The New York Post, never shy when it comes to emotive headlines, spelled it out in a way that couldn’t help but make its readers’ blood boil at the ineffectiveness of the legal system to make sure the bad guys go down.
And if that’s not enough to make you wonder how law-abiding citizens can survive these crazy, criminal-loving judges, the story that follows will surely do the trick.
A Brooklyn federal judge has tossed critical evidence against a alleged crack-dealing Queens gang member busted with an assault rifle, throwing his case into turmoil, court records state.
Judge Jack Weinstein voided evidence against Shakeel “Blam” Wiggins last week because an NYPD cop didn’t properly fill out a search-warrant application that turned up the weapon as well as a handgun and a cocaine cache last September, court papers say.
The ruling will likely allow Wiggins, a prior felon, to walk.
A cop, trying to take down a crack-dealing, gun-toting, prior felon with a nickname “Blam,” from Queens no less, was going to walk because a cop didn’t fill out a form correctly. The only thing missing is that Blam molested children and kicked puppies. Crazy, right?
And the Judge? That crazy old coot, Weinstein, who wants to cut kiddie porn lovers a break, wants to put Blam back on the street to rape and pillage. Outrageous!
And Patrick Lynch, president of the PBA, is just ready to spit at Weinstein’s utter disregard for cops:
“New York City police officers put their lives on the line to get these illegal weapons off the street,” Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association boss Patrick Lynch said of the ruling. “There are some technicalities — like if the premise is a single- or multiple-family dwelling — that are so insignificant that suppressing the evidence actually subverts justice and public safety.”
What? So the “warrant technicality” is just some meaningless detail like single or multiple family dwelling? They got Blam dead to rights, but it gets tossed over nothing?
Then, below the critical quote from Lynch, is a paragraph that might help to explain the problem:
Cops kicked in the door of a second-story unit that housed a family with no relation to Wiggins or his relatives, court papers state. After realizing that he lived in another unit, the cops headed downstairs where they found Wiggins trying to flee.
So it was a bit more than a “warrant technicality,” and this error produced a wrong-door raid?
Judge Weinstein’s decision in Wiggins lacks the pizzazz of the Post story, but explains that the cop who applied for the warrant neglected to perform the necessary steps to determine that this was a two-family building, that a nice family named “Khan” lived there as well as Blam, and didn’t deserve to be the target of their raid, and that they nonetheless had good reason to know that there were two separate units in the building, but failed to mention it when they sought a warrant.
And in the Franks hearing, the carelessness and falsity of the police allegations became apparent. Had the cops picked the right door the first time, maybe no one would have realized that they blew the warrant application.
But one of the requirements of a warrant is state with particularity the premises to be searched. Why? Because there are people like the Khans who get to live happily in their apartment without their door being broken down because a cop blew it, screaming men with guns rushing in and pointing them at their heads.
And, slightly humorously, after the police realized they had the wrong apartment, they conducted a “security sweep” before leaving. Because, doesn’t every innocent family whose door was just broken down deserve a security sweep? You can never be too careful protecting cops. Just ask Pat Lynch, and he will explain in hyperbolic detail.
Judge Weinstein’s opinion is indeed interesting, as it might have gone the other way in the hands of a different judge. The sort of judge for whom getting such details as the particularity requirement right are, as the Post headline screams, “technicalities.” But Judge Weinstein wasn’t having any of it.
Although Detective Neve testified that he never saw anyone besides defendant enter or leave the building during months of surveillance, there was ample opportunity to notice the comings and goings of the upstairs family. A failure by the police to observe these comings and goings is not credible.
In other words, Judge Weinstein heard the detective try to talk his way out of his “mistake,” and using the language of the law, “not credible,” called bullshit. Had the officer merely made a mistake, then it would not have been “knowingly false” under Franks, and would fall within the good faith exception.
Evidence obtained from entry into the house is suppressed because the judge issuing the warrant had been knowingly misled. See U.S. v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 923 (1984) (“Suppression therefore remains an appropriate remedy if the magistrate or judge in issuing the warrant was misled by information in an affidavit that the affiant knew was false or would have known was false except for his reckless disregard for the truth.”) (citing Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154 (1978).
So Judge Weinstein didn’t toss the evidence because the cop forgot to fill in a blank on the form, but because the cop lied to obtain the warrant, which is why a family suffered a wrong-door raid on their home. Sorry, Post, but that’s no technicality.