Most people are aware of the First Amendment, the Second Amendment, and thanks to recent news the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the United States Constitution. However, many are not as familiar with the Third Amendment, but American's unfamiliar with the Third Amendment are about to become educated as the Mitchell family in Nevada are now suing police of the City of Henderson for violating their Third Amendment rights by conducting an unlawful seizure of their home to stakeout their neighbor's home without their permission.
As a preface, the Third Amendment reads:
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
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According to Courthouse News:
Anthony Mitchell and his parents Michael and Linda Mitchell sued the City of Henderson, its Police Chief Jutta Chambers, Officers Garret Poiner, Ronald Feola, Ramona Walls, Angela Walker, and Christopher Worley, and City of North Las Vegas and its Police Chief Joseph Chronister, in Federal Court.
The family claims, ""On the morning of July 10th, 2011, officers from the Henderson Police Department responded to a domestic violence call at a neighbor's residence."
"At 10:45 a.m. defendant Officer Christopher Worley (HPD) contacted plaintiff Anthony Mitchell via his telephone," the family's complaint states. "Worley told plaintiff that police needed to occupy his home in order to gain a 'tactical advantage' against the occupant of the neighboring house. Anthony Mitchell told the officer that he did not want to become involved and that he did not want police to enter his residence. Although Worley continued to insist that plaintiff should leave his residence, plaintiff clearly explained that he did not intend to leave his home or to allow police to occupy his home. Worley then ended the phone call."
The family then claimed that David Cawthorn, Worley and Waller "conspired among themselves to force Anthony Mitchell out of his residence and to occupy his home for their own use."
The complaint continues: "Defendant Officer David Cawthorn outlined the defendants' plan in his official report: 'It was determined to move to 367 Evening Side and attempt to contact Mitchell. If Mitchell answered the door he would be asked to leave. If he refused to leave he would be arrested for Obstructing a Police Officer. If Mitchell refused to answer the door, force entry would be made and Mitchell would be arrested.'"
Just before noon five of the defendant officers assembled in front of the Mitchell's door to execute their plan.
They banged on the door commanding Anthony Mitchell to open the door and let them in. As Anthony Mitchell called his mother on the phone, the officers "smashed open" the front door with a metal ram.
These tyrants then allegedly aimed their weapons at the young man and shouted obscenities at him ordering him on the floor. Obviously frightened, he dropped the phone and prostrated himself on the floor.
The police then addressed the young man as "a**hole," shouted conflicting orders at him. The complaint then stated, "Although plaintiff Anthony Mitchell was lying motionless on the ground and posed no threat, officers, including Officer David Cawthorn, then fired multiple 'pepperball' rounds at plaintiff as he lay defenseless on the floor of his living room. Anthony Mitchell was struck at least three times by shots fired from close range, injuring him and causing him severe pain."
The officers then arrested him for obstructing a police officer, searched the house, moved furniture and then set up shop to stakeout the Mitchell's neighbors without authorization.
The officers then hurt the family's pet dog for no reason whatsoever. Sam, the family's female dog, cowered in the corner after the door was smashed. Although the terrified animal posed no threat to officers, they gratuitously shot it with one or more pepperball rounds. The panicked animal howled in fear and pain and fled from the residence. Sam was subsequently left trapped outside in a fenced alcove without access to water, food, or shelter from the sun for much of the day, while temperatures outside soared to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Anthony and his parents live in separate houses on the same street. Apparently though the officers treated his parents in a similar manner.
As if this was not enough, Courthouse News adds:
"Meanwhile, starting at approximately 10:45 a.m., police officers entered the back yard of plaintiffs Michael Mitchell and Linda Mitchell's residence at 362 Eveningside Avenue. The officers asked plaintiff Michael Mitchell if he would be willing to vacate his residence and accompany them to their 'command center' under the guise that the officers wanted Michael Mitchell's assistance in negotiating the surrender of the neighboring suspect at 363 Eveningside Avenue. Plaintiff Michael Mitchell reluctantly agreed to follow the officers from his back yard to the HPD command center, which was approximately one quarter mile away," the complaint states.
"When plaintiff Michael Mitchell arrived at the HPD command center, he was informed that the suspect was 'not taking any calls' and that plaintiff Michael Mitchell would not be permitted to call the suspect neighbor from his own phone. At that time, Mr. Mitchell realized that the request to accompany officers to the HPD command center was a tactic to remove him from his house. He waited approximately ten minutes at the HPD command center and was told he could not return to his home."
"Plaintiff Michael Mitchell then left HPD command center and walked down Mauve Street toward the exit of the neighborhood. After walking for less than five minutes, an HPD car pulled up next to him. He was told that his wife, Linda Mitchell, had 'left the house' and would meet him at the HPD command center. Michael Mitchell then walked back up Mauve Street to the HPD command center. He called his son, James Mitchell, to pick him up at the HPD command center. When plaintiff Michael Mitchell attempted to leave the HPD command center to meet James, he was arrested, handcuffed and placed in the back of a marked police car."
"Officers had no reasonable grounds to detain plaintiff Michael Mitchell, nor probable cause to suspect him of committing any crime."
The defendants then entered the back yard of the Mitchell's around 1:45pm and banged on their door. Mrs. Mitchell opened the door and told the officers that they could not enter the house without a warrant, but they ignored her. One officer seized her by the arm as the others entered the house. Then the officer led her outside her home as another officer began going through her purse without probably cause or a warrant.
Ignoring her pleas to be released the officer then led her back to the Command Post. As they were walking Mrs. Mitchell had difficulty breathing as a result of the pace and heat. The officer ignored her pleas to be released.
When the Mitchell's returned home after it had been occupied by the officers, they found water from their dispenser had been used, the refrigerator door was left open, mustard and mayonnaise was left on the floor and their cabinets had been gone through.
Anthony and Michael Mitchell were then taken to jail and booked for obstructing an officer. They remained in jail for at least 9 hours, before they were bailed out! Then criminal charges were dismissed with prejudice.
No discipline was carried out on these officers and they claimed the Mitchell's were simply providing cover for their neighbors.
While police officers are not soldiers, they do have to follow the law and clearly they not only violated the Fourth Amendment, but it seems they have most likely violated the Third. To see why the Third Amendment is so important in regards to the Second, read Tom Wise's reasoning for making the Third Amendment an argument for the Second here.
The Tenth Amendment Center has more on the implications of the Supreme Court ruling in this matter.
If this story has gotten your anger aroused as it has mine, give the City of Henderson Police a call and let your voice be heard on behalf of the Mitchells. Demand that every officer involved by immediately terminated and brought up on criminal charges. Their contact information is below:
Mayor Andy A. Hafen
Office Telephone: (702) 267-2085
Office Fax: (702) 267-2081
Henderson City Hall
240 Water Street
Henderson, NV 89015
223 Lead Street
Henderson, NV 89015