Submitted by Dan Sayers
Pasco SWAT team members on Tuesday broke down the door and searched an older couple’s home for their grandson. They searched for hours for Aaron Vineyard and the guns and stolen goods he allegedly was keeping, but didn’t find him or his loot in the home.
Carl Stark, 71, and his wife Juanita, 73, said they are furious that SWAT members broke into their house at 9808 Sholtz St., and shouted orders at them to get on the ground, breaking several decorations and a window in the process. They said their grandson, Vineyard, 36, lives in a trailer next door at 9812 Sholtz St., and they rarely see or speak to him.
At a news conference on Friday, Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said he stands behind his deputies’ actions. Before the Tuesday night SWAT raid, he said, investigators were working with an informant to bring down a 12-man crime ring of which they believe Vineyard is a member. (More here).
I find the following aspects of this occurrence troubling:
- They made no effort to make contact with anybody.
- These actions were taken based on a tip from one unsubstantiated source.
- The Sheriff claims they put safety first when all they did was endanger everybody involved, including the criminals entering uninvited.
- The Sheriff spoke as if damage to the home where suspect didn’t even live was deserved because police were told that’s where illegal activity took place.
These poor folks’ fourth amendment right to be secure in their home from unreasonable searches were trampled that night. There is nothing reasonable about targeting family members of suspects. SWAT had no business entering without first apprising the owners of the house of the warrant.
These poor folks were victims of a home invasion that they could not defend themselves against. If they had tried, they would have been killed with no consequences befalling their murderers. The perpetrators of this crime were people that stole monies from them under the guise of providing protection. Instead, they turned out to be some of the worst assailants these poor folks may have ever had to deal with.