Home Invaders Imitate Law Enforcement “No-Knock”

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by Nick Wooldridge, Esq.

 

1350954216_AK47_WOOD_8• A typical home invasion looks something like the following:

Tiffany Carter and an unidentified male accomplice could easily fit into the category of “what-was-I-thinking.” The thieving duo thought a good career move would be to add home invasion to their criminal tool kit. The homeowner had other ideas — and an AK47.

The duo knocked on a front door in Las Vegas, asking the 12-year old who answered if they could use the phone. As the boy turned, 29-year old Carter pushed the door open, grabbed the boy, and held him in a headlock. That’s when her male accomplice, armed with a gun ran inside the house and kicked down the bedroom door where 23-year old Jesus Javier Sanchez was resting.

• Increasingly, home invaders face an unexpected reprisal. In this case:

Sanchez grabbed his own gun and started shooting as he chased the now-wounded home invader out of the house and into the street. That didn’t stop Carter. She grabbed Sanchez’s mother’s purse and ran — more shots rang out. Carter and the male left the scene and headed for the hospital, where the man died and Carter was arrested.

Home invasions are violent crimes. They never end in a good way, regardless of who the “invaders” are. With homeowners increasingly afraid for their safety, many are arming themselves.

 

PolicewithSearchWarrant• Often, home-occupant fear spills over onto law enforcement in a scenario that plays out like this:

Police raid the home of a man who shoots and kills one of the officers. The man claims he didn’t hear the knocks as he had headphones on, but managed to hear the officers crashing into the house. He sees one of the officers and, believing that officer to be an armed intruder, opens fire. Only when the officer is on the floor and bleeding does the man realize what was happening and surrenders.

During a warranted entry, law enforcement will often sound off with “Police! Search warrant!” to keep this deadly scenario from happening. Their entry is loud, and it is usually difficult for someone to prove they didn’t know it was the police coming in.

• During a “no-knock warrant,” entry occurs without warning.

Entering without announcing their presence, cops use no-knock warrants when they are trying to stop someone from fleeing or destroying evidence. The intersection of the no-knock warrant and the castle doctrine is a dangerous intersection. Now thieves are using that intersection for their benefit. For example:

Two former LAPD cops, together with over a dozen others, have confessed to running a burglary ring that used bogus no-knock raids as a ploy to catch victims off guard. The cops would steal cash and drugs to sell on the streets.

NoKnockRaid• Here’s a closer look at the no-knock warrant.

A no-knock warrant is a legal document that authorizes law enforcement to access a property without direct, prior announcement for the inhabitants. A no-knock warrant is assigned under the assumption that any proof they expect to discover can be consumed or discarded while the police identify themselves or where there is a perceived threat to officers safely entering through the performance of the warrant’s service.

• Not surprisingly, perhaps, home invasions where thieves impersonate cops to gain entry are on the rise.

Loris. Police in Loris, South Carolina are still looking for two suspects who took advantage of the no-knock rule to steal money and prescription drugs. Two suspects approached a home and pretended to be the police, searching for someone. Once inside the dwelling, the suspects pulled a firearm and demanded that everyone get on the floor. Two of the three victims were handcuffed and had bags placed over their heads. Then the third victim was forced to open the safe. The thieves left with cash and prescription medications.

Lt. Raul Denis, a Horry County Police spokesman, said that the home invasion was just an isolated incident. “In most cases, Horry County Police has a marked squad car, and uniformed officers on-site when administering searches or serving warrants.”

gangs• As a criminal tactic, no-knock imitation is spreading.

DeLand. In DeLand, Florida, Deputies are still investigating a home invasion where the thieves posed as law enforcement. Two men, wearing black, knocked on a door in a leafy neighborhood, told the residents they were cops and needed to enter the home. When they got inside, they tied up an 82-year old man and his 63-year old spouse and looted the house of cash and gems.

Kaufman County. In July 2015, five men, wearing a mixture of police and military clothing, crashed through the front door of a residence in Kaufman County, Texas. The victim told investigators that the men yelled, “Police!” before entering. They then tied him up and stole items from the house. All five were eventually arrested and, at this writing, are being held in the Kaufman County jail on $200,000 bail. Although the men are behind bars, investigators are still finding discarded bits of the suspects’ outfits. “They were running through the woods and thickets, so we’re still finding hats and stuff out there,” said Kaufman County law enforcement spokesman, Capt. Fred Klingelberger.

• No-knock warrants are controversial. Here’s one case that explains why.

Kathryn Johnson, an elderly woman in Atlanta, Georgia, was shot by three undercover police officers in her home in November 2006. Assuming her home was being invaded, Ms. Johnston fired one shot at the ceiling. The cops responded by shooting her to death. Ms Johnson’s murder wasn’t the only incident. Annually, there are dozens of innocent people killed and wounded during no-knock invasions by law enforcement.

no-knock RAid• And yet, the use of no-knock warrants is growing.

Daniel Kearns, now a business aircraft broker, spent three tours in Afghanistan as a paratrooper with the 82nd BN before coming home and working in law enforcement.

Kearns says that more military-like raids are taking place against U.S. citizens than there were by the American military in Afghanistan.

A “no-knock” warrant is usually served with a compelling entry raid, including tactical elements from a SWAT crew, a specialized tactical team, or a combination.

No-knock warrants are being used more often in America and many observers point to these as a perfect illustration of continuing militarization of U.S. law enforcement.

• Kearns shares these statistics:

  • 3,000 no-knock warrants were served in 1981; 50,000 in 2005 and 80,000 in 2010. During the same time, there was no statistical uptick in crime, shooting of law enforcement officers, or drug use.
  • 36% of no-knock assaults end with no contraband (drugs, illegal weapons, etc.) being found.
  • Dozens of innocent observers have been murdered, and dozens more wounded, when no-knock warrants were served.

• The growth of law enforcement no-knock raids mixed with criminal adaptation of the tactic have caused confusion among homeowners who believe they are defending themselves against home invasion. What’s the outcome?

Self-defense advocates are applauding a rare victory. A Texas grand jury has refused to indict a homeowner for shooting and killing a police officer who entered his home unannounced in the middle of the night.

Police had been acting on a tip from a criminal informant when they barged into Henry Magee’s home. Before the sun came up, nine deputies broke down the door to Magee’s home and set off a flash-bang grenade. Magee confronted them and fired as the cops came through the door. One of the deputies, Adam Sowders, fell dead. When everything settled down, the cops only found two small marijuana plants, less than six inches tall, and four guns, all legally owned by Magee.

A Government of Wolves

“This is unusual,” said John Whitehead author of A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State. “We have a case where a father was in his bed and the police entered … Americans have a right to defend themselves against intruders and especially intruders who smash through their doors unannounced, with guns drawn, in the middle of the night.”

This article is by Nick Wooldridge, Esq.
LV Criminal Defense, 520 S 4th Street, Las Vegas, NV 89101, 702-623-6362

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