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Compliance with illegal police orders

Discussion in 'Legal & Political Archive' started by ZachS, Feb 6, 2010.

  1. ZachS

    ZachS Eugene/PDX Active Member

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    I'm splitting this off from the silencer rights thread... Posted about this back in November when it happened, but had the mods delete the thread once I came to my senses.


    This is true. I ended up with a broken elbow and a night in jail a couple of months ago when I argued with a pair of police officers who not only illegally ordered me to eject invited guests, but also attempted to enter my house without permission. One of the officers had received a noise complaint about a party at a different location, and when he noticed a party at my house, he came up to me and without so much as a hello, he told me "turn off the music and send everybody home." The situation snowballed from there.

    Last Thursday, I was cleared of the criminal charges that resulted, but only because a dozen people witnessed the whole incident and were willing to testify on my behalf.

    I've had encounters with the police in various contexts for at least the last 15 years, and I'd never before even received so much as a formal warning. I've always been polite and respectful to police officers, and they've always been polite and respectful to me.

    These officers were neither... and though all I did was dispute the legality of their actions (even they agreed that I was otherwise respectful), they treated me like a common criminal. Their police reports were inconsistent with each other, and what I and the other people there actually saw. They weren't bad cops, either - just two regular police officers who like having their way and wanted to keep themselves out of trouble and teach me a lesson.

    Moral of the story: be polite and compliant no matter what. And bring a dozen reliable witnesses with you everywhere you go :D.

    Even though I may ultimately win a small civil settlement - enough to cover my relatively meager medical and legal expenses (it was a minor injury and a simple case) plus a little for my trouble - it won't be worth it. If I had to do things over again, I would have complied with the officers' illegal orders and taken my complaint to the police auditor and/or the media. It's unfortunate that Americans should ever have to hesitate to assert their constitutional rights, but doing so can sometimes be a risky proposition.


    Because I'm planning to file a civil suit, I won't go into any more detail or answer any questions about this incident. You're welcome to call me a stuck-up little bastard all you want (I was certainly being one that night, as was my right), but I'd rather focus discussion on the larger topic of what to do when faced with a police officer who has the law wrong.
     
  2. gunnails

    gunnails Hillsboro Active Member

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    You are a stuck-up little bubblegum.

    Always wanted to say that on the internetz to some one.

    Yep, feels good.
     
  3. Trlsmn

    Trlsmn In Utero (Portland) Well-Known Member

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    In short as I tell my teenage boys "the best way to deal with the police/law/court machine is to stay out of it to begin with."
     
  4. Outrider

    Outrider Oregon Active Member

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    Your first job is to survive the encounter. Uninjured and intact is preferable. Avoiding jail is the next goal. You want to be in a position where you can report the problem and start using the system to help you instead of trying to match force with force on the spot with the LEO. I realize someone can come up with an extreme scenario where only force would work, but keeping your cool and doing what you need to to get through a bad encounter allows you to come back at it when the playing field is closer to being level.

    In the case of the guy with the suppressors, it is understandable that an officer would not recognize a Form 4 or understand what the $200 tax stamp meant. I'm not saying it would have worked, but it would have been reasonable for the individual to ask the officer to call the BATFE to verify the paperwork to prove that it was legitimate and the suppressors were possessed lawfully. If the suspect is asking for more LE involvement, that would normally be a clue to a LEO that he might not understand part of the law. If the officer refused, fine he gets to confiscate them for the moment and then the owner gets to file the paperwork to have them returned.

    Generally speaking, it's better to be a living witness than a dead victim.
     
  5. CounterOfBeans

    CounterOfBeans northwest Active Member

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    By saying that to your sons, I'm sure you're telling them to stay out of trouble; trouble that would prompt a police response. Being the law abiding Citizens that we all are, I'm sure we can all agree that obeying the law is good and necessary advice to keep society healthy and functional. I'm sure by saying "as I tell my teenage boys", you didn't intend to imply that you were extending the same advice to ZachS.

    Because, from what I can tell from ZachS' posting (and his vindication in court), he was doing nothing wrong. He was a man in his own home, minding his own business and pursuing his life, liberty and happiness at a party he was hosting for his friends. He wasn't doing anything that could be construed as him trying to *get into it*, so to speak.

    All the same, without provocation, the police came, saw (what they wanted to see) and kicked ***, his *** and those of his guests. And through his taxes, he paid for them to do it.

    What "lesson" (see quote below) does that teach him? That he can have no faith that the oath of office (to uphold and defend the Constitution) taken by those officers means anything?

    That those officers, confident that statutory presumptions (actual units of evidence, see below) about their behavior will automatically vouch for the good faith and good judgment of their actions, are at liberty to freely indulge their uninformed, knee-jerk impulses?

    "TITLE 4
    EVIDENCE AND WITNESSES
    Chapter 40. Evidence Code
    ORS 40.135 Rule 311. Presumptions. (1) The following are presumptions:....
    (i) A person acting in a public office was regularly appointed to it. ...
    (j) Official duty has been regularly performed."
    ...

    Zach's words:
    "... and though all I did was dispute the legality of their actions (even they agreed that I was otherwise respectful), they treated me like a common criminal."

    "They weren't bad cops, either - just two regular police officers who like having their way and wanted to keep themselves out of trouble and teach me a lesson."


    I say "uninformed, knee-jerk impulses" to describe their actions because, like most of us, they lack the basic, essential knowledge about Constitution(s)(State & federal) in order to be educationally competent to swear an oath of office, let alone do a daily job that requires their actions to be in harmony with an oath of office (uphold and defend the Constitution).

    All they have is a few classes to teach them about statutes that they are told to go out and enforce without the educational capacity to discern whether or not their instructions jive with the Constitution(s).

    Giving the officers in ZachS' case the benefit of the doubt, it is clear that they firmly believed that being right is an automatic extension of wearing the badge; trusting that their "training" was adequate to aid them in making sound judgments. To believe otherwise is to believe that those officers are simply criminals masquerading as officers.

    I say that these officers are educationally incompetent because, as I mentioned in the "Army Reserves Questions..." under the Off Topic section, it is conspicuous that Oregon's public school curriculum policy (as an example) functionally deprives students of the opportunity to examine and know the Constitution(s) that is required by law under ORS 336.057. See below:

    "336.057 Courses in Constitution and history of United States. In all public schools courses of instruction shall be given in the Constitution of the United States and in the history of the United States. These courses shall:
    (1) Begin not later than the opening of the eighth grade and shall continue in grades 9 through 12.
    (2) Be required in all state institutions of higher education, except the Oregon Health and Science University, and in all state and local institutions that provide education for patients or inmates to an extent to be determined by the Superintendent of Public Instruction. [Formerly 336.230; 1977 c.226 §1; 1999 c.1023 §1]"


    I got my education entirely through Oregon's school system and can attest confidently that if I were to tally up all the class hours I spent actually studying the Constitution(s) as a focus of study, it would add up to no more than two, maybe three months of sporadic studies. Every person I talk to about their educational experience corroborates my experience.

    I discovered at the Multnomah County Courthouse Law Library, that this law has been on the books since 1923 and sits there still today, just waiting to be administered by policy makers, the way it is clearly intended. The result of the conventional policies is that generation after generation of public school students enters society functionally illiterate on the Constitution(s) and intellectually defenseless.

    Constitutional illiteracy provides those who swear an oath of office with an insulation from the burden of being able to recognize when their instructions or training is inconsistent with the Constitution(s) and likewise renders those whose rights are violated with merely the gut feeling that they are being victimized, but no ability to articulate how or ability to persuade their violator(s) of the mis-deeds.

    The violator(s) go on about their daily tasks with a clear conscience, without much dwelling and the victims begin the long, arduous & expensive task of fixing what should have never happened to them in a world where Constitutional awareness was jealously guarded as one of our society's highest educational priorities. In ZachS' words:

    "If I had to do things over again, I would have complied with the officers' illegal orders and taken my complaint to the police auditor and/or the media. It's unfortunate that Americans should ever have to hesitate to assert their constitutional rights, but doing so can sometimes be a risky proposition."

    How much money is stripped out of public members' pockets on a daily basis that could more productively be used to bolster the economy by spending it on the products and services of local/regional businesses, rather than inflating the coffers and egos of those who consume many tax dollars to extract it?

    How much money can be stripped away before it starts affecting the core quality of life of a critical mass of the People?

    How much damage needs to be caused before we come clean with ourselves about how much we've let slip under the bridge and start going back to school to learn for the first time what we should have known all along?

    I have read a good share of case law and I have tried out our courts and learned a lot from my experience, but I really feel awkward writing what I've written the way I've written because I don't want to come off all uppity. My apologies if I've failed. I'm just not sophisticated or gifted enough to write it better.

    I applaud ZachS' decision to go after the civil suit, though I wonder if a criminal suit is appropriate as well. Go bubblegum go.
     
  6. MountainBear

    MountainBear Sweet Home, OR Well-Known Member

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    First, unless you have been through your states police training (in Oregon, its called DPSST), you don't really have any business talking about what officers are trained on. For what its worth, currently, the Basic Police course is 16 weeks long. I guarantee that more than a few classes are on Oregon statutes. Second, in personal life, they may be able to stand back and decide if certain Oregon laws are constitutional or not. In their professional lives, it is their job to enforce the statutes that are on Oregon's books, not to determine the validity of said rules. I'm not saying that Officers should be mindless robots, what I'm saying is that there are always laws we disagree with. Officers are no different. But often times they have to ignore their opinions and enforce the laws that they are sworn to and paid to enforce. Officer discretion only gets you so far.

    That all being said, there are always bad apples. Law enforcement is no different. But your best bet is still to comply with all commands and stay polite. At the end of the encounter, simply request the officer's name, number, and supervisor's name. You have much better legal standing if you complied and then brought your complaints to the appropriate venue...
     
  7. mxitman

    mxitman N. Seattle Member

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    A good friend of mine had the same problem a year ago with a un-authorized entry into his home by the local police, but luckily for him he had recently installed some security cameras from his house getting broken into. One of the cameras is at the front door and records video and audio whenever there is movement, needless to say there were no charges and he got an apology from the police chief. Just for that reason I have been seriously debating on getting the same setup, cost him around $800 and has already paid for itself.
     
  8. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    A statement that always elicits a huge guffaw from me, is something on the order of,

    "Police can't ..... blah, blah, blah." , or similar: "They can't do that!"

    Yes, they can. No matter what it is, they can.

    Then it is your civic duty to find a judge to explain to them why they shouldn't have.

    Your alternative is to perhaps be rendered incapable of finding anything, let alone a judge.
     
  9. Trlsmn

    Trlsmn In Utero (Portland) Well-Known Member

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  10. ZachS

    ZachS Eugene/PDX Active Member

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    Oh, I'll get more than enough satisfaction out of watching the officers' depositions. :cigar:
     
  11. Randini

    Randini Salem Member

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    I have to agree with Zach
    "be polite and compliant no matter what"
    after all you could be at your home unarmed and still get shot in the back by a LEO !!
    for not being compliant !!
     
  12. mpmax

    mpmax Woodburn Active Member

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    A broken limb is the standard cost for "Contempt of Police Officer".
     
  13. clearconscience

    clearconscience Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    +1
    And I think this original post was in response to my comment that I would ask to go with my suppressors.
    If I'm breaking the law then arrest me. If my constitutional rights are being violated the worse I'm treated the better it will be for me in court.
    I'm not saying fight the law get them to beat you up or push their buttons, but I would ask them why they would confiscate my property for breaking a fed law and not arrest me?
    I wouldn't start arguing or pushing buttons, but you have to ask questions and the more you can poke holes in their story the better.

    I would at least ask for a senior Officer, SGT, LT, whatever to be called out as well. Or call 911 yourself. then at least whatever they do is recorded.

    I just don't like the fact they take your property without having broken the law when you know damn well you probably won't see it again. Now your out $200 for a tax stamp, plus the $400 plus for the suppressor itself.
    I know a lot of LEOs and a couple chiefs so I would have several character witnesses that would be with me in court. I would call them on the spot.
     
  14. Bhowe

    Bhowe Seattle Member

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    I was once asked by an officer if he mined if he looked through my vehicle. I hesitated and said "yes I do mind". He was astonished and repeated it back to me "you do mind? what are you hiding". Because the officer hadn't even given me a reason for why he wanted to look through my vehicle (I guess every 20 year old has dope and illegal weapons in the mean suburbs of the Microsoft rich Eastside of Seattle), I did not feel completely comfortable just letting him snoop around. More so, my vehicle was not even involved in his reason for being there in the first place, nor was I involved. Did not make much sense to me at the time.

    So I said back to him "I'm not hiding anything I just assume because you asked I have the right to say no". Another officer chimed in with "don't give me the legal lawyer b.s." which kind of made me laugh considering it is the law they are supposed to uphold.

    The first officer then ordered me to give him my keys (the car was parked and locked) to which I replied "NO!" Not knowing that the jerk was using tactics to go around the law, they explained to me as I lay face down in pavement/gravel that I cannot disobey a direct order from an officer.

    I could have swore he had a little black mustach and a swaztika on his armband. But no, seriously, big eye opener. I have discovered it is way better to just go along with whatever they say and let your lawyer beat them up in court.

    I think of a run in with the police kind of like a run in with an ambulance...no matter what, its going to cost you a bunch of money!


    Bhowe (O.P. of "Silencer rights imposed)
     
  15. Bhowe

    Bhowe Seattle Member

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    Where are we, L.A.?
     
  16. wakejoe

    wakejoe Beaverton, OR Well-Known Member

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    When Adrian was eight months pregnant, we were not breaking any laws walking a block away to grab some candy bars at 9:00pm.

    Yet, still, eight cops came running around the corner telling us to lay face down on the ground. Okay, sure..

    And even still, that didn't stop them from jaming knee's in our backs and using a bar (Knight stick?) on my ribs as a little discomfort-compliance.

    And when they wouldn't listen, and I out right yelled to STOP LAYING ON MY PREGNANT WIFE, some blond chick cop stepped on my head, and said I had better not say another word.

    AND THEN! When we were brought over, and cleared by a witness. "Oh, no, that's not them!" Only TWO cops were around, the rest were no where to be found.

    Make sure you "just stay out of it" guys!! It always works.
     
  17. ZachS

    ZachS Eugene/PDX Active Member

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  18. Taurus 617 CCW

    Taurus 617 CCW Northern Idaho Member

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    We did a law enforcement rifle demonstration in Springfield last year. After the demo was over, the Sgt. invited us out to lunch with him and a few other officers. While at lunch we had a long conversation about law enforcement in the Eugene area and how difficult it was. They explained that they had neither the support of the community or the county commissioners. Their hands were tied. Many officers had quit or were about to quit the departments in the area. On top of that they said that the crime rate had been rising for quite some time and there was not that much they could do about it without community support. That was really sad to hear.
     
  19. ZachS

    ZachS Eugene/PDX Active Member

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    Yep, they're stuck between police-hating hippies on one side and tax-hating conservatives on the other. I don't envy the department here.

    But proper training and high expectations for officer behavior wouldn't cost them a thing - in fact, it could potentially save them a great deal of money.
     
  20. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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