From the Indiana Lawyer:
After the Chicago court’s scathing opinion allowing Milan’s civil rights suit to proceed, two Evansville city council members called on the police chief to resign, the Courier & Press reported. In a statement, Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke stood behind his police chief, Billy Bolin, and minimized the 7th Circuit opinion. Winnecke said of the more than 18,000 arrests city police made from 2012 to 2014, Evansville has only three pending civil rights suits from that period.A lot can be said for keeping one's mouth shut but ignoring "this mere procedural decision" only demonstrates that today's militarized, politicized police departments are impervious to reform. The "protect and serve" BS may resound with the Fox and Friends disciples but to others the entire law enforcement industry from the FBI on down begs for drastic reform.
“Of course, these positive results start with Chief Bolin’s leadership and are a direct reflection of the tireless work and dedication of each and every EPD member,” Winnecke said in the statement. “… I want to commend the women and men of the EPD. They have a tough job to do, they do it well and they do it in a lawful manner.
“While others want to ‘try’ this case to the media or politicize this mere procedural decision, we must take the prudent course and refrain from comment,” Winnecke said in the statement. A spokesman for Winnecke said he had seen the video but would not comment on it.
Yes, militarized police forces rank high on the Fraternal Order of Police's wish list. Open Secrets.org states, "Clashes between protesters and law enforcement around the country have led to a bipartisan call from congressional lawmakers to demilitarize America’s police". Open Secrets notes that " The National FOP has spent $220,000 a year in lobbying efforts since 2007, but its influence far outweighs its spending. The Union represents more than 351,000 members nationwide. It also has vast influence over state and local chapters that regularly endorse candidates running for elected office at all levels."
In June of 2012, threats against the police department were posted to Topix.com, a seedy bulletin board more conducive to hooking up with a dominatrix than finding political bed fellows.
The following posts were discovered under the heading “EPD leak!!! All officers addresses are being passed around Evansville”:
“Me n my boys need them copys asap.need to pay a few a visit.”
“[Chief] Bolin lives behind parkside”
“Lol at all da cops commenting,f#+k the police.you mfs need to b taught a lesson,always harassing n violating mfs rights. 4th of July a cops house gonna got hit.dont care about your kids or btchs lives.I dnt even care about my own life.I got my reasons…times ticking.?”
“Cops be aware.Note:I am proud of my county,but I hate police of any kind..I have explosives.:) made in America.Evansville will feel my pain.guess who’s in the river.,
Members of the local media tipped the police to the post and were rewarded for their subservience and solicitude by being allowed to accompany the SWAT team on its raid on the home of Edna Milan and her daughter. After an exhaustive investigation that lasted for 2 hours the raid was planned. Keep in mind as you view this video that all of this is over a class D felony ( Intimidation Against Police Officers ) as stated in the search warrant. The warrant called for the seizure of tablets, cell phones, laptops and computers not guns, ammo and bombs. Police had traced the source of the offending post to an IP address at 616 East Powell. Police also were able to detect an unsecured WIFI connection by driving by the house and using a cell to connect to the unsecured port. According to the appellate brief 9 people were associated with that IP.
So much for objective journalism. The report neglects to mention that the two people taken from the home were a 68 year old woman and her 18 year old adopted daughter.
Helmet cam video of the raid shows how it went down. It was not a "no-knock" warrant, but the "knock" delivered by the SWAT team had very little to do with announcing its presence and everything to do with giving itself permission to smash through the front door and hurl flash bangs into the house.
The 2 ladies having been duly perp walked before the media were released after about 20 minutes. Then evidently Chief Bolin had a WTF epiphany. The day after the raid contractors showed up to repair the door and the broken window and to replace the carpet that was burned by the flash bang grenades. Bolin even wrote Milan a letter of apology. The case was eventually solved and one Derrick Murray who lived 2 doors down the street from the Milans' was arrested. How was this desperado apprehended? Police called his home and asked him to come to headquarters were he was arrested.
Milan filed suit in federal court claiming that the use of flash bang grenades constituted excessive force and violated her rights as guaranteed by the fourth amendment. Chief Bolin claimed immunity citing the doctrine of qualified immunity. After that claim was denied in district court Bolin appealed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Diane Wood presided over the panel which included Judges Ann Clare Williams and Richard Posner, who was once considered as a replacement for Sandra Day O'Connor. Do not underestimate the power of the helmet cam video the police were good enough to capture. Although Milan's attorney did not mention it in his brief or oral argument the libertarian leaning Posner is very much disturbed by the video showing an extremely young looking Stephanie Milan being handcuffed.
The case is complicated by the fact that the son of Milan's late husband and her stepson was a cohort of Derrick Murray as was a second man with the last name of Milan ( obviously a relative of her late husband ) who was no relation to Edna Milan.
Federal courts take a less benign view of flash bang grenades than do police actions flicks and cable news commentators. A considerable body of case law has evolved restricting their use. From Judge Posner
"These are explosive devices, similar to but a good deal less lethal than military hand grenades, that are intended to stun and disorient persons, thus rendering them harmless, by emitting blinding flashes of light and deafening sounds. They can kill if they land on a person, especially a child. The police call them “distraction devices,” an absurd euphemism; we called them “bombs”'..
Listen to the audio recording of the oral arguments to hear three judges eat an attorney alive. "that's not an answer it's mechanical recitation" and it goes down hill from there. "These SWAT team guys seem so chicken"
It's surprising that the court does not address the threat assessment mentioned in the oral arguments considering its contradiction to known facts. The form is bureaucratic banality at it worse which one assumes is to provide the police with a numerical value to a perceived threat thus making it sound more credible but it only works if the questions are answered truthfully. Notwithstanding the fact that no man was connected to the house and the police were searching for computer equipment the assessment indicates the presence of fully automatic rifles and explosives.
In the unanimous opinion Judge Posner wrote:
True, we mustn’t base our decision on the wisdom of hindsight. If the police had had reasonable grounds for conducting the search as they did (that is, with flash bangs, yet without any but the most perfunctory, indeed radically incomplete, preliminary investigation), then the doctrine of qualified immunity would shield them from liability even though the flash bangs and ensuing search yielded no benefits for law enforcement. But, to repeat for emphasis, the police acted unreasonably and precipitately in flash banging the house without a minimally responsible investigation of the threats. The open network expanded the number of possible threateners and just one extra day of surveillance, coupled with a brief investigation of Murray and the three male Milans, should have been sufficient to reassure the police that there were no dangerous men lurking in the house.Eventually the case was settled out of court and no details were released.
Precipitate use of flash bangs to launch a search has troubled us before, leading us to declare that “the use of a flash bang grenade is reasonable only when there is a dangerous suspect and a dangerous entry point for the police, when the police have checked to see if innocent individuals are around before deploying the device, when the police have visually inspected the area where the device will be used and when the police carry a fire extinguisher.The police in this case flunked the test just quoted. True, they’d brought a fire extinguisher with them—but, as if in tribute to Mack Sennett’s Keystone Kops, they left it in their armored SWAT vehicle.
So while the defendants are correct to point out that a reasonable mistake committed by police in the execution of a search is shielded from liability by the doctrine of qualified immunity, in this case the Evansville police committed too many mistakes to pass the test of reasonablenes.
What cowardice! The officer actually has the nerve to tell a 68 year old woman that handcuffing her is mandated by a concern for his personal safety.Then the poor woman apologizes for the clutter of the displaced dishwasher and microwave that were probably awaiting disposal. Maybe she was not expecting house guests to drop in. The cop replies, "That's OK." Glad the disarray met with his approval.
But once again, until very recently nothing bad ever happens to bad actors in blue.