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Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Look! Real Third Amendment case! A story that will boil your blood...

'Fess up: how many of us laughed about the Third Amendment when we learned about it (or were supposed to have learned about it) in ninth grade?
Quartering Act, French and Indian War, George III, Revolutionary War, Colonial America
The Quartering Act, 1763.

(Chris raises his hand)

The Third Amendment - part of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution - reads thusly: "No soldier shall in time of peace be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war but in a manner to be prescribed by law."

But an incident two years ago which is just now coming to light in court demonstrates how much we should appreciate our rights, whether or not we actively employ them  Anthony Mitchell and his parents, Michael and Linda Mitchell, were asked by the police department of Henderson, Nevada for the use of their homes in a "domestic violence" investigation.  All three members of the Mitchell family declined, saying they did not wish to become involved.

The Henderson Police Department took their homes anyway.

From Reason.com:
At 10:45 a.m. defendant Officer Christopher Worley (HPD) contacted plaintiff Anthony Mitchell via his telephone. Worley told plaintiff that police needed to occupy his home in order to gain a "tactical advantage" against the occupant of the neighboring house. Anthony Mitchell told the officer that he did not want to become involved and that he did not want police to enter his residence. Although Worley continued to insist that plaintiff should leave his residence, plaintiff clearly explained that he did not intend to leave his home or to allow police to occupy his home. Worley then ended the phone call
[Henderson police officers] banged forcefully on the door and loudly commanded Anthony Mitchell to open the door to his residence. Surprised and perturbed, plaintiff Anthony Mitchell immediately called his mother (plaintiff Linda Mitchell) on the phone, exclaiming to her that the police were beating on his front door.
Seconds later, officers, including Officer Rockwell, smashed open plaintiff Anthony Mitchell's front door with a metal ram as plaintiff stood in his living room. As plaintiff Anthony Mitchell stood in shock, the officers aimed their weapons at Anthony Mitchell and shouted obscenities at him and ordered him to lie down on the floor. Fearing for his life, plaintiff Anthony Mitchell dropped his phone and prostrated himself onto the floor of his living room, covering his face and hands.
Addressing plaintiff as "asshole," officers, including Officer Snyder, shouted conflicting orders at Anthony Mitchell, commanding him to both shut off his phone, which was on the floor in front of his head, and simultaneously commanding him to 'crawl' toward the officers. Confused and terrified, plaintiff Anthony Mitchell remained curled on the floor of his living room, with his hands over his face, and made no movement.
Although plaintiff Anthony Mitchell was lying motionless on the ground and posed no threat, officers, including Officer David Cawthorn, then fired multiple "pepperball" rounds at plaintiff as he lay defenseless on the floor of his living room. Anthony Mitchell was struck at least three times by shots fired from close range, injuring him and causing him severe pain.
Anthony Mitchell was charged with "obstructing an officer".  His father Michael was arrested while trying to leave a police command center which the cops lured him under false pretense so they could seize his house, too.

The Mitchells are suing the Henderson Police Department for violations of their Third and Fourth Amendment rights as well as "assault and battery, conspiracy, defamation, abuse of process, malicious prosecution, negligence, and infliction of emotional distress".

If the allegations are true, here's hoping that the Mitchells will bankrupt the Town of Henderson for allowing this to happen.  As for the cops themselves: in a sane world they would be taken to the village square and horsewhipped forty times as a dire warning to any who would wear and then abuse the badge of peace officer.

(That's a huge part of the problem right there: that we no longer have "peace officers" but "law enforcement officers".  There are many in this country who have come to believe that cops are becoming a government sanctioned gang of thugs not much different from the Bloods 'n the Crips.  Stories like this make it hard not to see some merit to that notion.)