Multi-Agency Task Force Raid House To Arrest Someone Already In Jail, Shoot Woman In House Multiple Times Because Reasons
from the ma'am-we're-the-professionals-here-he-said-as-he-shot-her dept
I usually don’t jump in on things like these until a few more facts are in. As much as law enforcement complains about people “rushing to judgment” before every conceivable fact has been examined, here at Techdirt we prefer to be right, rather than first. Hey, we care about our reputation and we know our readers expect better of us.
That being said, there are a lot of tells in this story that suggest this is going to get a whole lot worse for the law enforcement agencies involved in this nearly-deadly raid. Not “worse before it gets better.” Oh my no. The only way it gets “better” is if these officers and agencies have access to a time machine and can undo every fucked up thing they did here.
Here’s a brief summary of what happened, as reported by the Associated Press:
Officers who mistakenly entered a home trying to arrest an Alabama man who was already in jail shot a woman who was inside, news outlets reported.
Ann Rylee, 19, was wounded during the raid on Thursday, television news outlets quoted family members as saying. They said she was hospitalized and was expected to survive.
You can already see one of the problems. The raid was conducted to arrest a person who was already in jail. That someone was shot during the raid is almost expected at this point, since law enforcement agencies regularly treat bog standard warrant service like a deployment on Omaha Beach in 1944.
As you dig into the details, certain things start to stand out. We’ll begin with the lack of due diligence. Raiding a house to find someone who’s already in jail isn’t good. It means no one thought to run a check prior to the raid to ensure the person they were looking for was a.) at that address and b.) wasn’t already in custody. That’s strike one.
Let’s move on.
Mobile County sheriff’s deputies joined federal officers at a home in the Wilmer community looking for Nicholas McLeod, who used to live there. Jail records show he was actually arrested a day earlier on charges including possession of drug paraphernalia and evidence tampering.
A task force was assembled to arrest someone for these charges. What even the fuck. These are not charges that demand an armed response. I realize officers are always armed, but it is really tough to square those charges with a joint task force composed of Alabama deputies, the Department of Homeland Security, and US Marshals.
This seems like overkill, even if it (fortunately) didn’t lead to anyone being killed. Not for a lack of trying though!
The task force rolled up on Christopher McLeod, who was taking out trash. They told him (and the friend he was with) to lay face down while they performed their violent warrant service. McLeod warned the law enforcement officers and agents that his fiancee was inside, asleep in a recliner. He also told them there was a loaded shotgun in the living room, which the couple kept for protection.
The warning went unheeded, apparently. The task force blew through the door and started shooting because why not. They had been told there was a gun in the house.
McLeod said Rylee was shot multiple times and underwent surgery.
But there’s no reason to believe Rylee grabbed the gun or pointed it at officers. At least not at this point. All we have to go on is the word of the sheriff and the one person who happened to be near the residence when it became a war zone.
“As agents went up to the house they detained two men outside, who said there was a woman still inside. As they went to make entry into the house… This lady had armed herself with a shotgun and the entry team was giving her orders to drop the gun, put the gun down, drop the gun several times — over a period of a few seconds it seems like… And there is video recordings of that. She didn’t and she pointed the gun at one of them — then two or three agents fired upon her striking her three or four times,” said Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran.
And here’s Christopher McLeod who as at the scene, although outside face down.
Two federal marshals who had approached the home started yelling “gun” and fired multiple times, he said.
First, let’s discuss the second statement. Law enforcement officers shouting “gun” is indicative of nothing more than the existence of a gun. That existence was pre-disclosed by the person lying face down on the ground while officers shot his fiancee. It does not mean Rylee ever pointed a gun at officers.
And that’s taking into consideration Sheriff Cochran’s statement. Even if Rylee raised a gun and pointed it at officers, this does not excuse the officers’ actions. The Second Amendment and the Castle Doctrine are still applicable in this country, even if an untold number of law enforcement officers have done everything they can to make it appear the only people allowed to point guns at anyone are law enforcement officers.
But let’s look at what’s missing in both of these statements. First, no one says officers ever identified themselves as officers of the law. If Rylee woke up and saw people pointing guns at her, it probably made sense to point one back at them.
Even that assumes too much. She may have just reached for it, turning the task force into a “reasonably scared” task force that felt justified in firing their guns until the “threat” was “neutralized.”
There’s something more concerning in the sheriff’s statement, though.
“there is video recordings of that.”
[T]here is no body camera footage because the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office doesn’t have body cameras.
Video footage exists, the sheriff said, knowing none of his deputies recorded the shooting. So that leaves it up to the federal members of the task force. Well, Sheriff Bullshit, federal officers do not wear body cameras. In fact, until very recently, if feds partnered with law enforcement agencies who did have body cameras, the local boys had to leave their cameras at home. So where do these mysterious “video recordings of that” come from?
One possible answer is a security camera attached to the raided home. But if that existed, you would expect the man whose fiancee was shot to mention it. The only other possibility is someone on the task force was wearing a personal body cam — one not supplied by their agency. If that’s the case, that footage will never be released because it belongs to the camera’s owner, not the agency employing them.
That footage will disappear forever unless it definitively shows every task force member was in the right when they started shooting Rylee. And it’s probably going to disappear forever anyway, because there’s no way every member of a multi-agency task force can justify deadly force deployment when they’ve forcibly entered a house to locate a suspect wanted for non-violent crimes, failed to identify themselves as officers, and shot someone simply for possessing a gun and possibly trying to defend themselves from armed invaders.
There are a ton of holes in the official narrative. Serious, disturbing holes. That’s why this needs to be watched. And that’s why I’ve chosen to bring it to your attention before the story has completely developed. More than one thing went wrong during this raid and the sheriff is out playing PR flack for a couple of federal agencies which should have better things to do than participate in raid to arrest someone wanted for nothing more than paraphernalia possession and witness tampering. This story stinks. And when the details come out, it’s going to be even worse.