Archive for August, 2012
Buffalo Woman Says Police Raided Wrong House, Killed Her Dog
By John Borsa
August 30, 2012 Updated Aug 31, 2012 at 7:17 AM EDT
BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) – When Rita Hairston’s husband died five years ago, she adopted a dog to keep her company and help her through an emotional time.
Prada was 5-years-old at the time. The black Labrador Retriever became more than a pet, but a part of Hairston’s family. A companion.
Last Saturday morning, she returned to her E. Morris Ave. house in University Heights in Buffalo and discovered her home had been broken into and Prada was missing.
There was a puddle of blood on the floor and bullet holes in the door of a bedroom where Prada slept.
But it was not a burglar who broke in. Hairston found a search warrant, signed by a judge, issued to the Erie County Sheriff’s Department, on her kitchen floor.
Hairston said police raided her home, searching for cocaine, connected to a man named Lance Thompson.
Hairston said she rents another home she owns to Thompson, who dates her daughter, but he does not live in her residence and she has absolutely no connection to his alleged illegal activities.
A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said they had probable cause to search Hairston’s residence because Thompson’s alleged drug activities were suspected to take place from Hairston’s house on occasion. The home which she rents to Thompson was also searched.
Deputies were forced to shoot and kill Prada during the raid because he threatened them, the spokesman said.
No drugs were recovered from Hairston’s home.
Watch Eyewitness News at 11:00 Thursday night for more on this story.
Father concerned after police shoot dog near son
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (WSVN) — The family of a dog shot by police is glad their pet survived, but the father is concerned after officers opened fire so close to his son.
The Jones’ family dog “Baxter” is recovering but can barely move after being shot several times.
Friday night, Pembroke Pines Police were called out to the Jones’ house along Southwest 171st Terrace after reports that Baxter was on the loose.
Thirteen-year-old Cameron Jones witnessed everything as police arrived. “When I got outside they said get your dog or we are going to shoot him,” said Cameron. “They gave me two seconds and shot him six times.”
The family immediately rushed Baxter to an animal hospital. “It just felt like a movie, I was so traumatized. It didn’t feel right that they shot him six times,” said Cameron.
Paul Jones, Cameron’s father, says what worries him is that the entire incident happened in front of his teenager. “My biggest concern is that six shots were fired 17-feet from my son,” he said. “Only three landed in the dog. Did the officer have my son’s safety in mind?”
Police say Baxter bit one of the officer’s ankles, forcing them to fire. But a neighbor says that story is doubtful. “I said, ‘Show me the bite marks.’ He said, ‘Well I am not going to let a dog bite the officer and then shoot.’ I said, ‘OK well then you’re changing the story,'” said the neighbor.
Cameron says he is happy his dog survived.
Paul hopes other families do not have to go through this experience, especially young family members. “I want that this doesn’t happen to another family,” he said. “My son is traumatized.”
The Pembroke Pines Police Department said they do not have a comment at this time.
St. Paul Cops Shoot Dog in Wrong-Door Raid, Force Handcuffed Kids to Sit Near the Corpse
Mike Riggs|Aug. 10, 2012 8:43 am
A St. Paul, Minnesota family claims in a lawsuit that police officers who conducted a wrong-door raid on their home shot their dog, and then forced their three handcuffed children to sit near the dead pet while officers ransacked the home. The lawsuit, which names Ramsey County, the Dakota County Drug Task Force, and the DEA, and asks for $30 million in civil rights violations and punitive damages after a wrong-door raid, also claims that the officers kicked the children and deprived one of them of her diabetes medication.
The suit also alleges that one of the lead officers with the task force “provided false information” in order to get a warrant to raid the Franco family’s home. (That information being the Franco family’s address, and not that of their supposedly criminal neighbor Rafael Ybarra.)
And boy, did Ybarra miss out on a horrific raid. Courthouse News reports:
But on the night of July 13, 2010, the task force broke down the Francos’ doors, “negligently raided the home of plaintiffs, by raiding the wrong home and physically brutalizing all the above-named occupants of said house,” the complaint states.
Even after learning that they were in the wrong house, the complaint states, the drug busters stayed in the Francos’ home and kept searching it.
They “handcuffed all of the inhabitants of the plaintiffs’ home except plaintiff Analese Franco who was forced, virtually naked, from her bed onto the floor at gunpoint by officers of the St. Paul Police Department SWAT team and officers of the St. Paul Police Department.”
The complaint states: “Upon forcibly breaching the plaintiffs’ home, defendants terrorized the plaintiffs at gun and rifle point.
“Each plaintiff was forced to the floor at gun and rifle point and handcuffed behind their backs.
“Defendants shot and killed the family dog and forced the handcuffed children to sit next to the carcass of their dead pet and bloody pet for more than an hour while defendants continued to search the plaintiffs’ home.”
One child “was kicked in the side, handcuffed and searched at gunpoint,” the family says.
Another child, a girl, “a diabetic, was handcuffed at gunpoint and prevented by officer from obtaining and taking her medication, thus induced a diabetic episode as a result of low-blood sugar levels.”
Shawn Scovill of the taskforce may have raided the wrong house, but he didn’t want to let the opportunity to rifle through someone’s things go to waste. So he and his team ransacked the Franco house for over an hour, and managed to find a .22 caliber pistol in the “basement bedroom of Gilbert Castillo,” which the suit says they attributed to the head of the Franco household, Roberto Franco. According to the suit, Franco was convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm, and remains behind bars. (If anyone can weigh in on the legal loophole that might allow evidence seized during a wrong-door raid to be used in court, please fill me in. Also, are Minnesota gun laws that strict?)
Since the DEA is named in the suit, the Francos’ legal team will likely find itself going head-to-head with Obama administration lawyers, who argued a similar case earlier this year before the Ninth Circuit. Short recap of the proceedings: The DOJ sought a summary dismissal of a lawsuit filed against seven DEA agents for their rough treatment of a family of four–mother, father, two very young daughters–during a wrong-door raid conducted during the Bush administration. The Ninth Circuit, denied the DOJ’s request for a summary dismissal, and drew a bright line between how adults are treated during raids, and how children are treated during raids.
So there’s reason to hope that any request of a summary dismissal of the Francos’ case (by local law or federal attorneys) won’t fly based simply on allegations that the children were cuffed, kicked, deprived of medicine, and made to sit near their dead pet for an hour. But I don’t think suing over the wrong-door aspect will get the Franco family very far, unless they can prove the mistake on the warrant was intentional and that the officers were aware of the address error before the raid was conducted.