It was a police raid John Oliver called “almost cartoonishly idiotic.” Looking to apprehend a violent drug dealer at his home in McDonough, Georgia, more than two dozen officers executed a no-knock warrant in February 2018. Smashing the door open with a battering ram, before tossing a flash grenade inside, officers stormed in with guns drawn, and quickly subdued the home’s lone resident, forcing him down on the ground.
But it wasn’t their man—police raided the wrong house. Instead, officers had just handcuffed Onree Norris, then a 78-year-old grandfather with heart trouble. At the time, Norris was simply watching TV in his bedroom when he heard a “thunderous sound:” Members from the Henry County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team had just knocked down all three doors to his house. When Norris moved into his hallway, he was greeted by multiple officers “wearing military style gear pointing assault rifles at him,” who threw him to the floor.
Until that day when police mistakenly broke down the doors to his house, Norris never had any trouble with the law. But since his next-door neighbor turned out to be a drug dealer, Norris was effectively punished for the police’s mistakes.
Yet back in 2016, the Eleventh Circuit did deny qualified immunity to a law enforcement officer who was accused of “unlawfully seizing and detaining [the residents] at gunpoint” after he “had entered their home by mistake; he was supposed to execute a search warrant two doors down.” In that decision, the court ruled that the officer violated “clearly established constitutional rights” by failing “to engage in reasonable efforts to avoid erroneously executing the search warrant.”
Unfortunately for Norris, that 2016 decision was unpublished, meaning it's not technically binding, and in the Eleventh Circuit, “we look only to binding precedent to determine clearly established law.” Adding to the Kafkaesque absurdity, the ruling against Norris is also unpublished, meaning that in the Eleventh Circuit, it’s still not “clearly established” that raiding the wrong home at gunpoint is unconstitutional.
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More than 3,200 pages of emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by BuzzFeed News — covering the period from January to June 2020 — provide a rare glimpse into how Fauci approached his job during the biggest health crisis of the last century, showing him dealing directly with the public, health officials, reporters, and even celebrities. (The Washington Post also received more than 800 pages of emails and published a story about them on Monday.)
The sharpening conflict between rising violent crime and efforts to reduce the size of police departments has played out across the American West throughout this pandemic year. Now cities such as Portland, considered among the most ambitious in moving to reshape its police force, have retrenched. So have Oakland, Calif.; Berkeley, Calif.; Los Angeles and several other influential cities on the issue.
The nightly confrontations with police and federal agents deployed here by President Donald Trump have been replaced by a kind of generational hopelessness, a tenuous sense of security across an under-policed city and a return to an old-school style of gun violence reminiscent of a tit-for-tat cycle of deadly reprisals, almost always among young men of color. Through April, the police reported 348 shootings, more than double those recorded over the first four months of last year.
“There is a lot of anger, a lot of frustration out there, a lot of feeling that there should be a life for a life,” Twauna Hennessee, Yoakum’s mother, a church elder resplendent in white, told the congregation. “We must make sure that we have forgiveness in our hearts. Because that’s where I am at. And we may not all be there. And it may take some time, and that’s okay, but it may never come.