I am in no way an advocate of initiation violence but I am an advocate of self-defense. In my opinion anybody storming into your home without at least identifying themselves first has initiated violence against your person by first violating your property rights and then by making an implied threat against your life. My biggest problem with no-knock entries is the simply fact that they create a situation where violence is almost guaranteed as the homeowner, unaware of the identities of those breaking into his home, takes measures to defend himself.
Although I feel a homeowner in such a situation should be free of legal repercussions in such situations that’s now how the state sees it. Thankfully some grant juries are better than others because on in Texas recently declined to indict a man who go caught up in this type of scenario:
A grand jury has declined to indict Steven Ray Jones after he was accused of intentionally shooting at Dallas police officers last month at a Pleasant Grove apartment complex.
At the time of the shooting, Jones, 27, was on the phone begging a 911 operator to quickly send the police as men tried to kick in the door. Jones said he believed attackers who critically injured his cousin had returned to the apartment.
On the night of the incident, a brawl broke out and Jones’ cousin was shot by an unidentified gunman. Jones and his cousin fled into his cousin’s apartment. Jones called 911 to say his cousin was shot and told the operator that attackers were beating on the door.
Moments later, Jones told the operator that someone was kicking the door. The operator, unaware that police were on the scene, told him officers were on the way. Jones then yelled to the people kicking at the door that police were coming.
The officers, believing that someone lay inside bleeding and possibly dying, had decided to kick in the door. But they did not let the dispatcher know that they were doing so.
In this case the no-knock entry wasn’t for the execution of a warrant but notification was still not provided when they busted in the door. Considering this situation the police were in error busting down the door without first announcing themselves or alerting the 911 operator to inform Mr. Jones that police had arrived. Obviously the police department saw things differently:
The Police Department instead arrested Jones on three counts of aggravated assault on a public servant. He has been in jail since the incident June 13.
“Although the person was not indicted, we still believe it was the right course of action because three Dallas police officers were injured during the course of this incident,” said Deputy Chief Craig Miller.
What is left out by Mr. Miller is that the police were injured because of errors in how the situation was handled by the Police Department. Since Mr. Jones was in a situation where an attacker was beating on the door of the apartment he was occupying it was very reasonable for him to assume the person who finally kicked in the door was the attacker. The 911 operator did not forward information to the officers that the attacker was beating down the door, this was the first error. The police apparently didn’t announce themselves before kicking in the door, this was the second error. The police apparently didn’t inform the 911 operator that they had arrived at the scene, this was the third error.
I wouldn’t even say Mr. Jones made a mistake in this case, he took steps necessary to defend himself but wasn’t given all the information to make an informed decision. His actions, based on the information he had available, was completely justified. Thankfully the area Assistant Chief sees the situation different than the Deputy Chief:
“She leaves out some critical information,” said Assistant Chief Vince Golbeck, who oversees the city’s seven patrol stations.
Seconds later, the door flew open and Jones fired two shots as three officers rushed inside. Jones apologized to the officers and begged them not to shoot him.
Golbeck acknowledged that the incident reveals a communications breakdown. The department is now considering requiring that officers notify the dispatcher when they’ve decided to kick in a door.
“We’re not trying to point fingers, but we’re just saying, ‘Folks, this is how we can do better next time,’” he said.
The error was entirely with the Police Department in this case. I’m glad that the second grand jury understood this and decided not to indite Mr. Jones as it would have created an expensive legal battle for him to fight.