Ninth Circuit Says Man Can't Sue Officers Who Destroyed His Home To Capture An Unarmed Homeless Man

from the I-HAVE-BECOME-COP,-DESTROYER-OF-HOUSES dept

The nation’s courts continue to disappoint citizens who’ve seen their homes destroyed by overzealous cops and their home-wrecking toys. If you’re a suspected criminal and you hole up in your own home, perhaps some destruction is warranted, especially if you do something like open fire on law enforcement officers. You’d think extricating someone from someone else’s house would be handled with more care. But it isn’t.

The Ninth Circuit Appeals Court has just delivered some bad news to a homeowner who saw his farmhouse destroyed by an unknown number of cops who arrived at the scene in 55(!!) vehicles, including a “Crisis Response Team” motorhome and two helicopters. Two SWAT teams were involved — one from the Fresno (CA) Sheriff’s Office and one from the Clovis PD. (via Courthouse News)

This was all in response to a homeless man who had been spotted by a neighbor breaking into David Jessen’s house after being rousted from a nearby construction site. The homeless man refused to come out and threatened to shoot officers. The man was actually unarmed and had done nothing more than help himself to the contents of Jessen’s fridge when the supposed standoff began. Several hours later it was over. The combined forces of two law enforcement agencies resulted in $150,000 of damage. Five rooms were teargassed. Four doors and seven windows were destroyed, along with 90 feet of fencing that was rolled over by SWAT vehicles. An entire wall was ripped out as well.

All of this happened to Jessen and there’s no recourse awaiting him in the Ninth Circuit. The court dispenses of multiple allegations, including failure to train and accusations that the Sheriff’s Office uses live SWAT raids as “training exercises” by inviting nearby law enforcement agencies to get some hands-on work in. These claims were always a bit on the edge and it was unlikely any court would sympathize with Jessen’s theory that his rural home provided the perfect training grounds for inexperienced SWAT team members.

But the decision [PDF] does come to the depressing conclusion that citizens and their homes are at the mercy of police officers in situations like these. Many law enforcement officials speak proudly of the discretion they have at their disposal. Far fewer actually exercise that omnipresent option. When you have more power than restraint, you tend to cause more damage than you prevent. One homeless B&E suspect is not worth $150,000 of damage. Of course, if you’re not the one stuck with the bills, it really doesn’t matter how much you put on someone else’s tab.

The court says this is OK. It’s just the unintended consequences of enforcing the law. But the use of the word “discretion” is a bit rich in this context.

The district court did not err in concluding that the Defendants are immune from liability for negligence under Conway v. County of Tuolumne, 231 Cal. App. 4th 1005, 1016 (2014). Public entities like Defendants are immune from liability for negligence if the alleged injuries were caused by the officers’ “discretionary acts.” Cal. Gov’t Code § 820.2; id. at § 815.2(b). In Conway, the California Court of Appeal held that discretionary act immunity applies to the selection of the means to effectuate an arrest, including the decision to deploy a SWAT team in effectuating an arrest, and the subsequent decision to deploy tear gas. The Jessens do not discuss Conway, let alone identify any distinguishing aspect of the officers’ decision to deploy tear gas here. Under Conway, Defendants are immune from liability, and the district court properly granted summary judgment for Defendants on the Jessens’ negligence claim.

When we hear the word “discretion,” we tend to think of restraint. When cops hear the word “discretion,” they think of something else: a wealth of options, most of them highly-destructive. When an opportunity to use all the cool tools and repurposed war gear arises, you take advantage of it. And if a person’s home is standing in between you and the person you want, the house has to go.

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Comments on “Ninth Circuit Says Man Can't Sue Officers Who Destroyed His Home To Capture An Unarmed Homeless Man”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

'DIscretion' means 'can do whatever the hell they want' I guess

The court dispenses of multiple allegations, including failure to train and accusations that the Sheriff’s Office uses live SWAT raids as "training exercises" by inviting nearby law enforcement agencies to get some hands-on work in. These claims were always a bit on the edge and it was unlikely any court would sympathize with Jessen’s theory that his rural home provided the perfect training grounds for inexperienced SWAT team members.

Literally two paragraphs up…

The Ninth Circuit Appeals Court has just delivered some bad news to a homeowner who saw his farmhouse destroyed by an unknown number of cops who arrived at the scene in 55(!!) vehicles, including a "Crisis Response Team" motorhome and two helicopters. Two SWAT teams were involved — one from the Fresno (CA) Sheriff’s Office and one from the Clovis PD.

Given the numbers the only unbelievable part about his argument is thinking that a court would ever stop bootlicking anything with a badge long enough to rule against them, because between dozens of vehicles including two helicopters and two SWAT teams from different departments the accusation that they treat events like that as ‘live training’ is entirely believable.

As for the damage let’s see, homeless man:
The man was actually unarmed and had done nothing more than help himself to the contents of Jessen’s fridge when the supposed standoff began.

Versus police:
Several hours later it was over. The combined forces of two law enforcement agencies resulted in $150,000 of damage.

Yup, they certainly showed people which is more dangerous to the public there, not to mention sent a reminder for the slow that you only call the police when you want your day to get worse.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 'DIscretion' means 'can do whatever the hell they want' I gu

Police. Don’t trust them. Never invite them into your home. Don’t call them for anything that doesn’t require an armed response (read: Army) and even then distance yourself from it as quickly as possible. If a cop is following you in your car, pull over and make a phone call… to anyone, it doesn’t matter… and leave the phone call connected if the cop pulls up behind you. Even better, install cameras in your car that can record audio and store their data in the cloud (make sure someone else has access to your recordings, too).

Avoid them at all costs. No good can come from any interaction with our nation’s police gangs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: 'DIscretion' means 'can do whatever the hell they want'

Cops are awake to the measures you describe. If you have a phone connected to another person when they pull you over, and they are aware of this, they will immediately move to separate you from the phone for "officer safety". The same goes for dash cams, if cops become aware that they are being filmed by a dash cam, expect to be removed from the car (and the protection of said cameras) for "officer safety".

Meaning the only record of what happened will be police reports and whatever video footage recorded by police equipment that the officers involve decide not to destroy.

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PaulT (profile) says:

What’s worse is that the accusation of this being some kind of training exercise actually paints them in a better light. If that’s the case then, while utterly wrong and in desperate need of recourse for the innocent homeowner, it makes some kind of sense.

Otherwise the alternatives I can think of is that these departments are so bad at their jobs that they can’t extract a single man from a building without dozens of them getting involved, or that they are living up to their stereotypes as uneducated, roided up bullies who can’t wait to use their military surplus toys.

tz1 (profile) says:

Ah, the 9th Circus and Kalifornia Keystone Kops.

I always check where such things come from.

C9 is the friend of violent criminal gangs. Including those dressed in blue..

And for some reason with a Democrat supermajority in Sacremento, and nearly every city, the police abuses in Cali are still disproportionate though the legislature and governor could do something today, as could the counties and cities.

Interesting how the thin blue linority manages to avoid any responsibility and accountability at the city, county, and state level.

Well, the police are part of the “justice” system which includes prosecutors and judges. The Kalifornia Kourt Klan isn’t going to hold one of their own accountable.

tz1 (profile) says:

Ah, the 9th Circus and Kalifornia Keystone Kops.

I always check where such things come from.

C9 is the friend of violent criminal gangs. Including those dressed in blue..

And for some reason with a Democrat supermajority in Sacremento, and nearly every city, the police abuses in Cali are still disproportionate though the legislature and governor could do something today, as could the counties and cities.

Interesting how the thin blue linority manages to avoid any responsibility and accountability at the city, county, and state level.

Well, the police are part of the “justice” system which includes prosecutors and judges. The Kalifornia Kourt Klan isn’t going to hold one of their own accountable.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

In any halfway decent legal system, this wouldn’t even be a question of negligence. EVEN IF THEIR ACTIONS ARE COMPLETELY NECESSARY AND JUSTIFIED, the government should still have to pay for any and all damage cops do to the property of innocent parties… and maybe even to the property of guilty parties.

… which would immediately lead to a lot more thought being given to the question of whether the damage is in fact necessary or justified.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

That could depend on how it was set up. If the insurance was for, and paid for by, individual officers rather than the entire department and required for employment then repeatedly engaging in actions that triggered it would also likely raise how much it costs, making it prohibitively expensive after a while such that they either reigned in their own actions or they lost their job because they could no longer pay for the insurance needed to hold it.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I figured that as long as we were dealing with hypothetical ‘would be nice’ scenarios from another world might as well continue in that vein, but yes, the odds of police choosing a system that would actually hold themselves accountable, or someone imposing it on them on the outside in this world are sadly about as likely as a person winning half a dozen lotteries at the same second they are hit by a meteor that was just struck by lightning.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 The police choosing a system

It’s not the police who should be able to make these kinds of choices.

I assume a county can vote to close its sheriff’s department and police precincts, yes? Or would the state and federal police move in?

If a county can (say with a petition and referendum, or by act of its officials disband the police, then they can define the terms by which the police conduct themselves. If the police unions complain, disband them. No police, no unions.

More likely, though, we couldn’t get a council to disband the police, even when it’s clear the people are not served by them.

That means we’re policed not by consent, but by force.

And would mean means we’re peons. Peasants. In the service of the nobility.

As in not free.

And in that case, we know we’re not going to attain our liberty within the system. We either use force, or we accept our lot as a bonded, subjugated people.

scotts13 (profile) says:

Foolish me

In my 65 years I’ve never had police officers visit my property, so I suppose I’m hopelessly naive. I’d always (watching movies, etc) ASSUMED police departments were liable for any damage they caused in the course of their activities. After all, doesn’t the constitution prohibit "unlawful taking?" In this case, they’re depriving you of your personal property for the public purpose of apprehending someone.

I guess the teaching point is to just shoot trespassers yourself. Yes?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Foolish me

Or immediately claim that any trespassers were invited. The homeowner could have given the intruder the food in the fridge, the fridge itself, his TV, his car and a trailer to haul everything, plus gas money, and still be out less money than he is by having to fix the damage caused by law enforcement.

Anonymous Coward says:

Man, I would have called the police, or told the police I’m not pressing charges, leave the person alone. Whatever. A person breaks into a home, Ok, does some minor damage, but the police come along and completely destroy the home. What kind of logic is this? The police department should be paying for fix this. What a bunch of disgusting tyrant pigs, and the courts who go along with this crap.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Some homeless guy burglarized this house a few times we guess, we came in after a 17hr election gig one night, phoned the LAPD, then found the fool sleeping in our bed. He says "got some dope?" glancing at a bookcase. Nah, i ream him, and let him boggy off on his bike. The bookcase had our cleaver hidden in it. The Cops got two things to tell us: "Why do you live here (for 25 years, we be White)" and "Why didn’t you beat him up? (My guess is they knew who it was)" Unfortunately, nothing that he stole would make money for the cops, no jewelry or guns, so they never pursued the crimes.

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Ed (profile) says:

Isn't it obvious by now...

… you can never, EVER, trust "law enforcement". Even in the best of circumstances, wary public must never trust police because they are not on your side. They will lie, cheat, steal, kill… whatever it takes to further THEIR agenda, not the safety or protection of the public.

BG (profile) says:

What is the legal basis for this decision?

Is there something weird in US laws that differentiates between intentional actions that cause such damage and accidental damage that is the foundation for this decision?

For example a cop car in pursuit of a suspect accidentally collides with a civilian vehicle, cop engaged in a foot pursuit breaks someone’s back-yard fence while climbing over it, etc. How is the liability in such cases handled? Is it consistent with this decision?

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: What is the legal basis for this decision?

Is there something weird in US laws that differentiates between intentional actions that cause such damage and accidental damage that is the foundation for this decision?

I believe it’s called the ‘Gutless Coward Judge’ clause, where anything a cop does is acceptable because to rule otherwise would be to rule against someone with a badge, and the number of judges who have the integrity and courage to do that are few and far between.

While the above may be hyperbolic the truly messed up part is that it’s only slightly hyperbolic, as case after case makes clear that to many judges in the US at least police simply cannot do anything wrong, by definition.

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ROGS says:

SWAT funding

Well, you get the justice you pay for. Out here on the front lines, activists are villified by the normies as radicals who should keep their mouths shut.

Failing that, we are called losers, whores, drug addicts, anti-semites, pedophiles; alternative journalists, dissidents, activists.

As the guy up there said:

"In my 65 years as a white establishment type who has done NOTHING EVER for civil rights, why rock the boat, and get my door kicked in for not refusing to be complicit with the police state?"

Its those types that have no idea what the lower tier of our society faces every day by these armed bandits who masquerade as law enforcement.

Dont defend the police state. DEFUND it.

Go after their funding sources, and hold those who fund them accountable.

Most SWAT and their associated teams of thugs, aka task farces and their "parallel colliding investigations" are funded by a variety of sources:

"Agencies can apply for grants, such as the federally sponsored Bullet Proof Vest (BPV) grant, which will pay for half of an agency’s body armor. Additional grant sources are available through the National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Assistance. Depending upon a SWAT unit’s collateral training needs, some funding may be available through the Department of Homeland Security. Also, civic groups and local businesses may sponsor equipment requisitions"

https://www.policemag.com/338999/how-to-start-a-swat-team

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Nathan F (profile) says:

55 vehicles, 2 helicopters, 1 mobile command center, 2 swat teams and who knows how many officers.. for one guy. Did they think they were storming a fortified militia compound with a company of men armed with automatic heavy weapons or something. This is not a proportionate response.

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ROGS says:

Re: Proportionality v. Narrative creation

They provably did NOT think any of the above speculations.

They clearly were working within a targeted agenda, and leveraging community opinion against civil rights.

And, each SWAT raid or assassination is a pre-planned and highly organized grab for more funding, finding fake bad guys that they manufacture more often than not.

This is the business model of SWAT teams all across the US right now (who some claim are private entities, rather than public servants, based upon their funding),and based upon bogus "threat assessments."

https://www.thv11.com/article/news/crime/lrpd-unveils-new-threat-assessment-for-no-knock-warrants/91-65550524-f749-493a-81ab-62ff39fe1159

And the fact is that their pre-event assessment often involve retired cops, retired intel operators, and other community policing persons who literally move right next door to their targets, and use internet hacking, spying, and redirection to then frame their target as a threat before judges who sign these bogus warrants, or otherwise condone these pig behaviors.

Then, a full assault against individuals is waged in the hidden area of internet, and often with accompanying internet bullying and harassment, EXACTLY as we saw with the recent killing of software engineer, and IT startup mensch Duncan Socrates Lemp.

We also find them and their relatives and associates in the after-death narratives of these events, quoted widely in media.

SO, cops have adopted a sort of corporate model, using people for profits. Its truly a shorn sheep scenario.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Proportionate response

I think in the US legal system, it’s proportionate if the courts say it is proportionate. This is why, during the lame duck session of 2018 I was afraid they might pass an Ermächtigungsgesetz which the Federalist Five in SCOTUS could then declare as unconstitutional (and totally would with direction from their Insect Overlords).

We’re still at risk from an Ermächtigungsgesetz-style executive order which would have to grind its way to SCOTUS before being arbitrarily declared constitutional. But the Federalist Five have dominated the court with its rulings without explanation countless times by now, and are glad to do so when they receive an overriding signal to obey.

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ROGS says:

Re: Re: Re: Coffee hasn't kicked in yet.

You do know that I would have been flagged off of this post if I said what you said there, right?

Shadowy masters….please do elaborate….

Who are they Uriel? They crop up quite a bit in your rhetoric there, lol.

And really: we are that close right now, in many ways, but keep in mind, that Trumpo has many highly placed, wealthy Jews in his circle, and all of them have a free ticket to the Escape Pod Israel ride-so the Ermächtigungsgesetz analogy cannot work, unless you know something I don’t.

This time around, it will be these cabals of christian-neocons waging genocide across the board.

Oh, wait…f@ck me! They are doing that already….

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Shadowy Masters

Oh, this is an opinion I’ve expressed many times before. Having had multiple clients who are enthusiasts of fringe science and hypotheses of conspiracies (inappropriately called conspiracy theories), I’ve tried to steer them towards ones that have more evidence. You know, since we now owe apologies to all those 1960s hippies paranoid about the rising police state.

There was a well-written article talking about Roswell and the JFK assassination that noted that in the eras these incidents were such big nexuses of doubt and skepticism (of the official stories) our government was lousy with actual conspiracies toward treachery and wrongdoing. We don’t have to ponder whether the Bay of Pigs actually happened because the evidence exploded everywhere for the public to clean up.

I’ve pointed my fingers before at SCOTUS’ dark masters, and still can. and now there have been a half dozen more reports providing evidence that our Supreme Court not only has bias but is a fully captured institution. Justice Roberts’ (alleged) fear of losing public confidence in the US legal system is validate because he is obligated to his murky controllers to make rulings that defy logic, precedent, the will of the people and the best service to the nation. He’s owned.

Though granted I was being facetious with my dramatic descriptors, as entirely applicable as they are in this case. It’s so rare that we get to talk about secret cabals as if they really are old white men in fancy conservatories enjoying a really good brandy and cigar as they plot their domination of the world. (And yes, such conservatories do sometimes exist.)

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ROGS says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Shadowy Masters

This:

Having had multiple clients who are enthusiasts of fringe science and hypotheses of conspiracies (inappropriately called conspiracy theories)

Respect. Yes these are indeed innapropriately named as such.

Its nice to see that your opinion is based in the reality of having had clients who were dogged by these hidden actions of the police state controllers, as opposed to the chimps and flaggers here.

Any decent crim-def lawyer, therapist or psychologist is well aware of these cases, and seeks the facts accordingly, and outside of the psychiatric meta-narrative.

And secret cabals as if they really are old white men in fancy conservatories enjoying a really good brandy and cigar

I think I mentioned that a relative of mine was there the day after the execution of Mark Clark in the 1960’s, and saw the bullet holes going into the room door, from outside the room and a few other things similar in other events.

SO, yeah, there really are secret cabals, and yeah, they really do this shit.

It’s very real. But honestly, after the P-Diddy white parties of the 1990’s and few other recent empowerment’s, and the associated mayhem and corruption, it’s not just old white men anymore.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Not just old white men.

Mostly still, but there was always room for those who knew how to keep their knives sharp.

I was flat-mates with a San Francisco journalist who had the Diane Feinstein beat when she was mayor of San Francisco. (Not at the same time.) She conspired with the best of the Cuban cigar club. Even now her support of the EARN IT act belies her interest in keeping the public disorganized and ignorant.

She may pretend she is ignorant about tech, but she sure knows tech is a rising threat to the establishment that keeps her in power.

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ROGS says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Not just old white men.

Wow. Nice, and AMAZING TD testimonial.

Yeah, I have had similar experiences.

This, about Feinstein ( and don’t forget about her postal truck mobbing husband):

She conspired with the best of the Cuban cigar club. Even now her support of the EARN IT act belies her interest in keeping the public disorganized and ignorant

Exactly. They actively disrupt organizing now. Whereas once, they encouraged it because it benefited their business models, now, these scumbags cast Jews in a false light.

I write frequently here about the Jewish Mafia. She is front and center to most of those narratives.

Recently, I also wrote about Meyer Lansky’s daughter too.

You might have noticed that I get flagged a lot here at TD.I suspect a connection, with evidence mind you.

My favorite Feinsteinn story in the last couple years was that one where a drone was flying outside her bedroom window.

I can’t imagine what kind of evil person might have put it there, lol.

ANyone who flies dronesoutside bedroom windows must be evil right?

And: she looks even MORE shitty up close and personal than she does on tv.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 It's not Jewish enough to be the Jewish Mafia

I don’t think it’s organized as a Jewish mafia the way the Sicilian Mafia was intrinsically nepotistic (not just favoring Sicilians but those born in specific families). There are plenty of gentiles in all the organizations of power where practicing Jews have a higher-than-population proportion.

In 20th century US, nepotism was networked through lodges and fraternal orders (Masons, Rotary, Elks Lodge, etc.) If you have evidence that a specifically Jewish order dominates an industry, say the Independent Order of B’nai B’rith strongly influencing the AMA, then maybe we can say it’s actually a Jewish mafia.

Until then, it sounds antisemitic and creepy.

Bill Silverstein (profile) says:

Hard to believe

I’d expect that response if the homeless guy if he had broken into a Krispy Kreme. The police actually enforcing laws against homeless when it is not inconveniencing officers? Some police would argue it’s the homeowners fault, by having a nice home and not giving one to the homeless guy, he encouraged the homeless guy to break in because of the inequity.

Maybe Fresno is different. In other cities in California, I had the police refuse to arrest homeless trespassers who returned on multiple occasions. The police refuse to do anything when the homeless build an encampment on the sidewalk and put up handwritten signs saying, "Sidewalk closed, Sorry."

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s a good thing law enforcement has not been given thermo nuclear devices. We might be missing entire villages if it were up to the cops to apprehend one single unarmed dude.

There was at least one case where the house was destroyed in order to discover it was not occupied … there was no one there and they destroyed the house.

ECA (profile) says:

Lwts ask the court.

What would happen if it was YOUR HOUSE?? Judge?
What ever happened to RIOT GEAR??
Even the military has some.
Isnt this tantamount to Just Burning the house down??
As has been shown before, Insurance aint paying for it.

Did we hire these people to take on the dangerous job of policing humans and NOT give the the hardware to do it?? the Education to do it?? Or are they just using this as a training event.. $10 per person.

Anonymous Coward says:

What a ridiculous decision. I expect it to be appealed.

But,m I bet you that if someone came into their precinct house and destroyed their property that that person would be immediately charged with destruction of a government facility.

This decision opens it up so that anyone can destroy your property and get away with no repercussions.

ECA (profile) says:

what would of been fun.

Is to call the police about destruction of personal property, and trespass..
Call the state police and even call the Attorney general IMMEDIATELY.. to see what the hell is happening.
THEN DEMAND the arrest of those responsible..
Umm isnt there a way for People to arrest anyone, if needed?
Citizens arrest?

If nothing else find the a National guard friend, to call out some friends. OR even have the NG or military have a demonstration of ABILITIES , on a FEW COPS/JUDGES homes.. If they can do it, so can we.
If its not against the law for the cops to do it…THEN WE CAN ALSO. isnt that the basis of our laws??

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