In the land of the free, the job of police officer has morphed drastically over the last three decades. Thanks to the war on drugs, cops have MRAPs, battering ram vehicles, and an entire arsenal of weaponry designed to destroy homes in raids looking for drugs. Because police are human and prone to error, often times these weapons of war are used on entirely innocent people. Because police are government, when they destroy private property by mistake, or lay waste to someone’s dream home, it is the innocent person left holding the bag — thanks largely in part to qualified immunity.
In this latest case, the Hamlin County Sheriff’s Department was searching for Gary Hamen, who had an outstanding arrest warrant for felony burglary and violation of a protective order. Gary had called his father, Gareth Hamen, and asked for a vehicle. He was spotted by a police drone who was listening in on the conversation and was outside of his father’s home.
When police went to arrest Gary, they claimed he was holed up in his father’s home so the local SWAT team took to completely destroying the home. The home was empty and multiple officers on the scene knew it, police did not get consent to enter it, and police never mentioned to Gareth they were planning on destroying the home.
Not long after, the Sheriff authorized SWAT and the SRT to breach doors and windows on the Hamens’ mobile home. According to Wishard’s affidavit, the “tactical procedure [to secure the mobile home] is to create communication portholes in attempts to call out any subject or subjects that may be hiding inside.” If unsuccessful, gas munitions are used to flush out anyone inside. To create the communication portholes for the Hamens’ trailer, an armored vehicle pulled away the front stairs and deck, which were not attached to the mobile home or secured in the ground, and pushed in the front door with a ram. The second armored vehicle opened three portholes on the opposite side of the mobile home by breaking through windows and a sliding patio door, causing significant damage to the walls and the septic system.
The Federalist Society details what happened next.