No-knock police raid surprises local journalist

Update 10/3/07: According to Charlottesville Police Captain Bryant Bibb, officers were responding to a 911 call from someone in Tubbs' Harmon Hammond Street neighborhood who had reported an attempted break-in. Officers heard what they thought were gunshots coming from the area near Tubbs' house, says Bibb, and when they noticed that Tubbs' backporch door was ajar, they assumed the suspect was inside. However, those gunshots turned out to be acorns.

"Our house sits underneath a stand of tall oak trees," says Tubbs. "When the acorns fall, they hit the roof with a very loud thud."

In his blog post, Tubbs says that a police officer was aiming a rifle at him when he opened the door, but Bibb says the officers did not have rifles, only handguns, which were drawn and ready but not aimed at Tubbs. Two days later, after speaking with Bibb, Tubbs concedes that the guns may not have been rifles, but he insists the officers were aiming at him.

"I'm still pretty sure I saw a gun pointed at me when I opened the door," he says. "And I'm pretty sure it was aimed at me."

But Tubbs says he has no trouble putting himself in the shoes of the officers.

"They put several clues together, made an assessment that something bad was happening in my house, and proceeded to investigate what they thought was a crime in progress," he says.

After reviewing the incident, Bibb says he thinks the officers responded appropriately, given what they thought was happening. Still, he admits that a knock on the front door or some other approach might have been an option. "Those things will be talked about in our internal discussions on the incident," he says.

"A more appropriate response, I think, would have been to post an officer at the back door while another came to the front door," says Tubbs. "And I'd like to think that this incident will help the police do their job better."

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Last Sunday Saturday, September 29 at about 4:30am, local journalist and podcaster Sean Tubbs and his wife heard a noise and saw someone on their back porch with a flashlight. Tubbs grabbed a walking stick and went to investigate, his pregnant wife awake upstairs. Here's what happened next, according to an entry on his blog the next day...

A day later, Tubbs says he is still trying to figure out what went on. The officers said they were chasing a burglary suspect in the area, and because the door to Tubbs' mud-room was ajar, they assumed the suspect had entered his house.

"Of course, I'm thankful it was the police and not a burglar," says Tubbs, clearly shaken by the experience. "But I still have some questions. Was this an appropriate response to a breaking and entering case? Why didn't they just come through the front door? I don't know."

Some might call Tubbs' blog entry overly generous to the police, who appear to have stormed his house at 4:30am, guns drawn, because they "assumed" someone they were chasing was inside. Still, Tubbs says he isn't ready to pass judgment until he gets more facts from the police.

"I think there's a lot that can be learned from this experience," he says.

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Photo of podcaster Sean Tubbs by Jen Fariello

11 comments

I wonder what is standard accepted police procedure when law enforcement agents are combing a residential neighborhood looking for a suspect. I'm still trying to figure out why the opened door was not used to gain entrance to the premises and if the police officer really expected the burglar to answer the door or to hide.

Suprizes? Thier? Spell check much?
[Admin note: yes, there were a coupla embarassing typos, and they've now been corrected. Thanks, Sheri.]

Sheri - are you a professional copy editor? If not, you should consider getting a job as one. I am sure someone could really use someone with your skill set.

In regards to the story - I hope Sean has contacted the police and either made a formal complaint or is helping them figure out if the cops weren't actually cops. Good thing he didn't open his door with a weapon in his hand - he would probably be dead now.

Almost there, guys. It's "surprises". Sneaky "r".

We have now entered the twilight zone of the blogosphere.

Yaffa, I can tell you whose side I am on. The side of the innocent civilian facing a loaded weapon being shoved in their face in total darkness. This innocent civilian possibly not living long enough to see his child born. The wife having to raise a child without it's father.

Just because there's a burglar loose in the neighborhood, the police have no right whatsoever to pull a gun on me and come crashing into my home just because the door is open. I often fall asleep on the couch with the front door open and the TV on. I also have weapons close at hand. Don't put me in the position of having to shoot somebody dressed in dark clothing barging into my residence with a weapon drawn down on me.

It doesn't surprise me in the least. When I was very young and lived in a run down neighbor hood on the second floor, I just happened to look out of my window and Lo, and behold.........a police man with gun drawn and when we locked eyes, he moved his finger up to his lips to say....quiet!!!! He was rather nice about it though. These days it doesn't matter if you live in the richest or poorest parts of town.....there is always some crook on the prowl. Many saluts to the men and women that give their lives to try and protect us from those that would harm us for no reason. The Police
Men and Women of our cities.

Some of you people really discuss me......who are you going to call when someone has broken into your home and is having a grand ole time, killing everyone for fun....You know there are people out there who enjoy doing that and they get away with it....why is everyone always down on the
Police.....I would like to see you guys doing their jobs. You probably
don't have the guts...and yes, I've had my share of smart cops giving me a
a deserved ticket...Did I dislike them for doing their jobs and enjoying
it....a little. But I would rather have a smart talking cop than these
blood thirsty animals any day...who side are you on?????

The local Rambo police still don't understand that people can not identify them in darkness while wearing dark clothing. They're riding on borrowed time before one of them gets blown away by a property owner in his own home protecting his property.

Or even wrse yet, it sends chills down my back to think Tubb's pregnant wife could be without a husband (and the child's father) now if Sean had gone to the door with a firearm in his hand.

I just don't see anything good coming out of the local police lately. One mishap or close disaster right after another.

Some of YOU PEOPLE really discuss me????

We are really TALKING about this writer. Really discussing everything written in detail, including the proper spelling of the word "disgust."

The last time I said "you people," I got told that this was not an expression anybody uses in polite company.

Even, so the writer made some great points about needing police. I salute the writer for this (not salut).

Yes, it's only a blog, but I just think that so many people have so many good things to say that it would be great if we could give them all the education they need to express themselves fluently and get the respect they deserve...

So, let's discuss education! No Child Left Behind is leaving more children left behind because education programs are being closed down if they don't meet arbitrary standards.

Who mentioned Bob Dylan? That's how I ended up on this site...somebody mentioned Dylan and my Dylan search engine brought up Dylan.

Well, anyway, I wish that we could all have good experiences with cops helping us. I have but my sisters have not always.

Peace

Its a tinder box out there ,money devalued and going down,fascism not instead of freedom,constitution watered down,your alone.
The police are excercising their new rights to rape you get use to it its going to get worse.
food supplies in America running low, all the trust funds have been tapped out,the pensions are tapped out
soon we will gnash our teeth and will be shackled form here on out