Wednesday, July 19, 2006

On 'Overkill'

There are 6 raids in Maryland.

Search Results

These 6 results represent
The state of: MD
For the year: All
And the following type of incident: All

David Scheper and Sascha Wagner.

August 18, 2005—MD

On August 18, 2005, police in Baltimore, Maryland force their way into the home of David Scheper and Sascha Wagner. Thinking they are being robbed, Wagner calls 911, telling the operator, "There's someone breaking into my house." Scheper slams the door on the officers, who never announce they are police.

The officers then shatter the glass on the home's front door. Scheper stands just inside, holding his 12-gauge shotgun. He doesn't have ammunition, but he hopes that racking the gun within earshot of the door would scare off what he still believes are intruders. When they don't leave, Scheper retreats to his basement, and grabs the only functioning weapon in his house, a CZ-52 semiautomatic, what he calls a "piece-of-junk Czechoslovakian pistol." As Scheper struggles to load the weapon, it accidentally discharges, sending a round into the floor of his basement.

Police would eventually enter, and seize $1,440 in cash Scheper says he had recently withdrawn to buy a used pickup truck. According to the Baltimore City Paper, police also "...hit a 70-year-old art-deco-style metal desk with an ax. They took 18 of Scheper's guns--mostly inoperable antiques, he says--and some gun-shaped props he had built for movies. 'They threatened to blow up my safe,' Scheper says, so he opened it for them."

The police had made an error. They also had no search warrant. They were looking for a tenant Scheper had evicted weeks earlier. Nevertheless, police still put Scheper's antique gun collection on display for the local news as part of a "roundup" of illegal weapons they'd found in two local raids.

The only charge to come of the police visit to Scheper's home was one against Scheper for firing the weapon in his basement, which carried a $1,000 fine and a year in prison. Prosecutors eventually dropped that charge, but only after Scheper's lawyer successfully fought to get Wagner's 911 call admitted as evidence, over the objection of prosecutors.


Edward Ericson, Jr., "Breakin? All the Rules; Prosecutor Drop Case Against Man Who Says Plainclothes Police Tried To Force Way Into His Home Without Warrant," Baltimore City Paper, December 21, 2005.

Cheryl Lynn Noel.

January 21, 2005—MD

Baltimore County, Maryland police descend on a home in the Dundalk neighborhood at around 5 a.m. on a narcotics warrant. They deploy a flashbang grenade, then quickly subdue the first-floor occupants -- a man and two young adults.

When officers enter the second-floor bedroom of Cheryl Llynn Noel, they break open the door to find the middle-aged woman in her bed, frightened, and pointing a handgun at them. One officer fires three times. Noel dies at the scene.

Friends and acquaintances described Noel as "a wonderful person," who ran a Bible study group on her lunch breaks. One man collected 200 signatures from friends, neighbors, and coworkers vouching for her character.

Officers conducted the raid after finding marijuana seeds in the Noels' garbage can.


Joseph M. Giordano, "Woman is shot, killed by police in drug raid," Dundalk Eagle, January 27, 2005.

Joseph M. Giordano, "Petition reflects anguish," Dundalk Eagle, March 31, 2005.

Desmond Ray.

December 11, 2002—MD

As police in Prince George's County, Maryland prepare for a SWAT raid on a suspected drug dealer, Desmond Ray--not the target of the raid--steps out of a parked car. Cpl. Charles Ramseur says Ray reached for his waistband upon exiting the car. Ray says he put his hands in the air.

Ramseur fires his weapon at Ray and strikes him in the spine, paralyzing him. Ray is unarmed, and would never be charged with a crime.

In April 2004, an "Executive Review Panel" found that Ramseur had no justification for shooting Ray, and recommended administrative charges against him for using excessive force. The recommendation was overruled when the internal police review board found no wrongdoing. Ramseur was reinstated.

County police later settled a civil suit with Ray for an undisclosed sum of money.


"Prince George's police corporal cleared in 2002 shooting," Associated Press, July 15, 2005.

The Lewis Cauthorne Raid.

November 19, 2002—MD

On January 7, 2003, prosecutors in Baltimore announce they will not press charges against Lewis S. Cauthorne for firing a .45-caliber handgun at police who broke down his door during a no-knock raid in November 2002.

Cauthorne, at home with his mother, girlfriend, and three year-old daughter at the time of the raid, heard screaming when police broke open the door to his home and began searching for drugs. The raiding officers never identified themselves.

Prosecutors later determined that Cauthorne, who had no arrest record and whose father had been robbed and killed as a cab driver, had reason to believe his life was in danger when he fired and wounded three of the raiding police officers. Police fired back, but no one inside the home was hit.

Police were acting on a tip from a confidential informant, and claim to have found six bags with traces of marijuana, empty vials, a razor with cocaine residue, and two scales in Cauthorne's home. But the ensuing investigation found peculiarities with the evidence that precluded Cauthorne from being charged even with a misdemeanor. For example, there was no record of where exactly in the home the drugs were found, and crime lab technicians were told by police not to photograph the evidence.

The officers who conducted the raid were also unavailable for interviews from investigators until days or weeks after the raid took place. Though never charged, Cauthorne served more than six weeks in jail before the charges against him were dismissed.


Allison Klein and Del Quentin Wilber, "Prosecutor to drop charges in shooting of four officers," Baltimore Sun, January 7, 2003.

Harry Davis.

February 3, 1992—MD

In 1992, police in Fort Washington, Maryland conduct a no-knock raid on the home of Harry Davis.

According to Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy, "Fifteen police officers, carrying assault weapons and dressed in black garb that looked like some kind of ninja outfits, stormed in, knocked Davis to the floor and held him there with a shotgun to his head." Police also pulled Davis' girlfriend out of bed in the nude, and performed a body cavity search.

Police then tore out the walls to Davis' apartment, smashed family photos in their frames, and confiscated his car.

A confidential informant had told police that Davis was laundering more than $100 million in drug money from his home. Davis' face was splashed all over the news as the mastermind of an elaborate East Coast cocaine cartel. Yet police found no drugs or weapons in his apartment, and later confirmed that they'd found no evidence of money laundering.

The assistant U.S. attorney in charge of the case later conceded, "The evidence did not have him in any actual drug transaction." Davis lost his car leasing business, and lost possession of his car, which police seized, then returned to the bank when Davis was unable to keep up on his payments. Davis found temporary work as a car salesman after his arrest, but was later fired after a customer recognized him as the man the TV news identified as a drug kingpin.

A year later, prosecutors dropped all charges against Davis. Davis said in court, "You break into my home, humiliate my friend, destroy my business, and after investigating me for a year, just drop the charges. What can you say to me?"

The judge replied, "You're free. Next case."

According to Milloy, Davis was never compensated, even for the damage to his home.


Courtland Milloy, "For Ex-Defendant, P Street Case Still a Nightmare," Washington Post, February 7, 1993, p. B1.

Sgt. Mark Murphy.

August 31, 1988—MD

On August 31, 1988, police in Prince George's County, Maryland conduct a no-knock raid on the home of Dion Smith, suspected of cocaine distribution.

As Sergeant Mark Murphy attempts to pry open the door to the second-floor garden apartment with a hydraulic pump, the officers around him hear what they believe to be a gunshot. Two officers behind Murphy open fire. Murphy is struck in the head by a round fired by one of his fellow officers, and dies six months later.

One police official would later say of the raid, "Unfortunately, there is no room for error in these kinds of situations."


"NW Man Pleads Guilty in Drug Case," Washington Post, January 21, 1989, p. B4.

Craig W. Floyd, "Deadly Drug Raids," National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, October 6, 2003.
Hopefully this paper will get some attention, and maybe these six will be the last.

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