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Confidential Informants Can Lead to Police Violence

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Imagine that police, acting on a tip from a confidential informant, burst into a home, expecting to make a drug raid or stop illegal activity going on at the property. Police forcibly enter, only to be met by gunfire from the person (or people) inside. In the end, not only are officers dead, but the people inside the property are dead.

It may sound like the police did nothing wrong, and the alleged drug dealers deserved their fate. But now imagine that the police actually had entered into the wrong home, and the people inside were innocent homeowners, surprised late at night, who were shooting at police in a desperate attempt to protect themselves from who they saw as unknown intruders.

Confidential Informants

This scenario happens all the time, and it happens in part because of the increased reliance by police on confidential informants.

These informants, often desperate to minimize their own prison sentences or potential criminal punishments, will often say anything to police, including giving unreliable information to them. The informants themselves may still be involved with drugs or criminal activity.

In many cases, police forces do little to corroborate or verify information given to them by informants. The result of relying upon faulty information given by informants is deadly for police and for innocent homeowners.

Falsifying Warrants

Police often can get a warrant to raid a home based on scant information. A statement from an informant and perhaps some circumstantial evidence are enough to authorize a raid. Because informants are, of course, confidential, there is often nobody held accountable for the faulty information that leads to these tragedies.

In some cases, the information given by informants can be falsified by officers trying to obtain the warrant. Both property owners and police died in Houston, based on a raid conducted after a search warrant was granted on information provided by a confidential information that was falsified by officers.

SWAT Teams, No Knock Entries and Raids

In 2014, the ACLU reported that 80% of raids by SWAT teams were conducted to execute on search warrants, and 60% of those searches had to do with drug related crimes.

Many tragedies are a result of So-called “no knock” warrants, where police just break into property. This is done to avoid evidence from being destroyed, and to give police the advantage of surprise, and thus reduce the risk to law enforcement. But these no knock raids, when conducted on the wrong property, or on innocent people, usually result in tragedy when the homeowners are armed.

In many cases, after the raid, only small or negligible amounts of contraband are found, making tragedies even worse. Some police forces have announced that they will stop or at least curtail the use of no knock raids, concerned about the risks to the public when police use military-like tactics.

Have you been a victim of police misconduct, excessive force, or brutality? Contact the Alabama police misconduct attorneys at Lasseter Law Firm for assistance with your case.

Resources:

aclu.org/issues/criminal-law-reform/reforming-police-practices/use-confidential-informants-can-lead

aclu.org/issues/criminal-law-reform/reforming-police-practices/war-comes-home

nytimes.com/2019/02/16/us/houston-police-gerald-goines.html

https://www.lasseterlaw.com/first-amendment-may-prohibit-police-agencies-from-requiring-victim-confidentiality/

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