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More damning details in Utah killing

On the basis of the video we saw alone, that drug bust and killing was unsupportable. Turns out it was even worse. Unbelievable stuff in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Investigators gathered evidence that it was Blair’s roommate, Melanie Chournos, buying and selling meth — a factor in the no-knock search that would precede Blair’s death. […]

Keyes asked 2nd District Judge Scott M. Hadley for a no-knock, nighttime search warrant because house “lookouts” were known to give warning when police were nearby. Meth dissolves quickly, Keyes added, and “if given the opportunity, Chournos will destroy the evidence.”

However, the warrant doesn’t mention that Chournos had already moved out of Blair’s home — a development officers noted in interviews after his death. […]

The SWAT team prepared for a “dynamic entry” — breaking through the door and subduing anyone inside.

Normally, that involves extensive planning, officers said in investigation interviews.

“A PowerPoint presentation is typically put together (and) a briefing of everybody sitting around the round table in our office … and all the details are laid out as far as the suspect, the location, the route in, the … evacuation points and … where the closest medical [facility] is,” officer Brandon Beck said in a transcribed interview with county investigators.

Instead, the team gathered at a nearby retirement home to go over the plan.

To do a dynamic entry without the in-office briefing is “absolutely not our standard,” said Burnett, the officer who shot Blair, during an interview with investigators.

On the video, minutes before the raid begins, an officer can be heard asking the group, “Did somebody grab a copy of the warrant off my desk?”

“Oh, don’t tell me that,” Burnett replies. He then tells the other officers, “He doesn’t have a copy of the warrant.”

[Thanks to Ryan Grim for the link.]

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27 comments to More damning details in Utah killing

  • darkcycle

    I’m sure that’s earned them a hearty “well done”. Will anyody go to jail for this man’s murder? No fucking way.

  • kaptinemo

    “On the video, minutes before the raid begins, an officer can be heard asking the group, “Did somebody grab a copy of the warrant off my desk?”

    “Oh, don’t tell me that,” Burnett replies. He then tells the other officers, “He doesn’t have a copy of the warrant.”

    Every one of them knew at that moment that the raid would be illegal. The fact they went ahead and did it makes every one of them a criminal.

    “We don’ need no steenking warrants; we have our steenking badges! That’s enough for the seeveelyuhns!” The so-called ‘Greatest Generation’ supposedly fought a war to prevent that kind of thing from happening here. Vets of the Cold (and not-so-‘cold’) War (i.e. places like Viet Nam) did the same. Yet, here it is, right there, they damn themselves with their own words.

    The attitude evinced by the police in this reeks of fascism. ‘Might makes right’. How many of your own local police harbor the same sentiments?

    In an aside, I’ve been following all manner of trends, for as long as I’ve been politically aware, and those much better at it than me have been making the same kind of warnings about where this kind of overbearing heavy-handedness of government is leading. The gentleman at that link has been making some very bang-on predictions about what will happen politically and socially when the economic brown smelly stuff hits the ventilator…as it is right now. I advise you to YouTube his many videos. He’s been scarily prescient, so far.

    All I can say is, if he’s right and we go through what he’s predicting, when it’s all over, those who’ve arrogantly felt safe in brutalizing and offhandedly slaughtering their prey, without ‘due process’, may eventually find themselves outnumbered, outgunned, and on the receiving end. I hope to still be alive that day, when, facing their righteously pissed-off former targets, one of them squeals pleadingly about their ‘rights’…the same rights which they habitually denied their paymasters.

    You reap what you sow. They’ve sown plenty of misery. Need I say more?

  • darkcycle

    And they KNEW the person they were looking for wasn’t living there anymore. This was a straight up rub out, they wanted to kill that guy for something. The idea it was incompetance is absurd. I’m wondering what the real motive for this murder was.

  • strayan

    I have methamphetamine in my bag right now.

    It looks like this: http://www.lundbeckinc.com/USA/products/CNS/desoxyn/lundbeck_desoxyn.jpg

    Hope I don’t get shot because I’m not carrying my prescription.

  • darkcycle

    Jeez, Strayan, I would advise you to start living in your car. It’s hard to do a dynamic entry on a Yugo.

  • Sick........!

    You reap what you sow. They’ve sown plenty of misery. Need I say more?

    Thats the problem with our government, they are in denial that they begining to reap what they have sewn world wide.

    Seems some countries have seen communism doesnt work and are turn from it. The US government on the other hand seems to be turn toward communism, they have taken a hard left and we havent noticed til last few years.

    Abolishing the DEA, ONDCP, Federal reserve and IRS will be a good step in stopping that hard left turn.

  • Bruce

    Its Deeply disturbing that in the eyes of the elderly pensioners the law can do no wrong. My pa at 80 just loves this stuff, sits nodding farting and dozing in his chair barely able to walk unaided but then news hour comes on and WHOA! a DRUG USER! LOCK ‘IM UP AND THROW AWAY THE KEY! Suddenly hes 40 years younger, then zzzzzzzzzzz again. These folks do band together quite animated at voting time. The young must get out to vote counter to them.

    Best yet Kaptin, history indicates that somewhere out there is an amateur tactition who surely will devise a big surprise for these most inelegant and unfriendly night visitors.

    • strayan

      They have been staring at the box so long that reality now resembles a TV show. And like all TV shows everyone likes it when you get the bad guys.

  • Servetus

    Holy crap! Did the cops participating in this fiasco know they were being videoed and recorded? It’s like the Nixon tapes.

    Is that what it comes down to? The good ole boys get together to do a raid, and it’s like, ‘yeah, how about we violate every rule in the book, cause we’re all suffering from the winter blahs, and nothing really exciting has happened lately? Who needs rules, anyway?’

    And like any drug war topic or event, the deeper you dig, the worse it gets.

  • Paul

    Well, now, hold on–was the raid illegal just because they didn’t bring along a copy of the warrant? The warrant was actually valid.

    Also, the cops here prepared poorly for the raid (after all, the target no longer even lived there), but that still does not make the raid illegal.

    But was it advisable to go forward with such ad-hoc planning? Of course not. In a war zone or in an emergency, maybe, but not in your own country, and not with all the time in the world to make good preparations.

    Since somebody died as a result of their poor preparations, everyone involved should lose their jobs. There should be no criminal investigation of the cops because they were doing their jobs–poorly, but in good faith.

    The city deserves the wrongful death suit that is surely coming their way. Voters should take a moment and reflect on the tragedy and maybe find new leaders in the next election.

    Finally, it should come as no surprise that these outrageous midnight raids often end in injury and death. They are unnecessary and deeply unamerican, and we should all work to rid our country of both the raids and the damned drug war that spawns them.

  • tintguy

    …After all we know that collection of possible evidence is far more important than the safety of citizens in their own home. And if only poor officer Burnett had been briefed in a more professional manner he would have gotten some more overtime pay—- oops, I mean he would have been better prepared to face down that drug-crazed animal who almost scratched his body armor. Someone should have told him that there were golf clubs in that house! It’s common knowledge that tweekers stay up all night with swords in hand ready to strike at the first cop they see kicking in the front door. Now he has to try to sleep at night with the fact that youtube has a video of him capping a POS addict wielding a golf club. Having something like that on a mans conscience can eat up his very soul.

    Seriously though, everything looks like a weapon when you enter a situation that you know will be hostile to your presence.

  • tintguy

    oops….looks like a dangerous weapon (which a golf club is not to a man in full body armor)…

  • Dudeman

    Bruce is onto something. The chipping away at the geezer vote is so important to anti-prohibition electoral success. I would love to see a national coming-out day where the young tell their grandparents they support repeal.

  • Sick........!

    Seriously though, everything looks like a weapon when you enter a situation that you know will be hostile to your presence.

    True but, they shouldnt be drawning guns and raiding in the first place…let alone killing a poor soul .

    Is this what we as Humans, let alone Americans, do with the weakest amoung us? Bring further ruin upon them? Death?

    Thats some treatment plan there Uncle Sam!

  • darkcycle

    The warrant must be presented upon demand. Furthermore warrants are specific as to the areas to be searched and the evidence being sought. If the warrant isn’t there the search isn’t legal. That doesn’t mean a sympathetic Judge might not allow said evidence once it arrives in court, but the search is not supposed to happen w/o the warrant. They were in that house illegally when that man was shot. End of story.
    And alot of things look like weapons in a darkened hallway. It is the responsibility of the shooter to identify the threat before shooting. Period. Objects like remote controls, tools, ashtrays, canes and crutches, even a baby bottle in a hand can look like weapons. your world is full of innocent stuff that looks like weapons in the dark. That’s why you NEVER FIRE UNTIL YOU ARE SURE OF YOUR TARGET. How many hunting tragedies have you heard about where some hunter fired at some object the took in an instant to be his prey, only to shoot some other hunter? There was one around here a couple of years ago where some asshole idiot shot his own son to death. No. The Hell, you say. You don’t excuse a trigger man like that. The guy took some innocent third parties life for nothing, in an illegal search; he shot him dead without reason and without the attention you give to hunting rabbits. “He didn’t know..” He should have known, he was expected to know, and it was his job to know.

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .
    Wow, who’da thunk it? Raids like this encourage people to use cocaine. Damn Pete, I’d really think you should have pointed this out! Oh wait, I seem to recall now that you did. Years ago. Months ago. Weeks Ago. Just a few days ago. Oh never mind.

    Consider a bar or coffee shop, where pot smokers join the other smokers outside, in the toilets, or in other designated smoking areas they are strongly discouraged and probably asked to leave.

    If the police are checking any of these businesses, they will smell the smoke and undoubtedly convey their disappointment to the owners, who will do their best to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

    The direct consequence, is that those who visit these establishments are much more likely to snort cocaine than use the more benign alternative.

    Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Illegal+marijuana+leads+people+cocaine+instead/4136905/story.html#ixzz1BaU5PWdF

    Oh well, they’re just Canuckistanis so no one will pay attention anyway.

  • tintguy

    Sorry if I gave the impression that it was excusable on the part of officer Burnett. I thought my sarcasm was obvious.
    His immediate 3 shot response to what he may have thought was a sword is proof that he doesn’t have what it takes to be conducting these type of activities.
    The fact that people die as a result of what amounts to an investigation into possible unauthorized activity is proof that the tactics shouldn’t be used in the effort to collect evidence.

    “Seriously though, everything looks like a weapon when you enter a situation that you know will be hostile to your presence.”

    My point here is that when one is doing these raids one should be trained to think twice instead of shooting three times.
    And for him to use the lack of an in office briefing as a plausable excuse for his actions is also deplorable.

  • Shap

    Judge Napolitano said that he will be showing the video on his TV show later in the week when he reported on the drug war killing last night. Really looking forward to it.

  • darkcycle

    Sorry, didn’t get the sarcasm. I seem to be the one who misses it around here anyway. The funny thing is my Dad (a former cop) tried to excuse this in exactly the same way.

  • darkcycle

    And besides Tinguy, I was responding to Paul, in the post above yours, although yours did look like an extension of his reasoning.

  • tintguy

    “I was responding to Paul, in the post above yours, although yours did look like an extension of his reasoning”
    Actually it was meant to in a parody (did I use that word correctly?) kinda way.—-My brain is extra fuzzy in the wee hours

  • tintguy

    I also need to add that I found the text at the begining of the vid to more disturbing than the incident itself…..How can anyone watch that and call it justified?

  • Duncan20903

    You know DC, one of the problems with your post at 8:51 AM PGST is that it assumes 51 identical sets of rules. That’s definitely not true, in Texas a search warrant must be executed withing 72 hours of issuance, and in North Carolina the police have only 48 hours. Utah authorities have 10 days.

    In Massachusetts the rule that the warrant must be physically present is generally the procedure based on precedent established in Com. v. Guaba, 417 Mass. 746 (1994)
    http://tinyurl.com/4rg5qa8 <—- opens .doc file.

    In Utah a search can only be conducted during the day unless the magistrates specifically says that it may be served at any hour.
    http://www.utcourts.gov/courts/just/benchbook/#2-5-1

    I'm not seeing any specific requirement for the warrant to be present or given to the people who are to be searched, but in the document linked above in paragraph B, "Remotely communicated search warrants” the affiant is directed to sign the magistrates nam on the warrant under instruction from the magistrate and it seems to my laymen’s mind that infers that the warrant needs to be present, else why have the orificer sign the warrant with the magistrates name?

    One of the more frequent cases of that mistake are made by people that think that anyone on probation and parole has to sign a “4th waiver” and allow the authorities to search his home at their whim. There was no such thing in Virginia when I was on probation, and I even turned back a gang of jack booted thugs determined to search my home who were at my door by using the Nancy Reagan maneuver, i.e. I just said no. They knew I was on probation, even asked me what my PO would say when they told him I had refused. Well I thought about it for a while and decided my PO would be more upset if he heard about the 93 pot plants I had growing and so decided to take my chances with refusing. It’s to late to make a long story short but the cops finally gave up, and never did bother to tell my PO.

    The point is that in California I would have signed a 4th waiver, and that is the rule as presented in TV crime dramas. But in VA P&Pers still have the right to privacy in their homes beyond allowing their PO to make an appointment and schedule a “home visit”. My PO never even tried to look at anything else but the front room. The point of the home visit was to ascertain that the P&Per actually resided at the address listed with authorities. It only recently crossed my mind that this might have been due to something in the Virginia State Constitution. Regardless, Virginia’s treatment of P&Pers in regards to home privacy is definitely different than that of other States like California.

    (caveat is that the “home visit” rule was the rule through at least 1995 but certainly might have been changed in the 15+ years since I paid attention to Virginia rules and laws. Shucks, my last time in front of a Virginia judge was before they eliminated parole.)

    Virginia doesn’t have a great image in people’s minds but the State is stunningly fair IMO. For example, when they decided to institute per se levels for impaired driving when high on things other than alcohol they heard testimony from scientific experts and examined the evidence, and set per se limits for all the popular drugs on the naughty list, except for cannabis. The testimony that they heard convinced the legislature that they couldn’t do so fairly, at least if the goal were truly to punish impaired drivers. While other States decided on the totally unjust, unfair, and morally bankrupt “zero tolerance” for cannabis metabolites VA removed cannabis from the list and the police and prosecutors still have to prove impairment to get a conviction.

    Speaking of per se DUId floors to my shock and amazement recently found that Pennsylvania used a study sponsored by California NORML to set their working per se floor. If you look at PA’s law it does say ‘zero tolerance’ for cannabis metabolites but the Pennsylvania Department of Health has instructed local jurisdictions to use the CaNORML numbers. I very nearly shit myself in amazement when I read that. Not only using CaNORML’s numbers but also the Dept of Health dictating to police and prosecutors. Indeed, PA has some very queer laws.

    “Pennsylvania’s cut-off value is consistent with a 2005 recommendation from California’s branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), which resulted from that organization’s meta-analysis of relevant scientific studies concerning the impact of cannabis use on particular driving skills. In its 2005 DUIC Report, California NORML concluded that…”
    http://www.aclu-wa.org/blog/blood-cannabis-content-considering-legal-limit-driving-under-influence-cannabis

    http://www.canorml.org/healthfacts/DUICreport.2005.pdf

  • darkcycle

    Duncan, you have the right to demand to see the warrant in all 50 states, plus the District. You also have the right to have your lawyer present during the search (provided you have one under retainer, and he can be reached, they have no obligation to provide one for you untill you are arrested). That per my Dad, the former cop. These rules have been established under various Supreme Court rulings, a Court, you will recall, that has jurisdiction over all 50. A search is treated much like questioning, to be done legally, they have to do it correctly.

  • Carlyle Moulton

    [sarcasm on level=wmd]
    Teh war on drugs is much too important to let the occasional dead “innocent” person prevent us persuing it in a robust manner.

    In any case the dead perp was not innocent, he not only possessed some marijuana but for some time had been living with a meth dealer and had not notified the authorities. The fact is that by shooting him dead the police did a favour to the tax payers and all decent citizens who no longer need pay for his time in prison. One should not worry about technicalities like the failure to bring the warrant.

    In addition how was the cop to know that the golf club was not a special long range model, capable of whacking a ball 20 at metres distance or was not a disguised laser blaster brought by time machine from the year 2050. Do you people really expect the copt to risk his own death when a mere three shots from a 9 millimetre can prevent it.

    Get real you guys. Your failure is that you do not distinguish between respectable people who are entitled to their lives and druggy filth who have no right to expect that the police won’t shoot them dead.
    [sarcasm off]

    As for it being unAmerican, this incident will be seen as typically American by any rational observer of US politics and culture.

  • vicky vampire

    Yeah,I’m fraking surprised they did not taser or try pepper spray.in no knock meth raid.

    Even those methods can be lethal when no drug or guns are involved back in june 32 Brian Cardell returning with wife throuh Utah back to Arizona had bipolar episode wife gave him meds did not take effect he stripped off clothes was nude on side of road she called cops I quess they over reacted in my opinion they could have pepper sprayed this nude manic man but instead tasered twice in chest died on spot.

    I know I sound like some bleeding heart lib but police seem to depend on tasers too much on them exclusively that is when they are not just quick on the draw and shooting folks too quickly in and yes I’ll say it in cold blood.

    Yes you can google that Cardell story was debated for weeks on talk radio around here.

    Please living in Utah yes its a beautiful state nice folks but sometimes seriously its like a episode of Big Love sometimes I kid you not.