"We Don't Need A Search Warrant" - Police Say
- "WE DON'T NEED A SEARCH WARRANT," POLICE SAYLas Vegas Family Terrified By Police Raid
Source: Las Vegas Sun
Published: May 26, 2000 Author: Greg Tuttle
Four Metro Police officers terrified children and trampled the rights of a Las Vegas family in an effort to prevent two fellow officers from being sued, according to a federal lawsuit.
Alexandra and Carl Bergh filed an amended complaint in U.S. District Court Thursday alleging their state and federal constitutional rights were violated when four officers burst into their home without a warrant last year.
The officers told Carl Bergh they were looking for drugs and didn't need a search warrant, according to the lawsuit.
The officers, three of them in uniform, also interrogated the couple's two children, ages 5 and 9. The children "have become extremely scared and insecure as a result of this incident," Carl Bergh said in court documents. No drugs were found and the couple's home on West Charleston Boulevard was left in a "shambles" following the March 30, 1999, raid, the suit alleges.
Reno attorney Glade Hall, who is representing the family, said the
warrantless raid was an effort by the four officers to intimidate the Berghs. The couple had filed a previous lawsuit against Metro alleging two female officers wrongfully repossessed the family's car.
The raid came the day before the couple was set to file additional paperwork naming the two officers as defendants, Hall said. "What they were trying to do is shake these people up because they were suing the two officers personally," Hall said Thursday. Neither Alexandra nor Carl Bergh have a criminal record and "are as straight
as anybody you've ever met," Hall said.
According to the lawsuit, a Metro sergeant said he ordered the raid on the Bergh's home based on an anonymous caller who said there was a strong chemical odor coming from the area of couple's apartment.
On the day of the raid, Carl Bergh said he was home with his two children, Bethany and Christian, at about 4:30 p.m. when he answered a knock on his door. Bergh said he didn't see anyone at first and stepped out the door thinking neighborhood teens were playing a prank. The four officers then "rushed" Bergh and forced him back inside the apartment, he said. Bergh said he was rebuked when he asked if the officers had a search warrant. "They replied they did not need a search warrant because 'the safety of the
community came first,' " according to the lawsuit.
Bergh said he was separated from his children as three officers went through every room and drawer in the house. The fourth officer kept watch on him and the children in an adjacent room, he said.
After searching inside the apartment, the officers then searched bushes outside the apartment. They returned inside and searched the apartment a second time, Bergh said.
Bergh said police questioned both he and his children before leaving the apartment in a mess. During the search, the officers "kept their hands on their guns as though they were ready to draw them out," Bergh said. The officers did not search any adjacent apartments and told neighbors gathered out front they were performing a drug bust, according to the lawsuit.
Hall said the search was illegal and his children were "terrified" by the officers. The family has since moved to another home in Las Vegas, he said.
The federal lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from Metro, the city of Las Vegas and Clark County. The couple first filed the lawsuit last year, but amended the complaint Thursday to include damages for their children.
Sheriff Jerry Keller and the four officers -- Mike Ireland, Blake Penny, Curtis Willis and John Baltos -- also are named as defendants in the amended complaint. The lawsuit also alleges Metro has "shown a pattern of reckless disregard for the rights of its citizens ... which threatens the security and safety of those whom they encounter."
Metro spokesman Steve Meriwether said Friday morning the department does not comment on pending litigation. Hall said the first lawsuit filed by the Berghs against Metro and two of its officers has since been settled out of court. He said he could not disclose
how much the Berghs received in the settlement.
Disclaimer: This is sent to you for informational purposes only.
J.A.I.L. cannot vouch for the veracity of any matter.J.A.I.L. (Judicial Accountability Initiative Law)
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