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Always wondered about this
Old 07-01-2013, 02:11 AM   #1
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Always wondered about this

Using Yahoo, ran across this featured story:

Girl buys water, spends night in jail

How DOES one know when it's really the police and not a ruse to gain control over you. Briefly, a 20 year old girl buys a few items including bottled water from a super market. As she gets back to her car, 6 or 7 plain-clothes police (actually, ABC police IIRC) surround her - one pulling a gun and some showing badges. She was afraid it was a robbery or worse and took off, calling 911 from the road. She was soon stopped and charged with a number of felonies. Turns out, the police thought she had purchased beer. The story does not tell why they thought she was under-age nor why it took that many police - with guns - to check her ID (outside the store!) After she spent a night in jail, the prosecutor apparently believed her story and chose not follow through with the charges and she was released. BUT, she might just as easily been shot for "assaulting" the officers (read the story).

My thinking is that this was "overkill" that easily could have resulted in a real killing. The story offers no insight into whether the police were following protocol. I am hoping that they were NOT.

Years ago, there was a case (California, IIRC) where police broke down the door of a house - It was the WRONG house - and shot a man to death who naturally was frightened that this was a "home invasion" and grabbed a gun.

It would seem the MORE INNOCENT you are, the more likely you would be to end up on the wrong end of a gun. A guilty person (more often than not) will "give it up" when he might be expecting a "visit" from the police. An innocent person (knowing that the police have no need to approach) would be more likely to run or otherwise resist out of fear - not of the police, per se, but of some sort of ruse or invasion.

Anyone ever have such an experience? Know of one? How DO you protect yourself from such a situation - knowing that you can buy/rent/steal police uniforms and make a "badge" out of tin these days. Being stopped by a uniformed officer in a marked car seems straight forward. Other kinds of stops/entry could be problematic IMO. (Can you spell Amadou Diallo). Not trying to stir the pot. I have honestly wondered about this and wondered how I would react. YMMV
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Old 07-01-2013, 05:57 AM   #2
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There have been a number of these screw up usually involving drugs. The most famous is Bivens vs 6 Unknown Agents, where the Supreme Court ruled that people can sue the Federal Government in these situations. I also vaguely remember a case where a bunch of agents went to the wrong house (the police chief's house) and killed the guy's dogs. I have to admit, if someone broke my door down at 4 AM and I had a gun handy I would undoubtedly reach for it. If they were dressed in paramilitary gear and assault weapons you would figure they were police but if they had the typical TV undercover grunge look with pistols you would assume a home invasion. Scary.
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Old 07-01-2013, 08:01 AM   #3
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I have always believed that only about 50% of the facts can be assumed to be correct in the average daily newspaper story.
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Old 07-01-2013, 08:22 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
I have always believed that only about 50% of the facts can be assumed to be correct in the average daily newspaper story.
And factoids on Facebook don't even meet that lofty percentage...
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Old 07-01-2013, 09:31 AM   #5
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They need 7 agents to take down a possible underage drinker with a 12-pack of beer?? Glad to see our tax dollars are going to good use.
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Old 07-01-2013, 09:54 AM   #6
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Down in the La Quinta Ca. area last year it seems like there were a number of home invasion type robberies with people posing as cops, stealing a bunch of cash, random gunshots... My guess is it worked well on homes where maybe some of the residents were illegals or were pretty new to being citizens and were thus overawed by the "police". My personal thought; again unfettered by actual knowledge, is that the houses had drug sales going on...

Home robbed by men posing as police - Riverside CA Inland Empire Southern California News
Armed Man Poses as Officer in Home Invasion | NBC 7 San Diego
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Old 07-01-2013, 10:36 AM   #7
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In MO. the procedure is stay where you are and call 911. A uniformed officer will be dispatched in an official vehicle. If you belive the story the girls big mistake was driving off, think she grazed 2 officers in the process. Hitting law officers with a vehicle(at least in most states), is assault on the officer, which
would allow the use of deadly force.

I'm just glad nothing more serious happened to her.

Of course it's pretty stupid for the police to not know the difference between water and beer.

Does anybody know about the True=Y in your browser settings?

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Old 07-01-2013, 10:43 AM   #8
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I took a self-defense course years ago, and at that time the instructor (ex-policeman) advised that if you are stopped and you have any doubt that the people stopping you are real officers, you should advise them that you are driving to the nearest police station and that you will be happy to speak with them there. If they are legitimate officers, he said they would have no problem with that, and if they are not, they would disappear pretty quickly. I've never had to follow this advice, but I've never forgotten it.
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Old 07-01-2013, 11:33 AM   #9
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IF the story is factual, it certainly seems like excessive behavior on the part of the police in terms of the number of officers and their behavior. If all they suspected her of is buying beer, why wouldn't a couple of officers approach her, identify themselves and just ask her for an id? Why would an officer pull a gun on a young woman suspected of buying beer? Or try to break the windows of her car? Very odd.

I can see why they were scared and fled and they did the right thing by calling 911 right away.

That said, the story is so outrageous that I am skeptical that the story got all the facts right or included everything - either that or I am giving the officers much more credit than they are due.
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Old 07-01-2013, 11:40 AM   #10
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Freedom is the right to obey the police.
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Old 07-01-2013, 03:05 PM   #11
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This sounds so typical - over zealous cops with a misplaced sense of power. They should be focused on real crimes, like the criminals running amok in most cities.
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Old 07-01-2013, 04:03 PM   #12
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The plain clothes ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control) officer identified herself and showed a badge, but the girls were suspicious about that the badge didn't look legit, and they couldn't have had a clue as to why they were stopped.

ABC says it's reviewing arrest of UVa student who bought bottled water - The Daily Progress: Local

The ABC spokesman doesn't seem to acknowledge or deny that officers pulled a gun or tried to break car windows (or maybe just banged on them to try to get the girls to comply), but said "This whole unfortunate incident could have been avoided had the occupants complied with law enforcement requests."

I've been to this store. It's fairly upscale and in a large strip shopping center with stores like Michaels, Old Navy and some restaurants around, so a large parking lot. It's pretty near campus, and UVa does have some issues with assaults on women. I can't blame the girls for being on guard.

On another note, the thread title could certainly be more specific, couldn't it? When "this" is your only noun, I think that's a clue that you should add something more so people can understand what the topic is without opening the thread.
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Old 07-01-2013, 04:33 PM   #13
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Freedom is the right to obey the police.
In the words of the southern sheriff, "Blam! Blam! Halt!"
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Old 07-01-2013, 08:43 PM   #14
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I hope the judge throws this out.
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Old 07-01-2013, 09:09 PM   #15
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2nd paragraph of the article I linked:

"Prosecutors on Thursday dropped the charges"
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Old 07-01-2013, 09:46 PM   #16
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I'd rather the girls did what they did instead of being carjacked or assaulted or robbed by some fake cops, their last words being, "We thought the badge was real...." Here on Long Island, we have had some incidents of fake cops flashing a badge before trying to "arrest" people, often ripping them off or assulaing them.

I also hope they sue the PD because that is the way you keep these out-of-control cops in check. Bad publicity and dropped charges are not enough IMHO.
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Old 07-01-2013, 10:01 PM   #17
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It seems to me that incidents of overzealous police officers are on the increase. They appear to be taking on a decidedly military posture.
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Old 07-01-2013, 10:17 PM   #18
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It seems to me that incidents of overzealous police officers are on the increase.
Or is it maybe the ability to instantly communicate the occasional screw up anywhere in the US via electronic media that makes it seem that way?
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Old 07-01-2013, 11:05 PM   #19
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I don't have any personal experience, but I have seen enough news stories about Law Enforcement knocking on the wrong door and killing the wrong "suspect."

I have been receiving a lot of phone calls to reposse this motorcycle that belongs to someone else...I keep telling them I'm not that person, but they don't believe me.

Last year, they knocked at our door and I think tried to give us a something. Don't know what it was because only my wife was home at the time. She was scared to hell and wouldn't open the door. They left about 10 messages at my work phone. I told them there is no such person at this address.

It's pretty easy to mess with someone if you want to. If you have tons of debts and have an enemy you want to get rid of, just give the debt collector your enemies' address.
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Old 07-01-2013, 11:13 PM   #20
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Why would the purported purchase of beer by a minor require these kind of resources? Why not just have a traffic cop stop her? I thought these type of actions were reserved for major felonies, where law enforcement has a reasonable fear of death or personal injury occurring during the arrest.

My guess is the local authorities have an organized "sting" operation going on fighting under age drinking. There's likely more to this story, on both sides of the bench.

These "SWAT" tactics have been occurring with some frequency in the general aviation community. Pilots are being greeted on ramps, being detained, and having their airplanes searched, because something in their route or airplane registration suggest terrorist or drug activity. One noteworthy couple, who are prominent in the production of aviation training videos, were detained a couple of years ago, just because the "N" number of their airplane was confused with another in the FAA database.
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