County Pays $90,000 Settlement To Man After Seizing $80,000 Judgment From Him Using 24 Deputies And An Armored Vehicle

from the someone-good-with-math-help-me-justify-this dept

When all you have is a war hammer, everything looks like a war. That’s how Wisconsin law enforcement viewed the task it was given: collection of an $80,000 civil judgment from a resident of Marathon County. What should have been a deputy or two approaching the resident and apprising him of his legal options, the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department chose to handle it this way:

When officials in the tiny Town of Stettin in Marathon County went to collect a civil judgment from 75-year-old Roger Hoeppner this month, they sent 24 armed officers.

And an armored military vehicle.

This decision made national news in 2014. In the wake of the Ferguson protests, it was considered bad form to be turning normal police work into military maneuvers. But the Sheriff’s office didn’t care. Sheriff’s Captain Greg Bean said 24 deputies and a military vehicle were a proportionate response. Deputies were needed to haul away the junk that had prompted the $80,000 civil settlement and Hoeppner had been known to be “argumentative” in the past.

But the fact is the squad of deputies could have shown up after the judgment and other legal issues had all been sorted out and someone being contentious in the presence of law enforcement officers is hardly justification for the use of an armored vehicle.

This bit of bad optics and worse judgment had resulted in another setback for Marathon County. As [former cop/current lawyer] Greg Prickett pointed out, it has also proven the local government sucks at math. The law enforcement man-hours and legal fees incurred by the county has turned its $80,000 judgment into at least a $10,000 loss.

A 79-year-old Wisconsin man who was arrested when two dozen deputies brought an armored vehicle to his home to enforce a civil judgment has settled his civil rights claim against Marathon County for $90,000.

I guess this stops the bleeding. At least local taxpayers can be grateful for that. If this had proceeded to trial, it likely would have run the county further into the red.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb dismissed Hoeppner’s claim that the decision to enforce the civil judgment with so many deputies and the armored vehicle was unreasonable but said his claims that he was arrested without probable cause and that deputies violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights when they seized his phone and camera should go to a jury.

The county knows when it’s beat. Hilariously, the same behavior that resulted in an $80,000 judgment against the 75-year-old — the accumulation of used pallets and old mechanical equipment on Hoeppner’s property — continues to this day. The only change is the county no longer hassles Hoeppner about the stuff he keeps on his property. No more fines have been handed down and the county government no longer sends deputies by the dozen to keep Hoeppner in line. This whole debacle can’t even be considered a Pyrrhic victory. It’s been nothing but loss after loss — in actual dollars and in collective government PR.

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Comments on “County Pays $90,000 Settlement To Man After Seizing $80,000 Judgment From Him Using 24 Deputies And An Armored Vehicle”

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John Roddy (profile) says:

Sheriff Greg Bean is a certified weenie

Hoeppner had been known to be "argumentative" in the past.

If you need a small military unit and armored vehicle to deal with a 75-year-old man described as "argumentative," you’re either on the wrong side of a Clint Eastwood film, or your police force is an innovative new type of pathetic.

curtis8 says:

Re: Re: Sheriff's office didn't care

“Sheriff’s office didn’t care” — they didn’t have to care… because LEO’s generally operate above the law across America.

Federal Judge Crabb didn’t care either and didn’t notice any big problem with Sheriff Bean’s behavior. Government LEO’s & Government judges are on the same team and back each other up.
Average citizens are not on their team — and are treated as opponents.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: Sheriff Greg Bean is a certified weenie

It shifted in the seventies. Because the military went over to Beretta wonder-nines, the cops made such a stink about wanting them we let them trade in their .38 wheel guns for them.

They’ve been militarizing ever since.

What really annoys me is when the cops moan that citizens have them “out-gunned”. They’re SUPPOSED to be out-gunned by the citizenry – they’re cops, NOT soldiers.

Charlie (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Sheriff Greg Bean is a certified weenie

That’s one of the most stupid statements I’ve ever heard made. The very idea that cops should be outgunned so they can be murdered easier is ludicrous. They should have access to the most modern of weapons to restore peace. Just look at the bank robbery in LA where the assailants wore tactical bullet resistant vests and the cops had to borrow heavier weapons from a gun shop while the incident was on going to try and stop these two.

stderric (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Sheriff Greg Bean is a certified weenie

It shifted in the seventies. … They’re SUPPOSED to be out-gunned by the citizenry – they’re cops, NOT soldiers.

The seventies also brought us the War on Drugs, which conditioned us to the reclassification of "the citizenry" as "the indigenous population" and "enemy combatants." Presto, cops became soldiers.

At least we learned our lesson and never fell for that sort of overhyped "War on …" nonsense again.

inspectorzinn (profile) says:

Re: Sheriff Greg Bean is a certified weenie

John Roddy you’re a dumbass. A man older than 75 killed 7 deputies just a few months go. But of course, you’re an expert in such things. Please, be a cop for a day, and I’ll personally kick your ass and leave you in a coma because you clearly could do a better job.

inspectorzinn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Sheriff Greg Bean is a certified weenie

I wondered where all the fatties were who can’t defend themselves from a teddy bear if their life depended on it, oh yeah, they are critiquing cops. Did you call 911 when McDonald’s ran out of chicken nuggets? Of course you can’t touch your toes, but you are going to tell police how to do their job.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Telling the police how to do their job.

Some of us don’t call 911 for state intervention, specifically because we expect it to be the equivalent of adding an angry rhinoceros to the situation.

The public don’t get to tell the police how to do their job, but it’d be nice if we had the option to disband the police when they fail to serve the purpose for which they were formed. We don’t get to do that either, and as such the public has found itself in serfdom again, serving a police state and its masters under the threat of force.

But it’s the precinct chiefs who’ve acknowledged that our police aren’t doing their job, what with asset seizures that cost the public more than burglaries and no small number of homicides are by law enforcement officers.

Police chiefs are the ones who have been pointing out that effective policing comes from a cooperative relationship between the public and the precinct, and that we’ve lost that relationship thanks to the immense amount of corruption throughout the Department of Justice, including that police officers will fake evidence and testify falsely in court (both with impunity when they get caught) in order to secure more convictions and put more warm bodies in prison.

This may correlate with the US having the highest incarceration in the world of all nations. It’s not because we’re especially prone to crime.

So we don’t have to tell the police how to do their job. They have superiors there to tell them they suck. Only we also have the police unions assuring they can’t be discharged for sucking, even if that includes murdering civilians.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Sheriff Greg Bean is a certified weenie

The article says “one killed, six injured”. Where’s the article where seven deputies were killed?

Anyone else surprised that the guy who fails both kindergarten math and reading comprehension has to get his jollies off by making fun of everyone who disagrees with him? What, stuffing guys who actually did their homework in high school not good enough for you? How much did you pay to have those rape charges dismissed?

inspectorzinn (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Oh no an armored car, the terror!! I’m sure you wet your panties just looking a the metal. Because a piece of metal sure is terrifying especially when it is on wheels. Go suck your thumb and call your mommy. Armored cars killed 0 people the last decade and regular cars killed 200k people. But hey your run for your life, that metal on wheels is dangerous!

inspectorzinn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: snowflake inspectorzinn

At least I’m not petrified and shitting myself over a piece of tempered steel. How about you volunteer to enforce the training order, and don’t bring a gun or backup because that overkill, is unreasonable and would scare the community and make them wet their panties. I would beg for a restraining order in your unicorn world of hugs and kisses, since pathetic fatties like yourself can’t enforce anything. Have another donut cupcake while I run free.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 snowflake inspectorzinn

Even better he’s petrified and literally shitting himself over the mere fact people are talking about an 74 year old man vs 24 deputies and several tons tempered steel.

He can talk shit but he cant take it. On second thought he really can’t even talk shit that well. Sounds like a tryical tiny dick cop if you ask me. Poor, poor, fragile little snowflake.

I.T. Guy says:

Re: Re: Re:

Oh no an armored car, the terror!!

Exactly. Terrorists now wear badges and carry automatic weapons.

The whole point of using an armored veehickle IS to strike fear and terror. It’s a war machine plain ans simple.

A jetta never shot someone nor is it capable of pulling down walls.

“Armored cars killed 0 people the last decade and regular cars killed 200k people.”
Worldwide? Methinks your ASSumption of armored vehicle statistics is way way off.

You’d shit a brick if you had a tank pointed at your house.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The Pigs have separated themselves from society. You see this by the disgusting Thin blue line flags they all have. They are the biggest gang in the U.S. You’re more than 9 times more likely to be killed by a cop than a terrorist.

They are afraid of their own shadow. They’ll shoot you now and ask questions later. So many innocent people have been murdered by these thugs every year. Rarely does anything ever happen to them. They are protected by other pigs and the union. They all flat out LIE. it’s part of their training. Lie to get you to do whatever they want as they step all over your rights if you don’t know them. They don’t care as nothing ever happens to them.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Armored cars killed 0 people the last decade”

When your argument can be disproven by a quick Google search, it’s not really an argument,

“regular cars killed 200k people”

I now doubt your numbers, of course, but you also need to learn about things like proportions. The argument you’re trying to make here is essentially the same as saying that that rocket launchers aren’t as dangerous as bathtubs because less people in the US were killed by rocket launchers.

Anonymous Coward says:

The Town sounds like it needs a leadership change

Reading through the source article, the town owes this man much more than the 90k it just paid to make this go away. He has spent over 200k fighting a specific town leaders vendetta against him. They won an 80k judgment and didn’t even notify the man or his lawyer but decided that sending police to collect the value from his goods being sold at pennies per dollar of value was the best way to handle it. They sent the 24 armed police and armored vehicle when he rightly questioned their authority to do so. I would have been upset as well, but the town would have ended up giving me their armored vehicle since their budget couldn’t cover the violation of my rights.

Anonymous Coward says:

Bean also said the armored truck was summoned only after Hoeppner initially refused to come out of his house. Once the truck appeared, so did Hoeppner.

“I’ve been involved in about five standoff situations where, as soon as the [armor] showed up, the person gives up,” saving time, money and increasing safety, Bean said.

This guy is a pussy.

Anonymous Coward says:

The police weren’t punished. Taxpayers were.

The sheriff’s office will have no incentive to stop smashing people around and using shows of excessive force whatsoever, because even when they’re caught doing so, it’s the collective whole of their victims that suffers.

Which as far as cops are concerned is a 2-for-1 sale on abuse.

Glenn says:

I fail to see why taxpayers must continually be held responsible for the malfeasance of govt. officials. We already have laws on the books to handle the situation, aka asset forfeiture. I’m pretty sure that if some hockey puck knows that his/her persecution–not prosecution–of people based on his/her own errors in judgement and not violations of actual law will result in his/her own financial assets being used to settle the books, then he/she will be less likely to cross that line where doing your job becomes personal vendetta–or just plain stupidity.

Tin-Foil-Hat says:

Police States are such a drag

This is a nation of laws that don’t apply to the government or its enforcers. Tha fact that taxpayers suffer the financial consequences is a feature not a bug.

The concentration of the power in the executive branch is just another nail in the coffin of a system whose guarantees against tyranny included three independent branches of government and a trial by jury.

The people like a leader who’s tough on crime. As long as those on the receiving end are not them the character of the leader doesn’t matter. A crook, child molester or rapist is fine with them,

Vic B (profile) says:

“What really annoys me is when the cops moan that citizens have them “out-gunned”. They’re SUPPOSED to be out-gunned by the citizenry – they’re cops, NOT soldiers.”

American folklore. If the citizenry wasn’t armed, the cops wouldn’t have to play soldiers. Ultimately weapons are nothing more than tools for little boys’ assertive needs while weapons manufacturers and their PR glorify the man they struggle to be.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Citizens outgunning the precincts

Law enforcement agencies currently outgun rogue citizens, even well-armed ones. That may not last forever, as our departments continue to wedge themselves further from the civilian public.

Also, US law enforcement (specifically the ATF and FBI) freaks out whenever a religious movement gets too much of a stockpile, even if that stockpile is not against any law.

The police are playing soldier due to the post-9/11 terror paranoia in which it’s assumed every infant and grandmother are part of a secret militant cell. It was on this premise that we started pushing military surplus into the hands of the precincts. They play soldier because they can, and they’ll still play solder if we disarm the people.

Curiously in the early fifteenth century, every English peasant was a crack-shot with a longbow, which meant that if a village had a mind to it, they could overthrow their liege lord, even if kitted up in full tackle. Instead, they were willingly drafted to take back English land from the French on the continent. The people outgunning the law enforcement and military classes is not a problem unless you’re afraid the public is going to turn against state institutions. That might be a problem in the contemporary United States because our institutions are corrupt and abusive. That’s a problem that’s not going to get fixed by disarming the people.

I’m pretty sure if the police were to return in earnest to the Peelian Principles — Peele’s dicta are still taught in Criminal Investigation and other police-science classes here in the US as current guidelines for US law enforcement departments — then we’d be able to reestablish cooperation between law enforcement and the public.

But right now Law Enforcement is determined to rule by force and steal from and kill innocents with impunity, so it’s no surprise the public is a bit cross about it.

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