This is a great article / op-ed from the WaPo on how police behave when presented with the slightest piece of flimsy evidence for a potential minor offense. They turn into Navy commandos, looking to kill someone who has committed no crime at the slightest provocation:
I got home from the bar and fell into bed soon after Saturday night bled into Sunday morning. I didn’t wake up until three police officers barged into my apartment, barking their presence at my door. They sped down the hallway to my bedroom, their service pistols drawn and leveled at me.
It was just past 9 a.m., and I was still under the covers. The only visible target was my head.
In the shouting and commotion, I felt an instant familiarity. I’d been here before. This was a raid.
I had done this a few dozen times myself, 6,000 miles away from my Alexandria, Va., apartment. As an Army infantryman in Iraq, I’d always been on the trigger side of the weapon. Now that I was on the barrel side, I recalled basic training’s most important firearm rule: Aim only at something you intend to kill....
My situation was terrifying. Lying facedown in bed, I knew that any move I made could be viewed as a threat. Instinct told me to get up and protect myself. Training told me that if I did, these officers would shoot me dead....
They were well-trained, their supervisor later told me. But I knew that means little when adrenaline governs an imminent-danger scenario, real or imagined. Triggers are pulled. Mistakes are made.
I spread my arms out to either side. An officer jumped onto my bed and locked handcuffs onto my wrists. The officers rolled me from side to side, searching my boxers for weapons, then yanked me up to sit on the edge of the bed.
At first, I was stunned. I searched my memory for any incident that would justify a police raid. Then it clicked.
Earlier in the week, the managers of my apartment complex moved me to a model unit while a crew repaired a leak in my dishwasher. But they hadn’t informed my temporary neighbors. So when one resident noticed the door slightly cracked open to what he presumed was an unoccupied apartment, he looked in, saw me sleeping and called the police to report a squatter.
Sitting on the edge of the bed dressed only in underwear, I laughed. The situation was ludicrous and embarrassing. My only mistake had been failing to make sure the apartment door was completely closed before I threw myself into bed the night before.
I told the officers to check my driver’s license, nodding toward my khaki pants on the floor. It showed my address at a unit in the same complex. As the fog of their chaotic entry lifted, the officers realized it had been an unfortunate error. They walked me into the living room and removed the cuffs, though two continued to stand over me as the third contacted management to confirm my story. Once they were satisfied, they left.
When I later visited the Fairfax County police station to gather details about what went wrong, I met the shift commander, Lt. Erik Rhoads. I asked why his officers hadn’t contacted management before they raided the apartment. Why did they classify the incident as a forced entry, when the information they had suggested something innocuous? Why not evaluate the situation before escalating it?
Rhoads defended the procedure, calling the officers’ actions “on point.” It’s not standard to conduct investigations beforehand because that delays the apprehension of suspects, he told me.
I noted that the officers could have sought information from the apartment complex’s security guard that would have resolved the matter without violence. But he played down the importance of such information: “It doesn’t matter whatsoever what was said or not said at the security booth.” [more at the link]