|Vanguard Court Watch Editorial: Davis ICE Raid Raises Troubling Issues|
|Written by David Greenwald|
|Thursday, 30 June 2011 07:00|
A recent federal raid on a Davis home has raised serious questions, after resulting in a pregnant woman’s miscarriage and property damage that is still unaccounted for. The raid, conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents outfitted in paramilitary gear, was part of an ongoing child pornography investigation.
Shortly after 6 a.m. on April 26, eight to 12 ICE agents busted into an Oak Avenue home, destroying doors and denting floors with a battering ram. Although the agents announced upon entering that they were police and had a warrant, several residents of the home spoke limited English and hid from what they thought were attackers or terrorists. At gunpoint, the agents ordered the residents on the ground and handcuffed them. One terrified resident, a visiting scholar from Vietnam who was pregnant, suffered a miscarriage three days later.
We have little sympathy for people involved in the child pornography trade. We support the enforcement of laws against the creation and distribution of child pornography. At the same time, however, we condemn the excessive force and recklessness that characterized ICE’s approach to this investigation.
Based on information provided by the owner of the home, it appears that the ICE agents were considerably underprepared for the search. The warrant was based on an incident of an individual accessing a child pornography website over a year ago. According to the homeowner, no one who lived in that house a year ago lived there at the time the search was executed.
Moreover, there seems to be no justification for the amount of force used. Does clicking on a child porn site merit eight men in riot gear with loaded guns breaking down your door? These tactics would be understandable if this were a raid on someone suspected of violent crimes, drug trafficking or terrorism. But simply clicking on a child porn website? Haven’t we all accidentally clicked on something we shouldn’t have at some point? Should we all now fear being terrorized by federal agents? It is difficult to see why this warrant could not have been served by a handful of officials in plain clothes, politely knocking on the door and peacefully taking the evidence they need.
In a statement, the ICE public affairs office said "ICE is aware of allegations made by the property owner regarding agents' actions during that enforcement operation. ICE takes all allegations of officer misconduct seriously." The office went on to say that they could not comment on the case any further, since it was an ongoing investigation. In fairness to ICE, it is possible that there are some mitigating details we don’t know yet. Maybe the person suspected of accessing the website had a violent criminal history that merited guns and armor. However, there is nothing in the search warrant to suggest that is the case, and even if it were, that does not justify their failure to do their homework and determine that the person in question no longer lived at that address.
There are some other, less serious concerns we have about this raid. According to the homeowner’s account, some of the residents were never shown the warrant, while others were only shown the warrant some time after the agents had entered the home and handcuffed the residents. Also, ICE has not made any contact with the property owner to settle the issue of what property was taken and what damaged property ICE is liable to replace.
The unfortunate truth is that what happened on Oak Avenue is merely a disturbing local example of a national trend toward the use of extremely dangerous paramilitary tactics to execute search warrants on nonviolent suspects. As libertarian author Radley Balko has repeatedly shown, these kinds of raids are frequently botched. There have been more than a few cases where these SWAT-style teams go into the wrong house, senselessly shoot harmless pets, or accidentally fire their weapons, injuring or killing innocent civilians. We call on our local law enforcement and elected officials to investigate whether they could have done anything to prevent this tragedy, and we call on ICE to review its procedures and hold accountable any personnel who acted improperly.
The Vanguard Court Watch Editorial Board is composed of Abhi Anand, Stephen Berlin, Paul Boylan, Vanessa Guerrero, and Jeremy Ogul.
A recent federal raid on a Davis home has raised serious questions, after resulting in a pregnant woman’s miscarriage
We do not know what caused this woman to miscarry - it could have been for any number of reasons, as medwoman pointed out some time ago - and medwoman is a gynecologist I believe (medwoman, please correct me if I am wrong).
We have little sympathy for people involved in the child pornography trade. We support the enforcement of laws against the creation and distribution of child pornography.
LOL I was under the assumption you didn't want gov't interference when it came to "speech" - nice to know you do draw the line somewhere!
Does clicking on a child porn site merit eight men in riot gear with loaded guns breaking down your door?
It does if the circumstances are right - which does not seem to be the case here, since the warrant is supposed to be based on current evidence - which was pointed out by Rich Rifkin in a previous article.
DV author(s), evidently you feel that the matter involved excessive force yet do not discuss the legal defintion as noted in settled law. Try reading case law on the topic.
ERM--we have no info, on what may have caused the miscarriage. Maybe related to the raid, maybe not. But isn't it true that high stress/ psych trauma can often contribute to or trigger miscarriages?
medwoman (commenter to this blog) agreed with my assessment, that there is no way of knowing if the miscarriage was somehow "caused" by the ICE raid. And medwoman I believe is a gynecologist, so she would know...
Since you admittedly don't have all the facts, please articulate exactly how you arrived at the above noted determination. Can you specify what about the "investigation" was reckless?
From the discussion on the blog, it appeared there might be two problems:
1) There was no probable cause to issue a warrant on stale information; warrants are to issue only on current information;
2) Possible assault on one victim, who claims to have been punched in the head - but we don't know if he was resisting...
With regard to the issue of stress and adverse pregnancy outcomes, there is almost never a way to prove causation when the stressor is psychological rather than physical. Do I believe it could in some circumstances be a contributory factor....yes. Could I ever prove it....no.