Botched paramilitary-style police raids constitute a pattern of abuse
new CATO institute report documents police raids across the country - including 5 in oregon, that are part of a pattern of abuse by law enforcement.
Marcella Monroe and Tam Davage
October 17, 2002—OR
Police conduct a raid on three homes they suspect of growing marijuana. All three homes are owned by one couple, Marcella Monroe and Tam Davage.
On the morning of the raid, 52 police officers in full SWAT attire deploy flashbang grenades, and force entry into the occupied home without announcing themselves.
Police pull two couples out of bed and wrestle them to the ground. They put assault weapons to their heads, tightly handcuff them, and refuse to let the two women, who were partially nude, cover themselves (they also snap pictures of the women before allowing them to dress). When Monroe asks if she could dress, one officer puts a black bag over her head and tightens it to silence her. He pushes her to the ground and puts a boot on the back of her neck.
Police find no plants or weapons, and only "residue" of marijuana in a coupel of plastic bags, for which the couple's tenant is issued a misdemeanor citation. Nonetheless, Davage and Monroe are charged with felony manufacture of a controlled substance, due to "evidence" consisting of fans, flourescent lights, plastic sheeting, timers, potting equipment, sandwich bags, a scale, 24 electrical outlets, and a shop vacuum. Police are aware of Monroe's landscaping business, Davage's jewelry business, and the fact that the couple is repairing their home from storm damage, but nonetheless proceed to cite the equipment as evidence of marijuana cultivation.
Police defend the raid as entirely necessary and appropriate, given the well-known danger posed by people who grow marijuana. The spokesman for one of the talk forces involved in the raid adds that "the community at large" approves of such tactics. The Whittaker Community Council later condemns the raid at a public neighborhood meeting and in a press release.
Davage and Monroe have since filed suit, alleging that police knowingly fabricated evidence and omitted exculpatory information in applying for the search warrant.
Rebecca Nolan, "Neighbors call tactics in drug raid militaristic," Eugene Register-Guard, December 5, 2002.
Federal complaint filed by Tom Davage and Marcella Monroe in the United State District Court for the District of Oregon.
"Statement of Whitaker Community Council," April 30, 2003, http://www.Whitaker.us.WCC_statement.html
"Police Illegally Raid Homes with Tank; Prompts Federal Lawsuit," press release, Whitaker Community Council, http://www.whiteaker, us./attorney_press_release.html
April 30, 1997—OR
On April 30, 1997 at 5:30 am, police storm the bedroom of Luis Carrasco-Flores on a no-knock raid, part of a larger raid on three apartments. Flores awakes to the site of armed men in his room. He then pulls a pistol out from his pillow, at which point officers open fire and shoot him dead.
Flores' relatives noted in media reports that the apartment adjacent to Flores' had been robbed the previous month, and a tenant there had been murdered, implying he had every reason to believe the men in his room were criminal intruders. Prosecutors would later concede there was no evidence Flores had commited any crime. Friends say he was trying to save enough money to move out of the crime-ridden complex.
No officers were charged or disciplined for the raid. The raid came just seven months after Salem police shot 63-year-old Salvador Hernandez in a no-knock raid. Hernandez also was not the target of the raid.
Cheryl Martinis, "Salem police shooting ruled justified," The Oregonian, March 6, 1997.
August 2, 1996—OR
On August 2, 1996, police storm the home of 62-year-old Salvator Hernandez on a drug raid. The raid is part of a broader raid that morning involving 47 police officers and federal agents.
Hernandez, who is nearly deaf, is making breakfast for himself and his friend, 54-year old Bortolo Pineda.
According to police, as they entered the home, Hernandez took the knife he was using to make breakfast and "lunged" at them with a "menacing" look on his face. According to Pineda, Hernandez didn't hear the police shouts, and had turned to get some sausage from the refrigerator. Police opened fire, and hit Hernandez in the chest five times, killing him.
Hernandez was a farmworker described by friends and his employer as a "good man," and a "good worker." He had no criminal record, and in fact had been a police officer in Mexico before coming to America. He was a grandfather of 21 and a great-grandfather of one. There were no drugs on his person or in his system.
Just days later, a grand jury would clear the raiding officers of all charges, ruling that they had reason to believe their lives were in danger.
Salem police pointedly refused to apologize for Hernandez's death.
Cheryl Martinis, "Two Salem officers kill 63 year-old," The Oregonian, August 3, 1996.
Laura Trujillo, "Jury clears police in fatal shooting," The Oregonian, August 8, 1996.
Laura Trujillo, "Police in Salem decline to apologize," The Oregonian, August 9, 1996.
Laura Trujillo, "The Shooting of Salvador Hernandez," The Oregonian, Septebmer 1, 1996.
August 21, 1993—OR
In August 1993, a battalion of police in SWAT gear storm a cul-de-sac on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon. Teams of police swarm several homes in the neighborhood, including the home of Dale and Penny Randall, who are pulled from their bed, naked, at gunpoint, and aren't permitted to dress. The team tears the Randall's home apart looking for drugs. The couple is subjected to an hour of screaming and obscenities, and is never given back nude photos of Penny Randall taken by her husband.
Just outside the Randalls home, a scrap metal worker named Johnny Senteno had come to haul some waste away from the rental, only recently occupied by the Randalls.
As Senteno is talking to a neighbor, he turns to see a National Guard M-113 armored personnel carrier filled with armed personnel barreling toward him.
Two members of the Portland Police Bureau's Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) in camouflage and face masks, leap from the truck screaming obscenities.
Portland's alternative weekly PDXS reports:
"Before he could respond, Senteno was shot. The first impact struck his chest. The second shattered his arm, which he had held in front of his heart. Senteno describes the projectile which struck him as a "pepper bullet." It expanded to the size of a tennis ball. Upon impact it dispersed a burning talcum-like powder."
Senteno had been hit with a grenade launcher. Though described as "non-lethal," the weapon is intended to be used from distances more than 60 feet. Senteno was hit at a distance of less than 15. Senteno would eventually settle with the city of Portland for $100,000.
Though police found a small amount of marijuana in the Randall's apartment, the couple would later learn they weren't the actual targets of the raid. Police were after the home's owner, Robert Cozzi. Cozzi had recently moved out and rented the home to the Randalls. Cozzi had been fingered to police as a potential drug dealer by a confidential informant. When a reporter from the PDXS paper attempted to contact the mayor's office about details of the raid, a spokesman said, "Generally, these things are left as they should be, to the management of agencies involved." A spokesman for the Portland Police Bureau wasn't forthcoming either, saying only that details of the raid would only be given out "on a need-to-know basis."
Paul Richmond, "True Stories from the Front Line," PDXS, October 22, 1995.
The Navarro Family
August 24, 1988—OR
In December 1993, Medford, Oregon couple Jose and Esperanza Navarro won a $100,000 settlement after police erroneously raided their home.
Five years earlier, police had obtained a warrant to search a home on a remote access road. They wrongly interpreted the ambiguous information on the warrant to be the Navarro's home, kicked in the couple's door, and searched their home at gunpoint.
"Court Rules Against Oregon Detective In Civil Rights Lawsuit," Associated Press, June 1, 1992.
"Oregon couple wins settlement for botched raid," Seattle Times, December 12, 1993.
Research and concept by Radley Balko
Programming by Lee Laslo.
Additional research and editing by Victoria Kurzweg and Killian Lapeyre.
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