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05 January 2009

You have the right . . .

Unless you go around with a digital tape recorder or camera your rights exist only in theory. You have to be able to prove police misconduct or brutality. And do you really want to face criminal charges when the sum total of the testimony is your word against the beloved hero, clean cut, public servant, first responder police officer? Allow me to tell you a little story. It may be true. It depends on who you ask - the victim or the cop. A woman, home alone with her sleeping baby goes to the door because someone is knocking. Three men dressed in street clothes, one wearing sweat pants and a hoodie jacket, are standing at her door. She opens the door a crack, and says "Yes? Can I help you?" "I need to talk to you," the heavy man wearing dark glasses says. "Okay, what can I do for you?" she answers. "No, lady we need to come in and talk to you," the heavy man insists. At this point the woman is frightened. She has no idea who these men are, so she starts to close the door. The heavy man pushes against the door, and says, "We can do this the hard way or the easy way," he growls. She is terrified and thinking that she and her baby are about to be killed by burglars. Just then the heavy man in the dark glasses flashes what may be a police badge and pushes his way in while claiming he has a search warrant. The other two enter behind the heavy one. Instinctively the woman goes to the sofa to protect her sleeping baby. "Here's your search warrant," and he hands her a piece of paper. "On second thought, I will read it to you." The heavy one snatches the paper back and reads the warrant. He then tells her she has the right to . . . well you know the Miranda list. She says, "I need to call a lawyer." "You ain't calling nobody mother fucker. Where's the money? Where's the dope?" "I don't know what you're talking about," she says. "You're a lying bitch. You're a liar. Where's the money?" "I don't have any money. I don't know what you are talking about." The other two are not searching the house, they are just standing around, uncomfortably close to her baby that is sleeping on the sofa. The heavy one makes and receives several phone calls over the next 30 to 45 minutes. At one point, she hears him say into his cell phone, "You send me up here on some old bullshit." The other two appear to be growing agitated that there is no money or drugs to be had. The heavy one commands her to follow him to a back bedroom where he insists there is money and dope and he wants it now. Again she denies any knowledge of drugs or money, and is again called a "mother fucker" and a "liar." He orders her back to the kitchen, which is in the middle of the house. She can see her baby is still sleeping, the other two are still standing in the living room, doing nothing. No one has told her what police force they are with, they have displayed no badges, and the two in the living room do not have guns. She is suspicious that something very wrong is going on here. She asks again to use the telephone, and is told she is not permitted to make any calls or to answer the phone if it rings. A few minutes later the heavy one returns from the back room with a broken white tablet that resembles an over the counter ibuprofen and three capsules that look like they could be an antibiotic. For the next hour the heavy one pressures the woman to admit the tablet is crack cocaine or some other illegal drug. She continues to deny any knowledge of illegal drugs. "Where's the money? Where do you keep the money? You're a lying mother fucker." She endures this quietly responding only that she has no knowledge of any drugs or money until her husband returns home. When the husband comes home, they meet him at the front door, and pat him down. The heavy one recites the husband his Miranda rights and leads him to the kitchen. He spends about half an hour asking for money and drugs and the name of his supplier. Of course, the husband has no idea what he is talking about. While the big one is demanding money and drugs and names from the husband, the wife is berated by the other two (who still have not identified themselves as police officers). The other two are threatening to send child protective services to her home and take her baby away from her. The two who had been standing around in the living room go outside and search the husband's car, and of course find nothing. The heavy one writes his name and cell phone number on a scrap of paper. He hands this paper to the husband and tells him to call the number at a certain time to make a drug buy for him. The men finally leave, but not before the heavy one tells the couple that he can come back anytime he wants to arrest them both. The woman goes to the local prosecutor's office where she learns that a judge signed the search warrant for her home, but there is no supporting affidavit to establish probable cause attached. Also there is no return receipt that the search warrant has already been served. She tells a lawyer what happened and he laughs and tells her "Those three do that all the time." He tells her to file a complaint. The prosecutor tells her that no crime has been committed against her. The woman is terrified because she has heard about this kind of thing happening to other people, but she never expected it would happen to her. Search warrants based on unreliable informants, no information or fabrications seem to be increasing in number. Please read the article Three Police Officers Arrested. Your Rights You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions. Anything you do say may be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. If you decide to answer questions now without an attorney present you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney. Knowing and understanding your rights as I have explained them to you, are you willing to answer my questions without an attorney present? Please do not tolerate police misconduct and abuse. Record it. Report it. Websites and Articles of Interest Three Police Officers Arrested A Case of Misleading & False Police Affidavit for Search Warrant Police Crimes Miranda v. Arizona Miranda Warning

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