A SWAT team with 32 officers, an armored vehicle and a sniper raided a man’s home because he had a license to carry a gun and a registered weapon — and because a former roommate had a little bit of marijuana.
During the search – which was criticized by a judge this month — deputies smashed Michael Delgado’s door and windows, and tossed flash-bang grenades into his house.
Worst of all, Delgado was not the target of the raid or even suspected of a crime. Deputies from the Hennepin County Emergency Services Unit (ESU) were actually searching for Walter Power. Power; who was wanted for selling marijuana, was believed to be staying at Delgado’s house in Golden Valley, Minnesota, in November 2015.
The ESU was called in because Delgado had a gun registered to his name and a license to carry it, and they feared he would use it, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.
The military-style tactics police used in the raid violated the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, Hennepin County District Judge Tanya Bransford ruled. The Fourth Amendment bans unreasonable searches and seizures.
Bransford compared the search to a 1992 case in which police raided a man’s home, blindfolded him and asked him questions without reading him his Miranda rights, the newspaper reported.
“[But] the militarized actions in [the Power] case were far more extreme,” Bransford wrote.
Bransford suppressed evidence found in the case, which forced the county attorney to drop charges against Power.
During the raid, the ESU brought a Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Vehicle, or BEAR. The BEAR is a landmine-resistant armored personnel carrier designed for use by troops on the battlefield. A flash-bang is a stun grenade that is designed to blind people with a bright flash of light.
Bransford’s ruling was dangerous because it puts law enforcement lives at risks, Jim Franklin, the Executive Director of the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association, told The Star-Tribune.
“My question to her is: Are you going to attend the dead cop’s funeral?” Franklin said of Bransford.
Veteran Fights to Get Gun Back
Even though the raid was declared unconstitutional and the charges against Power were dropped, Delgado was still in court in October 2016, fighting to get his legal gun back, The Star-Tribune reported. Delgado was also seeking reimbursement for broken windows and doors
“They could have said, ‘We’d like to search your house,’” Delgado said of the ESU. “They could have just asked.”
Use of the ESU has more than doubled over the past nine years. In 2007 the unit was deployed 30 times; in 2015 it was used on 71 occasions.
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