Missouri Lawyer Accuses Police Of Threatening To Kill His Family Pets And Kick In Front Door If He Insisted On A Warrant

147px-Mo_-_Kansas_City_PoliceIf a recent story is to be believed, it appears that there are many things that you can demand to see in the “show me state” but a warrant is not one of them. A Kansas City man is accusing the police department of shocking conduct after he declined a demand that he allow police officers to search his house without a warrant. Eric Crinnian, a lawyer, said that an officer threatened that, if he insisted on his getting a warrant, he would come back in force, bust down his door, and shoot any dogs in the house. The response from a local criminal justice professor is also rather interesting.

Crinnian said that police banged on his door and, when he opened it, demanded with guns drawn that he drop whatever was in his hands and come out of his house with his hands above his head. He says that he was questioned about two men that they were searching for in the area. When he said had no idea what they were talking about, police allegedly demanded to search his house repeatedly as he continued to refuse without a warrant. It is then that Crinnian says the police officer responding in a rather shocking threat:

“If we have to get a warrant, we’re going to come back when you’re not expecting it, we’re going to park in front of your house, where all your neighbors can see, we’re gonna bust in your door with a battering ram, we’re gonna shoot and kill your dogs, who are my family, and then we’re going to ransack your house looking for these people.”

The police department has said nothing since the matter is under investigation. However, I thought the response of John Hamilton a bit of a surprise. He is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Park University and former police officer. Hamilton said that, if true, these threats “would be inappropriate” but would not be illegal. He simply noted that “it’s a dangerous way to do policing, because it makes it tenuous when you appear in front of the court in a case like that.”

That is a rather muted response to an officer allegedly threatening to punish a citizen for asking for a warrant by maliciously destroying property and shooting pets. It would in my view be a little more than inappropriate and could constitute a crime. While it could be a tough case on this evidence, one possibility would be a criminal threat. However, Missouri seems to exempt police officers from core criminal provisions. For example, stalking includes criminal threats but the provision in the code adds this exemption: “This section shall not apply to activities of federal, state, county, or municipal law enforcement officers conducting investigations of violation of federal, state, county, or municipal law.”

Kansas has a more typical statute:

21-3419: Criminal threat. (a) A criminal threat is any threat to:
(1) Commit violence communicated with intent to terrorize another, or to cause the evacuation, lock down or disruption in regular, ongoing activities of any building, place of assembly or facility of transportation, or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or evacuation, lock down or disruption in regular, ongoing activities;

(2) adulterate or contaminate any food, raw agricultural commodity, beverage, drug, animal feed, plant or public water supply; or

(3) expose any animal in this state to any contagious or infectious disease.

(b) A criminal threat is a severity level 9, person felony.

(c) As used in this section, “threat” includes any statement that one has committed any action described by subsection (a)(1) or (2).

History: L. 1969, ch. 180, § 21-3419; L. 1984, ch. 116, § 1; L. 1992, ch. 298, § 14; L. 1993, ch. 291, § 32; L. 2002, ch. 88, § 3; L. 2009, ch. 132, § 3; July 1.

If such an act cannot be charged as a crime if proven, there is need for a revision of the criminal code which contains an assortment of crimes related to resisting officers but none directly related to officers abusing their authority. Perhaps some of our Missouri lawyers can suggest other possible charges.

What makes this alleged threat even more egregious is that we have seen a disturbing trend of officers shooting family dogs under questionable circumstances (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). It is chilling that, according to Crinnian, the first thing that this officer thought of was to threaten to shoot the family’s pets as if it were just one more minor act like kicking in a door.

It seems obvious to me that, if proven, this officer needs to be fired and that the matter needs to be handed over to a prosecutor.

Source: Fox4kc

Kudos: Michael Blott

41 thoughts on “Missouri Lawyer Accuses Police Of Threatening To Kill His Family Pets And Kick In Front Door If He Insisted On A Warrant

  1. Americans understanding of the warrant requirement is quickly eroding. On a recent TV show Dr. Phil acted offended when a guest said that she asked the police for a warrant. The SWAT TEAM smashed in her door. The audience clearly felt that the woman had no right to ask for a warrant or a reason for the invasion. The invasion was apparently brought on by a complaint that underage drinking was going on at the home.

  2. This is a most troubling encounter. I have been keeping up with some of these reports. As I have said repeatedly, most officers are decent human beings who just want to finish their shift safely and go home to their families at the end of the day.

    On the other hand, there are some who manage to sneak through the psychological screening with serious underlying psychological problems undetected. Some states only require one POST screening, and unless the officer changes jobs, may go a whole 30-year career without being re-evaluated. People change over time.

    Our regular commenter Randyjet is probably scratching his head about this. Us aviator types have to be screened thoroughly every one to three years, depending on the class of license. A law enforcement officer has just as much responsibility as a pilot or air traffic controller. In fact, police officers, correctional officers, airline pilots and air traffic controllers are consistently ranked in the top ten most stressful jobs.

    If there was ever a job which requires mental stability it is the people who work in those occupations. I have some additional thoughts about the screening process for officers as well. The most commonly used test for screening law enforcement officers is the MMPI-2. I just Googled, “how to beat the MMPI test,” and got 44,500 hits in 0.28 seconds.

  3. My thoughts on the best way officers could have handled the situation was to stake out the home to make sure no suspect sneaked out until somebody could get a judge to sign off on a warrant. But even then, there is no reason to threaten to damage the property and shoot pets, even if the homeowner is belligerent and engaging in baiting behavior.

    The only reason I can think of where no warrant is needed is if they are in “hot pursuit.” However, if they are in hot pursuit, it is a possible hostage situation. If that is the case, the last thing they need to do is go charging in, but call in the hostage negotiation team instead.

  4. I agree based upon the totality of the circumstances that the officers conduct appears to be unreasonable…..and it would constitute an illegal search and seizure…. However, I thought the rule of law was in pursuit of a felon and exigent circumstances exist that they may make a cursorily sweep of the premises……

    The professor here needs another profession…. He probably taught Obama. Constructional law…..

    I think it has more to do with the guy being an attorney….. I wonder if he happens to be a criminal defense attorney…..that would give me more of a clue as to why the cops were so aggressive…..

  5. More of “Tales of the American Police State” no doubt. What fascinates me is the question of what the Policeman’s rationale would be at his removal hearing if this conversation actually took place?

  6. Come on, it’s not really that surprising, is it? He just let the truth slip out.

    Thugs, to whom we’ve given the power and authority to destroy us. We might want to reconsider this whole societal model.

  7. AY: the underlying report does not indicate a hot pursuit. It says the officers were looking for two parolees but does not provide any information as to why they believed they were at this house. Presumably, if the officers believed they could legally enter without a warrant, they would have done so without asking permisson.

    As to the legality aspect, the conduct would clearly be illegal under my state’s laws. I would think facts may develop which would establish criminal conduct under of 241 or 242 of Title 18.

  8. A home owner has the right to protect his family & property from ANY threat.

    These no knock warrants are a bane on our society and they should be made illegal.
    Just as these threats from police should be illegal.

  9. Why does this surprise me? Because the police were bold and stupid enough to threaten an attorney in this way. Why does this not surprise me? Because I have been threatened by police on two occasions.

    The first was when I took photos as evidence of police misconduct and abuse. Both the defenant and I got anonymous death threats when he filed a complaint for brutality using my photos. Eventually the defendant dropped the complaint and moved away when the death threats found their way to his mother (who lived out of town).

    The second time was when I was assaulted and a police sargeant assaulted me (roughly pushed me up against a wall and repeatedly poked my chest hard – simple assault) and threatened to deny any police protection in public places in the future if I did not testify (which I had every intention of doing – so his threat was actaully a disincentive). This was almost 30 years ago, but police entitlement and brutality in the face of the worst crime, “Contempt of Cop” has gotten far worse in the interim. In fact there have been several police shootings of unarmed (mostly black or hispanic) civilians in my city, several of which were in the back or head (one while sitting as a passenger in a car). It is appalling.

  10. Forget firing that cop, he should be locked into a house, gagged, dressed up like a dog, then have a SWAT team sent in for a drug raid. See how he feels about dog murder after that (on the off chance he survives)

  11. Another interesting piece by John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute:


    By John W. Whitehead
    November 25, 2013


    “Hold on, my friends, to the Constitution and to the Republic for which it stands. Miracles do not cluster, and what has happened once in 6000 years, may not happen again. Hold on to the Constitution, for if the American Constitution should fail, there will be anarchy throughout the world.”—Daniel Webster

    Still, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that all of our so-called blessings will amount to little more than gilding on a cage if we don’t safeguard the freedoms on which this nation was founded, freedoms which have historically made this nation a sanctuary for the oppressed and persecuted. And if there is one freedom in particular need of protecting right now, it is the Fourth Amendment, which has been on life support for quite some time.

    It used to be that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which enshrines the rights to free speech, free press, assembly, religious exercise and petitioning one’s government for a redress of grievances, was considered the most critical of the amendments in the Bill of Rights. Since writing my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, however, I have come to believe that the Fourth Amendment, which demands that we be “secure” in our persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government and, consequently, stands as a bulwark against the police state, is, in fact, the most critical.

    Frankly, the right to speak freely doesn’t help you when your home is being invaded by a SWAT team or the government is spying on your emails and phone calls, and tracking your whereabouts. It certainly doesn’t help you when you’re in the back of a police cruiser or face-to-face with a cop hyped up on the power of his badge. In fact, exercising your right to free speech in such scenarios today, even nominally, will more than likely get you pepper sprayed, tasered, shot or at the very least charged with resisting arrest or disorderly conduct….

    … here is a list of things about this emerging police state that I am not thankful for and will never remain silent about as long as the government remains the greatest threat to our freedoms.

    SWAT team raids. On an average day in America, at least 100 Americans have their homes raided by SWAT teams (although I’ve seen estimates as high as 300 a day), which are increasingly used to deal with routine police matters: angry dogs, domestic disputes, search warrants, etc. Unfortunately, general incompetence (officers misread the address on the warrant), collateral damage (fatalities, property damage, etc.) and botched raids (officers barge into the wrong house or even the wrong building) tend to go hand in hand with this overuse of SWAT teams, with tragic consequences for the homeowner who mistakes a SWAT raid for a home invasion, such as the 107-year-old Arkansas man killed after a “shootout” with a SWAT team or the 19-year-old Seattle woman who was accidentally shot in the leg by police after she refused to show her hands. …continues…

  12. I thought that the first thing that they would do in this Revolution was kill all the lawyers. But they are going after the lawyers’ dogs. Toto: You are in trouble.

  13. If it was me who received the threat to hearth, home, self and dog, and, I was a lawyer in that town, here is what I might do at nine a.m. the very next morning. Show up at the federal courthouse with a typed Complaint naming the cops as defendants, and their municipality, and their Chief, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, and damages. And, a Motion for restraining order to be issued sua sponte. Name the dogs as plaintiffs. Ask for attorney fees. Ask the clerk to assign the file to a judge this morning and go request the preliminary injunction. Have the newspaper and the television reporters there. Go outside and have an interview on the courthouse steps with wife, self and dogs. Tell them you have left the home because it is unsafe for man or beast. If the judge denies the motion then start a protest on the courthouse steps and perhaps at his home. Since the guy lives in Missouri he could call up Percy Green who lives across the state in Saint Louis and ask for some advice on this. Lets see if this lawyer has any balls. This is a baseball metaphor. He has already been thrown two strikes, it is time for him to pitch and perhaps bean some people. It is five fifty five a.m. here on the east coast. Get off your duff, lawyer, and complete your Complaint and Motion For Preliminary and Permanent Injunction and get to the federal courthouse. The legal premise by the way is: 42 U.S.C. Section 1983.

  14. I have been arrest for doing the same thing the cops did. It was called a terrorist threat. Cops should not have special rights, more than the citizens. This is a clear case of bullying by the establishment.
    They could have just said please, after they explained what they were trying to do. That might have worked. We do not want to be the enemy of our men in blue. We want to help them stop crime and criminals. No need to be overbearing!

  15. It seems that this officer could be sued for the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress; and that the citizen could file a complaint with the state-wide agency which certifies, and de-certifies, a person’s competency and right to work for a police agency.

  16. […] that." But Jonathan Turley, a professor of law at The George Washington University Law School, isn't convinced that it's legal to threaten to shoot people's dogs and otherwise humiliate them if t…. "It would in my view be a little more than inappropriate and could constitute a crime. While […]

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