Family Claims Third Amendment Damages From Police

Tuesday, 09 Jul 2013 02:58 PM

By David Alan Coia

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Police violated the Third Amendment rights of a family when they took over their house as part of a domestic-violence investigation involving their neighbors, a lawsuit claims.

Anthony Mitchell says the officers used "military-style tactics" and essentially "quartered" themselves in his home after smashing down the door.

Now Mitchell and his parents, Michael and Linda orf Henderson, Nev., are suing two city governments, two police chiefs, and at least five police officers for their roles in the July 2011 incident.

According to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, police burst in after Anthony Mitchell said he did not want to get involved in the planned operation. They shot his "cowering" dog Sam with pepperball rounds and handcuffed him.

That same day, police "also took over the home of Mitchell's parents, Linda and Michael Mitchell, who live in the same neighborhood and are named as plaintiffs," a Fox News report says.

"The Mitchell family is using a rare legal argument in a lawsuit claiming police tried to commandeer their homes for a surveillance operation and then arrested the homeowners for resisting," Fox says.

According to the Third Amendment, "No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law."

"I'm confident the Mitchells have a good case," the Mitchells' lawyer Frank Cofer said.

"After entering the houses, they drank water, ate food, enjoyed the air conditioning, That struck me as quartering."

Anthony Mitchell is suing for an undisclosed sum, saying his rights also were violated under the Fourth and 14th Amendments, and that he "experienced psychological horror and extreme emotional distress due to his fear and belief that he had been mortally wounded by gunfire."

John Yoo, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley law school, told Fox that "the Mitchells may have claims under other federal and state laws but their chances are very, very low on the Third Amendment."

"Local police on law enforcement missions are not soldiers," Yoo said. But, he said, the family should be compensated "for the temporary use of their home and for any damages caused in the operation."

The Mitchell family filed the 18-page lawsuit July 1. Among those named in the suit are the city and police chiefs of both Henderson and North Las Vegas.

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