Patterico's Pontifications

11/22/2006

Libertarians Jump the Gun in Story of Shooting in Atlanta

Filed under: Crime,General — Patterico @ 5:22 pm



I don’t know much about the incident in Atlanta today in which a 92-year-old woman shot three police officers executing a search warrant, and was shot and killed by police.

It looks like nobody knows much about it, but that doesn’t appear to stop the libertarians from concluding that the police did something wrong, even before they know all the facts. Instapundit’s post is a prime example. Making the mistake of relying on Radley Balko for his facts, he initially says that the woman died “in what appears to be another wrong-house no-knock raid” — yet later in the post he is quoting Radley Balko saying:

Police claim there was an undercover buy at the residence. The seller was apparently a man — obviously not Ms. Johnston.

“Suspected narcotics” were seized from the home, and have been sent to a crime lab for analysis. The assistant chief wouldn’t say how much of the suspected narcotics they found.

Maybe it wasn’t the wrong house after all! Yet Instapundit gives credence to the idea that there couldn’t have been dope dealers in the house if there was a ramp for wheelchairs out front.

Does that make sense to you?

For the last time: let’s wait until the facts come in, and save our criticism until that time.

Deal?

P.S. The fact (if true) that an earlier undercover buy was made from a man, not the old woman, doesn’t make the house the “wrong house,” as Balko and Instapundit imply. It just means that, at the time the search warrant was served, the old lady was at a house where other people had been dealing drugs. That doesn’t undercut the warrant’s validity, or show that it was served in an improper fashion.

UPDATE: I added the phrase “Making the mistake of relying on Radley Balko for his facts” to the post. I clicked Insty’s original link to see why he had leapt to the conclusion that the police had served the warrant on the wrong house, and saw that he was relying on Balko for the facts. Bad idea.

UPDATE x2: CNN says:

The officers had gone to the old woman’s house with a search warrant after buying drugs there from a man known only as Sam, police said.

. . . .

Investigators also said they found drugs in the home after Johnston was killed.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a similar account.

Does anyone have actual evidence that the police did anything wrong, other than the patently ludicrous theory that a bullet from the gun of a 92-year-old is somehow less lethal than one fired from the gun of a younger person??

UPDATE x3: Balko, relying on a newspaper report, is now claiming that search warrants are public information in Georgia. Maybe they are, but it doesn’t look that way to me. I discuss the issue here.

UPDATE x4: Note that the second-guessing geniuses are coming out of the woodwork, and Insty is enabling at least one of them, by quoting this idiot statement:

For a 92 year old lady to hit 3 fast-moving with a handgun in a surprise no-knock probably means that the detectives were less than 10 feet from her. If this is the case, then I would think that the relative positioning of everyone and time/distance would have let at least one detective overwhelm her.

When someone is shooting at you (and doing a good job of it), you don’t “overwhelm” them. You shoot back.

Surely Glenn Reynolds realizes this. Having quoted this ridiculous point of view, why doesn’t he soundly refute it?

UPDATE x5: Balko has a lengthy screed that distorts my position in several respects. I note the numerous inaccuracies of his post here.

UPDATE x6: If you have been living under a rock, you might have missed the fact that the cops lied their way into the house. I reported that fact immediately, even before Radley Balko did, in this post. But his acolytes are pointing out that I never updated this post. I issue corrections even when the people who point them out are jerks — like Steve Verdon, one of the Internet’s most rabid and dishonest libertarians. Hence this update.

144 Responses to “Libertarians Jump the Gun in Story of Shooting in Atlanta”

  1. Does anyone know a 92 year old woman who can fire a gun and HIT 3 policemen?

    something here is completely fishy

    senorlechero (360f45)

  2. Glad to see someone else not jumping to conclusions.

    But then the facts don’t really seem to matter to those who think cops are gun-crazed nuts who love nothing more than enforce unjust drug laws by putting on the body armor, grabbing the heavy weapons and waiting until the middle of the night to barge into the homes of poor innocent people…. people who would have gladly opened their door and invited the cops in to search their house and offered them tea and cookies had the cops only worn their uniforms, knocked on the door and asked “please may I come in?”.

    (to be fair, the above paragraph was written with Balko in mind and not so much the good professor who, I must admit in full disclosure, has occasionally been kind enough to send some traffic my way).

    steve sturm (d3e296)

  3. Patterico, I’m sorry. I know you’re a prosecutor, and are therefore sympathetic (at least to some degree) with the cops, but you’re in the wrong.

    The whole reason the Founding Fathers put search warrants in the frickin’ Constitution was precisely because of this kind of thing. The fact that some judge has decided that it’s fine and dandy is just an example of how far we are from the system those DWMs tried to establish. And the increasing desperation of the measures taken against “drug crime” are simply making the cops look ridiculous, evil, or both. Konig Knut finally figured it out, as did the Sultan who gave his daughter the Moon. Sooner or later the Prohibitionists will manage to see lightning and hear thunder.

    Shouting “Police!” while battering the door is NOT identification, and (speaking theoretically) a person relaxing at home, where weight isn’t a problem and concealment isn’t an issue, may very well be capable of making the question of “bulletproof vests” moot. If the police know that, and continue to participate in the raids, it simply proves that law enforcement has attracted more than its share of violent goons.

    Regards,
    Ric

    Ric Locke (724456)

  4. Ric…..so you are saying this 92 year old crack shot was just lounging around the house when the police broke in? Must have been lounging with gun in hand.

    senorlechero (360f45)

  5. Anyway you look at it it’s a cool story. The lady died but she was 92. She had to die from something some time soon. This was not a bad way to go. Vikings and samurai prayed for such deaths. I think Odin will look at her with respect in Valhalla. As for the police, they carry guns and are ready to shoot people. They got shot but not fatally. They should go to church and light candles for surviving and beg forgiveness for killing this woman. Killing a 92-year old woman will definitely not get you into Valhalla.

    [What a totally bizarre comment. Assuming these cops were serving a valid search warrant on the correct location in a proper manner, 3 cops got shot for doing their jobs. Assuming these facts — and there’s no clear evidence to contradict my assumptions, and some evidence to support them — there is nothing wrong with what they did, and there is nothing “cool” about the story. Jesus. — P]

    nk (35ba30)

  6. I’m sorry, Patterico, but if the police cannot serve a warrant without getting into a gunfight with a 92-year old lady …? You must know from my previous comments here that I am pro-police and pro-law and order. Still, the police survived and even “bad guys” (worst case scenario in this case is that the lady was bodyguarding the crack house) can be commended for courage.

    [Jesus. They can’t serve a search warrant without getting in a gunfight with a 92-year-old if the damn 92-year-old shoots at them! If she fired first and shot 3 cops, then shooting her was eminently justified. If those facts are true, she was not courageous but criminal. Regardless of age, cops are going to fire at someone who shoots them. Good Lord. — P]

    nk (35ba30)

  7. P.S. Can I get some military guys to back me up on the value of scouting the enemy before attacking?

    nk (35ba30)

  8. Even better than scouting the enemy — inviting them to surrender… something that doesn’t feature highly on no-knock raids.

    Dave Wangen (6001a6)

  9. Ric Locke, I understand your point of view, but I think my personal experience speaks otherwise.

    You see, one time Randy Beamon’s sister was dreaming that she was eating a BIG marshmallow, and when she woke up… her pillow was gone.

    I think that example should help you see things my way.

    David Moon (8896c0)

  10. Patterico, re your response to my comment # 6:

    I’m not questioning whether the police shooting her was legally justified. Let’s go back to my first comment. She’s 92 years old. She has a gun. Well-armed and well-trained police kick down her door and she shoots at them. She wounds three of them. They shoot back and kill her. Better than wasting away slowly from heart failure. On the other hand the well-armed and well-trained police can hardly claim to be proud of their achievement.

    nk (35ba30)

  11. P.S. Could you please ban David Moon?

    nk (35ba30)

  12. The undercover cops who made the earlier buy may have been on her porch, not inside. She reportedly had burglar bars and was afraid of intruders because her neighbor had recently been raped. My point is, detectives serving the warrant may NOT have been the barcotics agents there earlier. You can go to the right address and still break into the wrong house.

    steve (1fd41b)

  13. Make that “narcotics.” Sorry.

    steve (1fd41b)

  14. nk, I came here with the thought that free thoughts could breathe freely here… an oasis where no thoughts were muddled, censored, filtered, or revoked! However, you came here with the intention to have me banned because you do not believe in what I believe. It’s Un-American and childish to request that I be banned just because you feel that my thoughts are not worthy enough.

    Because you wish to ban free thought and discussion, I’m requesting that you be banned.

    David Moon (8896c0)

  15. This is a prime example of why I can’t take the plunge and call myself a libertarian. Libertarians seem to have a universal distrust of authority, especially the police.

    My philosophy is a variation of Ronald Reagan’s “Trust but verify.” I think the police should be trusted. Period. However they should willingly provide evidence to justify their actions if questioned. I think it’s appropriate that questions have been raised in this case. My Dad is a healthy 90-year-old registered gun owner. I am certain that he would not hear the police announce their presence outside his home, no matter how loud they yelled or even if they used a megaphone, because he does not wear his hearing aid at night. However, he probably would respond to a home intrusion with the weapon he keeps by his bedside. I have no doubt he would fire effectively because he practices regularly at the range.

    It pains me that so many, including a law professor like Prof. Reynolds, are willing to suggest the police are wrong without even hearing their side of the story. It’s one thing to be against no-knock entries in theory; It’s another to cause people to doubt the police in a particular case without knowing both sides of the story. I don’t want to be hyperbolic but that strikes me as the road to anarchy.

    DRJ (8c00f0)

  16. On the other hand the well-armed and well-trained police can hardly claim to be proud of their achievement.

    Proud doesn’t enter into it. If she shot at them first, they defended themselves and stayed alive.

    Patterico (de0616)

  17. If they were fired upon, they had no choice.

    I believe the warrant was probably served at the right address but the detectives weren’t aware the undercover buy hadn’t gone down inside.

    steve (1fd41b)

  18. It’s one thing to be against no-knock entries in theory

    I am against them in theory. I also don’t think it’s out of line to point to real-life examples of no-knocks gone wrong. I think we can safely say that this one went wrong. Why it went wrong is obviously the question of the day, and the one that requires all the facts to be in before an intelligent judgment can be made. Those like me, who oppose them in theory, need to be able to show, with the facts, that the “no-knock” part of the warrant contributed to the problem.

    In this case, as in DRJ’s dad’s case, maybe the police can knock politely, speak politely, announce themselves by telephone and still get shot at because of a miscommunication. My instinct says, “heh” but I’m willing to wait until all the facts are in.

    Linus (719cc0)

  19. Exactly, if they were fired upon they had no choice. It’s a sad sad story, but unless we get information to the contrary it doesn’t appear the cops did anything wrong.

    David Ehrenstein (dea91c)

  20. What all of this tells me is that police executing a no-knock warrant should be damn sure they have the right address. To the point that if someone dies as the result of a mistake, assuming this was a mistake, somebody goes up for manslaughter.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  21. Linus,

    I have no problem with being against no-knock entries in theory, nor do I have a problem with using cases with known facts to illustrate why no-knock entries should not be allowed. However, I do have a problem with using specific cases as examples where the facts are not known. For now, this is one of those cases.

    DRJ (8c00f0)

  22. steve says:

    The undercover cops who made the earlier buy may have been on her porch, not inside. She reportedly had burglar bars and was afraid of intruders because her neighbor had recently been raped. My point is, detectives serving the warrant may NOT have been the [n]arcotics agents there earlier. You can go to the right address and still break into the wrong house.

    . . . .

    I believe the warrant was probably served at the right address but the detectives weren’t aware the undercover buy hadn’t gone down inside.

    I’m a bit confused, steve.

    If the detectives serving the warrant are different individuals from the one who made the buy, do you think that the service of the warrant is therefore invalid?

    Do you think a cop can’t possibly seek and obtain a warrant for the search of a house if a buy takes place on a porch?

    Do you think that a warrant obtained based on allegations that a buy took place on a porch, but that is issued for the search of a house, cannot validly be served on the house?

    Or what?

    What is your legal point, exactly?

    Patterico (de0616)

  23. Bizarro-Ehrenstein has it exactly right.

    Patterico (de0616)

  24. The same wackos who want to legalize drugs want to ban guns just typical of these liberal idiots

    krazy kagu (1b5cd8)

  25. Patterico,

    Obviously the facts could make a big difference in this case. For instance, it would matter to me if the drug buy was on the public sidewalk in front of the house (as opposed to the porch) and that the police were able to use that information to obtain a warrant to search the house. I have problems with obtaining a search warrant for a house based on activities that did not occur in or sufficiently near the house to believe the premises were related to the criminal activity.

    In addition, what if we learned that the police used misleading information to obtain the search warrant (e.g., they said the buy was on the porch instead of the public sidewalk)? I assume if that happened that the search warrant was not properly issued. Would that taint the search and, if so, could it be used to hold culpable the officers who carried out the search? Or would only the officers who contributed to the improper search warrant be culpable?

    I know this is highly speculative and I understand if you would rather not discuss this case specifically. I’m more interested in the general topic, especially a discussion of the pros and cons of no-knock raids, rather than analyzing this case based on the little we think we know.

    DRJ (8c00f0)

  26. I’m not making a legal point. The warrant gives an address. It may have been the third or fourth served by that trio of detectives that night. Perhaps they didn’t know a 92-year-old woman who unlocks her door for no one lived alone there. Doesn’t mean they were operating outside the law.

    The AJC newspaper says police found narcotics inside the house. If that’s true, perhaps the undercover buy DID go down inside.

    It’s also reported more than 90 rounds were fired into the house. Seems like a lot. They’re still digging shells out of drywall and exterior moulding.

    It would help if had a copy of the warrant to knew the basis for the raid. I gather that’s public record.

    steve (1fd41b)

  27. Am I the only one who thinks it BIZARRE that a 92 year old lady shot 3 cops? How could she move the gun fast enough?

    You all are talking about this like it was just some normal, rational, atheletic person in the house shooting cops.

    something is totally whacked about this whole deal. either the lady was an armed guard ready to make war on anyone entering the house, or she is the Rambo of noventagenarians (it’s too late to google the proper word)

    senorlechero (360f45)

  28. By the way, in using my Dad as an example, he would be the first to say that you don’t shoot at the police and if you do, expect them to shoot back. The first rule of gun safety is to be sure you know who or what you are shooting at.

    DRJ (8c00f0)

  29. SenorLechero,

    I’m no expert but I can think of several scenarios that might fit. She may have been a good shot; She may have made a lucky shot (or two); Her bullet may have hit something and it fragmented and hit more than one officer; or there may have been friendly fire injuries.

    DRJ (8c00f0)

  30. Obviously the facts could make a big difference in this case. For instance, it would matter to me if the drug buy was on the public sidewalk in front of the house (as opposed to the porch) and that the police were able to use that information to obtain a warrant to search the house. I have problems with obtaining a search warrant for a house based on activities that did not occur in or sufficiently near the house to believe the premises were related to the criminal activity.

    It could matter to me if the drug buy took place across town. But there’s no evidence of that. And I have seen no evidence that it took place on a sidewalk either.

    In addition, what if we learned that the police used misleading information to obtain the search warrant (e.g., they said the buy was on the porch instead of the public sidewalk)? I assume if that happened that the search warrant was not properly issued. Would that taint the search and, if so, could it be used to hold culpable the officers who carried out the search? Or would only the officers who contributed to the improper search warrant be culpable?

    The first thing I want to do is to note that this is complete speculation. There is no reason to believe any of that happened.

    But to answer your question: it’s a complicated area, but basically:

    If information in a warrant is incorrect, a police officer can still lawfully execute the warrant if he relies on it in good faith — in other words, if he relies on the warrant’s information, and the reliance is objectively reasonable.

    That exception does not apply if a cop makes an allegation in a search warrant that is intentionally false or made with “reckless disregard for the truth.” If the defense can establish that by a preponderance of the evidence, then a court will remove the allegation from the warrant and decide whether the rest is sufficient to establish probable cause.

    I know this is highly speculative and I understand if you would rather not discuss this case specifically. I’m more interested in the general topic, especially a discussion of the pros and cons of no-knock raids, rather than analyzing this case based on the little we think we know.

    I’m just interested in cautioning people not to leap to conclusions — especially based on the word of Radley Balko. The man has a history of screwing up the facts on these issues.

    Patterico (de0616)

  31. steve,

    In California, portions of a search warrant affidavit based on the testimony of a confidential informant are not only not public, they can’t even be disclosed to the defense in most cases. I wager it’s the same in Georgia.

    Patterico (de0616)

  32. When someone is shooting at you there are lots of choices you can make. One choice (not forced and not always a good one) is to unload 90 (!) rounds at a 92-year-old.

    I want proof that the cops were shot by the grandmother and not by other cops in the excitement. How many rounds did she get off?

    The police say that there are “suspected narcotics” that “are going to be tested”. Maybe it really is oregeno and talcum powder? Maybe she’s selling her oxicoton!

    All in all, if you initiate a no-knock raid, you’ve bought into the woes that come with them. Surprize those at home by knocking down their door and get treated like un-uniformed thugs knocking down a door.

    Don’t worry, folks, they’ll get two weeks off with pay while the heat dies down, and then an award for courage under fire.

    htom (412a17)

  33. A buy by undercover officers would be different.

    Patterico (de0616)

  34. The police say that there are “suspected narcotics” that “are going to be tested”. Maybe it really is oregeno and talcum powder? Maybe she’s selling her oxicoton!

    Maybe.

    Maybe it’s green cheese!

    But I tell you what, htom. I’ll make you a little gentlemen’s bet that it’s illegal narcotics.

    I could be wrong. But I doubt it.

    Patterico (de0616)

  35. But often a buy by an undercover officer is predicated on information from a confidential informant.

    Radley Balko’s easy acceptance of the AJC’s assertion that all these documents are public is most likely ill-informed. He wants it to be true, so he doesn’t question it.

    Patterico (de0616)

  36. Patterico,

    Thanks for the lesson on search warrants. I apologize if my law school-type questions distracted from the excellent points you are trying to make. I’m still troubled by Rodney Balko’s opinions on another no-knock case that resulted in what he thought was an undeserved death penalty. And I agree that we don’t know anything that suggests this case shows that the police acted improperly at any stage or in any way.

    DRJ (8c00f0)

  37. I’m no expert on what’s considered public record in Georgia, but the Georgia statute seems to exempt from disclosure:

    (3) Except as otherwise provided by law, records compiled for law enforcement or prosecution purposes to the extent that production of such records would disclose the identity of a confidential source, disclose confidential investigative or prosecution material which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or persons, or disclose the existence of a confidential surveillance or investigation;

    (4) Records of law enforcement, prosecution, or regulatory agencies in any pending investigation or prosecution of criminal or unlawful activity, other than initial police arrest reports and initial incident reports; provided, however, that an investigation or prosecution shall no longer be deemed to be pending when all direct litigation involving said investigation and prosecution has become final or otherwise terminated;

    So I’m not sure the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Radley Balko are correct to claim that the search warrant in this case is public record.

    Patterico (de0616)

  38. The shooting occurred Tuesday night, and they have not yet, as of Wednesday afternoon, been able to determine if they have found real narcotics?

    They didn’t. That’s why they went back to search again. I’m sure they’ll find some. Somewhere

    They were inside the house when they were shot, and not in uniform. And didn’t have a no-knock warrant.

    One of them got shot three times, the other two once each.

    The problem with us old folk is that we think “knock and announce” means you have a conversation at the door, and that the knocking down of the door part comes when you refuse to admit the officers AFTER the conversation. “Knock and announce” does not mean “Knock down the door and announce that you’ve a warrant for having done so.”

    It probably will mean that, though, until some high official’s home is so invaded with consequent deaths.

    htom (412a17)

  39. Those crazy libertarians who question the anti-constitutional War on Drugs (where is the amendment banning narcotics when one was needed to ban alcohol?), where police agencies armed like Marine recon teams commit aggressive quick/no-knock raids and greatly highten confrontational risk, because there may be some substances in the house. I just don’t understand why these radical libertarians step outside a strict consideration of the law to question the morality of a law that leads to the shooting of 92 year old women (and others, that wacky Balko has plenty more examples).

    Frank N Stein (38ff57)

  40. Just so Patterico is not mad at me for the wrong reasons:

    I have nothing against the police. I presume that they initiated the search in the performance of their duties — the execution of a valid warrant. That they were fired upon, were wounded, and fired back. That the lady was the armed lookout for a narcotics operation.

    Still, this was a kick-ass old lady. God bless her. And as for the police killing her: I don’t know how to say it better — may God forgive them.

    nk (57e995)

  41. Look, I want to respect the police, and normally I do. But this falls into the same category as speed traps: it makes it really, really hard to have any respect for those people.

    The custom these days is apparently for the officers performing a “no knock” entry to be in fatigues and slops, indistinguishable in most ways from any random gangbanger. Whether or not the woman in the case was selling illegal drugs, she lived in a neighborhood where violent house entry is something of a way of life — some people’s profession. Even a rival drug-selling gang might do it to add to their stash. Literally anyone can shout “police!” — it is not “identification” in any sense, even if somebody who’s 92 years old were likely to be able to hear it distinctly.

    So, it’s night. (It’s wintertime. Even in Atlanta, it’s dark at 7:00 PM this time of year.) A gang of people in sloppy clothes breaks down the door and enters your house, yelling incomprehensibly and brandishing weapons. You happen to have a firearm at hand, for whatever reason — cleaning it, showing it to your nephew, handling it because you like guns. Or it’s just sitting next to you on the end table. In two seconds or less, how do you react?

    Legal, shmeagal. Anybody who says armed police busting down doors without warning is a wonderful idea, fully comporting with individual rights as envisioned by the Founding Fathers, is a loon, whether such raids are necessary or not. If the cops think no-knock raids are a good idea they need to be ready to take their lumps. So cops got shot. In similar situations it’s gonna happen again, and again, and again.

    Furthermore, the more of these they do the more likely it becomes that the bad guys, and some perfectly law-abiding citizens, are going to start being ready for them. Booby traps. Deer rifles and other larger-than-handgun firearms ready to hand. When no-knock was an innovation it was pretty effective. When it’s routine, the point of diminishing returns is likely to be reached fairly quickly, and in cases of genuine bad guys any question of gun control is moot. So what happens when a defense lawyer argues that his client must have been an innocent victim of a mistaken warrant, on the grounds that a genuine criminal would have resisted more effectively? What do you do when the object of the raid has a (thoroughly illegal) fully-automatic weapon ready — and, having shot the cops who entered, has nothing to lose, so steps to the door and starts blowing away the support detachment?

    Somebody hasn’t thought this through.

    Regards,
    Ric

    Ric Locke (724456)

  42. The shooting occurred Tuesday night, and they have not yet, as of Wednesday afternoon, been able to determine if they have found real narcotics?

    This stuff generally has to get tested at the crime lab.

    They were inside the house when they were shot, and not in uniform. And didn’t have a no-knock warrant.

    Really?

    Officials said the warrant was a “No Knock” warrant — meaning that the officers did not knock before forcing open the door, but they did announce themselves.

    The problem with us old folk is that we think “knock and announce” means you have a conversation at the door, and that the knocking down of the door part comes when you refuse to admit the officers AFTER the conversation.

    You got the chronology wrong. Almost always when a search warrant is served, the occupants scramble around trying to hide drugs, and often to flush them. So: occupants flush drugs, *then* you have a conversation at the door, *then* maybe they don’t let you in, then you break down the door AFTER the conversation (and AFTER the drugs are flushed) . . . and find nothing.

    Patterico (de0616)

  43. Still, this was a kick-ass old lady. God bless her. And as for the police killing her: I don’t know how to say it better — may God forgive them.

    May God forgive this old lady for firing on 3 cops who were, from all available information, just doing their jobs.

    Because of her actions in firing on officers, she’s now getting to find out whether that forgiveness is available.

    Patterico (de0616)

  44. You got the chronology wrong. Almost always when a search warrant is served, the occupants scramble around trying to hide drugs, and often to flush them. So: occupants flush drugs, *then* you have a conversation at the door, *then* maybe they don’t let you in, then you break down the door AFTER the conversation (and AFTER the drugs are flushed) . . . and find nothing.

    So this proves what? That the whole drug war must fail and should be abandoned after 30 years of trying? Or that we need to find something even more invasive than no-knock warrants in the middle of the night?

    Geez, and people complain about the lack of progress in Iraq.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  45. Ric says:

    If the cops think no-knock raids are a good idea they need to be ready to take their lumps.

    OK. If an old lady thinks opening fire on three guys who have announced themselves to be policemen is a good idea, she needs to be ready to take her own lumps.

    And she did.

    Patterico (de0616)

  46. So this proves what? That the whole drug war must fail and should be abandoned after 30 years of trying? Or that we need to find something even more invasive than no-knock warrants in the middle of the night?

    No-knock warrants in early morning hours actually seem to work quite well most of the time.

    Knock-and-sit-around-waiting-for-occupants-to-flush-drugs warrants? Probably not so well.

    You don’t care, because you don’t think drugs should be illegal? Great. Write your legislator. Meanwhile, those of us charged with enforcing existing laws will continue to do so.

    Patterico (de0616)

  47. Geez, and people complain about the lack of progress in Iraq.

    Translation: why fight the drug war at all? If we can’t completely eliminate it, then it’s pointless to try.

    By Kevin’s logic, if we can’t completely eliminate a class of crimes, or at least show a marked reduction in the incidence of the crimes, then we ought not prosecute anyone for those crimes.

    Guess we should stop trying to convict people who commit murder too. After all, we haven’t eliminated murder from the human condition, and we never will. So why bother incarcerating murderers?

    Patterico (de0616)

  48. I think we just need to stop worrying about the 4th amendment – we are at War (against drugs) people, this is a matter of national security!
    These incidents would be prevented if the police could launch flash-bang grenades through the windows, combined with a localized EMP to knock out any electronic devices in the home (you don’t want to give someone the chance to call their drug contacts). THEN announce the search warrant, and finally launch some anti-riot CN grenades to ensure that any occupants have been temporarily incapacitated.
    Some may question the force used and the resultant damage, but if only a miniscule amount of marijuana residue is found the police could just take all the property thanks to forfeiture laws.
    War is hell, gentlemen; there’s no reason to treat US citizens with kid gloves, when they are all potential enemy combatants.

    FinalSolution (38ff57)

  49. That’s a set-up for the brainless rejoinder: but drug offenses aren’t murders, Patterico. Please, someone make that stupid, off-point, irrelevant argument. Don’t let me down!!

    Patterico (de0616)

  50. I think we just need to stop worrying about the 4th amendment . . .

    I’m sorry . . . what in the bloody hell are you talking about?

    By all accounts, these officers lawfully obtained a valid search warrant from a neutral magistrate, issued based on probable cause.

    That, my fine feathered friend, is what the Fourth Amendment is all about. For you to pretend otherwise is pure ignorance.

    Now, you want to talk policy on knock-and-announce? You can do that, although I’m sick of it, personally.

    But don’t pretend this is a Fourth Amendment issue.

    Patterico (de0616)

  51. drug offenses are exactly like murders – in both cases you have one person whose rights have been violated by another person. Oh wait…

    FinalSolution (38ff57)


  52. Dreher, the assistant police chief, said that as far as he knew the narcotics officers did “everything by the book. They had a search warrant, they announced themselves and knocked first.” He said he did not know what name was on the warrant. The woman was the only person in the home at the time, he said.

    http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/atlanta/stories/2006/11/21/1121copshot.html

    He should make up his mind.

    The crime lab tests are usually to confirm the street-test kit results for the court. That the items have been sent to the lab but there are no results from the street-test kit to announce indicates to me that the street-test kit test was, umm, not postive.

    No, I don’t have the cronology wrong. Knock on the door (ringing bell, too, if available), announce that you’re police / sheriff / whatever, present the warrant to a adult-appearing person who comes to the door, enter, search. Been there, done that. Not hard to do, or remember. Safe for both sides.

    It’s the new rules, which are safe for no one, not the innocent, not the cops, and not the guilty, that outrage me. That someone might flush away his stash … hire a plumber and a backhoe.

    htom (412a17)

  53. drug offenses are exactly like murders – in both cases you have one person whose rights have been violated by another person. Oh wait…

    Thank you. I didn’t think it would take long for one of you numbskulls to completely miss my point.

    Patterico (de0616)

  54. The crime lab tests are usually to confirm the street-test kit results for the court. That the items have been sent to the lab but there are no results from the street-test kit to announce indicates to me that the street-test kit test was, umm, not postive.

    I”m not certain that street-test kits are always used. And I don’t know that the results of those would be announced.

    I said I’d make you a bet. Do you, “umm,” want to take me up on it??

    Hire a backhoe for every drug warrant.

    Great.

    Patterico (de0616)

  55. I think you could have made a stronger point, not by comparing drug crime to murder, but by contrasting our current approach to possible drug offenses, vs. the way we treat those who speed. Driving a car above the speed limit is breaking the law. You can’t assume any good intentions from someone willing to break the law, and yet police routinely pull speeders over without making drivers get out of the car and get on the ground. They rarely shoot out tires to hasten a pull-over or prevent escape.
    Some may say that a response to a crime should in some way be in proportion to the nature of the crime itself, but that view completely ignores the fact that the law is the law. What’s next, police asking politely if a suspect committed murder?

    Oops, I guess you can’t avoid the drug/murder comparison in order to make a great point.

    FinalSolution (38ff57)

  56. Go to:

    odmp.org

    Stands for Officers Down Memorial Page. I’m glad these three officers are not the latest entries.

    rightisright (2cbc9b)

  57. Is it legal in California?

    Wait a minute, is it legal over the internet in the USA?

    Maybe in California they don’t use street-test kits as often as they’re used here in Minnesota? The local cops have hired front-end loaders to knock down walls to do breech entries and to search reinforced houses.

    Give me a call when you get to Minnesota and I’ll buy you a beer, whatever the test says. If you were sitting across from me I’d say $usa5 that the initial substances found are negative. No bet on anything they found today.

    htom (412a17)

  58. Wait a minute, is it legal over the internet in the USA?

    To make a gentlemen’s bet (i.e. one where no money changes hands, only the right to gloat)?

    Sure.

    That’s all I proposed.

    Patterico (de0616)

  59. “No-knock warrants in early morning hours actually seem to work quite well most of the time.”

    After all: that’s why it’s how they did it in the Soviet Union.

    Nothin’ to see here, Citizens. Move along.

    Billy Beck (79bd23)

  60. Oh, Come ON, People…

    Tom Tancredo just opened his mouth and set back immigration reform thirty years. And his supporters couldn’t be happier. Plus similar foot-shooting over the Atlanta no-knock raid….

    JunkYardBlog (621918)

  61. Patterico, I don’t have a firm opinion on whether drugs should be illegal or not. I think it’s a question of what does the most harm to society: drugs or the war on drugs. As the war on drugs effects liberty more and more, I’m less willing to support it. I think the first time I really started to question the war on drugs was when they started confiscating property without due process of law. Then I questioned it more when they showed that they are willing to ignore the Constitution further and overrule state law with a ridiculous interstate commerce argument.

    Now I question how many innocent casualties we are willing to take in order to protect drug abusers from themselves. I’m not at all happy at the thought that if the police think someone sold drugs in my house that I might wake up in the middle of the night with armed men breaking down my door and pointing guns at me. Americans have a right to security in their homes and the war on drugs is reducing that security.

    Yes, I recognize that knock-and-talk warrants leave the bad guys time to flush the evidence, but is it really worth the risk of killing an innocent civilian or having an innocent civilian kill a cop? No-knock warrants should be rare, only used in special circumstances. They should almost never be used when there is a substantial chance of innocent bystanders in the house. No one should be subjected to that sort of terror just because they have an irresponsible family member.

    Doc Rampage (4a07eb)

  62. “Write your congressman,” Doc.

    There are people here who are only doing their jobs. You cannot count on them to take a moral stand on this. They simply are not authorized to think about it that deeply.

    Move along, Citizen.

    Billy Beck (79bd23)


  63. He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance

    For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States

    Around and around it goes. Be thankful that both whining and complaining are still allowed.

    Happy Thanksgiving, every one of you, and your family and friends, too!

    htom (412a17)

  64. Now, you want to talk policy on knock-and-announce? You can do that, although I’m sick of it, personally.

    Sorry, I do want to comment on it.

    Almost always when a search warrant is served, the occupants scramble around trying to hide drugs, and often to flush them. So: occupants flush drugs, *then* you have a conversation at the door, *then* maybe they don’t let you in, then you break down the door AFTER the conversation (and AFTER the drugs are flushed) . . . and find nothing.

    I know Doc already kind of said this, but I agree. What proportion of the time does a normal search warrant result in destruction of the evidence because the “searchees” (probably not a word) had time to destroy it? (And as an aside, if they destroy it, how do the cops know it was destroyed? If there are statistics on the matter, I would hope they don’t automatically include “served a search warrant and found no evidence” in the category of “served a search warrant and suspects destroyed evidence”). Then, compare that percentage against what proportion of no-knock raids end up with an innocent death. Then, determine if 1 innocent death=1 lack of evidence in a drug case. I don’t think it does, and I don’t think you can infer such equality from existing drug laws.

    I realize that the cops were just doing their jobs. But if a policy requires them to unreasonably risk their lives, and the lives of innocent citizens for no appreciable gain in effectiveness or enforcement, I’d say it’s a stupid policy and needs to be changed. If you disagree with the “no appreciable gain” part or the “unreasonably risk” part, that’s fine and obviously a legitimate point of disagreement. But don’t shrug your shoulders and say “well, that’s just how it is. The cops were just doing what they were told, doing their jobs,” as thought the policy of the job had nothing to do with it.

    Linus (719cc0)

  65. OK. If an old lady thinks opening fire on three guys who have announced themselves to be policemen is a good idea, she needs to be ready to take her own lumps.

    And she did.

    Ric – You do realize that the whole point of these no-knock raids is to take people by surprise don’t you? The police usually choose times when the occupant would be asleep and pretty much simultaneously yell to announce their presence and break down the door. I wonder if a group of people broke down your door at 3 in the morning yelling something if your immediate reaction would be think, “oh, looks like the police are here.”. At some point we as a country have to chose between the belief people have the right to defend themselves in their own home or these no-knock raids. Or we can just believe it is ok to shoot 92 year old ladies dead. That is the choice Ric (and Patterico) seems to be ok with.

    Counterfactual (e910b9)

  66. Most of the argument here seems to be Patterico and friends saying the police did nothing wrong that we know of yet. But what they mean to say is police did nothing illegal.

    A 92 year old woman was killed in the execution of a violent raid designed only to find drug dealers and dope. While the raid may have been totally legal I’m wondering how someone can completely disconnect his conscience to the point where he can say he has to wait to find out if police did anything wrong.

    It’s plainly morally wrong.

    Walter (32c0cc)

  67. Guess we should stop trying to convict people who commit murder too. After all, we haven’t eliminated murder from the human condition, and we never will. So why bother incarcerating murderers?

    But I can at least argue the likelihood that murders have been greatly reduced by laws against them. Not so for the Drug War. Your comparison assumes that laws against these drugs has in some way improved the human condition.

    Unlike the situation with murder, bank robbery, etc, this assumption is quite debatable. There is widespread belief that the misery caused by drugs is exacerbated by the War, rather than mitigated.

    We actually had much stronger laws against murder at one time. Executions occurred at most a couple of years after conviction, sometimes only months thereafter, but attitudes changed. It became clear that the then-current enforcement of the murder statutes (particularly racial bias and the speed of execution) was itself a problem. So the laws changed.

    How long before the majority sees that here? Don’t know. But that does NOT mean that those that do shouldn’t use every opportunity to make the case that change is due.

    And, no, I’m not pro-drug. Hardly. I cannot tell you how much I hate crack and what it does. But the state’s solution has failed. Badly. This is just another signpost on the road.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  68. I love the idea that we should relax and wait for the facts to come in before asking any questions.

    It’s overwhelmingly clear from a huge volume of prior experience that the only way to get any answers is to ask questions very loudly while an incident is still fresh in the public view. If you stay calm and wait, the authorities have no reason to question their actions.

    Not making prior assumptions? Sure. Waiting for ‘all the facts to come in?’. Bullshit. We should ask as many questions as possible to make sure the police know that this kind of outcome requires them to justify their actions.

    B (08fd8d)

  69. FYI, Balko just fisked Patterico

    FinalSolution (38ff57)

  70. Here is a [out of context — Patterico] repost of some of Patterico’s comments. They are two of the most slimy statements I have ever seen. Apologies to Patterico if he did not make them.

    [mocking someone who said the cops need forgiveness from God, and who has written a poem about the mythic nature of the old woman’s heroic actions: — P]

    May God forgive this old lady for firing on 3 cops who were, from all available information, just doing their jobs.

    Because of her actions in firing on officers, she’s now getting to find out whether that forgiveness is available.

    Comment by Patterico — 11/22/2006 @ 10:27 pm

    [here the commenter leaves out the fact that the following language is a response to someone who said that the cops need to be ready to take their lumps when serving a no-knock warrant — i.e. they deserve to be shot: — P]

    OK. If an old lady thinks opening fire on three guys who have announced themselves to be policemen is a good idea, she needs to be ready to take her own lumps.

    And she did.

    Comment by Patterico — 11/22/2006 @ 10:27 pm

    No consideration of the fact that many 92 years olds have hearing problems and there is a reasonable chance she may not have been physically capable of hearing the police announcement.

    If a civilian operated a car the way the police operated this raid chances are very good that the civilian would be going to jail.

    TJIT (3e359a)

  71. The attack by the police appears to be a home invasion instead of a search warrant service. I would say that the police murdered the old woman, in her house, while she was defending herself.

    RJN (e12f22)

  72. I would be so much less disturbed about Patterico’s comments if he wasn’t an ACTUAL prosecutor.

    Can’t Court TV just offer him a job a la Nancy Grace and get this moron out of government service?

    JagBag (329cc6)

  73. FYI, Balko just fisked Patterico

    Yes, and misstated my position. What a surprise.

    Patterico (de0616)

  74. I think that if the gentleman who is responsible for this site is actually a prosecutor (please god let it not be so), we’re all in a great deal of trouble. Anyone lacking integrity, fairness and objectiveness to the degree demonstrated here should be allowed nowhere near a courtroom at any time, except perhaps as a defendant, god willing.

    Truly, deeply sad.

    Matthew (deaba2)

  75. I have no problem with theoretical discussions of the validity of no-knock entries, nor does it bother me to address the “what if’s” of this case like you would in law school. But it does bother me to suggest that it’s wrong to kill a 92-year-old woman just because she’s a 92-year-old woman.

    If a person chooses to have a gun, they should know the rules of gun safety. Typically gun rules provide that gunowners must “Be sure of your target before you pull the trigger” and “Never point a gun at anything you do not want to shoot.” It is every shooter’s responsibility to follow those rules, even in a crisis situation. Yes, there are consequences to both choices, shooting or not shooting, but responsible gunowners understand this and won’t shoot unless they know who they are shooting and they intend to shoot to kill.

    Thus, this 92-year-old woman was not old or young, male or female. She was a person shooting at the police. If she was hard of hearing, then she had a higher responsibility as a gunowner to be certain about who she was shooting at. Her age and any disability (like hearing loss) provokes inappropriate compassion because, for gunowners, disabilities increase rather than decrease the requisite duty of care.

    DRJ (8c00f0)

  76. TJIT,

    You are taking my remarks out of context. I am using the language of other commenters who suggested that the police deserve forgiveness or needed to take their lumps. My comments were a sarcastic retort to those people.

    Look, my position is simple: wait until the facts are in. If the lady died because she believed she was defending her home from intruders, that is a tragedy. If she died knowingly firing at cops, I feel no sympathy for her. I don’t know which is the case and neither do you. So why don’t we all refrain from jumping to conclusions?

    Patterico (de0616)

  77. Let me paraphrase our good host, and see if my paraphrase turns out to be the reality of this situation.

    – If she died firing at what looked like bad guys dressed as cops, who were coming into her house from the dark, and blinding her with lights, and who were negligent with respect to locating, or targeting her home, I feel no sympathy for her. –

    Haven’t there been reports of crooks dressed as cops doing home invasions?

    RJN (e12f22)

  78. First, that’s a stupid paraphrase. Why don’t you and everyone else here do me a favor: see if you can state my argument in a way that I would agree with your characterization, rather than misstating it?

    I will debate with anyone who can do that. But 99% of argument on the Internet is not honest debate about differences of opinion, like I just described. It’s about people like RJN and Balko misstating your argument, and then attacking the strawman.

    And then attacking how you do your job, based on the stupid strawman misstatements.

    Most of you people are incapable of debating without misstating the other’s position. It makes the argument oh so much easier. It’s lazy and dishonest.

    Second: yes indeed, there are more than reports of that. It’s a fact of life here in L.A. I have a case like that now.

    The victims didn’t fire at the supposed cops. They demanded to see their paperwork, and when the “cops” didn’t provide it, someone in the house called 911.

    It also happens that people pretending to be cops pull people over on the road, and rob them.

    Are you therefore justified in opening fire on a cop who stops you for running a light? Because, hell, maybe he’s not a cop?

    Patterico (de0616)

  79. I love the idea that we should relax and wait for the facts to come in before asking any questions.

    It’s overwhelmingly clear from a huge volume of prior experience that the only way to get any answers is to ask questions very loudly while an incident is still fresh in the public view. If you stay calm and wait, the authorities have no reason to question their actions.

    Not making prior assumptions? Sure. Waiting for ‘all the facts to come in?’. Bullshit. We should ask as many questions as possible to make sure the police know that this kind of outcome requires them to justify their actions.

    I’m all for asking questions.

    I’m against making assumptions — like Balko’s assumption that this was the wrong house, or that the woman was “apparently innocent.”

    I assume you are against those assumptions?

    Patterico (de0616)

  80. […] Here is precisely what I said: “For the last time: let’s wait until the facts come in, and save our criticism until that time.” I am perfectly pleased to have the investigation conducted by any source or sources capable of doing it thoroughly and accurately, and I have never said otherwise. If the police tactics turn out to have been improper, I will be happy to report that. […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Balko Distorts the Facts In a Lengthy Screed About How He Doesn’t Distort the Facts (421107)

  81. Second every word of Doc Rampage at #62.

    It also happens that people pretending to be cops pull people over on the road, and rob them.

    Are you therefore justified in opening fire on a cop who stops you for running a light? Because, hell, maybe he’s not a cop?

    Law enforcement has the benefit of designing their methods. Citizens do not have that luxury. They get the brunt of all these activities from cops and criminals. For you to demand citizens to use all possible restraint when the police show none, and the stakes are no more than narcotics, then the war on drugs is past the tipping point.

    You can flippantly suggest that we write our congressman. if that would do any damn good, i would, but i believe you know better than that.

    People are dying because the police need to keep evidence from getting flushed. Yet, whether the evidence gets flushed or not, there will be plenty of drugs on the street tomorrow and the next day, and the next , and more people dying. Even discussing where the blame is due in an individual shooting misses by a mile the greater absurdity and tragedy.

    The drug war will never be won. Chew on that before attempting to split hairs over how much of a menace from the police is acceptable.

    biwah (dec311)

  82. Biwah, It’s hard to say that the drug war will never be won because drugs have already claimed victory with my body.

    On a second note, do you know that your name backwards is hawib?

    David Moon (cfee12)

  83. well, as a consolation, i don’t think the war on christmas will ever won either.

    biwah (dec311)

  84. Cops serve the citizenry, not vice versa. Therefore the onus should always be on the police when it comes to a shooting, especially one which ends in the death of a wholely innocent party.

    Horace (cbe5f9)

  85. I will also note that the more these sort of incidents occur, the more it will undermine whatever confidence the public has in police officers.

    Horace (cbe5f9)

  86. Cops serve the citizenry, not vice versa. Therefore the onus should always be on the police when it comes to a shooting, especially one which ends in the death of a wholely innocent party.

    But you, no doubt taking your cue from Balko, are *assuming* that this lady is wholly innocent.

    Patterico (de0616)

  87. Patterico,

    As far as I recall, people are innocent until proven guilty. So yes, I assume the innocence of this woman. Especially since she will never be able to defend herself in a court. She’s dead. Her voice has been taken from her.

    Horace (cbe5f9)

  88. biwah,

    All of your arguments could be applied to the enforcement of traffic laws.

    People are dying because the police need to keep evidence from getting flushed. Yet, whether the evidence gets flushed or not, there will be plenty of drugs on the street tomorrow and the next day, and the next , and more people dying. Even discussing where the blame is due in an individual shooting misses by a mile the greater absurdity and tragedy.

    People are also dying because the police enforce traffic laws. See the video in my most recent post. There is no more dangerous situation for an officer than a traffic stop.

    The drug war will never be won. Chew on that before attempting to split hairs over how much of a menace from the police is acceptable.

    The war against speeders will also never be won.

    Look, my point is simple: regardless of what you think of the drug laws, they are the law. If you don’t like it, work to change them.

    We can debate dynamic entries. I am personally sick of the debate because we’ve had it here so many times, but don’t assume that I necessarily support them just because 1) I point out why they’re done, and 2) I note that they are legal.

    I’m willing to consider alternatives, but right now, the law is what it is.

    Patterico (de0616)

  89. As far as I recall, people are innocent until proven guilty. So yes, I assume the innocence of this woman. Especially since she will never be able to defend herself in a court. She’s dead. Her voice has been taken from her.

    By that logic, anyone who ever opens fire on a police officer and dies as a result is innocent.

    Indeed, Horace, anyone who breaks into your home and rapes your wife, and is then shot dead by you . . . is innocent.

    We’re not in court. We’re on a blog. The word “innocent” has a different meaning in this context.

    If the woman shot cops knowing they were cops, she’s not “innocent” for purposes of our non-court blog discussion.

    Comprende?

    Patterico (de0616)

  90. By that logic, anyone who ever opens fire on a police officer and dies as a result is innocent.

    The innocence or guilt I assumed referred to any potential drug charges. You’re a goalpost shifter.

    Horace (cbe5f9)

  91. Hmm, ok.

    Horace (cbe5f9)

  92. The issue of whether she knowingly shot at cops or not is far more relevant to whether she deserved to be shot than the issue of whether she was a drug dealer.

    What you and Balko do is claim that she was “apparently innocent” and people get the idea that she is innocent of having done anything to get shot.

    I’m not debating this all day, by the way. I have a Thanksgiving to attend.

    Patterico (de0616)

  93. Patterico,

    Look, my point is simple: regardless of what you think of the drug laws, they are the law. If you don’t like it, work to change them.

    You can limit your point to the less controversial statements of objective fact, but that’s not what ignites people’s interest and draws their reponses. E.g., why would I waste time disputing that dynamic entries are legal? But then again, what does that prove?

    Also, your traffic analogy is somewhat facile. If the war on drugs is analogous to the war on speeders, the no-knock is analogous to the high-speed chase when a speeder evades arrest. (perfect it ain’t but I hope you get my point) And high-speed chases are the subject of an often agonizing consideration of the costs and benefits.

    I’m not trying to make the sweeping statement that the WOD must stop because it is wrong. I try to avoid that kind of declaration. Rather, it is that the costs have gotten too high and continue to increase. The benefits are nebulous and in any case are dwarfed by the costs. Hence, without putting too fine a point on it, I referred to it as a tipping point, reached (by any sane calculus) long ago.

    If the war on speeders carried half of the war on drugs (which it never could), it would simply be wiser not to wage it. But because drugs present an economic phenomenon with all kinds of insidious incentives, traffic laws will never fall into the same category.

    biwah (dec311)

  94. I also have some things to do.

    Happy thanksgiving to all.

    biwah (dec311)

  95. Invariably in these stories the underlying rationale for the dynamic entry gets lost in the consequences of the entry itself. It is the underlying rationale that is the problem. People are dying over stuff they shouldn’t die for. Note there is no recovery from death; it is final; you are dead. That’s simply indefensible from a consequentialist perspective. Now maybe some people might have a problem with this deontological argument, and someone has some utilitarian support for these sort of outcomes, but I simply can’t fathom one.

    Also note that from utilitarian a perspective, note that as I wrote before, all this does is undermine confidence in the police as far as I can tell. Do incidents like this instill faith in the police for your average person? My gut reaction is no. Maybe there are some sociological studies contrary to my gut reaction, and I’d be happy to entertain them if there are.

    Horace (cbe5f9)

  96. “The issue of whether she knowingly shot at cops or not is far more relevant to whether she deserved to be shot than the issue of whether she was a drug dealer.”

    Actually, what is most relevant is why the cops were there in the first place. And that is where innocence lies.

    “What you and Balko do is claim that she was “apparently innocent” and people get the idea that she is innocent of having done anything to get shot.”

    I am not Balko. Whatever crap you got going on with him, keep it between you and him.

    I see no reason to shift the locus of debate away from why the cops were there in first place – the drug laws we have in place today. The dynamic entry is beside the point. People are being killed over, to paraphrase Lysander Spooner, vices which should not be crimes.

    Anyway, laws are at best culturally constructed objects which often do not reflect defensible deontological, natural law or consequentialist values. To give an example, just because “Jim Crow” was the law or the 1697 English Parliament’s passage of a statute against atheists and polytheists was the law, doesn’t mean that these laws were above criticism.

    Horace (cbe5f9)

  97. The IP address for David Moon and his numerous alter egos has been blocked.

    The dude should get a life.

    Patterico (de0616)

  98. biwah,

    “And high-speed chases are the subject of an often agonizing consideration of the costs and benefits.”

    I’d also note that such a person is committing an actual crime, as opposed to an individual enjoying a game of Texas Hold’Em which may be a vice, but should be no crime.

    Horace (cbe5f9)

  99. If the woman shot cops knowing they were cops, she’s not “innocent” for purposes of our non-court blog discussion.

    Definitely not. But did she know? The CNN piece says they were plainclothes cops.

    If you’re going to kick the door down, especially in a neighborhood like that, wouldn’t you want to do that with a team of uniformed officers? It seems like going in plainclothes is inviting misidentification.

    It will be very interesting to see the details of this fill in.

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  100. “Are you therefore justified in opening fire on a cop who stops you for running a light?”

    Nobody is bloody talking about running a red light. If you want to moan about other peoples’ strawmen, you can, and if you want to knock down strawmen, you can, but you don’t get to do both. You haven’t the standing to complain about other peoples’ honesty, Mr. Frey.

    Billy Beck (79bd23)

  101. Billy Beck,

    Well, the problem is that the situations aren’t even remotely analagous.

    Horace (cbe5f9)

  102. The analogy, for those who can understand it, is of traffic violations to drug laws.

    Billy Beck, if you’re going to suggest I’m dishonest, you had better damn well back it up or take it back, or you’re gone. I don’t tolerate baseless accusations of dishonesty.

    Back it up or take it back.

    Do you even understand the analogy? You guys are saying: don’t send armed men to enforce drug laws because people get hurt. I say, the same logic says don’t send armed men to enforce something even more trivial (traffic laws) because people get hurt.

    Patterico (de0616)

  103. You think they’re not analogous, Horace, because you don’t understand the analogy.

    Patterico (de0616)

  104. There’s an undercurrent in this discussion that drug crimes are victimless so it is pointless and dangerous to aggressively enforce drug laws. I disagree and apparently so does Sheriff Harry Lee of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana:

    Homicides are up more than 50 percent this year in suburban New Orleans’ Jefferson Parish, and the sheriff blames drug dealers who have set up operations after being driven out of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina.

    Thirty-five people had been killed in the parish as of last night. Through mid-August of last year, the number was 23. Sheriff Harry Lee released statistics showing that 18 of this year’s killings were drug-related, compared with six at this time last year.

    DRJ (8c00f0)

  105. “You guys are saying: don’t send armed men to enforce drug laws because people get hurt.”

    Don’t enforce drug laws would be the more appropriate way of dealing with the situation. Some counties in California are starting to do this as I recall.

    Anyway, hopefully a political solution can be crafted – legalization, etc. – so these completely pointless, unneccessary, etc. deaths will end.

    Horace (cbe5f9)

  106. Is it surprising that violence is involved in an commercial activity which is illegal? Look, in the USSR, all manner of black market trade was illegal – and this was trade in things like foodstuffs and radios and the like. And violence was common in this trade because parties had no other way of dealing with disputes, protecting themselves, etc.

    You gotta ask yourself, why did major gang activity stop in relation to alcohol once prohibition ended?

    Horace (cbe5f9)

  107. Maybe you don’t want drugs to be legal, but as Bastiat would argue one of the unintended consequences of such bans is the creation of criminal elements that will attach themselves to the trade of such things.

    Horace (cbe5f9)

  108. Anyway, only a government would continue a policy like the drug war; a private enterprise (I’m a die hard capitalist BTW) would have cut its losses by now or gone bankrupt.

    Horace (cbe5f9)

  109. Anyway, cheers. Perhaps I’ll be back sometime.

    Horace (cbe5f9)

  110. Someone should tell Sheriff Lee and DRJ that most of those drug crimes would not happen if drugs were legal.

    No one ever argues that drug “crimes” ( which somehow means murders/shootings in this case) are victimless. Drug use and consensual distribution are. It is the law that CREATES these violent crimes. There is no comparison to any other business that is legal. And yes, I agree with Radley and most libertarians that law enforcement should not create crimes.

    Greg (247a42)

  111. Greg,

    Thank you for being the “someone” to tell me that not having drug laws would solve all problems. Amazingly enough, this new-fangled internet thing lets me read your comments even though you act like you aren’t talking to me.

    In addition, I guess “someone” should tell you that we do have drug laws and as long as we do, we have to deal with them. Like Patterico says, write your legislator.

    DRJ (8c00f0)

  112. A dead 92 year old woman is inexcusable.
    There are other ways to do this stuff.
    I call this SWAT behaviour recruiting for the OJ jury one raid at a time.

    SHOE (c911a0)

  113. A dead 92 year old woman is inexcusable.

    I totally agree. Everyone knows bullets fired by 92-year-old women are harmless!

    Patterico (de0616)

  114. Look, as proof that she was dangerous (whether she believed she was defending herself and it was all a terrible misunderstanding brought about by police failures and blunders which caused her death… or whether she was, as alleged, a criminal who died attempting to murder law officers) the fact is she shot three armed police officers.

    Anyone who doesn’t think she was a violent threat — in self defense or criminal offense — is a moron.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  115. To clarify further, if I was one of the officers when the bullets started flying, or if I just saw her standing there with a gun pointing at me, I’d have taken the 92-year old female perp out without a moment’s hesitation and blasted her ass to kingdom come.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  116. It’s your sandbox here, and you call the shots, so I’m ready for anything, but I’d like to see you “back up” this:

    “Most of you people are incapable of debating without misstating the other’s position. It makes the argument oh so much easier. It’s lazy and dishonest.”

    Let’s talk about “baseless accusations of dishonest”. Hell, less talk about baseless accusations, first: you said —

    “You guys are saying: don’t send armed men to enforce drug laws because people get hurt.”

    Well, guess what: I’d like to see you come up with that statement over my name. Go ahead: “back it up or take it back”.

    You’re the one who was moaning about people misrepresenting positions and how that’s lazy and dishonest. Well, is it that when you do it? But everybody here knows that it’s your sandbox and you call the shots. So go ahead and call this one.

    Billy Beck (79bd23)

  117. It’s a characterization of your opinion.

    If police are going to enforce drug laws, they have to serve search warrants on drug houses.

    To do that effectively, they can’t politely knock and wait until the drugs are flushed.

    So they’ll have to break the door down.

    You don’t want them to do that.

    So you don’t really want police (armed men) enforcing the drug laws.

    That’s fine, but don’t pretend it’s not your position.

    Patterico (de0616)

  118. It’s an arbitrary truncation of my opinion, which would be a variant of “misrepresent[ation]”, which was the complaint that you lodged. There are crucial aspects of your arbitrary misrepresentation of my conviction, sir (different from “opinion” because of its reference to facts), that you don’t face. This is exactly why, when you first used the word “context”, I asked you if you know what a context is.

    It was instructive to note that you had no answer.

    Billy Beck (79bd23)

  119. Got it, you answered the first sentence, now how about the next two.
    {I don’t see the connection between what I said and “Everyone knows bullets fired by 92-year-old women are harmless!” That’s not at issue, the question is how did we get to a point where the 92 year old thought she had to shoot in the first place? Please comment on:
    There are other ways to do this stuff. I call this SWAT behavior recruiting for the OJ jury one raid at a time. Or are you folks in LA having an easy time of it with juries these days?

    SHOE (c911a0)

  120. Patterico – Nice parsing (#118)

    biwah (0865cf)

  121. I love the way Billy Beck uses the word “sir.” It’s the way a lot of people use it nowadays — in other words, as a substitute for “you asshole.”

    Billy Beck, if that’s the best you can do for dishonesty on my part, sir — that I am making an argument and characterized your position in a way you don’t like — that’s weak, sir.

    But why don’t I just let you state it yourself? Under what circumstances do you support armed men enforcing the drug laws?

    Or put more precisely: as to the statement

    Don’t send armed men to enforce drug laws because people get hurt.

    What part do you disagree with?

    Patterico (de0616)

  122. It also happens that people pretending to be cops pull people over on the road, and rob them.

    Are you therefore justified in opening fire on a cop who stops you for running a light? Because, hell, maybe he’s not a cop?

    Actually, that’s why Alabama state troopers stopped using unmarked cars for traffic enforcement 20 years ago. Gee, a common sense approach, who’da thunk it.

    SDN (bd5dde)

  123. The folks in this raid were wearing gear clearly marked “Police.”

    One of those facts you guys might have wanted to wait for.

    Patterico (de0616)

  124. Specifically:

    The police raiders were not in uniform, but wearing navy blue T-shirts and “raid shields” emblazoned with the word “Police”.

    Patterico (de0616)

  125. May God forgive this old lady for firing on 3 cops who were, from all available information, just doing their jobs.

    Because of her actions in firing on officers, shes now getting to find out whether that forgiveness is available.

    whoa, without all of the facts, now YOU are assuming that this elderly woman KNEW she was firing at police officers. How can you assume that and then accuse others of doing the same with the police? How do YOU know that this old lady was terrified beyond belief and had no clue it was the police? should she be forgiven then?

    [I say my opinion is based on all available facts. It’s not an assumption that contradicts the reported facts, like Balko’s was. — P]

    dksuddeth (ac44fb)

  126. Frey: When “asshole” is what I have in mind, you can take every confidence that that’s what I’ll type, and I will not even consider the snide fakery that you just posted in announcing that when you spell “sir”, you actually mean “asshole” and tried to attribute the transposition to me.

    Now, then. Whether I “like” your characterization has nothing to do with it. The fact is exactly as I stated earlier.

    “What part do you disagree with?”

    The parts that you’re ignoring, just like I said.

    Billy Beck (79bd23)

  127. [I say my opinion is based on all available facts. It’s not an assumption that contradicts the reported facts, like Balko’s was. — P]

    so the police say that they announced, knocked, then broke down the door and all the witnesses said they didn’t, but now we have the he said/she said deal so we don’t really know for sure, do we? Was the raid videotaped? For all we know, this lady was in fear for her life from home invaders and shot at what she thought were thugs.

    dksuddeth (ac44fb)

  128. […] It truly concerns me that a practicing prosecutor such as Patterico would say this in one of his comments to his own post: […]

    Sue Bob’s Diary » Legalism vs. Justice (1b383c)

  129. Do you even understand the analogy? You guys are saying: don’t send armed men to enforce drug laws because people get hurt. I say, the same logic says don’t send armed men to enforce something even more trivial (traffic laws) because people get hurt.

    Here’s the difference in YOUR analogy – do cops approach the speeder in plainclothes from unmarked vehicles with guns drawn. Is that how traffic laws are enforced counselor?

    Just because drugs are illegal does not mean that the state/police have to escalate possession into life and death situations. Most cops are smart enough to realize that it needn’t be like that. The exceptions are the adrenaline junkies and their slimy apologists in suits.

    juris imprudent (f6e979)

  130. In this case, according to news accounts, they had gear marked “police” and shouted that they were police. Did they already have their guns drawn, or did they simply have them available, just as every cop does at a traffic stop? Do you know? Or are you just assuming?

    Patterico (de0616)

  131. Since they were trying to do a “dynamic entry”, I would assume that they had their firearms drawn. You could ask your expert about this; different places train differently.

    What kind of dynamic entry it is where you first announce yourself is another question you might ask. It would seem to negate the “surprize” element.

    The idea that shouting “Police” is an acceptable method of identification is absurd.

    htom (412a17)

  132. Did they already have their guns drawn, or did they simply have them available, just as every cop does at a traffic stop?

    You can’t seriously be asking that question given ANY knowledge of how no-knock warrants are served.

    Look, you made a bad analogy. Have the sense to back off of it.

    juris imprudent (f6e979)

  133. He says the cops should always have their guns drawn in such a situation. But he says it’s a good analogy.

    This will be an interesting post. He definitely has some criticisms of the cops, based on what he *believes* is their lack of proper planning. But his main message is the same as mine: we need more facts.

    Btw, this guy is a libertarian who opposes the drug war. I think you’ll find his views very informative.

    Patterico (de0616)

  134. […] When Radley Balko wrote a post at Reason about the Atlanta incident, and Instapundit linked it, I said that Instapundit “[made] the mistake of relying on Radley Balko for his facts.” This caused Balko to go ballistic and write a lengthy, fact-challenged screed calling me “sleazy” and distorting my arguments in several ways. […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Why I Said Radley Balko Got the Facts Wrong: Because He Did (421107)

  135. […] Now, listen up Pattycakes: […]

    SayUncle » Like you and me . . . (9b413a)

  136. I guess the libertarians were just lucky…

    http://www.wsbtv.com/news/10408234/detail.html
    NEWS UPDATE:
    Chief Richard Pennington wrapped up a surprise press conference around 5:20 p.m. Monday telling us his entire narcotics unit is on administrative leave – that means seven officers and one sergeant are on leave after the police shootout that left Kathryn Johnston dead.

    Now, Chief Pennington confirmed there are questions as to whether there was ever a drug buy at Kathryn Johnston’s home – the informant told the Internal Affairs Unit he was told to lie.

    Gunstar1 (e621a5)

  137. […] I asked him by e-mail about the number of shots fired by the police. I haven’t seen a published report that gives a true number, but my commenter steve, who seems pretty plugged in, claims to be aware of reports that there were allegedly over 90 shots fired. I am wary of accepting assertions as true without seeing proof. But I asked Prof. Klinger to assume the truth of that allegation just for the sake of argument. Could that possibly be proper? His response by e-mail: [I]f the cops fired 90 rounds, I can’t picture a scenario where that’d be kosher. The only thing that makes any sense at all in terms that many bullets is that there were more than 3 officers firing, and that some of them were engaging in suppressive fire to cover the retreat of the officers who were shot trying to make entry. (Suppressive fire is a delicate thing that must be done with great discipline and care. Not just firing blindly. A topic unto itself that’d take some lengthy discussion, so I’ll stop here). If it was just three officers who shot, then we have other issues: What were they shooting at? Did they have a positive ID on the shooter? Were they shooting through some barrier (furniture, walls, etc)? Did some (or all) of them reload? Whatever the case re: N of officers, 90 rounds in a gunfight with a single person armed with a single gun does not sound right. We’ll have to see what the investigation shows before passing judgment on how out of round the shooting was. […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Interview with a Use-of-Force Expert Regarding the Shooting of the Woman in Atlanta (421107)

  138. […] P.S. I know that there will now be a pack of libertarians in the comments screaming that I was wrong and I owe an apology. I sense that it will infuriate them to know that I do not apologize for saying that we should wait for the facts before forming concrete opinions. If you form a firm and unswerving opinion before all the facts are in, sometimes your opinion will prove to have been wrong, and sometimes it will have been right. But the fact that your opinion was right doesn’t prove the wisdom of leaping to unswerving opinions before the facts are in. By that logic, a man who risks his life savings on a spin of the roulette wheel and wins has necessarily done a wise thing. After all, he won, didn’t he? […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Anonymous Law Enforcement Source: Cops Lied in No-Knock Atlanta Case (421107)

  139. You do owe an apology because you did the EXACT same thing you are saying people shouldn’t do. You opined that the cops story was true and that everything they did was ok. You should be ashamed of yourself for protecting and honoring murderers. You assume cops are always right, those of us with a brain always question those with the power to enforce their will on others with violence. When (if) cops are ever held FULLY accountable for their actions, then maybe the citizens of this country can feel safe in their own homes.

    Sean (95243e)

  140. “You opined that the cops story was true and that everything they did was ok.”

    No, I didn’t. Learn to read.

    Patterico (99306c)

  141. […] and critics of mine were quick to jump on Dreher’s statements to show that I and others were “jumping the gun” in questioning the raid. After all, if the police said they did a buy, they did a buy. If the […]

    The Agitator » Blog Archive » Failing Upward: New Frontiers in Scalia’s “New Professionalism” (2e5fcf)

  142. All those updates…yet the most important one, that Balko and the rest of the “gun jumpers” were right.

    Steve Verdon (4c0bd6)


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