Washington DC Police, SWAT Teams, And Bomb Squad Rampage Destroys Iraq Veteran’s Home – Illegally Searched Locked Home, Seized Property Without A Warrant, And Arrested Man Without Cause

June 5, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – While Army Sgt. Matthew Corrigan was sound asleep inside his Northwest D.C. home, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) was preparing to launch a full-scale invasion of his home. SWAT and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams spent four hours readying the assault on the English basement apartment in the middle of the snowstorm of the century.

The police arrested the veteran of the Iraq war and searched his house without a warrant, not to protect the public from a terrorist or stop a crime in progress, but to rouse a sleeping man the police thought might have an unregistered gun in his home.

It all started a few hours earlier on Feb. 2, 2010, when Sgt. Corrigan called the National Veterans Crisis Hotline for advice on sleeping because of nightmares from his year training Iraqi soldiers to look for IEDs in Fallujah. Without his permission, the operator, Beth, called 911 and reported Sgt. Corrigan “has a gun and wants to kill himself.”

According to a transcript of the 911 recording, Beth told the cops that, “The gun’s actually on his lap.” The drill sergeant told me he said nothing of the kind, and his two pistols and rifle were hidden under clothes and in closets, to avoid theft.

So around midnight, the police arrived at the row house at 2408 N. Capitol Street. Over the next two hours, several emergency response team units were called to the scene, calling in many cops from home.

Police memos from that night describe the situation as involving a man who is, “threatening to shoot himself,” but “doesn’t want to hurt anybody.”

None of the cops’ documents indicate a threat that warranted a “barricade” and the closure of several streets to create “an outer perimeter that prohibited both traffic and pedestrian access.” With dozens of cops on the scene, they created a “staging area” two blocks away.

Around 1 a.m., the police knocked on the door of Tammie Sommons, the upstairs neighbor in the row house. Ms. Sommons had lived there since 2008 with her three roommates and, in that time, had become a close friend of Sgt. Corrigan. She had a key to his apartment and often walked his dog Matrix.

“I opened the door to this scene with three cops with guns pointed at Matt’s door,” she recalled in an interview this week. “One officer told me that Matt called a suicide hotline and was about to kill himself. I said that was impossible, he wasn’t that kind of guy. I told the police I see him every day and would know if he was suicidal.”

Over the next hour, Ms. Sommons repeatedly told the police she was sure that Sgt. Corrigan was merely sleeping. She knew he took prescription sleeping pills because of repeated nightmares from his year in Iraq. The cops wouldn’t listen to her.

“I said to the police, ‘You guys are making a big mistake. He’s not what you think,’” recalled Ms. Sommons. She offered to go downstairs and clear up the situation, but the police would not let her.

The officers asked her whether Sgt. Corrigan owned any guns. “I said, of course he has guns, he’s in the military,” she replied. Ms. Sommons had never seen the sergeant’s guns, but she is from a military family, in which gun ownership was the norm. She was truthful with the police because she was not aware the District requires registration of every gun.

This month, the U.S. House passed a nonbinding amendment, sponsored by Rep. Phil Gingrey, that said active military living in or stationed in D.C. should not be bound by the stringent firearm laws. Were such a law in place two years ago, Sgt. Corrigan would not have been targeted by the police.

MPD told Ms. Sommons that someone had reported that there was the smell of gas coming from Sgt. Corrigan’s apartment. “I told them that there was no gas in his apartment — it was all electric,” she recalled. “I said if they smelled something, it’s just my roommate who was cooking chicken parmesan.”

Still, the police refused to accept the simpler explanation. “The cops said we needed to leave our house because Matt was going to shoot through the ceiling,” Ms. Sommons said. “They painted this picture like Rambo was downstairs and ready to blow up the place.”

At 3 a.m., the police called in an EOD unit — the bomb squad. They brought in negotiators. They had the gas company turn off the gas line to the house. A few minutes before 4 a.m., they started calling Sgt. Corrigan’s cell phone, but they got no answer because he turned it off before going to bed. They woke him up by calling his name on a bullhorn. He then turned on the phone and was told to surrender outside.

Arrested Without Cause

When the police wouldn’t accept Sgt. Corrigan’s word that he was fine, he was forced to leave his home and surrender. When he stepped outside, he faced assault teams with rifles pointed at his chest. He immediately dropped to his knees, with his hands over his head.

Officers in full protective gear zip-tied Sgt. Corrigan’s hands behind his back and pulled him up from his knees, forcing him into a large tactical command center called the “BEAR” which was parked at the staging area.

Although police did not read Sgt. Corrigan his Miranda rights, they questioned him inside the tactical truck. They asked the Iraq veteran basic questions about his life from various angles to get him to admit to owning guns. He remained silent about his two handguns and one rifle, which he had not registered after moving into the city.

Suddenly a police commander jumped in the truck and demanded to know where Sgt. Corrigan put his house key. He refused.

“I’m not giving you the key. I’m not giving consent to enter my house,” Sgt. Corrigan recalled saying in an interview with me last week at D.C. Superior Court after the city dropped all 10 charges against him.

“Then the cop said to me, ‘I don’t have time to play this constitutional bullshit with you. We’re going to break your door in, and you’re going to have to pay for a new door.’”

“‘Looks like I’m buying a new door,’” Sgt. Corrigan responded. “He was riffed”

Realizing quickly that his house would get raided without his permission, he asked for one thing from the police. “I said, ‘Please don’t hurt my dog. He’s friendly. He’s a good dog. Please don’t hurt him.’ They said they wouldn’t.”

The police then took Sgt. Corrigan to the VA hospital, still with his hands restrained. He didn’t want to be put in the hospital against his will, so he was okay with being left there temporarily. He signed himself in for help.

“After having all those guns at me, I was broken,” he said, pointing again at his chest, where he’d seen the rifle red laser dots. “I hadn’t slept in days, I just wanted to sleep.”

The reservist spent three nights in the hospital. When he got out, the police were waiting to arrest him for the unregistered guns found when they raided his home, without a warrant.

Search, Seizure, but no Warrant

Since Since Sgt. Corrigan refused to permit a search of his house, the police had to break down his door. The cops, however, didn’t bother to wait for a search warrant before doing so. “They were all keyed up because they had been there and ready to go all night,” surmised Sgt. Corrgian’s attorney Richard Gardiner.

The first to enter the apartment with the supposedly dangerous apartment was the Emergency Response Team, which secured the dog Matrix and gave him over to animal control, according to police reports. Only then did the EOD personnel enter to search using portable x-ray equipment.

During the “explosive threat clearing efforts,” police reported finding the sergeant’s “hazardous materials,” which included two pistols and a rifle, binoculars and ammunition. The report also details how it took the combined efforts of the police, EOD and the D.C. Fire Department to seize the “military ammunition can that contained numerous fireworks type devices.” These were fireworks left over from the Fourth of July.

Also taken into evidence was what the police described as a “military smoke grenade” and “military whistler device.” This smoke-screen canister and trip wire were put in Sgt. Corrigan’s rucksack in 1996 by his squad leader and had long been forgotten over the years. EOD took custody of the smoke grenade and whistle. The rest of the the materials were handed over to the crime scene search department at 7:30 a.m.


Police Lt. R.T. Glover was pleased with the seven hour operation that resulted in finding three unregistered guns in D.C. In his report to Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, he concluded that, “as a result of this barricade incident, there are no recommendations for improvement with respect to overall tactical operations.”

Police Destruction

The dry after-action notes from the police following the operation give no clue to the property damage done to Sgt. Corrigan’s home. They tore apart the 900 square foot place.

Instead of unzipping luggage, the police used knives to cut through and destroy the bags. They dumped over the bookshelves, emptied closets, threw the clothes on the floor.

In the process, they knocked over the feeding mechanism for the tropical fish in the sergeant’s six-foot long aquarium. When he was finally released from jail two weeks later, all of his expensive pet fish were dead in the tank.

The guns were seized, along with the locked cases, leaving only broken latches behind. The ammunition, hidden under a sleeping bag in the utility closet, was taken. They broke Sgt. Corrigan’s eyeglasses and left them on the floor. The police turned on the electric stove and never turned it off and left without securing the broken door.

When Ms. Sommons came back to her home the next day, she looked into Sgt. Corrigan’s apartment. “I was really upset because it was ransacked. It made me lose respect for the police officers involved,” she said, the stepdaughter of a correctional officer.

“Here was Matt, who spent a year fighting for our country in Iraq — where these police would never set foot in — and they treat him like trash off the street.”

In February, Sgt. Corrigan filed a civil suit against the District asking for a minimum of $500,000 in damages for violating his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. His attorney, Mr. Gardiner, intends to add some of the individual officers to the suit when they are identified in discovery.

Appeared Here

Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Cases Involving Attacks By Police Using Taser Weapons – Pregnant Woman Who Wouldn’t Sign Ticket Assaulted

May 29, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – The US Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to take up the appeal of a pregnant woman who was shocked three times with a police Taser after she refused to sign a traffic ticket for driving 32 miles per hour in a 20 m.p.h. school zone.

The woman, Malaika Brooks, was seven months pregnant and was driving her 11-year-old son to school in Seattle at the time of the speeding violation.

At issue in the case was whether police acted reasonably in deploying the Taser after Ms. Brooks refused to sign the speeding ticket and then refused to voluntarily exit her car to allow officers to place her under arrest.

The justices were being asked to examine under what circumstances police use of a Taser device crosses the line from acceptable law enforcement tactic to excessive force.

The high court also declined to hear a second police Taser case involving a woman in Maui, Hawaii, Jayzel Mattos, who was intentionally shocked with a Taser as police attempted to arrest her husband, Troy, following a domestic abuse allegation.

Both Brooks and Ms. Mattos filed suit against the police, alleging they violated their Fourth Amendment right to be free from the use of excessive force. Lawyers for the police officers argued that the officers were protected from such lawsuits by qualified immunity.

In both cases, federal judges ruled that the police officers were not entitled to qualified immunity, and that the cases should proceed to a trial.

The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, ruling that even though the actions by police amounted to the excessive use of force, the law was not established clearly enough at the time of both incidents to give police fair warning that their actions were unreasonable and unconstitutional.

“We conclude that Brooks and the Mattoses have alleged constitutional violations, but that not every reasonable officer at the time of the respective incidents would have known – beyond debate – that such conduct violates the Fourth Amendment,” the Ninth Circuit said.

The high court decision not to take up the two cases allows the Ninth Circuit decision to stand.

The Taser incident with Brooks took place in November 2004. The 33-year-old expectant mother was pulled over by a police officer and issued a ticket for driving too fast in a school zone.

Under Seattle law, traffic violators are required to sign their tickets upon receipt. Failure to sign the ticket is itself a violation of the law.

After stopping at the side of the road, Brooks told her son to walk the rest of the way to school. She then told the officer that she did not believe she was speeding in the school zone and that she felt signing the ticket was an admission of guilt. She told the officer she wished to contest the charge.

Another officer and a police sergeant soon arrived on the scene. The officers insisted that unless Brooks signed the ticket she would be arrested and taken to jail. As further incentive an officer produced a Taser.

Brooks told the officer she did not know what a Taser was. She added: “I have to go to the bathroom, I am pregnant, I’m less than 60 days from having my baby.”

The officers attempted to physically remove Brooks from the car, but she held tightly to the steering wheel. One of the officers then used the Taser to deliver an electric shock to Brooks, first to her thigh, then her arm, and finally to her neck. The three shocks took place within 42 seconds.

She was then pulled from the car to the ground, handcuffed, and taken to jail.

A jury later convicted her of refusing to sign a traffic citation. No verdict was reached on a resisting arrest charge.

Brooks gave birth to a healthy baby girl in January 2005. Brooks has permanent burn scars at the Taser contact points, according to briefs filed in the case.

Appeared Here

Veteran Birmingham Alabama Police Officer Curtis Thornton Arrested And Charged With Arson Amid Investigation Into Series Of Fires That Have Burned 23 Homes In The Area

May 26, 2012

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA – A Birmingham police officer with almost three years on the force has been arrested after a series of arsons in abandoned houses in the city and a suburb this month.

Fourteen houses were set ablaze in western Birmingham, and nine in the northern suburb of Warrior.

The Birmingham Police Department and the Alabama State Fire Marshal Office said at a news conference on Friday that Curtis Thornton, a patrolman in the city’s western precinct, had been charged with two counts of arson, one count of attempted arson and one count of felony criminal mischief related to the suburban fires.

Officer Thornton has not yet been charged in any of the Birmingham fires, but police officials here said they expected charges to be filed.

“Although no charges have been filed as of this date, obviously we have now the focus of the investigation,” Chief A. C. Roper Jr. said. “We were appalled at the direction the case has taken, but our goal is to bring that person to justice, regardless of who he is or where he might work.”

Besides the state arson investigation, the Birmingham police are conducting an internal inquiry, Chief Roper said.

Officer Thornton, 27, joined the department in August 2009. During the recent arsons, Mr. Thornton was working the morning shift, which begins at 11 p.m. and ends at 7 a.m., in the western precinct. The Birmingham police would not say whether Mr. Thornton had been on duty during any of the fires.

All of the houses burned in the Ensley neighborhood had been abandoned. Ensley was once a bustling neighborhood of steel mill employees and their families, but mill closings have left the neighborhood blighted with abandoned homes, many on the city’s demolition list, waiting to be torn down.

That process can take years, frustrating nearby residents and providing havens for crime. The city estimates that there are 1,800 houses in need of demolition. The Birmingham City Council has already approved more than 700 demolitions, but recovery from tornadoes last spring and a strained city budget have prevented the city from acting.

The house fires began in the early morning hours last Saturday. Over four days, 14 burned, some of them simultaneously. The only injuries reported were minor ones to firefighters. Meanwhile, state fire marshals investigated another string of nine arsons in Warrior. When that investigation led to a Birmingham police officer, investigators decided the two sets of fires might be connected. Officials here would not release more details, saying that the investigation was continuing.

On Tuesday, Mayor William A. Bell of Birmingham is expected to ask the City Council for an emergency $1.5 million appropriation to demolish the burned homes and move forward with others.

Appeared Here

Funeral Home Finds Bullet Hole Near Heart In Body Of Man That Detroit Michigan Police And EMS Workers Claimed Died Of Naturnal Causes

May 25, 2012

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – Detroit police and EMS workers said Leslie Brooks died of natural causes during the weekend. But when his body arrived at a funeral home, the mortician saw it differently.

As she prepared to embalm the 59-year-old Brooks on Saturday morning, mortician Gail Washington peered at a small burned area on his skin, right above his heart. Her assistants had pointed it out, and Washington now agreed: This was no natural death.

Brooks had a small-caliber gunshot wound in his chest. And now Detroit police are scrambling to figure out what happened.

That may be tough, since their initial determination ruined a possible crime scene in the east-side basement where Brooks was found. Police technicians did not scour the room or take photos until later. There was no immediate preservation of possible clues. Visitors tracked in and out. His family took Brooks’ cell phone. And, unless this was a suicide, a killer had precious hours to elude capture.

Even the clothes Brooks wore had been stripped off and discarded, as is customary when a funeral home picks up a body. The clothing was retrieved, but also is now most likely tainted as evidence.

“I am pissed off,” Shakira Bonds, 20, one of Brooks’ daughters, told the Free Press on Tuesday. “I don’t know who to go to.”

Police spokeswoman Sgt. Eren Stephens said Tuesday the case will be investigated by internal affairs, and Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. would not yet comment. Detroit Fire Department officials, who oversee EMS workers, did not respond to requests for their version of events. Al Samuels, the chief investigator for the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office, said his office followed proper procedure.

Based on information gathered from the police, the family, witnesses, the mortician and the morgue, here’s what happened:

Brooks was found dead about 12:17 a.m. Saturday in a basement room that he rented from friends in the 18700 block of Dean near 7 Mile and Ryan.

A friend, Alberta Rice, 64, said in an interview Tuesday that she did not see Brooks all day Friday, and when his cell phone rang in the basement, Rice sent her boyfriend down to check on him. The boyfriend found Brooks facedown on a rolled-up carpet, his arms stretched out in front, “like he laid down there and went to sleep.” Yet Brooks was stiff and obviously dead when the boyfriend shook him.

Someone in the house called police and Yvonne Arrington, Brooks’ sister. Arrington told the Free Press she arrived at the home to find EMS workers already gone after declaring Brooks dead of natural causes. Two uniformed police officers arrived. Homicide was contacted and so was the Medical Examiner’s Office. Arrington said she asked one of the cops, “How do you know he died of natural causes? He said, ‘We don’t see … trauma.’ “

Arrington wondered, because her brother had confided in her recently that he owed two men money. He was scared, she said, but she thought he might just be paranoid.

She didn’t mention the threats to police that night because officers told her EMS believed he died naturally, Arrington said. In a way, she was relieved he didn’t die violently, she said.

“I said, ‘Thank you, Jesus.’ … He just died of cardiac arrest,” she said.

Police that night put Arrington in touch with the medical examiner’s office, where an investigator told her to call a funeral home, that there was no need for an autopsy based on the opinion of officials at the scene.

She still wondered if she shouldn’t push for the more thorough examination.

“I said, ‘That’s like me talking on the phone to you and you diagnosing me with cancer,’ ” she recalled telling the morgue investigator.

But she called the Cole funeral home, which sent a crew. Arrington went home.

At mid-morning, Washington prepared to embalm Brooks’ body at the Cole funeral home on Schaefer at Puritan and made her discovery. She retrieved Brooks’ clothes, saw holes and a small amount of blood and examined the wound.

“They probably missed it,” she said, because “he had a black T-shirt on with a black shirt on top.” She said the gun most likely was small caliber, leaving a smaller hole than the larger-caliber weapons common today, and most of the bleeding must have been internal.

She has seen such mistakes before. A mortician for 38 years, Washington said this is the fourth time she has discovered a fatal bullet wound on someone initially ruled a natural death.

Samuels, the morgue investigator, said his office checked with Brooks’ doctor the night he was found dead and learned he had a history of cancer, high blood pressure and heart trouble. The decision not to autopsy Brooks was based on that opinion and the natural death ruling by EMS workers, Samuels said.

Rice told the newspaper she never heard a gunshot from her basement. She and Arrington both said they saw no gun at all that night.

Only a dead man with a mystery.

Appeared Here

Veteran Tucson Arizona Police Officer Lynsey Coutts Was Only Three Time Over State Alcohol Limit While Speeding To Work – Already On Radar For Alcohol Use, Department Intends To Give Her The Boot

May 23, 2012

TUCSON, ARIZONA – A four-year veteran of the Tucson Police Department was arrested this morning after a DUI test revealed she was driving to work with a BAC of 0.235, nearly three times the legal limit.

Coutts was scheduled to begin work at 9 a.m. this morning, but called a supervisor at about 9:20 a.m., saying she was driving fast on Interstate 10 and was in fear of colliding with other vehicles on the roadway, the release states. The supervisor convinced Coutts to exit the freeway and pull over. She did, and police personal responded to the Avra Valley I-10 exit.

According to the TPD release, Department of Public Safety officers also responded and conducted a DUI investigation. Tucson Police officers conducted a Preliminary Breath Test that revealed Coutts had a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.235, nearly three times the legal limit.

DPS personnel placed her under arrest for various charges associated with Driving Under the Influence, the release states.

Since March 2012, Officer Lynsey Coutts has been subject to a Conditions of Continued Employment contract to address concerns about her use of alcohol, according to a news release from the Tucson Police Department.

Because she violated a condition of her March 2012 employment contract, Coutts was served with a Notice of Intent to Terminate this afternoon, the release states. The Civil Service Hearing relating to her termination is scheduled for May 29, 2012.

“The Tucson Police Department treats all allegations of criminal acts or misconduct by employees as serious, especially criminal acts or misconduct occurring while employees are on-duty,” the TPD release states. “Ms. Coutts’ actions are not representative of the nearly 1400 men and women of the Tucson Police Department who serve their community with integrity and put their lives on the line each day.”

Appeared Here

Hit And Run: Chicago Illinois Police Van Ran Down Pedestrians And Drove Away – Caught On Video

May 21, 2012

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – At approximately 10:40 p.m. on Saturday, May 19th, 2012 a Chicago Police van drove into a crowd of demonstrators who were attempting to cross westbound over the Jackson Street bridge at the Chicago River.

Chicago Police van number 6751, accelerated as it passed through the crowd, striking several people and seriously injuring one victim who was later transported to the emergency room. The extent of the victim’s injuries are not known.

The driver of the van made no attempt to ascertain the condition of any of the people that were struck. Witnesses watched as the van passed through the phalanx of police surrounding the scene and drove away from the area. Had there been a civilian driving, they would certainly have been charged with a hit-and-run on a pedestrian in the roadway and taken into custody once they had been apprehended.

No order to disperse had been given to the crowd. The van was running it’s siren, however police vans in close proximity to the rear of the crowd had been running their sirens all day, so it was not immediately noticed that the van was intending to pass through the crowd. The occupants of the van made no attempt to use the public address loudspeakers to warn those in their path.

Appeared Here

Anonymous Targets Chicago Illinois Police Department And Its Websites – Takes Out cityofchicago.org

May 20, 2012

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS — Authorities are investigating whether the City Of Chicago’s website is under a cyber attack, CBS 2 has learned.

The main portal to cityofchicago.org was not accessible for part of Sunday morning, but appeared to be functioning again by about 12:40 p.m.

“We are aware of the potential issue of the City of Chicago website and are working with the appropriate federal authorities to address the situation,” Office Of Emergency Management and Communications spokesman Pete Scales said earlier Sunday.

A posting on the website cyberwarnews.info, explains the hacking group called Anonymous started an “an operation toward the Chicago police department and its websites.”

The Chicago Police Department website, cityofchicago.org/police, was also down temporarily, but was also functioning again Sunday afternoon.

“We are actively engaged in actions against the Chicago Police Deptartment [sic], and encourage anyone to take up the cause,” the group said. “We are in your harbor Chicago, and you will not forget us.”

The group explains the attack is in response to the NATO Summit being held in Chicago. The summit officially opens this afternoon and runs through Monday.

Thousands of protesters have been filling the streets of Chicago all week to protest NATO’s mission. The biggest rally yet is planned for Sunday afternoon from Grant Park to near McCormick Place, where leaders are gathered for the summit.

Hackers may also be attacking other NATO-related websites, but details were not available, sources to CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine.

On Twitter, allies of the Occupy protest movement applauded the development:

Appeared Here


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