What would you do if the police showed up at your front door and told you that they wanted to use your house as a tactical advantage in an investigation involving domestic violence of one of your neighbors? Would you allow them to move in, turning your home into a stakeout center? Would you be willing to give them access to any part of your house for their purposes, thus eliminating any sense of privacy?
On July 10, 2011, that’s exactly what happened to Anthony Mitchell of Henderson, Nevada. They asked him if they could use his house as a lookout while they conducted their investigation of a neighbor. Mitchell did not want to get involved and told the police that, denying them the use of his home.
According to a lawsuit the family filed against the city of Henderson, the police did not accept Mitchell’s refusal and used a metal ram to bash in his front door and then entered his house without permission. In fear, Mitchell curled up in a ball on the living room floor as the police shot him and his dog with pepperballs. Mitchell was subsequently arrested for obstructing a police officer.
Michael and Linda Mitchell, Anthony’s parents also lived next door to the suspected home of the domestic violence. The police also wanted to use their home as a lookout. Michael was asked to go to the police command center so he could help them with the negotiations with the neighbor, but upon his arrival he found out that there wasn’t going to be any negotiations. Turning to leave to go back home, Michael Mitchell was arrested.
In the meantime, Linda Mitchell was handled quite roughly as the police forced her out of her house before they entered without permission, just as they had her son’s house. When the ordeal was over and the Mitchell’s were allowed to return to their homes, they reported finding every cabinet and closet door open and many of the contents had obviously been moved around. The refrigerator door was left ajar and there was mustard and mayonnaise on the kitchen floor.
Even though the charges against Anthony and Michael were eventually dismissed, they have filed a lawsuit against the police and the city for violation of their Third Amendment rights. The Third Amendment states:
“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.”
The Mitchell’s claim that the police invasion of their homes against their will amounts to the quartering of soldiers without consent as spelled out in the Third Amendment. Lawsuits involving this amendment are rare with the last major one occurring in 1982 when prison guards were ousted from their employee housing during a strike so that the corrections department could house the National Guard. The prison guards lost their case.
The Henderson Police Department clearly violated the civil and constitutional rights of the Mitchell families and should be held accountable for their illegal actions. However, in my opinion, the Mitchells should be suing for violation of their Fourth Amendment rights of illegal search and seizure. If all of the cabinets and closets were opened and items moved, then it is obvious that the police illegally entered the homes without a warrant or permission and illegally searched through family’s possessions.