It usually takes very extreme behavior from law enforcement officers to punch holes in the qualified immunity shield. Fortunately/unfortunately, there’s seems to be no shortage of extremely-badly-behaving law enforcement officers.
The Evansville (IN) Police Department has seen a drug bust go up in a cloud of flashbang smoke. A search warrant for drugs and weapons, based on an informant’s tip, was executed perfectly… if you’re the sort of person who believes it takes a dozen heavily-armed officers, a Lenco Bearcat, and two flashbangs to grab a suspect no one felt like arresting when he was outside alone taking out his trash.
The state appeals court decision hinges on the deployment of a flashbang grenade into a room containing a toddler. Fortunately, in this case, the toddler was only frightened, rather than severely burned. But it was this tossed flashbang that ultimately undoes the PD’s case. The evidence is suppressed and the conviction reversed.
A SWAT truck with a battering ram attached was used to poke holes and tear apart the house in an attempt to drive the nonexistent suspect out. As deputies became unable to find him, they began taking their frustration out on couches, beds, lamps, clothing, toys, and even the family’s Christmas tree was ripped through a window and smashed to bits.
The entire time, Nita Lane, the homeowner, was trying to tell the cops that Alexius was not there and does not live there.
The sheriff, quite expectedly, remains unapologetic. Despite being told by the victim that Alexius was not in her house, [Sheriff David] Groves maintains that his officers acted in the best possible manner.
This week, the Florida state legislature is considering a bill that would make it illegal to run any website or service anonymously, if the site fits a vague category of “disseminat[ing]” “commercial” recordings or videos—even the site owner’s own work. Outlawing anonymous speech raises a serious First Amendment problem, and laws like this one have been abused by police and the entertainment industry.
The bill (Senate and House versions) seems to be catering directly to the entertainment industry and could give local law enforcement City of London Police-esque powers to act as de facto copyright cops. And its potential stripping of anonymity not only requires disclosure to law enforcement, but everyone else on the web.
A person who owns or operates a website or online service dealing in substantial part in the electronic dissemination of commercial recordings or audiovisual works, directly or indirectly, to consumers in this state shall clearly and conspicuously disclose his or her true and correct name, physical address, and telephone number or e-mail address on his or her website or online service in a location readily accessible to a consumer using or visiting the website or online service.