Botch A Drug Raid? No Problem, Just Seal The Warrant, Citizen Complaint And Gag Order Itself

from the let-no-stone-be-turned dept

Anyone can make a mistake. The best solution is to acknowledge it, make amends if needed, and move forward, striving to learn from the experience. Far too many entities opt instead for bluster, obfuscation and intimidation, rather than deal with the consequences of their screwup. This is especially true for law enforcement agencies, who often use everything in their power to avoid having to admit anything went wrong, much less take responsibility for it.

Here's what went wrong recently, to the detriment of a person who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time: his own house.

A Benedict Avenue resident contends Huron County deputies forced their way into his home Tuesday without a search warrant.

John Collins, who lives in one unit of a triplex home at 114 Benedict Ave., contends deputies got the wrong address when they executed the search warrant. The warrant was for the unit next to his, he said.

The deputies handcuffed him and left him lying on the floor in his unit for 20 minutes after they realized the mistake, Collins said.
Bad enough, but it gets worse.
They tore through his home, he said, after cuffing him and forcing him to the floor facedown. “They searched my whole house, pulled stuff out my closet, broke a couple knick knacks” he said.

One deputy also stepped on his tablet, shattering its screen. Another broke a ceramic decoration that once belonged to his now-deceased son, Collins said...

Two deputies must have realized the mistake, Collins said, because they recognized him from their school days and had to have known he was not the man identified in the search warrant. The deputies went next door, he said. They made contact with the residents there — who were later arrested for drug trafficking.

But six or so other deputies continued searching Collins’ home.
How did the offending deputies rectify the situation after they realized they had both the wrong home and the wrong person? They uncuffed him and left, as if all of the above had never happened.

Collins filed a complaint against the Huron County Sheriff's Department and asked for a copy of the search warrant. This is when the department went on full lockdown with some help from the local judiciary.
Huron County Common Pleas Court Judge Timothy Cardwell issued a secret gag order March 21 to seal the search warrant. The gag order is also secret, Cardwell’s court clerk said after the Register asked for a copy of the order.
Even Collins' complaint itself is now under seal, and the Sheriff's Department is circling the wagons, digging a moat around the circle and filling that moat with blustery statements and unanswered phones.

First, the department flatout denied it had done anything wrong, calling Collins' story a "rumor" that was "highly inaccurate." And, who knows, maybe that would still be up for debate (citizen v. cop and all that), but then the department went and had the complaint sealed. And the warrant. And the gag order itself. It also issued a contradictory statement a few days later.
"We finished a search warrant at 114-1/2 Benedict Ave," he said Thursday. "Our next move then was to check on an individual who may have a warrant in close proximity."

Patrick said deputies "became aware of warrants for an individual in close proximity, which was next door."
Now, the story has changed. According to this narrative, the department supposedly had a warrant for Collins' address but then decided to pursue a different warrant after tossing the first house for twenty minutes while its resident lay face down on the floor, handcuffed. Warrant news must travel really slowly in Huron County, though. The warrant that deputies "became aware of" during their search of the wrong address was issued in 2012.

From that point on, the department (wisely, or at least as close to "wise" as any of this gets) decided to cut the lines of communication, as Matt Westerhold of the Sandusky Register notes in his description of the department's "Plan B."
As Sheriff's Howard's spokesman, make yourself as unavailable and be unfriendly as possible to any reporter who has questions about the inconsistent story you're trying to make sure the public hears.
Still, the department (via Capt. Ted Patrick) continues to insist that it did nothing wrong. But it's completely unwilling to provide any evidence to back that assertion up. Instead, it expects to just push its way through the mess it's created without ever having to explain exactly what went on that night, all with the implicit blessing of a local judge.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 3:12pm

    the police state strikes again!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 3:24pm

    This is why it is better just to shoot people 20 or 30 times for resisting arrest

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 3:28pm

    ACLU better get on this shit

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Roger Strong (profile), Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 3:43pm

    The Iraq invasion and occupation? Just a rumor. Highly inaccurate. Never happened.

    Our next move then was to check on a country - Afghanistan - which was in close proximity.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 3:50pm

    Jaill for all involved

    Including that fake of a judge.

    Corruption this blatant should get a huge kick in the pants!

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    lars626, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 3:52pm

    Juve judge

    I looked up the judge. He is a Juvenile Court judge. He must be a bit out of touch with reality to issue these orders. Hopefully a more senior judge in Huron county will over rule this foolishness.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 4:20pm

    Re:

    What crashed in Roswell? Why, it was nothing more than a weather balloon that the government mistook for a saucer-shaped craft.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 4:37pm

    I don't understand how they can gag a public search order. I don't know where the precedent for this even is.

     

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  9.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 4:57pm

    Re:

    It's under the 'I am the law!' clause that more and more police and government agencies follow and stridently defend, and can be summed up as 'Because we felt like it, don't answer to you, and what are you going to do about it?'

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 5:12pm

    Which exactly statute provides for sealed order?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 5:30pm

    I would love to see Ken White tackle this one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    art guerrilla (profile), Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 5:40pm

    Re:

    why for ?
    motherfuckin' eagles, bitchez! ! !

    trumps all !

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 5:43pm

    "unwilling to provide any evidence to back that assertion up"

    Because.

    Haven't you got that memo by now?

    Because.

    Well since you're nice to me let me fill in the blanks.

    Because national security.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    zip, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 6:58pm

    It seems to be the natural tendency of every government agency to try to employ secrecy to the greatest degree possible, and for as long as possible. Especially when the revelations could be embarrassing and the public blowback severe.

    Although the FBI's (FOIA-exempt) files on Martin Luther King are supposed to be made public in 2027 (more than 70 years after first being compiled) I wouldn't be surprised by some sort of "Copyright-Act-like extensions that attempt to keep them under wraps for "forever minus a day".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Guy From V, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 6:58pm

    Re: Re:

    Would that be the USA v. Dredd or USA v. Anthrax decision?

     

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  16.  
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    Trip W (profile), Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 7:22pm

    When did search warrants become search and destroy warrants? Wrong house... understandable, everyone gets confused when going to a tri-plex for the first time. Hand-cuffed and left on the floor... well maybe the guy was physically fit and the out of shape cops were intimidated. But to trash the house and break all of his stuff just because they aren't finding what you are looking for? They aren't cops, they are thugs tossing the place.

     

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  17.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 7:42pm

    Re:

    Nah, they'll just 'lose' the records at some point, hard to release them when they no longer exist you know.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 7:54pm

    Re:

    That is simply an extension of the lack of accountability. Law enforcement has gotten away with trashing people's property (whether they find what they are looking for or not) for so long that even if they realize that they are not looking in the right place they don't care because they don't have to be responsible for their actions. In fact, they likely continued the search hoping they would find something to justify being there after they realized they were in the wrong place. If they could find something that made him look like a criminal, then they would simply point to that and claim he deserved it anyway.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 8:40pm

    Re: Juve judge

    Eh, well it is no wonder they're out of touch with reality when they deal with show trials all day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Wally, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 9:53pm

    nathandog04@yahoo.com

    Huron County, Ohio...is sort of known for this kind of crap...I'm glad to see someone fighting back.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 10:12pm

    I bet the Huron County Thug Depart thought they could get away with lying, because John Collins was home alone and there were no witnesses around during the illegal search.

    Even if he had security cameras in his house, I bet the Huron County TD would have seized the video tapes during their warrant-less search, and then said the evidence was lost.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 11:27pm

    Re: Jaill for all involved

    no, it should be shot out of a shuttle and right into the Sun. For fuel purposes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 1:20am

    Re:

    They can't even into law.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 1:31am

    Re:

    Same for JFK...your last real president who was about to reveal something big...

    Notice how all following presidents were shitballs. Jimmy Carter can be forgiven, and if it wasn't for Reagan's camp manipulations a week before the vote, he would have been a 2 term president, he was the first target of concerted effort at undermining a President by the fury of corrupt mass media then.

    He brought it on himself though, that asshole, how dare he even talk about severing ties with Usrael? (only the massive welfare cheques you give them). This is not the kind of thing that's easy to find in history books, but some (I forgot which authors) have discussed this. Apparently he even went as far as saying to his generals : "If I am re-elected, I'll fuck the "jews".

    The guy had more balls than he looked like. The fact mass media ridiculize him to this day for being a humanitarian (a real one, not this bullshit like the Clinton Initiative...) is a good hint about how good of a person he was/is. I only hold contempt on his abortion views, but that's something very old people are expected to have.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 1:37am

    Re: Re:

    Ever watched that Aaron Russo interview shortly (5 months or so before his death) with Alex Jones (I HATE Alex Jones, but sometimes he speaks to people worth listening to, of course he tries to steal the spotlight and tell more lies and talk over them...).

    In the late 60's he had a bar/music club that was very popular in Chicago. Because the cops and politicians there hated all the counterculture "hippies" hanging over there one day they had "enough" and had the fire dept show up to close down the place and make everyone leave saying the building was unsafe in case of fire. Then they detained him shortly, when he was released, he noticed that his bar was filled with garbage, megapounds of garbage everywhere. Turns out it was the cops who did this and then the place was closed due to uncleanliness and many other bullshit reasons.

    That's when he realized Fascism had taken over America. In 1968...

     

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  26.  
    icon
    McCrea (profile), Apr 4th, 2014 @ 1:49am

    THIS IS AMERICA AND THIS IS OUTRA... lolcatz.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 2:30am

    ..and in civilized society : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnkbdUJzJAk

    Even with the bad translation it's evident that things can be done differently.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Apr 4th, 2014 @ 3:42am

    Re:

    I was thinking about it. I've seen some neat systems that save the copies in the cloud so even if the local copies are taken there are the cloud ones intact. A while back I thought how you could guarantee that your phone won't be taken by a cop and evidence destroyed when I stumbled upon an app called Bambuser that streams stuff in real time (I have yet to test it to see if the stream remains saved in the cloud).

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    me@me.net, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 4:45am

    There should a federal review of what went wrong

    and ARRESTS made of the offending officers. If these idiots faced potential jail time for screwing up they might actually get over their power trip long enough to make sure they do things correctly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 7:41am

    Wrong house? No, that is not an acceptable "mistake". You do to allow pilot to hold licence after crashing an airplane while landing at wrong airport, do you?

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    AC, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 7:42am

    Just another nail in the coffin

    This is just another nail in the coffin for police in the USA. Soon nobody will trust any law enforcement, and they are going to start getting shot as they come through the wrong doors. I am sure the citizens are fed up with their tactics there, all police will have to start watching their backs, the citizens of the USA are going to start to fight back, and they are better armed than the police, they would be good to learn this now, unless they want to wait till it is too late and one detachment is eradicated.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    icon
    limbodog (profile), Apr 4th, 2014 @ 7:46am

    Re: Continue searching anyway

    My understanding is that this is factual. Despite the warrant being for another apartment, and the police having entered the wrong place, if they did so 'accidentally', then anything they find in the wrong apartment is still admissible as evidence and they could arrest the victim and then whitewash the whole thing. "Good thing we went to the wrong place, because we found out he was smuggling photos of kittens hanging from tree branches!"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    edpo, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 10:00am

    Time for the DOJ to step in.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    AC, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 2:25pm

    Violence

    If this doesn't stop, if the police involved in these actions don't go to prison every time this happens, we are looking at a second civil war - not between two political factions, but between the whole of the civil populace and the people comprising the government.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Zonker, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 4:55pm

    Breaking and entering, home invasion, burglary, and vandalism. How do you press these criminal charges when they are committed by the same people that are normally called to enforce these laws on us? There is no legal exception for any of these criminal acts as there was no warrant to enter or search the premises, and if it was accidental they would have to plead with the victim not to press charges and apologize. If you or I did even one of the acts described here we would be arrested, but police obviously won't arrest themselves. How to make them accountable?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 11:52pm

    Re: Violence

    Coming to a bell-tower near you...and they'll blame Marine training.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2014 @ 2:38am

    Re: Re:

    "Same for JFK...your last real president..."

    You got that right. I would've added 'elected'.

    "...how dare he even talk about severing ties with Israel?"

    Or, as I've heard it, having reservations about giving them nukes when those nukes were demanded.

    (obligatory disclaimer: my views are mine alone and represent no one and nothing but me. Further, I do not have anything against Jewish people or Judaism. Israel and Zionism are completely different and separate from Judaism.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2014 @ 2:49am

    Re: Re:

    This, but with cloud replaced with off-site. The difference being control of the data, of course. Anything from putting up a small server at a friends house to renting one in a foreign country. Best setup would be to have the camera(s) save the files both locally and off-site, so if the phone, camera, SD card in the camera, etc. are taken, it will have the appearance that the evidence has been successfully covered up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Debbie Guest, Apr 13th, 2014 @ 11:43pm

    Botch A Raid

    It is so outrageous, it's hilarious.Do they really think that "Plan B" was even a option?????????/ OMG How funny!!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Debbie Guest, Apr 13th, 2014 @ 11:43pm

    Botch A Raid

    It is so outrageous, it's hilarious.Do they really think that "Plan B" was even a option?????????/ OMG How funny!!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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