Monday, July 25, 2011

Callous sheriff's deputy threatens to shoot man's dog

A sheriff's deputy in Alameda County (home to Oakland and Berkeley) threatened to shoot Jason Rivera's dog unless he consented to a warrantless search of his home.

"We can do this the easy way and you can take us to your house to look around," Rivera recounts the deputy saying, "or we can detain you for six hours while we get a warrant and go to your house and shoot your dog."

Alameda sheriffs threaten to kill paraplegic man's dog in marijuana raid

Mr. Rivera is a paraplegic medical marijuana user.  The officers' warrant gave them permission to search the man's recording studio, but not his home. 

The Fourth Amendment protects us from "unreasonable searches and seizures."  However, in United States v. Mendenhall, the Supreme Court ruled that the cops may detain a person for questioning and ask to search her belongings without  a warrant as long as a "reasonable person" in her place would have felt free to leave and/or refuse the search.  The decision opened the floodgates to waves of police misconduct and abusive searches by failing to recognize the coercive power inherent in one's status as a police officer.  Would a "reasonable person" feel free to decline a search after a cop threatened to shoot her dog?

HT Radley Balko

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