As the lower
house of the Indiana State Legislature approved Senate Bill 1 on
March 1, Representative
Linda Lawson lamented that if it were passed the measure would
signal that it’s "open season on law enforcement."
have men and women in your community who are willing to die for
you, willing to die for your family," insisted
Lawson, who – as a former police officer herself – spoke on
behalf of 15,000 members of the police union. The only suitable
way to display proper gratitude to the heroic paladins of public
order, according to Lawson, is to protect their purported authority
to invade your home and kill you with impunity – a privilege that
would be undermined by SB 1.
The text of
SB 1 states that its legislative purpose "is to protect citizens
from unlawful entry into their homes by law enforcement officers
or persons pretending to be law enforcement officers. Both citizens
and law enforcement officers benefit from clear guidance about the
parameters of lawful home entry, which will reduce the potential
for violence and respect the privacy and property of citizens."
To that end,
the bill recognizes that an individual "may use force … to
prevent or terminate a law enforcement officer’s unlawful entry."
hunting metaphor was probably used because it was a convenient cliché,
it contains a deeper significance that should not be ignored: Like
the rest of the State’s exalted brotherhood of coercion, she assumes
that the privacy of the individual’s home falls within the police
officer’s natural habitat.
SB1 is not
an innovation; it simply restores an explicit understanding of Indiana’s
"castle doctrine," which was subverted last year in the
State Supreme Court’s Barnes v. State ruling. As a wire service
report observed at the time, that ruling effectively nullified the
core protections contained in the Fourth Amendment and the equivalent
provision in the Indiana constitution, as well as protections and
immunities recognized by "common law dating back to the English
Magna Carta of 1215." The 3–2 decision last May 12 held that
Indiana residents have no right to obstruct unlawful police incursions
into their homes.
by a legislative report last November, the incident that gave rise
to the Barnes ruling occurred four years earlier, when police were
summoned to the home of Richard Barnes and his wife by a 911 call
reporting a domestic disturbance.
in the parking lot arguing with his girlfriend when the police arrived.
She had already thrown a duffel bag of his belongings outside the
apartment, and told him to "take the rest of his stuff."
As Barnes re-entered the apartment to do so, the police attempted
to follow him inside. Barnes quite properly told the police to stay
out, and enforced that lawful order by shoving a police officer
charged with Battery on a Police Officer, Resisting Law Enforcement,
Disorderly Conduct, and Interfering with the Reporting of a Crime.
The judge rejected a proposed jury instruction that Barnes had the
right to resist unlawful police entry, and he was convicted on the
second and third charges. The Court of Appeals ruled that the trial
court committed a reversible error by rejecting that jury instruction.
The state, frantic appealed to the Supreme Court, which upheld Barnes’s
… a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against
public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence,"
wrote Justice Steven David. "We also find that allowing resistance
unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the
risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the
"risks" to a police officer in such an encounter are vanishingly
small, we shouldn’t forget that at all times, and in all places,
"officer safety" is the controlling priority. "It's not surprising
that [the court] would say there's no right to beat the hell out
of the officer," commented Professor Ivan Bodensteiner of Valparaiso
University School of Law.
When a cop
invades a home without legal authority, he is acting as a criminal,
rather than a peace officer. SB 1 recognizes that principle by focusing
on the act of illegal entry, rather than the identity of the aggressor.
allows for forcible entry only when the officer has a valid warrant
or legitimate probable cause; is in pursuit of a criminal suspect;
or is acting with the consent or on the invitation of an adult resident.
In other words: It would restore the status quo ante Barnes,
which – in nullifying the Fourth Amendment – actually issued a hunting
license to the police.
71 members of the state legislature filed a petition with the Supreme
Court protesting the Barnes decision and demanding that it be revisited.
In September, the Court issued a ruling reiterating the claim that
"the Castle Doctrine is not a defense to the crime of battery
or other violent acts on a police officer," and recognizing
that the state legislature had the authority to create statutory
defenses against that supposed crime.
our statutes, our Constitution, and the value of our country [were
built] on one premise, and that was to defend our citizens against
the government –not defend our government against our citizens,"
noted State Senator Mike Young of Indianapolis, author of SB 1.
"The [Barnes] ruling was a ruling that defended the government
against the citizens."
Rep. Jud McMillin
of Dearborn, who wrote the house version of the bill, added: "The
distinction here is not between police officers and citizens. The
distinction to be made here is between what is lawful and what is
unlawful. In a society where we value our freedoms, we cannot have
a bright-line test that tells people when they cannot exercise their
Such talk is
intolerable to those employed by Indiana’s affiliate of the Homeland
Security State, who insist that public policy must preserve the
privileges of the powerful, rather that the rights of the individual.
people have the right to be secure in their homes," testified
Hendricks County Sheriff Dave Galloway, uttering a sentence pregnant
with the invalidating conjunction "but" – which, of course,
followed immediately. "But the people who hear about this law
are going to think it’s okay to kill a law enforcement officer.
What you and I think is `reasonable’ isn’t the same as somebody
high on meth. They’re going to shoot first, and ask questions later."
A far greater
and more common danger is that posed by police officers who are
high on the most lethal of all narcotics – power. The official position
of the Indiana Fraternal Order of Police is that any use of coercive
force by the State’s costumed enforcers is self-validating.
position is there is never an opportunity to resist law enforcement,"
Bill Owensby, president of the Indianapolis FOP. A great deal
is revealed in Owensby’s choice of adverb: "Never" would
apply to situations in which police officers commit unambiguous
crimes against person and property.
most prominent critics of SB 1 are rent-seeking activists and social
engineers attached to the state’s domestic violence industry, who
insist that the measure would impede the ability of police to respond
to situations involving spousal abuse. Under the "no-resistance"
doctrine, however, a police officer can commit domestic violence
and then charge the victim with a crime if she resists. As
was illustrated by the case of Jerry Cunningham, the former assistant
chief of the Danville, Indiana Police Department, police and prosecutors
are eager to extenuate crimes of domestic violence when perpetrated
by a member of their hyper-violent sodality.
– who was in the middle of a divorce – tracked his estranged wife
to another man’s home. After tearing down the screen door, Cunningham
began what was described as an "altercation" in which
he slapped his wife and slugged her paramour. A neighbor called
911 to report the incident, but made the mistake of identifying
Cunningham as a police officer.
As a result,
rather than being "cuffed and stuffed" by a SWAT team,
Cunningham received the personal attention of Chief Keith Gill,
who displayed unaccustomed daintiness in bringing in his underling.
Rather than booking him immediately into the jail, Gill took Cunningham
to his home "to find out what’s going on – call for help, call
for some counseling," the
Chief later recounted.
being placed on paid vacation (which was hastily redefined as
"medical leave" in order to keep him on the payroll after
the police merit board ruled
that he be suspended without pay), Cunningham faced
three charges, including a felonious unlawful home entry. He
was eventually found guilty only of one count of misdemeanor battery.
He was given a 363-day suspended jail sentence and slapped with
a fine of $1. He was also permitted to keep his job, albeit with
a reduction in rank to patrolman – a position in which, under the
Barnes ruling, he would be permitted to invade homes at will and
shoot anyone who resists his criminal aggression.
was not the only domestic abuser on the payroll of the Danville
PD, nor was he even the most violent offender; that distinction
belongs to Officer
Chris Gill, the Chief’s son. According to his ex-wife Teresa,
Officer Gill repeatedly beat her, throwing her against the wall
of their home and even threatening to murder her in the presence
of their child.
investigation of Officer Gill conducted by Policeabuse.com –
a group composed of retired police officers, private investigators,
and court-qualified expert witnesses on police practices -- revealed
a long history of official misconduct and criminal behavior by the
gypsy cop. Gill had been cashiered by police departments in Paris
and Atwood, Illinois, before his father made room for him on the
Danville PD. Sheltered behind the impregnable barricade of nepotism,
Gill continues to prowl the streets of Danville despite protection
orders granted to his ex-wife and ex-in-laws – and a pending criminal
trial on domestic abuse charges.
As her marriage
with the officer disintegrated, Teresa Gill placed their daughter
with her mother and father, Joyce and Robert Abernathy. In March
2010, while Officer Gill was still on the payroll of the Paris,
Illinois PD, he used his position to remove the child from the Abertnathys’
home: He filed a false police report claiming that Teresa had threatened
to kill that child. As he collected the child from her grandparents,
Gill lifted his coat to display his gun and badge in a vulgar display
of murderous intent.
April 2010 child visitation, Gill assaulted both Teresa and their
son, which resulted in Teresa filing felony domestic battery charges
Gill, who stands
to lose his job if he is convicted, has repeatedly barraged his
soon-to-be-ex-wife and her parents with threats of lethal violence
– while reveling in his sense of privilege as a member of the Brotherhood
do whatever it takes to f**k up your life," Gill promised in
a June 22, 2010 text message to Teresa. "I am a cop, they won’t
believe you. Have them drop [the charges] and I will stop… Nice
legislative hearings about the Barnes ruling, Leo Blackwell, President
of Indiana’s Fraternal Order of Police insisted that "legal
disputes about the right of entry should be decided by the courts,
not on the doorstep." Under the supported by Blackwell’s police
union, Gill could invade his estranged wife’s home without a warrant
or probable cause and then arrest and charge her with a crime
if she proved to be insufficiently submissive. Sure, this would
eventually get straightened out by the courts – assuming that Teresa
and her children survive the initial encounter.
will not compromise when it comes to officer safety," declared
Blackwell in a recent legislative alert to union members. SB 1 "is
terrible for law enforcement and could result in the loss of life
(maybe yours) if passed." According to the union, it is "never"
permissible to resist a police officer – even when the sacred cause
of preserving "officer safety"means leaving a battered and
terrorized woman entirely defenseless because the terrorist is carrying