted department punishment but most took the easy route and resigned.


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Old July 16, 2012, 03:34 PM   #21
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The life of one innocent person is not the price we should have to pay to catch any bad guy. The errors commited by these officers have become a common occurrence throughout the U.S., and if necessary the elimination of the SWAT and special operations drug teams to stop the deaths of innocent people. IMO we don't need special para military teams within any municipal police department.
Okay, you want to grandstand about your personal perspective on police. That is fine, but at least get the information correct for your soap box.

Quote:
IMO we don't need special para military teams within any municipal police department.
That is nice, but irrelevant to the incident. This event wasn't being conducted by a special para military team within a municipal department. They were not special para military officers and it was a county department, not municipal.

The apartment door they knocked on was not a mistake. They did not know where their murder suspect was, but his motorcycle was in front of the department and so that is where the deputies knocked.

This wasn't a no-knock warrant conducted by SWAT officers at the wrong location or operating with wrong or dubious information. They were looking for their suspect and so they knocked on the door where the suspect's bike was parked.

So this situation really has nothing to do with your personal dislike for city cops, SWAT, or drug teams.

If the deceased pointed a gun at the deputies, then they could protect themselves just like we can. It doesn't matter if the person pointing the gun at them is the suspect they are looking for or not.

Quote:
I wonder what was so danged important that they felt the need to do this at 1:30am.
The suspect and another guy had attempted to kill man earlier in the evening and the deputies had been activily trying to find him since that time.
See video here...
http://www.infowars.com/deputies-kno...wers-with-gun/

Quote:
Who is saying the cops didn't announce themselves?
Also in that video, the reporter states that it was the authorities who stated that they did not identify themselves.

Quote:
I personally believe that law enforcement officers have a duty to identify themselves when they are on official business.
And no doubt they would have, if given the chance. They do not have to identify themselves to building structures, however, in this sort of circumstance.

I have had cops knock on my doors 3 or 4 times over the years, once at 2:00 AM because of a neighbor's 911 call that turned out to be a phone company electronic snafu (the neighbors weren't even at home and yet their phone called 911 several times as did about a dozen other houses in the neighborhood) and never have they announced their identity while knocking. They did when the door was opened, but I wasn't pointing a gun at them at the time.
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Old July 16, 2012, 03:40 PM   #22
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I'd rather the system be "handcuffed" and a few baddies get away than police killing with impunity in an effort to rid the streets of crime.

And I'm sorry Tom but I don't think its silliness to say "If they kick my door down I'm shooting". We have the right to be safe and secure in our own homes. Obviously if they identify themselves as police its one thing, but I have to believe that if someone kicks my door in its not at all unreasonable to assume they are there to do harm to me. They've already committed one felony, why give them a chance to commit another?

To the topic at hand, if the deceased did answer the door pointing the gun thats just bad tactics. I've answered the door several times with a gun in hand but not pointing it at whoever is on the other side.

How would this have played out if he hadn't answered the door and instead let them force their way in and (assuming they weren't in uniform and didn't id themselves as law enforcement) open fire killing all of them?
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Old July 16, 2012, 04:36 PM   #23
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The story claims wrongdoing on both sides, which may be somewhat true. I wonder how "politely" the deputies were knocking considering people would likely be in bed. The failure to identify part really nags at me.
The only wrongdoing I see on the part of the deceased homeowner is that he didn't shoot the two deputies before they shot him.

Police officers serving warrants have a responsibility to know where the [bleep] they're going. The deputies (or their superiors, if they were dispatched to an incorrect address) are 100 percent at fault.
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Old July 16, 2012, 04:45 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Young.Gun.612
And I'm sorry Tom but I don't think its silliness to say "If they kick my door down I'm shooting". We have the right to be safe and secure in our own homes. Obviously if they identify themselves as police its one thing, but I have to believe that if someone kicks my door in its not at all unreasonable to assume they are there to do harm to me. They've already committed one felony, why give them a chance to commit another?
In today's society, having someone yelling "I'm the police!" and wearing a uniform means exactly nothing. Bad guys can (and do) buy uniforms over the Internet. The only valid identification, IMHO, is for the alleged officer(s) to stand by while I dial 9-1-1 and have the dispatcher verify to me that an officer has been sent to my address.

Unfortunately, I very much doubt that any officer would wait while the phone call is placed. And that's a problem ...
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Old July 16, 2012, 05:41 PM   #25
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Known facts per story

1)No warrant.
2)No hot pursuit.
3)No identification by the police.

Unknown, If the Officers were uniformed.

To quote my former Attorney and now Superior Court Judge. "Cops lie and when they screw up they get their stories straight and lie".

This is a clear 14th amendment "equal protection" violation.
These cops were on a hunting expedition. Their intent was to take the suspect down hard. Unfortunately, they did the wrong guy. They should be criminally charged. If they are not, the feds should step in with civil rights violation.

My guess is that nothing will happen and the family will be left to fend for itself.
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