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SB1: Indiana’s “No Illegal Police Entry” Bill

Last night, the Indiana General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1, which, once signed into law, will resolve a nearly year-long deprivation of the civil rights of residents of the State of Indiana. Readers who have followed me for the last year will be aware of my previous “Outrage In Indiana” posts on this very subject. For those who haven’t, let me recap.

In Part One, on May 13th of last year, I described the appalling decision by Indiana’s State Supreme Court in the case of Barnes v. State of Indiana. The court determined that a private person had no right to resist unlawful police burglary of their home. I detailed the 800-year-old legal precedents which allow for such use of force, and the farce of the court’s decision. In Part Two, I published an open letter to Governor Mitch Daniels, imploring him to take whatever action he possibly could to provide relief to Hoosiers subjected to police lawlessness. In Part Three, I published the very thoughtful response I received from his office.

To review the matter at hand: Richard Barnes had an argument with his wife, and neighbors called the police. Upon their arrival, the Barneses had reentered their home, and no further argument was occurring. Officers Lenny Reed and Jason Henry (more on them in a moment) insisted on entering the home, and Mr. Barnes refused them entry. The police, unlawfully, entered the home anyway. Mr. Barnes attempted to use non-deadly force to expel them, and he was tased and arrested.

Eight centuries of legal precedent, from the Magna Carta to two 20th century SCOTUS decisions, explicitly authorize the use of reasonable force to prevent unlawful acts of the police. The laws of the state of Indiana do not privilege police officers from justified force if they are acting outside the bounds of the law. The Fourth Amendment, and a substantially similar provision in Indiana’s Constitution prohibit precisely this conduct- the unwarranted and unlawful entry into a private home by government agents.

Nonetheless, Indiana’s Supreme Court ignored the eight centuries of legal tradition, multiple decisions of the United States Supreme Court, the United States Constitution, and the Constitution and laws of Indiana, and determined that a Hoosier’s only lawful recourse was to sue the police agency for damages after being the victim of a violent crime (in this case, burglary and assault) committed by a police officer.

Our Second, Third, and Fourth Amendment rights were established by our Founding Fathers for expressly this reason: Prior to, and during, the American Revolution, armed agents of the British government- soldiers- would routinely enter private homes without cause, assault homeowners and arrest them without charges, and quarter themselves in private homes in order to intimidate homeowners into submission. Expressly for this reason, we have a right to keep and bear arms, a freedom from quartering in private homes, and a freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.

We also have a natural, or God-given (depending on your outlook), right of self-defense, a topic which I have written about extensively. The instinct to protect ourselves, our families, and our property from violent attack is as natural to us as the need to eat. A government decree that a certain class of persons- namely, police officers- are “untouchable”, and may commit violent crimes at will, and the prosecution of private persons who exercise this right against them, is wholly offensive to the basic principles enshrined in our founding document.

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Thankfully, Indiana’s legislature has taken up the cause of preserving individual liberties in this matter. Senate Bill 1, introduced by State Senator Mike Young and sponsored by numerous other state legislators, seeks to amend the Indiana Code to explicitly authorize the use of reasonable force against law enforcement officers who commit crimes against private persons.

In short, SB1 changes the language of the state’s use-of-force laws to state that “any person” may be the recipient of defensive force, and adds a section specifically addressing the use of force against police officers. This section authorizes the use of non-deadly force against “any law enforcement officer” to prevent the police officer’s criminal attack upon the person or property, and authorizes deadly force to prevent a law enforcement officer’s criminal attack which may inflict death or serious bodily injury.

Once signed into law, Indiana will become only the second state in the nation to specifically authorize the use of force against police officers acting unlawfully. North Dakota authorizes the use of force to terminate a police officer’s unlawful use of deadly force. Indiana’s statute would dramatically exceed this limited level of protection.

I applaud the state legislature for taking this necessary step to improve the right of self-defense. I also understand Sen. Young is facing a primary challenge this year. I hope Hoosiers will go to the polls in droves and show their support for this fine representative of the people.

And on a final, and ignominious note: Officer Lenny Reed, one of the two goons who burglarized Mr. Barnes’ home, and (ironically) the medic for Evansville PD’s SWAT team, was also involved in an incident involving racial profiling and substantial damage to an innocent man’s RV- which the man was delivering to a buyer- when Reed initiated a wrongful drug search. This incident occurred less than four months before the Indiana Supreme Court’s Barnes decision. Inexplicably, Reed was promoted to Sergeant during roughly the same time frame.

The other goon involved, Officer Jason Henry, resigned from Evansville Police Department after beating up a former sheriff’s deputy, only three months before the Barnes decision. The beating occurred at a meeting of the Indiana Fraternal Order of Police, no less.

Residents of Vanderburgh County have ample reason to question Evansville Police Chief Brad Hill’s professional judgment. Apparently Hoosiers can’t even rely upon the common sense of local officials and police administrators for relief from police lawlessness, which makes the passage of SB1 all the more vital. Mary Beth Schneider of the Indianapolis Star tweeted last night that SB1 passed the Indiana Senate 38-12 and passed the Indiana House 67-26, and is now on its way to Governor Daniels’ desk.

Many thanks to my dear friend April Gregory for her invaluable assistance in researching this post.

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9 comments

  1. I don’t know the two officers or their past deeds and transgressions. As well as the fact that I work and live in another state. But based on reading the details your wrote on the incident I would put this point for open debate the officers responded to a domestic disturbance at the residence. One of the most common and known to be hazardous calls units respond to. Where I am from police are required to investigate the situation which includes speaking to all involved for their account of the incident and to assess injuries that may have been sustained by either party. If a subject involved in the altercation refuses to communicate with officers or refuses to allow officers to speak with the second party in person it is required of those officers to detain the obstructing party and ensure proper communication with the second half. If domestic violence laws and procedures for investigations are different in this state then the argument may ne moot but simply an alternate train of thought to or presented.

  2. My father was beaten unrecognizably by half a dozen cops in his own home because a census worker reported him for refusing to answer nefarious questions stating she felt “threatened”. They broke into my father’s home, beat him terribly (he was over 78 years old), then confiscated his legally owned guns (he was a hunter). It took over a year to get the charges dropped in court. No judge wanted to even hear the case & warned prosecutors they were inclined to dismiss & to go back re-think the matter. My father died during that time of stress-related issues which had compounded everything. The cops got off scot free. Four years earlier, they beat and killed another local resident (an autistic man) on a case of mistaken identity. Also got off scot free, no questions asked. And we don’t need this Indiana law in 50 states?? B.S. I will be the poster child for getting this passed nationwide.

  3. The (pig type)police are so often as ignorant or even more ignorant than the ordinary citizen as compared to attorneys that also may be ignorant on any given branch of the law in which they do not specialize (practice) as in the situations in which there is a foreclosure and banksters hire others who also hire others who may hire any bum or drunk or addict on the street to do a few hours work as property preservation specialists and ignore the obvious occupancy of a home either by the owner or tenant that may not be present but has the signs of care or occupancy evident of electric and or water service operational, but regardless of the obvious break in and or with police assisting under threat of arrest change locks and steal everything in the residence in violation of tenant/landlord laws of every state and US Law of Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, that in each case for eviction requires a court order before the police can enforce the removal of anyone from the home and without order can now justifiably be shot as any other criminal for the criminal acts of trespass and or burglary and or conversion or racketeering/RICO by whatever force is required to repel and defend not only life but also property!

  4. I hope this will get passed. I (real name) get harassed a lot from police with no understanding, just what they feel or one side of a STORY.

  5. This will as-so be good for some of the smaller towns or people who have lived in a town for a wile and know the police realy well and use there jugement in favor of the people they know.
    i have delt with that befor moveing to a new place where the people know the law and they just do every thing they can to get me in trouble couse they dont like me….

  6. What about police who think they can ansure your landline/cell phone with ut asking you? then degrading/makeing you to be guilty
    to the person on te other line with out even have been to court?

  7. Bottom line-in my state, if a domestic disturbance occurs the police are required by law to investigate the disturbance to the fullest. If idiots decide to yell and fight with each other outside so everyone can see, then expect the police to come and insist they speak to every member in the household to make sure that everyone is safe, even if that means entering the household. The author of this is obviously well versed in law but obviously has a one sided anti-police biased opinion (can we say liberal). In other words the author hates the police until he or she actually needs the police for help. Seems like Ted Hammer is too stupid to avoid breaking laws and would like police to stop harassing him so he can continue his waste of life criminal ventures. It sounds like Ted blames everyone else for his indiscretions as well just like most criminals do. Don’t get me wrong there are bad police out there, but unfortunately to all the stupid people out there, one bad police officer to them means all of the police officers are bad.

    • Redd;

      Bottom-line…You have a propensity for making generalizations.

      No, you can not assume the author is liberal. Lots of liberals like the police. I am conservative and don’t care for the police so much. I prefer citizens to be armed and trained to protect themselves.

      You assume, but really have no idea if the author hates police in general. You assume you know the author from reading this one blog? Why don’t you repost and ask him?

      Why do you assume Ted Hammer is stupid and is a criminal? You don’t know him. Sounds like maybe he needs to grow up (and turn his hat around so he dosen’t look like such a doofus) 🙂

      Maybe you need to get out more so you realize most people don’t fit into your neat little categories, and treat them as unique individuals.

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