I know we’re a little late in this one, but it’s good to see a jury exonerate a citizen for taking ballistic action against Virginia cops investigating the wrong house – even if a “warning shot” is an extremely ill-advised tactic for any defensive situation. Assuming that’s what it was; warning shots are usually aimed upwards. Anyway, what’s up with the reporter’s assertion that “In a neighborhood where weapons are everywhere, Brandon Watson didn’t hesitate to grab his own legally purchased gun.” Is there a set weapons density that justifies taking-up arms when you’re facing a home invasion? And while I agree with the reporter that both sides of the encounter were lucky that night, one side suffered more than the other. Cops need to have a protocol for ID’ing themselves, and stick to it. [h/t SA]

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57 Responses to Jury Acquits Man for Firing Warning Shot at Wrong-House Cops

  1. He’s lucky to have fired a “warning shot”. If he’d have hit one of those cops they’d have put him full of enough lead to make a pencil out of him.

    • Maybe he talked to a lawyer and that lawyer advised him to say it was a “warning shot” versus “I shot at the cop” – so there’s another reason why you don’t say sh#t until you’ve talked to a lawyer!

      • That’s a true statement. Lawyers are expensive until you really need one. Well, they’re still expensive, but it stings less when they help you avoid doing stupid things.

    • That’s unless they started firing back before again failing to identify themselves and he bagged two of three of them ……. and good fcuking riddance. Now, in the case of a legitimate address and a legitimate warrant, etc, I’m all in support of them, but somewhere, someone at the head of the team needs to start asking some serious questions; like, “Hey Sarge, do you have the correct address this time, aszwipe, or should we start handling this the old fashioned way, just to be safe?”

      All this tactical training, tactical clothing, shaved heads, wrap-around sunglasses, and adopting the facial expression of stone-faced killing-machines don’t amount to SQUAT if the boneheads can’t even respond to the right freakin’ address.

      It reminds me of the definition of Government Specifications. That is;
      a. Measure it with a micrometer
      b. Draw the line with chalk
      c. Cut it it with an axe.

        • In the early days, a certain local police department to which I belonged started a crisis intervention response team, but didn’t formally name it thus early on; When it first began, it was run by a fellow with the first name starting with T and the last name starting with W.

          Naturally, evil people named the new group the ‘T__ W_____ Action Team, or ‘TWAT,’ or the T__ W_____ Intelligence Team, known as ‘TWIT.’

          Fairly quickly, it became CIRT, which everyone thought was a breath mint. We are all surprised to find that it was, instead, a candy mint.

      • The way I always heard it was:

        1. Measure with a mic
        2. Mark it with chalk
        3. Cut it with an axe
        4. File it to fit
        5. Paint it to match

  2. Didn’t another gent get acquitted recently for killing an officer under similar circumstances?

  3. How often do we read about the cops going to the wrong address? Is it really that hard? You would think that the cops would make absolutely sure before they start breaking down people’s doors….

    • The kind of cops (SWAT etc) that break down doors don’t really care if they break down the wrong one. Under the current standing laws, they can still nose around and try to find some evidence that you did something wrong – e.g. a joint. And if they do find something like that, they can then claim your stuff under asset forfeiture laws. So busting the wrong door every now and then is beneficial to their bottom line (since they then get to bust the right one, anyway).

      • That’s not actually true, as that’s a warrantless search. The “in plain sight” thing only stands when they have a reason to be there to begin with. And asset forfeiture laws are pretty complex, there’s like 30 pages outlining the criteria. Simply existing in a place [you own] while breaking the law doesn’t cut it, your [whatever] has to be used in the commission of a crime, like you’re growing pot in your house, running a on illegal casino out of it, or an informal medical clinic, etc. And even then if you rent your landlord is in the clear assuming they don’t know about it, but the burden of proof is on them.

        • They keep adding broad-reaching exceptions, so it’s far beyond that in practice. For example, if they can prove that you made any money from it, then any property paid for with that money is subject to forfeiture. And the standard of proof there is much lower than what the trial is – it’s totally possible to be acquitted but still have your property legally forfeited.

          Ditto for searches – there’s the “good faith” provision now (which would apply in the case of a mistaken raid), and more.

  4. “This is the police! Exit the back of the residence now and run like hell or you’re gonna fry!”

  5. Cops need to learn to get their information straight before they go busting into people’s homes. Proper identification does a world of good too.

  6. Knocking on the door seems to work pretty well for Mormons and those kids selling candy for school trips. Maybe the cops need to give it a shot.

  7. Juries are starting to understand that their lives are at risk, too, so they’ve stopped worshiping cops.

    This SWAT/no knock crap will stop once cops finally get the message that they are responsible for their actions and they just might get shot if they keep it up.

  8. Good for him! How about ending no-knock raids? “Well he looked GUILTY because he has braids, lives in a crappy neighborhood & is BLACK”. Cops need to refuse to be a part of this( but we know that won’t happen).

    • I’m beginning to wonder if these “wrong address” no-knock raids are caused by a desire to flush the real target out their back exit to prevent the Entry Team from getting hosed by heavy artillery. Officer Safety, you know. Just hit a random house down the block – chances are we have them outgunned anyway, and the Department will pay for a new door/dog.

      • The no-knocks are largely driven by “because it’s fun!” mentality.

        In fact, in most cases a raid isn’t needed at all – it’s much easier to arrest the suspect when he’s outside, especially when he has a well-established daily routine, as most people do. But there are numerous documented cases where cops would literally trail the suspect, wait for him to walk inside the house, and then raid it. The reason is that it means that they can turn the place upside down in the process, and any additional evidence they find adds to what asset forfeiture claims they can make. It’s more profitable to raid houses than to arrest people elsewhere, basically.

  9. #1…. There should be no such thing as an “Unmarked Police Car”.

    #2…. There should be no such thing as a “Plain Cloths Officer”.

    It can be assumed that you are being car-jacked if an “unmarked car” attempts to pull you over.

    #3… Vagina Cops are Total PIGS. Driving through Vagina a few summers ago on I-95 they had a car pulled over every quarter mile. I could see that they were searching 1 in 5 cars. It was disgusting… baggage all over the side of the road next to the cars. That is not “Law Enforcement” that is “Citizen Oppression”.

    • You seem to have intimate knowledge of Vagina. Are you a resident of Vagina, or did you merely pass through it once, or do you pass through Vagina on a regular basis? If so, why are you so negative about Vagina? Did Vagina do something bad to you once upon a time? Are you afraid to be in or near Vagina? Is your Vagina really large enough to build highways in and drive cars through? What do you call the police–The Vagina State Troopers? Do they carry protection?

      I could go on and on. . .

      • Man, they really DO have a federal agency for EVERYTHING now, don’t they? I wonder if they have MRAPs and guys in balaclavas too.

      • Vagina for the most part is a good gun-friendly state. I have nothing against Vagina. I do have a problem with “Predatory State Troopers” who serve no other purpose then to issue driving tickets (in any State).

        I have only driven through Vagina enough times to know that Predatory Cops are a rampant in that state. I did get a stupid ticket for using a radar detector… which I never paid. Most other states will not enforce the collection of tickets from Vagina for use of radar detectors. The way they get you for radar detectors is they drive down the highway flipping their radars on an off and looking to see who taps their breaks in a pattern that matches their actions. So the solution is that after you initially slow down, resist the urge to tap your breaks if the detector goes off again.

        • Man, this Vagina sounds like a rough place. I once considered taking a vacation in Vagina, you know, to spend some time there, get to know the place. I guess Vagina isn’t as nice as I remembered. I especially dislike the idea of speed detectors; Normally, it’s a matter of obeying the posted limits or maybe an oral warning of excessive speed, although sometimes too slow is bad, too. It depends on the Vagina.

          I can’t stand it.

          The word you’re looking for is “VIRGINIA.”

        • The last time I drove through Virginia, I also saw the cops were pulling over cars every 1/4 mile, mostly red cars for some reason.

          As Chris Chan would say, Virginia is for virgins, LOL.

  10. Glad he went with a jury trial. If you watched the video it’s also clear that the cops lied to the jury by saying they were scanning the room with weapon mounted flashlights and pointing them at the ground at the same time.

  11. My house, I would have shoot to kill. You laz me you die. Police or not, because there is no need to be at my place.

  12. The establishment is going to start to get really worried with all these people going free after resisting unlawful no-knock/no-announce type raids.

  13. I think the one big deciding factor here, is that were simply at the wrong address. It’s happened before, and unfortunately, will probably happen again. Happy hunting!

  14. Is it really that fucking hard for these apparent numbskulls to look at the warrant (which they better damn well have on-hand anyway), and then look to see if the street number on the house they pull up to matches the one on the warrant? I mean, fucking seriously?

    Oh, and if it were up to me, so-called “No-Knock” warrants would be totally ILLEGAL. Everybody, from the officers executing said warrant, to their entire chain of command back at the station house, and even on up to the DA and the “Judge” who signed it would immediately be up on charges; they would all have the book thrown at them. Everyone would absolutely be doing hard time and be black-balled. FOR LIFE.

    But, hey, a guy can dream, right?

    • There wouldn’t have been a warrant, there was a 911 call from the guy’s neighbor. They just entered the wrong house and failed to announce themselves.

  15. “Portsmouth police got lucky that night…” Sums up the story nicely. He was within his rights to fire a warning shot right between their eyes once they lasered him. If you or I did that we’d be prosecuted for assault with a deadly weapon or maybe even attempted murder.

  16. Why do they need to identify? They’ve got these MRAPs and other military surplus stuff now. They can just ‘Seal Tm 6′ on your ass now. Makes’em feel real macho now I guess. I’m glad this guy won his time in court but like was said, he was very lucky he wasn’t just an afterthought in someone’s after action report.

  17. The police also need to be absolutely sure they’re at the right address as well as clearly identify themselves and show proof of their intent(warrant) before they approach a residence in force. If they end up at the wrong place and they damage property or someone gets hurt or killed they bed to be held to the fullest extent of the law. I’m tired of incompetent officers not doing their diligence and getting a pass. Their mistakes and laziness costs innocent lives and taxpayer dollars!

  18. On reading accounts like this, my first impulse is to simply ban no-knock raids. If enough juries begin acquitting people defending themselves and if public opinion begins to turn against them, no-knock raids may be stopped. This may take awhile, however. In the meantime, I’d like see pro-gun politicians place some operational limitations on no-knock raids. The most glaring failure is that many people report never hearing the police announce the start of the raid. The police could be intentionally soft-spoken so as to enhance the shock-and-awe of the raid or the homeowners could be conveniently claiming that they didn’t hear the police announce their presence. Either way, a problem exists which has resulted in needless deaths.

    1. Pass a law stipulating how no-knock raids are to be conducted. Specifically, police should be required to announce their presence with a loud-speaker and wait a specified amount of time, say 5-10 minutes, before breaking down someone’s door. This of course sharply reduces the shock-and-awe of the no-knock raid but that wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.

    2. Spell out specific civil and criminal damages for no-knock raids made under questionable warrants or raids made when officers knew or should have reasonably known that they were at the wrong address. If property is damaged in an improper raid or if people are killed or wounded, both the department and the individual officers should be subject to legal action by plaintiffs. The police should not have immunity if it can be shown that they knew or should have known they were at the wrong house or that the occupants were innocent.

    3. Strengthen castle doctrine laws by specifically exempting victims of improper no-knock raids from legal action when they defend themselves against police who fail to identify themselves, follow established entry procedures, or, for whatever reason, are at the wrong address.

    • The whole point of a no-knock raid is that it is, by definition, unannounced. If it has to be announced, it’s not no-knock anymore, it’s just a raid (but yes, they also turn regular raids into de facto no-knock by knocking so quietly that no-one would hear; also, the present legal requirement for the amount of time they have to wait – set by SCOTUS, no less! – is 15 seconds from announcement to breaking the door…).

  19. And I’m sure the offirators (officer+operator) didn’t see any charges for breaking and entering. Not to mention this guy should be going after the department for compensation. Of course this sucks because our tax dollars paid for this guys door to get knocked down and if he gets a settlement I’m sure it comes from us also. All this from a mass of police that seam to love no-knocks, cover-ups, and zero accountability. Sad day for old glory.

    • It should be that if an officer does something outside the book; i.e. not something he was paid to do, then he does so on his own time and must suffer the consequences of making decisions that violate the laws that the rest of us have to live with. If they break down the door, the wrong door; clear and simple, the officers have to pay for it; not us taxpayers. I’ll bet that would put a damper on this crap real fast.

      Right now, what we are seeing is a free-for-all of unaccountable irresponsible adolescent behavior that they either can’t or won’t control from inside their own ranks. What the Police Chiefs SHOULD be saying to them is, “I don’t care what visions you have of getting even with the stepfather who raped you, but you cross the line under my watch and you’ll be pulling parking lot duty for the rest of your career and no union is going to coddle you otherwise. So, suck it up; we all have a job to do.”

  20. “Cops need to have a protocol for ID’ing themselves, and stick to it”

    What and deprive them of the opportunity to shoot someone. Forgetaboutit!

  21. I’m just glad it said “legally purchased” and not “registered.” There is no gun registry in VA, but I’ve lost count how many times I’ve run across people here (many, many gun owners included) who are not aware of this fact

  22. When I lived in VB for 20 years, we all knew Portsmouth as being “SCARY”. There are many racial stereotypes and connotations involved with those fears.

    Also LOL that it is a Hi-Point.

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