Tell Police to Come Back With A Warrant, I Dare Ya.

I’m not sure that the warrant in the Tucson shooting was really equivalent to a writ of assistance, the type that helped spark the American Revolution. I don’t know Arizona law, but I’m pretty sure that in most jurisdictions all that’s required of a warrant is that it specify the place or the person to be searched, with sufficient particularity that it’s pointing to a specific place or person. I believe an address is sufficient — the warrant need not say “Joe’s house,” for example. So I’m guessing that warrant was probably valid, in a minimum-requirements-to-be-valid sort of way.

So the Revolutionary aspect may be a bit overblown there. Nevertheless, there’s one element of the recent Kentucky v. King Supreme Court decision that I think’s been overlooked. Everyone’s focusing on the aspect of Justice Alito’s ruling that permits police to enter a residence without a warrant if they hear the sounds of evidence being destroyed, etc. — but look at his reasoning! He says:

When law enforcement officers who are not armed with a warrant knock on a door, they do no more than any private citizen might do. And whether the person who knocks on the door and requests the opportunity to speak is a police officer or a private citizen, the occupant has no obligation to open the door or to speak. Cf. Florida v. Royer, 460 U. S. 491, 497–498 (1983). (“[H]e may decline to listen to the questions at all and may go on his way”).When the police knock on a door but the occupants choose not to respond or to speak, “the investigation will have reached a conspicuously low point,” and the occupants “will have the kind of warning that even the most elaborate security system cannot provide.” Chambers, 395 F. 3d, at 577 (Sutton, J., dissenting). And even if an occupant chooses to open the door and speak with the officers, the occupant need not allow the officers to enter the premises and may refuse to answer any questions at any time. Occupants who choose not to stand on their constitutional rights but instead elect to attempt to destroy evidence have only themselves to blame for the warrantless exigent-circumstances search that may ensue.

Emphasis mine.

Well, Justice Alito, this is what happens when we Mundanes choose to stand on our constitutional rights and tell officers to go away and come back with a warrant: We get killed.

Trooper Ivan Lawyer and Cpl. Kirk Firko “were called to an accident near Glade Park Road and South Broadway involving a pickup pulling a trailer and jet ski” in which “the jet ski fell off the trailer and the truck was stuck in a neighbor’s yard.” Callers “said it appeared as if the three people trying to remove the truck were intoxicated.” When Lawyer and Firko arrived at the scene, the men were gone, but the troopers followed them to Kemp’s house down the street. Kemp refused to let them in, saying (correctly) that they needed a warrant. Together Lawyer and Firko kicked in the door, and Lawyer shot Kemp in the chest at close range. Later he claimed that “Kemp lifted and extended his arm upward as if he was pointing a gun at him,” but no weapon was found anywhere near his body.

If they have a warrant, and break into your home, you get killed. If they don’t have a warrant, and you tell them to go get one, you get killed. If Now that’s a bit more akin to that familiar long train of abuses and usurpations. Just sayin’….

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