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Police officers put on notice in Indiana: If they illegally raid the wrong home, private citizens can shoot back

Friday, June 15, 2012 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: Indiana, self defense, police raids

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(NaturalNews) Most of us are supportive of our local police departments but because of a lousy state Supreme Court decision in Indiana last year, residents of the state now have the right to shoot at officers in defense of their property if they believe they are being improperly raided.

Not surprisingly, most police officers are upset about the law, which was signed by Gov. Mitch Daniels in March, because they believe now it will be "open season" on law enforcement officers.

But supporters say the law will encourage nothing of the kind. They say its sole purpose is to allow homeowners the same rights they've always had - to defend their property with deadly force, if necessary, even if that means defending it against "public servants" who illegally enter homes and automobiles.

Here's how it all began.

Right to resist 'incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence'

Police were called to the home of a man and woman who were reportedly fighting outside of their apartment. The couple went back inside the apartment after police arrived, with the husband telling officers they were no longer needed.

An officer entered the apartment anyway, at which time the husband shoved him against a wall; a second officer then used a stun gun on the husband and arrested him.

In a March 2011 ruling, Indiana's highest court, in a 3-2 decision, said, essentially, that police officers had the right to enter a home for any reason, or for no reason at all, and a homeowner was powerless to stop them. The ruling, said some legal analysts, overturned hundreds of years' worth of common law which dated back to England's Magna Carta in 1215, granting homeowners a so-called "Castle Doctrine" right to protect their property.

"We believe [...] a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence," wrote Justice Steven David, for the majority. "We also find that allowing resistance unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest."

Much of the legal establishment agreed.

"It's not surprising that they would say there's no right to beat the hell out of the officer," Ivan Bodensteiner, a professor at Valparaiso University School of Law, told local media. "(The court is saying) we would rather opt on the side of saying if the police act wrongfully in entering your house your remedy is under law, to bring a civil action against the officer."

Like the majority of Supreme Court justices, however, Bodensteiner obviously doesn't see the irony in his claim - that Indiana residents would have had remedy in court against the improper actions of a police officer. That seems odd, considering the man upon whom the Supreme Court case was based lost.

The two dissenting justices - Robert Rucker and Brent Dickson - deferred to the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful searches and seizures, as well as the Bill of Rights' privacy protections.

'Unwarranted and unnecessarily broad'

"In my view the majority sweeps with far too broad a brush by essentially telling Indiana citizens that government agents may now enter their homes illegally -- that is, without the necessity of a warrant, consent or exigent circumstances," Rucker wrote for the minority. "I disagree."

They suggested if the court had limited its ruling to just allowing police to enter homes in a domestic violence case they would have supported the decision.

But, Dickson said, "The wholesale abrogation of the historic right of a person to reasonably resist unlawful police entry into his dwelling is unwarranted and unnecessarily broad."

Constitution be damned, opponents of the measure, especially police organizations, are crying foul.

"If I pull over a car and I walk up to it and the guy shoots me, he's going to say, 'Well, he was trying to illegally enter my property,'" 17-year veteran police Sgt. Joseph Hubbard, of the Jeffersonville, Ind., police department, said. "Somebody is going get away with killing a cop because of this law."

State Sen. Michael Young, author of the original legislation, disagrees. He says there is no widespread problem among Indiana residents wanting to take on police. And, he rightfully pointed out, the law would have been unnecessary were it not for the troubling Supreme Court ruling.

Sources for this article include:




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