June 5, 2012

"Police Stop, Handcuff Every Adult at Intersection in Search for Bank Robber."

ABC News reports:
Police said they had received what they called a “reliable” tip that the culprit in an armed robbery at a Wells Fargo bank committed earlier was stopped at the red light.

“We didn’t have a description, didn’t know race or gender or anything, so a split-second decision was made to stop all the cars at that intersection, and search for the armed robber,” Aurora police Officer Frank Fania told ABC News.

Officers barricaded the area, halting 19 cars.
The search went on for about 2 hours, and when they got to the last car, they found was a person they arrested for the crime. 

It's very odd that they would have the tip in that form, with absolutely no detail other than the person was stopped at a particular red light. And the evidence found — according to the article — was 2 loaded firearms.

42 comments:

Matthew Sablan said...

Two firearms, but no money? If I were writing a True Crime story, the tip would have come from the partner.

BarryD said...

The actual tip was probably "black male in his early 20s, wearing an oversized 'hoodie'", but department policy wouldn't allow them to "profile" the suspect...

Aridog said...

Holy smoke! THAT is precisely the police tactic that got Detroit in trouble with the Feds.

Maybe, given it's Colorado, they get a pass?

Matthew Sablan said...

Two guns, no money? If I were writing this, I'd make the tipster the partner, with the money, laughing all the way to freedom. Think, he ties up the police for who knows how long, cuts out his partner, and does it all anonymously. Also, he creates a potential PR nightmare for the police if they mishandle it, further buying him time. Who knows what the tipster was really like. I like my version of the story though.

30yearProf said...

PIGS.

Nothing changes.

The so-called "tip" is so vague as to be unverifiable in advance of the detention and search. So, it should not provide any probable cause. Otherwise, the police will just make them up as needed. Yes, Virginia, the badge is not a truth totum.

A "lucky" find does that is a priori a bad search.

A person who is handcuffed by excited men with drawn guns (and shotguns/rifles?) cannot help but be coerced into anything that he is "promised" will gain him his freedom. That's not voluntary consent, it's feat and terror.

mariner said...

I often have two loaded firearms in my car, but I've never robbed a bank.

30yearProf said...

TYPO

A "lucky" find does that is a priori a bad search.

A LUCKY FIND DOES VALIDATE THAT WHICH IS, A PRIORI, A BAD STOP OR SEARCH.

Chip S. said...

"Your fourth amendment rights can be terminated, too."

How many more of these stories before there's a trend?

Bruce Hayden said...

Well, I would expect a false arrest or something similar case would be viable here. They "arrested" these people without probable cause, but instead, for their convenience. They were arrested for the mere crime of legally being somewhere and minding their own business at the wrong time.

I think that they would have been in much better shape if they had just asked the adults to get out of their cars, frisked them (Terry Stop) for weapons, and then just held them in a group until they finished their search. Coffee and donuts would have been nice. Maybe still legally a 4th Amdt. "arrest", but not nearly as flagrant. The handcuffs turned what might have been a borderline case if handled nicely into a clear cut one of deprivation of a Constitutional Right.

Scott M said...

I often have two loaded firearms in my car, but I've never robbed a bank.

That's funny. I've robbed a bank, but I've never had two loaded firearms in my car.

You don't have any peanut butter on you, do you?

Revenant said...

Hm. You search all the cars but one and haven't found the guy yet. You're going to be in seriously deep shit if you handcuff a bunch of innocent people and don't even find the suspect.

Time to search that last car. What do you do?

Bruce Hayden said...

Oh, and when I took the Colorado Bar exam, some two decades ago, applicants were still being tested on the U.S. Constitution, including the 4th Amdt. Don't think that things have changed any in the meantime.

Aurora, CO, does have race and gang violence problems, at least in its older parts. City has grown quite a bit from the time I was growing up, covering much of the east of the City (and County) of Denver. Closest I ever lived to it was a couple blocks away in Denver, some 35 years ago. Even then, parts of it were a bit sketchy. Growing up on the very west edge of the Denver metro area, we still call it a suburb of Kansas.

BarryD said...

"Time to search that last car. What do you do?"

Oh, THAT'S why there's a cardboard box full of dinged up old handguns with their serial numbers filed off, in the trunk of the cop car next to the baggies of weed...

Chip S. said...

The perp is always in the last place you look.

Bruce Hayden said...

You're going to be in seriously deep shit if you handcuff a bunch of innocent people and don't even find the suspect.

I think that you are going to be in deep doo-doo anyway, regardless of what you find in the last car. Sure, maybe initially it isn't going to look as bad, but Constitutional rights found in the Bill of Rights are not group rights, but rather individual rights, and the standard, for each arrestee, is probable cause. Not convenience of the police.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

With all those people in handcuffs at least they could have broken out with some vodka and Russian music for a dance.

Scott M said...

The perp is always in the last place you look.

Not if you start at the opposite end.

Aurora, CO, does have race and gang violence problems, at least in its older parts. City has grown quite a bit from the time I was growing up, covering much of the east of the City (and County) of Denver. Closest I ever lived to it was a couple blocks away in Denver, some 35 years ago. Even then, parts of it were a bit sketchy.

When I did tech school at Lowry in 1990, they told us to avoid the bus lines that stopped down Colfax. We mistakenly got on one once and were presented with a 20 block floor show.

Michael K said...

Was there a Barrett rally nearby? I understand they stop and arrest all Walker sign holders. Did the bank robber have a sign ?

traditionalguy said...

Catching Bank Robbers is not that important on the food chain for local policemen. That's the FBI's job anyway.

I would put this down to Martial Law training for the Drone Guided Force ready to restore social order after the combination of Government ordered Currency Devaluation and Energy Starvation ends economic life for half of the starving population and they riot.

Paul said...

Sue 'em.

In Houston years ago they arrested EVERYBODY in a shopping mall parking lot for vagrancy. Famlies, kids, adults going to the stores. And yes they had their pants sued off of 'em.

If they tried that stunt here I'd refuse the search (for several reasons, a) you may have something illegal in the car you didn't even know was illegal, b) things can be planted in there, c) IT'S YOUR CAR, NOT THEIRS!!

C R Krieger said...

Will the Law Professor do follow-up on this?

And, is the right (smart, vs smart-alec) answer to say no to the police re search of the car?  Or is that overvaluing your rights vs your risk of injury or other bad outcome?

Regards  —  Cliff

MadisonMan said...

I can't add anything to what Bruce articulated well. I wonder how much Aurora will lose on this.

MadisonMan said...

Will the Law Professor do follow-up on this?

ON that subject (Follow-up), the sunbather run over by the city worker at James Madison park has died.

At least the Aurora police didn't kill anyone. I guess that's a plus.

がんこもん said...

I hope Aurora gets sued into the ground over this stunt. Moreover, I'd like to see the officers personally sued and hopefully criminally charged for this nonsense. False imprisonment anyone? Fourth Amendment search? How exactly is any part of this operation Constitutional?

However, this shows how Constitutionally illiterate too many of our police officers really are (and apparently lawyers as well). Just how did this get past a judge???

This is yet another reason why we should return to the 'peace officer' designation for police. 'Law enforcement officers'? REALLY?? Actions like this (not to mention the appalling no-knock raids that so often go wrong) prove that these clowns cannot be trusted to enforce the law - they clearly do not even know the law!

MadisonMan said...

Just how did this get past a judge???

I don't think a judge vetted this. Just some policeman who thought it was a good idea.

Cedarford said...

Revenant said...
Hm. You search all the cars but one and haven't found the guy yet. You're going to be in seriously deep shit if you handcuff a bunch of innocent people and don't even find the suspect.
======================
There are a lot of exceptions to the 4th. I believe at certain school shootings, workplace shootings with a gunman still thought to be on the loose, they stopped frisked then secured EVERYONE!

My guess is this incident will be reviewed and stand after lawyer review as legit.

----------------

Cedarford said...

Paul - "sue 'em." "If they tried that stunt here I'd refuse the search (for several reasons, a) you may have something illegal in the car you didn't even know was illegal, b) things can be planted in there, c) IT'S YOUR CAR, NOT THEIRS!!"

==============
Brave shooting off of your mouth. I would like to see your reaction if you were there and several adrenaline-pumped cops knowing they had an armed robber boxed in - had your car surrounded. And were screaming for you to show your hands and slowly exit the car while 3 Glocks, a shotgun, and a M-16 pointed at your face.

My guess is you would comply.

Alex said...

And were screaming for you to show your hands and slowly exit the car while 3 Glocks, a shotgun, and a M-16 pointed at your face.

I would have bumrushed 'em.

30yearProf said...

Yes, I'd say "no." I've done it.

They always stop pushing and let me go on my way. The police KNOW they are doing wrong, they just know that most people accept it.

Second typo. I should have my secretary type this.

My first post should say:

A LUCKY FIND DOES not VALIDATE THAT WHICH IS, A PRIORI, A BAD STOP OR SEARCH.

Bruce Hayden said...

There are a lot of exceptions to the 4th. I believe at certain school shootings, workplace shootings with a gunman still thought to be on the loose, they stopped frisked then secured EVERYONE!

Keep in mind that the frisking was most likely justified as a Terry Stop - i.e. for the safety of the officers and everyone else there.

The problem, in my view, of the handcuffing is that it turned what might have been a borderline case into actual obvious arrests. There is no claiming here that the people detained were actually able to leave, but didn't because they didn't understand that the request to stay in a command voice was merely a question and not a demand. That sort of thing.

Note that some of the people arrested apparently had children along, since the article specifically noted that only the adults were arrested. So, a mom is likely to have robbed the bank, with her kids in the car? Sure. Tell that to a jury. What is the likelihood of such being the bank robber?

Bruce Hayden said...

I will admit that it was probably necessary that the cops arrest someone for good. Otherwise, this would look like complete police misbehavior. With the arrest, they can say - well, at least arresting everyone was successful in apprehending the perp.

That said, what happens if the purported perp is not actually the bank robber? Apparently, the money wasn't found, so where is it? If this isn't the real perp, then arresting him is just going to make the Aurora police look even worse.

Bruce Hayden said...

When I did tech school at Lowry in 1990, they told us to avoid the bus lines that stopped down Colfax. We mistakenly got on one once and were presented with a 20 block floor show.

Yeh - that was what I was talking about, with "old" Aurora.

Henry said...

I'm pretty sure that having two firearms, loaded or unloaded, in one's vehicle is OK in Colorado except in the city of Denver. In Denver it's OK if you have a CCL.

Ex-prosecutor said...

If the robber possessed legally the pistol used to rob the bank, do officers have to return it to him if the search is suppressed? Would the same be true for a bag of money from the bank, if it was located only as the result of an illegal search?

Charlie Martin said...

The Dever police are notorious for having an extremely flexible view of what is and isn't constitutional -- and the Aurora police are where the bad eggs from Denver go when it seems too restrictive.

But I've got a legal question here: when your movement is restrained and you're handcuffed, doesn't that constitute an arrest? How many false arrest claims have these guys set up for themselves?

Bruce Hayden said...

I'm pretty sure that having two firearms, loaded or unloaded, in one's vehicle is OK in Colorado except in the city of Denver. In Denver it's OK if you have a CCL.

My pet peeve with CO gun laws - awhile back the voters approved legislation/amendment that changed the CCL law to "shall issue", and to implement gun laws uniformly throughout the state. But, Denver was able to convince the CO Supreme Ct. that it had unique circumstances (as well as being a Home Rule county) that justified it not being bound by state gun laws, except for the CCL laws (esp. since the CCL laws were passed partially because Denver only issued permits to friends of the mayor, city council, and sheriff). The story is that before this, Denver police would arrest anyone carrying a holstered gun - if the gun was completely covered by the holster, it was considered concealed, and if not, then it was considered brandishing.

But, as noted, this wasn't Denver, but rather, Aurora, just to the east. And, Aurora doesn't have Denver's traditional claims to being treated differently than the rest of the state.

Bruce Hayden said...

If the robber possessed legally the pistol used to rob the bank, do officers have to return it to him if the search is suppressed? Would the same be true for a bag of money from the bank, if it was located only as the result of an illegal search?

Should know, but don't, for Colorado, but this sort of thing is usually subject to civil forfeiture. And, there, the burden is typically on the (previous) owner to prove that the property was not used in or the fruits of a crime. And, yes, I would expect that most evidence suppressed for criminal law purposes would be allowable for this purpose. It is bad enough in a lot of places in this country for innocent people to get their property back - just think of how hard it would be for the actual perps.

edutcher said...

The Blonde thinks there should be a Pocket Althouse, detailing what rights are violated in situations like this and what to do when we think our rights have been violated.

SASE and a buck for the cost to:

Pocket Althouse

U of W-Madison Law School

Madison WI

scrubjay said...

I have no complaints. It worked.

Rusty said...

Pocket Althouse


I didn't think she was that small.




I wonder if the officers bothered to tell the lucky winners why they were being stopped.

Paul said...

Cedarford,

They had already pointed guns at the motorist. They had already cuffed them.

So no, it's my policy to say 'NO' and if they want to wait hours for a drug sniffing dog, that's fine with me.

They can tell me I'm to blame if the bad guy gets away. They can tell me if anything is found illegal they will ignore it (police can LIE all the want according to the law in an investigation.)

But no.. no search.

Methadras said...

I sense a law suit on probable cause grounds alone. You can't dragnet an entire host of people in the hopes you think you get the right one while violating peoples liberties on the other.