General Question

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

How far should the police be allowed to go?

Asked by Skaggfacemutt (9692 points ) November 2nd, 2012

There is a high-profile case going on in my state right now and I would like to know what you think of it. A very large swat team went to a young guy’s house to serve a search warrant, as they suspected that he was growing pot in his basement. They came in unmarked cars, not wearing police uniforms, surrounded the house and broke down his door in the middle of the night, rushed in, and he opened fire on them. He killed one and wounded five more.

They are trying the guy for murder, attempted murder and so on. I can see a police warrant if the guy had murdered or kidnapped someone, but for growing pot in his basement? Is that so important? In my ultra-conservative state, I seem to be the only one that feels this way. What do you think?

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84 Answers

digitalimpression's avatar

I’m usually the guy in favor of more power to the police (to an extent) but in this case it doesn’t seem right. They broke into his house in the middle of the night! Who made that genius call?

El_Cadejo's avatar

I dont know the full story so keep that in mind in reading my comment.

I think its complete bs personally. First, is this kind of man power seriously needed for someone growing weed? He’s not cooking meth or running a child porn ring out of his basement, he’s growing weed.

Second what the fuck?! You came in unmarked cars and broke into a dudes house in full force like that… Hell if you came storming into my house like that my first assumption wouldnt be “oh hey look the cops are here” it’d be more along the lines of “oh holy fuck my house is being invaded by crazy dudes” Its not surprising that the guy opened fire on them.

He should be charged with growing and if the gun was unregistered he should be charged with that too, but definitely not with murder. As far as I see it he was defending his house from what he believed to be intruders.

This whole thing could have been handled so much better that wouldnt have led to anyone getting shot. By say…ohh I dont know…. knocking on the door first thing in the morning? (so you know he’s there)

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

For the full story, go to www.helpmatthewstewart.org . If you go to our local news sites, they will only tell you the police version of what happened.

El_Cadejo's avatar

So I did a bit more reading. He was an Army Vet. You charged an Army Veterans house in the middle of the night by busting down his door and didn’t suspect shit could go terribly wrong? God knows what the hell was going through his mind when he heard his door getting busted down….

Oh and look all this was over THIRTEEN PLANTS….THIRTEEN. Yea… he’s a real monster – _-

This all could have been handled so much better. Couldn’t just grab him when he was getting off his shift from work going to the car or something? Couldn’t raid his house while he was at work?

Coloma's avatar

I agree 10,000% with @uberbatman.
Seriously, all of THAT for a wussy little13 pot plants. Gimme a break!
Even if the guy had 500 plants there is no excuse for that kind of hardcore home invasion by the authorities over some small scale growing situation.

Meanwhile all across town people are beating each other up in bar brawls, robbing stores, raping women, soliciting prostitutes, whipping their dogs to death but 13 marijuana plants in someones basement leads to this sort of carnage. Whatever!

El_Cadejo's avatar

Egh this is even worse. Watch out, he’s got a golf club -_ – .Another army vet with PTSD. The Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force was responsible for this as well.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Certainly not this far. There should be background information taken into consideration when illegally entering into anyone’s home.

Heck, how would you react if some men ran into your home. How the heck are you supposed to know they’re police? Trust their words as the shout at you when bounding in?

Coloma's avatar

I am having my monthly “herbal” massage appointment this afternoon. Maybe I should close my ranch gate after my massage therapist arrives and let out the geese and mules and donkeys and sheep. Just TRY to get through the Bremen town musicians over here. You’ll be goosed, wing beaten, pushed, kicked and stomped on.

The mules don’t mess around when they are strip searching peoples pockets for apples and carrots. lol
I can see it now, my adorable little 23 year old massage therapist and I getting clobbered by the cops because I have a half oz. of marijuana in my house. Having my door broken down while little ol’ me lies naked on the massage table. haha
Not wanting any legal trouble is the ONLY reason I don’t grow my own on my 5 acres of property. Out here they just send out the helicopters to search for growers.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I agree with all of you. If my door was busted down in the middle of the night, I would most certainly start shooting. And I would also be hiding around the corner of the wall or behind a door or something.

That is the other point the news reporters are making a big deal out of – they say he “ambushed” the cops, just because he was covering himself by hiding behind a door.

As far as them yelling “this is the police”, that means nothing. Heck, we just recently had a case right here in the same city, where two guys gained access to a person’s house by posing as cops, bound, gagged and robbed them. Anyone can say “this is the police.” That doesn’t make it true.

I still can’t believe that they would be so over-zealous over something so minor. But then, in this state, people act like marijuana is the absolute worse thing that anyone could have in their possession. Better to have a nuclear bomb in your basement than a pot plant.

Coloma's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt Yes and most of these vigilante anti types are pounding down the booze every night while pointing their crooked fingers at us occasional marijuana users. Oh brother, hypocrisy at it’s finest. Pffft!

bkcunningham's avatar

What bothers me about the story is that Stewart ran outside and into a shed and continued shooting at the police officers. The police knocked on the door and tried to execute the warrant at 9 p.m. This news story sheds some additional light on the incident. The police officer Stewart killed was shot six times.

This is also interesting.

Coloma's avatar

@bkcunningham Yes, what a mess! The guy clearly crossed a line himself though, overkill on all sides if you ask me. Crazy!

bkcunningham's avatar

It is such a tragedy. Really sad. A woman is left without a husband and two children lost their father. I’d hate to see another family lose their son because of a pot bust gone bad. Such a shame.

DWW25921's avatar

The guy did nothing wrong. Unmarked cops that burst in without warning get what they get.

Coloma's avatar

@DWW25921 Well, yes he did do something wrong. He broke the law by growing pot plants, but he certainly did not deserve to be attacked in the manner he was.
It is just sad and tragic.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Personally I can’t imagine that this guy would knowingly shoot at police officers, especially if his only crime was growing 13 pot plants. That is why I believe his story – that he thought he was being attacked by unknown assassins. Nothing else would explain his reaction.

bkcunningham's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt, I hope he gets a fair trial.

rooeytoo's avatar

As was said above, I am usually on the side of the cops, but this sure sounds like overkill on their part. Why do you have to break down a door for this sort of crime. Were they afraid he was going to flush pots of plants down the toilet, they could have hammered on the door and shouted police before they knocked it down, if it was not opened for them. Just one more instance of the world gone nuts. But firing your gun before you see your target doesn’t strike me as the smartest either. Who knows….....

El_Cadejo's avatar

@bkcunningham Pretty unlikely. He killed a cop so the legal system views him as the scum of the earth. I mean the guys going to get tried for the death penalty…

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Just a quick note on “firing your gun before you see your target.” If you have ever gone through self-defense training or gotten a concealed weapon permit (like I have), you would know that waiting to clearly identify your target is too late. If someone is rushing you, or coming through your front door, waiting even for a few extra seconds can make the difference between successfully defending yourself or being overpowered, tied up, murdered, raped or whatever.

lifeflame's avatar

Wow. Very bad judgment on the police’s part. The system needs to be overhauled…

bkcunningham's avatar

@rooeytoo, according to the police, they did knock and scream, “POLICE” several times before ramming the door and as they went through the house. @uberbatman, if he goes to trial after this preliminary hearing, there will be a jury of his peers. I have faith in our judicial system and his peers. They found 16 plants, several pounds of pot and according to the search warrant, they suspected drug trade including heroin at the residence.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@bkcunningham I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens, hopefully you’re right.

What still bothers me is the way in which they went about this. You could have easily apprehended him at work and searched the house when he was not on the premise and that way no one would be shot and there would be no confusion at all.

Im also a bit surprised he even got taken alive after this whole ordeal.Did he throw down his gun and surrender in the end or what?

Coloma's avatar

@bkcunningham Aaah the plot thickens. Well..seems to me he was more concerned, and rightfully so, about the heroin being discovered over the pot plants. Still..the whole thing was a botch that resulted in loss of human life. I dunno, but it seems to me, that he, inspite of the police errors, was still prepared to use his weapons to defend his drug cache regardless of who was knocking on his door.

I don’t agree with that at all. Keeping hardcore drugs in a home with children. Not cool.
It’s one thing if mommy and daddy want to get a little high after hours when the kids are in bed, and it’s entirely another to be dealing major drugs with children in the house.

As sad as it is, he set himself up to ruin his life and that of his family by crossing the line from marijuana to hardcore drug pandering. Two wrongs never make a right, and this is how I see the situation.

bkcunningham's avatar

I know, @uberbatman. I’m sure everyone involved wishes it had gone done completely differently. You know? It is a real tragedy. I don’t even know the guy and would hate to think he would get executed for this. I should say, I’d hate to see him sit on death row for this. There have been seven people executed in Utah since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976 and there were only 44 prior to the moratorium.

Coloma's avatar

I’ll add though, that I don’t think he deserves to be executed.

bkcunningham's avatar

@Coloma, you rub me justttt right. I agree with you completely. ;~)

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t suppose there’s a district attorney running on law and order and death to drug dealers around there, is there?

rooeytoo's avatar

Guess there is no honor among thieves, when the police yelled POLICE, he probably didn’t believe it, thought he was being raided by the competition or angry consumers. In view of this I change my mind, I am on the side of the cops. And if @Skaggfacemutt is correct then the police were behaving in the same vein, act first, look later. I guess what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Or should the cops have to play by different rules?

flutherother's avatar

Why did the police not come in broad daylight and in uniform to enforce the search warrant? They only suspected him of growing marijuana anyway. Given what we know the police action seems out of all proportion.

flo's avatar

They should demote or fire whoever is responsible (chief of police?) , this is so crazy. Regardless what the crime was this is no way to go in.

Linda_Owl's avatar

These sorts of ‘police raids’ that go wrong, happen on an almost weekly basis in some city in the US. Frequently the only person that gets killed is the person who lives in the house or apartment. Also, there is a problem with ‘SWAT Teams’ getting the wrong address & they burst into the houses or apartments & they get shot at by the home-owner who is thinking ‘Home Invasion’ & then the police shoot & kill the home owner. The police almost never admit any wrong-doing in these botched SWAT raids & very few police officers ever get any charges filed against them. The police have way too much power & now they also have military-type weapons which the military has sold to them at very discounted prices. The police are being paid to ‘enforce’ the laws on the books – they rarely ever seek to ‘Protect & Serve’ the public any more & racial profiling is done on a regular basis. It is a threat to the public as a whole & the police do seem to be on some sort of ‘Ego Trip’.

Buttonstc's avatar

Somebody needs to send him Attorney Gerry Spence’s phone number both to insure he gets a fair trial AND to assure that a thorough investigation is done into govt. overstepping the bounds of common sense.

Does the name Ruby Ridge ring any bells here? Another case of tragic overkill (literally).

Spence successfully filed suit against the Federal agencies involved.

Someone needs to do the same here. A modicum of common sense on the part of the authorities could have prevented this tragedy.

These nitwits should be forced to read every word of the task force reports following Ruby Ridge.

“Those who refuse to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Nullo's avatar

I may be wrong, but aren’t they supposed to try to get you to come along peacefully first? I have no respect for anybody involved in drug trafficking, but police raids on a single guy are a bit much, like @uberbatman said.

DWW25921's avatar

@Coloma Fair enough! :)

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

There has been conflicting reports as to whether the police actually yelled “This is the police.” That is why I say, reading the local news reports will only give you the hyper-conservative, “death to all drug dealers/users” version of events.

Coloma's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt The guy’s already dead. His life is over. Drug dealing, cop killing, child endangerment, decades in prison or more, ...a fate worse than death IMO.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I can’t really defend the guy’s drug possession (or dealing?) and actually I didn’t even know that he had anything but pot in his house. This is why I brought it up here – you guys are so good at getting to the bottom of things. But still, I think the police that got shot have to take their share of the blame for surprising someone after dark by breaking into their house, wearing dark clothes, and it is controversial whether they actually announced their arrival.

As far as child endangerment – I thought he was single, and living alone. Was their kids in the house?

Coloma's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt I thought kids were mentioned, maybe I missed something.
I agree, the cops went overboard but, such are the risks when one chooses to get involved in serious illegal behaviors. I was more sympathetic until his heroin dealing was disclosed.
Marijuana doesn’t kill people, heroin does.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Yes, I agree. I was more incensed about this case when I thought it was over pot, which I think should be legal anyway. And, living in Utah, the Mormons are always trying to force everyone else to abide by their rigid rules, so the rest of us are very sensitive. Also the local news media is controlled by the church, so we hear what they want us to hear.

bkcunningham's avatar

It happened at 8:30 p.m., @Skaggfacemutt, according to the site you linked and several news sources covering the prelim.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@bkcunningham Yes, I saw that and was surprised – I thought it happened later. But still, in February, it is quite dark at 8:30 p.m.

bkcunningham's avatar

And, @Skaggfacemutt, he worked an odd shift. I can’t remember and don’t have time to look it up. What did he work? Hoot owl shift? So, it was lilke the middle of the night to him. (At least, I’d say that if I were his attorney.)

El_Cadejo's avatar

If there were indeed children in the house, that makes me look even more negatively upon what the police did. Horrible idea to raid a house with children present.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I know that he was woke out of a dead sleep, and I do believe it was because he worked an odd shift. I don’t think there were any kids involved, or anyone else living there, for that matter. Just him.

flo's avatar

@Coloma but they could have had the wrong place. It has happened before. And there is no need for it at all. They are just discrediting the justice system, aren’t they?

Coloma's avatar

@flo Certainly stretching it, yes.

flo's avatar

@Coloma He is guilty of drug dealing and he should get the maximum for that. A police officer was killed, and 5 were wounded. The police caused this tragedy, not him IMHO.

Coloma's avatar

@flo

Well again, two wrongs don’t make a right. Law enforcements “professionalism” was hardly stellar, but…the guy also decided to SHOOT law enforcement officers. I am sure that he was well aware he was shooting at cops after the first few seconds. I mean really, he could have stopped shooting after the first one, when he became aware he was being busted.

He could have surrendered and hit the floor, he did not. Choices.
He was, literally and figuratively a loaded gun all in his own right.

flo's avatar

@Coloma Tell me I don’t sound like I’m sympethetic to drug dealers or that I hate cops. This is such a clear case to me, “two wrongs don’t make a right” works for me. I’m not sure hwe was well aware that they were cops. Did he use one of the automatic weapons? I don’t know. If he knew they were police, of course he is guilty, but if he thought was defending himself from other criminals who he thought were prenteding to be police, then no. it was completely preventable. He was being a criminal what was their excuse?

Coloma's avatar

@flo

It’s just a mess, that’s all you can say.
Who knows all the inside details. Maybe the cops had reason to suspect he was violent.
I was all on his side until the heroin came into the picture and the fact he also shot 6 officers.

I’m sure there is a wealth of info. we are not privy to. To be really clear, I agree the cops went overboard, to say the least, but…if the guy was known to be a major drug dealer, had automatic weapons, might be violent…we just don’t know what the cops knew before hand. That’s really all that can be said short of being a juror at the trial where all the undisclosed bits and pieces came to light.

Stories like this always have more to them than the sensationalism they are presented with.

josie's avatar

There are certainly greater crimes against humanity than growing or using marijuana. Too bad. It’s all a big misunderstanding as far as I can see.

Buttonstc's avatar

I keep seeing people referring to him dealing heroin but nothing to indicate that they found heroin in his house.

Or am I missing something here?

Coloma's avatar

@Buttonstc That info. was presented somewhere up above ^^^. If that’s true then my sympathies are definitely reduced for the guy. Pot plants vs. hardcore, addictive drugs. Apples & Oranges.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@Buttonstc I’m glad you brought that up. I have not heard about any other drugs found at his residence except the pot plants. Someone here mentioned them finding heroin too, but that is news to me.

Funny, first someone comes up with children being in the house, another comes up with herion being in the house. Where are these embellishments coming from? I am the first to admit that there might be more to the story than I know, but I just did another google search and I am not finding anything supporting either of these two claims.

Buttonstc's avatar

I read the info above and it merely stated that they had suspicions that he was dealing heroin.

But no heroin was found. So upon what were those suspicions based? Everyone is assuming he was dealing heroin. So, where was the heroin?

Or is this the official line now that they realize that they rather screwed up ?

I find it rather stretching credibility that it’s possible to raid a heroin dealers place and find no trace of the stuff, don’t you? (not that I’ve actually known any in real life, but just using common sense :)

Plus I don’t find that the number of plants he had seems so outrageously high. But I’ve never grown them so maybe someone more familiar with pot plants can fill me in.

He just doesn’t sound like a major large volume dangerous drug dealer to me that’s all.

And I’m definitely not lackadaisical about drugs. But this seems like pretty small potatoes to me…

Just sayin…

Coloma's avatar

Well..as has been mentioned many times over, who really knows, exactly what is what?

Facts” are often distorted by sensationalistic hearsay.
I am just tossing my 2 cents into the arena that IF he was also dealing heroin, and has children, in or out of the house, my sympathies are diluted. Anyway…this horse is clearly dead, time to move on. ;-)

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@Buttonstc Kind of reminds me of “weapons of mass destruction”, huh!

I agree that I think the tidbit about possible heroin was thrown in there after the fact to make it look like the police had more cause than just a few pot plants.

rooeytoo's avatar

It all sucks, but I do feel sorry for the dead cop and his family. He was doing what he is paid to do and was killed for doing it. I feel a bit more sorry for him than the guy who shot him. He can work his way through the courts and probably get off on a technicality, it sounds as if there would be plenty in this scenario, but the dead guy is still dead no matter what.

bkcunningham's avatar

Stewart is going to stand trial.

His girlfriend is the person who called in a tip to the police on a crime tip line. She told police, before they obtained the warrant, that he had spoken often about hating the government and would not be taken alive if anyone ever tried to come between him and his pot business. She said he would go out shooting if the police ever came to his house.

Now, whether she was telling the truth or not, that is what the police had to go on when they came to serve the warrant.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@bkcunningham thats interesting since in couple of the interviews I read from police there they said they weren’t expecting any kind of issues which is why some officers didn’t even have a vest on. Ya’d think if they got a tip like that they would have came prepared for something like that.

bkcunningham's avatar

His girlfriend testified to and said just that in the prelim, @uberbatman. Read about it here.

EDIT: Former girlfriend.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@bkcunningham odd. I don’t understand why they didnt decide to go about this whole thing differently if they knew going into it what could have happened. Sounds like really horribly poor planning.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Former girlfriend? I see. So she spitefully decided to tell the cops about his pot plants in the basement. Under the circumstances, I wouldn’t put too much store in her claims that he said he hates the government (he is former military) or ever planned to shoot at a police officer.

Coloma's avatar

I think it’s happy brownie time, for some of us that would never think of having a shootout with the cops regardless. Make love not war. lol

Brian1946's avatar

Too bad he wasn’t growing those plants in the adjacent state east of you. Although growing your own might still be illegal there, I bet they don’t take it nearly as seriously now as they did before November 7. ;-)

flo's avatar

The cop who died, and 6 who got wounded (maybe another of them could die later from his injuries, or become quadruplegic? I don’t know) is the issue here. To me that is what the OP is about, and what the more giagantic issue is about. The police caused this fiasco, not whether he was a deaer of x,y,z So the police should be charged. He should be charged also, for the tragedy if he says he knew that they were police, or if it can be proven that he knew.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

It would certainly be difficult to “prove” what he knew, believed, or thought. We can’t see into his mind.

The person in the police force that ordered this strike is the one to blame. The officers on the ground were just doing their job, which is to follow orders. What kind of wild-eyed, radical nut would take a report of pot-growing from a disgruntled ex-girlfriend and think it was important enough to risk the lives of more than a dozen police officers.

flo's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt Exactly. I mean if the law only looks at the drug (dealer?) then we’re saying the police are above the law. It can create/reinforce that police are “just another group of criminals” image in the long run. It is against the security of the individual police officer too. I pointed to who exactly I think should be held responsible in my first post. Whoever ordered the strike as you put it. I don’t know if it is the chief.

rooeytoo's avatar

When I hear these stories though, I always wonder if there is information that is not available to the public? I have to assume that cops are not grudge carrying, racist, nut cases who have no sense of what is appropriate for specific circumstances. And the ex girlfriend is immediately being discredited as a provider of biased information which is also not necessarily true. She perhaps felt sorry also for the children involved. And really, whether you are a proponent of pot or not, it is illegal to grow it in your basement, so teaching your kid to flaunt the law does not seem a good situation for them to live in.

flo's avatar

@rooeytoo “I have to assume that cops are not grudge carrying, racist, nut cases…” We’re talking about 1 person who approved or ordered the strike. Besides there are evicdence planting police, etc. There are bad apples like anywhere else. This is a text book example of what is definitley not an appropriate circumstance. We were not talking a terrorist act…bomb, that kind of thing, there was no urgency to it. Why couldn’t they have waited till he was out of the house? No reason. That is why whatever comes out later in court is not going to help. Intelligence is what is appropriate at all times. not brute force.

”...so teaching your kid to flaunt the law does not seem a good situation for them to live in.” Yes. But that doesn’t have anything to do with the incident. They should have called Child Protection.

flo's avatar

…Actually children do have something to do with it sorry, they could have been accidentally injured/ killed. So, all the more reason.

rooeytoo's avatar

@flo- I can’t argue too much but I still stick with my statement above, “I always wonder if there is information that is not available to the public?” There could be extenuating circumstances of which we are not aware.

Coloma's avatar

The father is directly responsible for putting his children in harms way, not the police. While their actions were over the top it seems, the major responsibility falls on the father for being a drug dealer that willfully risked harming others through HIS choices/actions.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

What children are we talking about? There were no children.

Coloma's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt Somewhere up above children were mentioned. I latched onto the potential children theme, because that would change everything IMO. I guess I am guilty of falling into pseudo scenarios, aka, wild speculation. lol :-)

flo's avatar

I was just responding to @rooeytoo‘s mention of the children, i.e if there were children that is even more reason…

@rooeytoo what can you think of as an example of a extenuating circumstance?

@Coloma He would be partly responsible for putting his children in harms way, if he had any, but that doesn’t absolve of police of the 100% responsiblity in the death and injury of those officers. This is a text book example of what? Not to be a drug grower or dealer? No. They are supposed to do their job professionally, so that they don’t enable/add to any potential disaster, and/or they don’t get the case thrown out of court if they plant evidence for example, etc.

rooeytoo's avatar

And I was responding to @Coloma‘s answer above stating there were children in the house!

@flo – extenuating circumstances could be that the guy was doing a lot more than what has been publicly disclosed. Often details are not released to the public for fear of prejudicing a potential jury, etc..

flo's avatar

@rooeytoo
Wherever there is failure of course there has to always be “extenuating circumstances” and other similar sounding excuses. There are different police departments handling the same/similar/worse/way worse circumstances, everyday, but only the ones with the failure, need a lawyer to claim “extenuating” circumstances. Generally that is how it goes not just with the police.

rooeytoo's avatar

@flo – we will have to agree to disagree, I think there are often legitimate extenuating circumstances of which the public are not aware. I would bet that is true in this case as well. Sounds as if the guy was, at the least, a malcontent, perhaps he was getting ready to blow up the town center, who knows, I sure don’t.

flo's avatar

@rooeytoo “a malcontent, perhaps he was getting ready to blow up the town center” Your words are working against your own arguement. All the more reason not to blow it, to handle it that much more delicately.

rooeytoo's avatar

@flo – I give up, have it your way.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)

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