New bodycam footage surfaces of Officer Justin Peppers of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, as featured a few videos ago regarding the Braxton Smith traffic stop and arrest. In the first video, he’s shown punching a handcuffed arrestee, while another officer warns him to stop punching, and that his bodycam is recording. The second video shows an encounter with a woman who was asking Peppers questions during the traffic stop of a third party. That encounter resulted in the woman being taken out of her car and called a “fu@king retard.”
On March 18 at 1:15 a.m., the Calloway County Sheriff’s Department, in Kentucky, arrived at a private residence with an arrest warrant for a guy who did not reside at the residence, but whose vehicle was parked in the yard, undergoing maintenance by the homeowner. When the footage turns on, you’ll see police walking towards the husband slash homeowner. Then you’ll see the man’s wife come outside and ask for a warrant and also for the officers to leave the property.
This raises constitutional issues about whether law enforcement can enter and remain in someone’s front yard under these circumstances, where the home’s residents are present and asking them to leave. And where there is no arrest warrant for the home’s residents – nor a search warrant for that home? This also raises issues about whether police can detain those residents, including their guests, without their consent and in the absence of a search warrant? This is a common issue that most people misunderstand – especially police. Let’s look at this footage, which you haven’t seen anywhere else, and clear up the legal rights at issue.
NOTE: This footage was submitted anonymously and I really have no idea what the outcome was in the criminal case, or otherwise. One would hope that no convictions resulted from this, for reasons I explain in the video, as well as below….
Some of the applicable law discussed in the video:
According to the 1980 Supreme Court opinion in Payton v. New York, in order to legally arrest someone in a home, rather than in a public place, absent consent or exigent circumstances, police officers must have a warrant.
According to the 1984 Supreme Court opinion in Oliver v. United States, the heightened Fourth Amendment protections of the home extend beyond just the interior of the home itself into what’s called the “curtilage” of the home, which is the land immediately surrounding and associated with the home. Why? Because according to the Supreme Court, the curtilage is considered part of the home itself for Fourth Amendment purposes.
In the 2013 Supreme Court opinion of Florida v. Jardines, the Court held that a search undoubtedly occurs when the government, without a warrant, obtains information by physically intruding within the curtilage of a house, which in that actual case involved a home’s front porch. The Court cautioned that a search occurs unless a homeowner has explicitly or implicitly sanctioned the government’s physical intrusion into the constitutionally protected area, i.e., the yard and/or porch of the home.
Under the “knock and talk” exception to the warrant requirement, a police officer not armed with a warrant may approach a home and knock, precisely because that is “no more than any private citizen might do.” This means there is an “implicit license . . . to approach the home by the front path, knock promptly, wait briefly to be received, and then (absent invitation to linger longer) leave.” An officer may also bypass the front door (or another entry point usually used by visitors) when circumstances reasonably indicate that the officer might find the homeowner elsewhere on the property. “Critically, however, the right to knock and talk does not entail a right to conduct a general investigation of the home’s curtilage.”
The obvious difference between a police officer and a young girl selling girl scout cookies, is that many, if not most, homeowners have no idea whether they have any right to refuse to answer the door, or to ask the person to leave. Police like it this way. They don’t inform people of these rights, and the courts have ruled that they have no legal obligation to do so. You have to inform yourself and spread the word.
Police officers, and anyone else really, have an implied license to come onto your property and knock on your door. This implied license can be revoked. Homeowners can prevent ordinary citizens and police officers alike from conducting a knock and talk by revoking their implied license to be there. However, few citizens know that an implied license exists. Generally, the courts require that a homeowner do so by clear demonstrations or express orders. For instance, asking someone to leave or refusing to answer questions.
A couple of days ago I put up a video of my interview with Patrick Jaicomo from the Institute for Justice about the Kansas newspaper raid. Now we have surveillance footage of the simultaneous raid of the newspaper owner’s home, showing the owner’s 98 year old mother confronting police officers while they were searching her home.
This is a West Virginia case – bodycam of a traffic stop for lack of an inspection sticker and warrantless arrest. This involves the Martinsburg Police Department and Patrolman Daniel Smith. The guy in the video, D.J. Beard, wants to file a lawsuit. You tell me, what do you think? Does he have a case, in your opinion? Mr. Beard was almost immediately arrested for allegedly refusing to get out of his car. Is that what the footage shows?
This is the same police department that pulled over, and arrested, Corey Lambert, as featured in another video (different officer though).
Here are the criminal case filings, including the charging documents, police report narrative, as well as the dismissal orders:
About 8 months ago I did a video on the Jacksonville, Florida traffic stop of Braxton Smith by Officer Peppers of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. After the bodycam footage hit the internet and the media, the agency received 14 complaints about the officer’s conduct, including a complaint by Mr. Smith. JSO Internal Affairs performed an investigation and the report has been released.
Police officers in Northhampton, Massachusetts, pulled a 60 year old woman over for a defective headlight. Within minutes of the traffic stop, she was violently pulled out of her car, slammed to the ground and then pepper sprayed. All criminal charges were subsequently dropped. The woman, who speaks English as a second language and had some difficulty communicating with the officers, has now hired a lawyer and is threatening to sue. Let’s go over the dash cam footage and see whether any constitutional violations occurred.
Police charged Driouech with assault and battery on a police officer, attempting to disarm a police officer, resisting arrest and refusing to identify herself, in addition to the lights violation, according to court documents. In his arrest report, Sellew alleged she tried to roll up her window and put her car in drive during the traffic stop, then resisted arrest when Sellew ordered her to step out of her car and grabbed his baton as he tried to take her down.However, the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office soon dismissed all of those criminal charges against Driouech. She did admit to the broken headlight charge in court.
Yesterday, we filed two federal civil rights lawsuits against the City of Mount Hope, West Virginia and their former police officer, Aaron Shrewsbury. This small town of only about 1,000 people set up a notorious speed trap on a nearby four-lane highway. In what was apparently a cost-cutting measure, the local police chief got a disgraced and de-certified police officer, who had been previously fired for dishonesty from another department, re-certified with the state. That officer was Aaron Shrewsbury, who was finally exposed when my client, Brian Beckett, got pulled over for speeding last year while on his way home from work.
Here is where Officer Shrewsbury was decertified in 2015 for dishonesty:
Vancouver Police Department Officer Andrea Mendoza allegedly pulled a man’s pants down and threatened to charge a Taser onto his exposed genitals. This occurred immediately after police were called to Walmart due to suspected shoplifting. The man had already said he was “done” resisting by that point, body camera footage shows. But she threatened him again and held the Taser against his skin for 24 seconds.
On Tuesday, the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office filed fourth-degree assault charges against the officer. The local police union has, of course, objected to the prosecutor’s decision. Apparently, all of the criminal charges against the shoplifting suspect were dropped.
Police officer Heather Weyker, of the St. Paul, Minnesota, Police Department, was found by the federal courts to have fabricated false charges against several dozen Somali refugees, including Hamdi Mohamud, who spent 2 years in prison for it. Hamdi is now represented by the Institute for Justice, who represents her in an almost decade-long lawsuit against Weyker, which so far has been unsuccessful. Believe it or not, Weyker is still working a six figure job at the St. Paul Police Department, despite having been adjudicated as a liar. Her attorney, Patrick Jaicomo, of the Institute for Justice, joined me to explain this insane story.
Even though the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals found in 2016 that Officer Weyker had fabricated false charges against numerous individuals, the St. Paul Police Department used her in a recruiting video in 2017!
About 6 months ago I made a video about the daughter of the Sheriff of Berkeley County, West Virginia, who was involved in a car wreck under suspicious circumstances. It appeared that she was given special treatment and basically allowed to skate on what would have been a DUI charge/investigation for the rest of us. Well, she’s back in the news, and this time she’s been charged. You can read her father’s statement here. Thanks to Spike Cohen for discussing the situation with me.