More Evidence Of “The Increasing Professionalism Of Police Forces”

Justice Scalia says the increasing professionalism of police forces means we don’t need judicial remedies for Fourth Amendment violations.

Yesterday, in Limestone County Alabama, in an attempt to carry out an arrest warrant for one person, three truckloads of heavily armed federal and state law enforcement agents:

1) failed to even give the local authorities a curtesy call; 

2) busted down the door and exploded into the wrong house;

3) shot the unsuspecting resident of that house, Kenneth Jamar, who is in his 50’s and suffers from gout, and whom relatives say “can’t even get up to make himself a ham sandwich;”  

4) did not find the actual suspect until long after the mistaken entry and shooting, when they happened to see him in the front yard of the house talking to reporters.

But don’t worry, other professionals are looking into the matter:

Investigators still are questioning those involved and were looking into whether Jamar fired at officers, Blakely said.

A few points here.

One, instead of blaming the victim, what about an investigation into why in the world they needed a small army to arrest one person? Or why they needed to break down the door at all? Or why they broke into the wrong house? Or if the suspect was such a huge flight risk, or danger to the community, how and why he managed to hang around and talk to reporters at the same time the cops were milling around wondering what just happened?

Two, even if Mr. Jamar did shoot at the cops, can anyone really fault him for it?

If the cops want to be Billy Bad Ass and break down people’s doors, this kind of stuff is going to happen. Alabamians will defend their homes. We just passed a law making it easier to shoot home invaders. The cops may not consider themselves home invaders, but perception is what matters. All Jamar knew was that a bunch of guys with guns had just busted into his home. Is it any wonder he shot?

The day Justice Scalia said there is no remedy when cops break down the door without first announcing their presence, I got an e-mail from one of my most conservative friends. A guy who thinks Ann Coulter is a genuine intellectual talent said this to me:

My response — OK, but I better not be charged for shooting a cop that barges into my house in the middle of the night without knocking first.

Also, whether they announced their presence or not, in Alabama you have the right to resist an unlawful arrest. The cops did not have a warrant for Mr. Jamar’s house, or for his arrest. Nor had Mr. Jamar done anything suspicious. That makes their intrusion unlawful, and Mr. Jamar’s response excusable.

Three, no-one is going to suffer any adverse consequences for this screw-up. Any lawsuit will quickly be dismissed, with words like “emergency” and “officer’s safety.” Never mind the fact that the officers created the emergency and the dangers. As for internal discipline, I’m not holding my breath.  

Explore posts in the same categories: Fourth Amendment, Scotus

4 Comments on “More Evidence Of “The Increasing Professionalism Of Police Forces””

  1. Kathy Says:

    This ought to put a little fear into the hearts of those who think they have nothing to worry about if they’re law-abiding citizens. Unless they can find a way to blame the guy for living in the same neighborhood as a wanted criminal.

  2. Dan Says:

    Kenneth Jamar is my hero, and this story has just made me decide to buy a gun. I’d been thinking about it lately, but now I’m sold.

  3. Dave Krueger Says:

    Has this story died? Last I heard, the Huntsville PD was refusing to release the records of its internal investigation of the shooting to Jamar’s lawyers claiming executive privelidge?

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