Family sues police for forcing entry, occupying home

“No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law”…Third Amendment

Soldiers Quartering
Photo Credit: Free i News

A Nevada family has filed a lawsuit in federal district court last month claiming the Henderson police department violated their Third Amendment rights – a violation rarely claimed in the U.S.

Henderson resident Anthony Mitchell, and his parents Michael and Linda Mitchell, sued for their arrest in July 2011 after refusing to allow police to use their homes to gain a “tactical advantage” against a neighboring family involved in a domestic violence dispute.

In the complaint, Mitchell alleged that after his initial refusal to lend his home to the police, officers broke down his door with a metal ram, entered and ordered him to lie on the ground.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

[Mitchell] claims [police] then aimed their weapons, commanding him to lie down on the floor and crawl toward them. When he didn’t move, they allegedly fired pepper-spray balls at him, striking him three times at close range and causing him to “experience uncontrollable coughing and difficulty breathing,” the suit says.

Police then arrested Mr. Mitchell for “obstructing a police officer” before “swarming” into his home. He also claims they fired pepper-balls at his cowering dog named Sam.

Mitchell’s parents live nearby on the same street, and according to the complaint, alleged the same treatment by police officers.

Courthouse News Service summarized the Mitchell’s complaint further:

“In the meantime, the officers searched and occupied plaintiffs Michael Mitchell and
Linda Mitchell’s house. When plaintiff Linda Mitchell returned to her home, the cabinets and closet doors throughout the house had been left open and their contents moved about. Water had been consumed from their water dispenser. Even the refrigerator door had been left ajar and mustard and mayonnaise had been left on their kitchen floor.”

Police took Anthony and Michael Mitchell to jail and booked them for obstructing an officer. They were jailed for at least nine hours before they bailed out, they say in the complaint. All criminals charged were dismissed with prejudice. They claim the defendants filed the baseless criminal charges “to provide cover for defendants’ wrongful actions, to frustrate and impede plaintiffs’ ability to seek relief for those actions, and to further intimidate and retaliate against plaintiffs.”

None of the officers were ever subjected to official discipline or even inquiry, the complaint states.

“The Mitchells seek punitive damages for violations of the third, fourth and 14th Amendments, assault and battery, conspiracy, defamation, abuse of process, malicious prosecution, negligence and emotional distress,” Courthouse News Service said.

Third Amendment cases can be tricky. The court will have to determine, among other things, if police can be considered “soldiers” and what technically constitutes “quartering.”

After watching the military tactics of the police going door-to-door during the manhunt for the Boston bombers, the Third Amendment as applied to law enforcement, has been a topic of discussion in recent months.

Watch here: “Eyewitness video of Boston home search: Greater good or Gestapo tactics?”

More from Courthouse News Service.

Mitchell family complaint via Wall Street Journal.


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