Family arrested for not immediately surrendering their home
July 5, 2013
A Nevada family has filed a federal lawsuit citing the rarely invoked Third Amendment, alleging police unlawfully barged into their home and forcefully evicted them in order to set up surveillance depots to spy on a neighbor.
In full, the Third Amendment states:
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
The complaint alleges plaintiff Anthony Mitchell, a resident of the southwestern Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, was contacted by Henderson Officer Christopher Worley and told his home was needed for police to gain a “’tactical advantage’ against the occupant of the neighboring house.”
According to Courthouse News, the complaint states, “Anthony Mitchell told the officer that he did not want to become involved and that he did not want police to enter his residence. Although Worley continued to insist that plaintiff should leave his residence, plaintiff clearly explained that he did not intend to leave his home or to allow police to occupy his home.”
Police were not content taking “No” for an answer. The complaint goes on to detail the subsequent raid that followed after Mitchell refused to allow officers entry:
“The officers banged forcefully on the door and loudly commanded Anthony Mitchell to open the door to his residence.
“Surprised and perturbed, plaintiff Anthony Mitchell immediately called his mother (plaintiff Linda Mitchell) on the phone, exclaiming to her that the police were beating on his front door.
“Seconds later, officers, including Officer Rockwell, smashed open plaintiff Anthony Mitchell’s front door with a metal ram as plaintiff stood in his living room.
“As plaintiff Anthony Mitchell stood in shock, the officers aimed their weapons at Anthony Mitchell and shouted obscenities at him and ordered him to lie down on the floor.
“Fearing for his life, plaintiff Anthony Mitchell dropped his phone and prostrated himself onto the floor of his living room, covering his face and hands.”Addressing plaintiff as ‘asshole’, officers, including Officer Snyder, shouted conflicting orders at Anthony Mitchell, commanding him to both shut off his phone, which was on the floor in front of his head, and simultaneously commanding him to ‘crawl’ toward the officers.
“Confused and terrified, plaintiff Anthony Mitchell remained curled on the floor of his living room, with his hands over his face, and made no movement.
When Mitchell failed to immediately comply with the officer’s conflicting orders, he was shot at close range with at least three “PepperBall” rounds, non-lethal air rifle rounds similar to paintballs which are typically accurate at distances of up to 60 feet.
As an added bonus, officers also “gratuitously” shot Mitchell’s dog Sam causing her to howl “in fear and pain” and flee the residence into a nearby fenced-in alcove where she remained “without access to water, food, or shelter from the sun for much of the day, while temperatures outside soared to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit,” even though, as mentioned in the complaint, the dog cowered in fear in a corner of the room and posed no threat.
Unbeknownst to Anthony, his parents, Michael and Linda, were experiencing nearly the exact same military-style raid as he was, though they lived several houses down the street.
After deviously coaxing Anthony’s father Michael to leave his home, police also attempted to occupy his residence, but were met with resistance by Anthony’s mother, who opened the door but denied officers entry unless they could produce a warrant – a request they ignored.
Linda was pulled out of her home and escorted up the street to the police command post while officers, without explanation, searched her house and purse.
Meanwhile, Anthony’s father had made arrangements to be picked up from the command post by his other son, James. “When plaintiff Michael Mitchell attempted to leave the HPD command center to meet James, he was arrested, handcuffed and placed in the back of a marked police car,” the complaint states.
Anthony and his father were booked on charges of obstructing an officer and jailed for at least nine hours before they were bailed out. The Mitchells’ complaint suggests charges were filed against them “to provide cover for defendants’ wrongful actions, to frustrate and impede plaintiffs’ ability to seek relief for those actions, and to further intimidate and retaliate against plaintiffs.”
The family is suing for violations of the Third, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments in addition to seeking punitive damages for assault and battery, conspiracy, defamation, abuse of process, malicious prosecution, negligence and emotional distress.
Last year, dash-cam footage surfaced of members of the Henderson Police Department teaming up with the Nevada Highway Patrol to beat a driver who was suffering from diabetic shock and then later callously laughing about it.
The driver sustained multiple kicks and knees to the torso after being mistaken for a drunk driver and later received a settlement of nearly $300,000 from the city and state, as well as taxpayers.
Source: Courthouse News Service