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Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Tracy Ingle SWAT Raid

     A narcotics officer with the North Little Rock (Arkansas) Police Department received information on December 20, 2007 that a woman known only as Kate was selling methamphetamine out of the house at 400 East 21st Street. The confidential informant who said he'd purchased meth there, didn't know who owned the dwelling, if other people lived there, how much drug activity was going on at that location, or anything about Kate other than she usually carried a gun. A judge, relying entirely on this sketchy report from a confidential informant, issued a nighttime no-knock warrant to search the house.

     At 7:40 PM, 17 days after the judge issued the warrant, Tracy Ingle, a 40-year-old former stonemason with a bad back, was asleep in his first floor bedroom in the back of the house at 400 East 21st Street. Mr. Ingle awoke with a start at the sound of a SWAT battering ram breaking down his front door. He instinctively reached for his pistol, the unloaded and broken handgun he kept at his bedside to scare off intruders. This would not be the first time burglars had broken into his home. Suddenly, a flashbang grenade came though the window near his bed, filling the room with blinding light. The SWAT officer who climbed into the bedroom through the broken window yelled, "He's got a gun!" That's when the shooting started. The first bullet, fired from a .223-caliber semiautomatic rifle, tore into Ingle's left leg just above the knee. As he dropped to the floor, SWAT officers outside the window fired 20 more shots, hitting Ingle in the arm, calf, hip, and chest. Moments later, several officers were in the room. One of the officers kept referring to Ingle as Michael or Mike. Before being rushed to the Baptist Health Hospital, Ingle said, "My name is not Mike."

     The police did not find methamphetamine or any other illegal drug at Tracy Ingle's house. They didn't find Kate, whoever she was, or any incriminating evidence in Ingle's car. They did seize a digital scale and a few baggies, common household items they designated as drug paraphernalia. Ingle's sister, a surgical nurse who made jewelry as a hobby, told the police the scale and baggies belonged to her.

     Because the police had broken into Ingle's house and shot him five times, then failed to find the drugs they had raided the house for, they had to charge him with something. And they did: two counts of aggravated assault for picking up the handgun in self defense, and felony possession of drug paraphernalia. The North Little Rock police, in a botched drug raid, had almost killed a citizen who had never been convicted of a felony. Instead of apologizing for their shoddy, reckless work, and overaggressive tactics, they wanted to send Tracy Ingle to prison.

     Ten days after the shooting, the hospital discharged Ingle from the intensive care unit. Police officers immediately picked him up and drove him to the police station. For the next six hours, detectives grilled Ingle without an attorney present. From the interrogation room, they hauled him to the Pulaski County Jail, where they booked him, still in his hospital-issued clothing. When they released Ingle four days later (he had sold his car to make bail), his wounds had become infected because he had been unable to change his bandages every six hours.

     The internal affairs investigation of the shooting cleared the two SWAT officers who had shot Ingle of wrongdoing. Seeing the gun in Ingle's hand, they had responded appropriately. Responsibility for this drug enforcement fiasco rested on the shoulders of the case detective and the judge who has signed the no-knock search warrant. Ingle, who couldn't afford to hire a lawyer, finally caught a break in May when John Wesley Hall, a well-known Arkansas defense attorney, agreed to represent him.

     In an April 2008 interview conducted by a reporter with the Arkansas Times, North Little Rock Chief of Police Danny Bradley spoke about the department's SWAT team, officer safety, and police militarism. Because North Little Rock is a small city of 50,000, the SWAT team was made up of 12 to 15 regular-duty patrolmen and detectives assigned to the squad part time. These officers trained for the position twice a month. The chief said he deployed the unit only in high-risk situations. "If we have any doubts about detectives and uniformed officers being able to execute the warrant safely we're going to use the SWAT team. I would rather spend the extra money that it takes to get the SWAT team together than risk someone getting injured."

     Chief Bradley, regarding nighttime no-knock home invasions such as the one that got Tracy Ingle shot and almost killed, said, "How do you weigh a situation where executing a warrant safely means exploiting the element of surprise, versus the natural reaction of a person when someone is intruding into his house? It's a dangerous business." The chief allowed that he didn't like the phrase "war on drugs" because he didn't want his officers thinking they were soldiers, and drug suspects their enemy. In that regard, he had worked to eliminate some of the militaristic trappings of the force. For example, he had switched his regular patrol officers out of their "fatigue-looking" uniforms.

     Tracy Ingle's attorney, on September 8, 2008, filed a motion to suppress the evidence against his client. John Wesley Hall argued that owing to the vagueness of the informant's report, the warrant authorizing the raid lacked sufficient probable cause, which rendered the evidence against Ingle inadmissible. Moreover, had there been sufficient probable cause in the first place, it had been severely attenuated by the 17-day delay in the warrant's execution. In other words, the evidence had grown stale. (Under Arkansas law, search warrants must be served within a reasonable time, but not more than 60 days after issue.)

     The judge denied attorney Hall's motion, and in March 2009, a jury found Tracy Ingle guilty of maintaining a drug house, and of felony assault. The judge sentenced him to 18 years in prison, and fined him $18,000. Tracy Ingle took his case to the Arkansas Court of Appeals, which, on May 12, 2010, affirmed his conviction.

16 comments:

  1. this the most rediculpous thing i have ever heard shame on these cop and judges....this shouldn't ever gone this far...if they found no drugs how do u charge someone with a drug house...and 18 yrs with a broken gun...he would have gotten less years if he had killed someone,,,this is nuts,,,he never fired the gun so how is that felony assault,,,thats what the cops should have gotten....wow this makes me sick how justice has gotten so crooked that there is no justice...they just did want to be wrong or sued...god bless him...he will be in my prayers...

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  2. This is when the police attack someone they are sworn to protect by duty and law and then punish that victim for being their victim. Disgraceful.

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  3. You might want to actually learn the facts of the crime before you try to sell your agenda using it. Ingle allowed his home to be used to sell drugs (A CI buy was performed there a few days before) and his associate is also doing felony time. Additionally drug residue WAS found at the scene. Ingle was offered a plea deal in which he would only have probation, he turned it down.
    http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2009/04/16/1035886-nlr-cops-see-vindication-update
    http://opinions.aoc.arkansas.gov/WebLink8/0/doc/47102/Electronic.aspx

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    1. Yep ok and this information came from shysters who arrested and shot him to begin with... come on, you are anonymous because it is you moron that is trying to push an agenda.

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    2. I agree with you. A jury wouldn't have found him guilty if there was no evidence of drugs at the house. There is obviously a lot of details left out of this article. Thanks for the links.

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    3. I don't care how you want justify what the police did in this case, drug use is a victimless crime and if there is no victim, then there should be no crime! Most of the "so called" laws we have in this nation aren't even close to being Constitutional common law! They are nothing more than de-facto law, which if judged by the Constitution instead of judges, wouldn't hold water in a common law court!!!

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    4. I know all sides are seldom told. We don't have a right to pass judgment on what we don't know. I see big problems here, but not with the cops, who here would go through a window and see a gun in a man's hands and not fire ??

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    5. Drugs are a victimless crime? LOL. Some one lives in la-la land.

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    6. I'd love to know when you have EVER been victimized by drugs?

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  4. Ya right this was pure bullshit, that man acted the way anyone would entering there home like that!!! They stated they found a scale, and baggies, not enough to convict him for 18 years, rapist, and fucking murderers get less time... In the end they will pay weDONT live forever, and there's only one judge who's punishment counts FOREVER!

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  5. DISGUSTING! SO ARE YOU Anonymous july 30, 2013 at 10:35 am. Hope this happens to you!

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  6. Situations like this is why people need to be taught about jury nullification!!

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  7. Unbelievable, simply unbelievable.

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  8. the government and police are the real enemies

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  9. Is this real? How is this not at the supreme court level by now? wtf

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  10. There is no real law anymore. It is all law of the jungle now. Kill or be killed. Thus there can be no serious respect paid to uniforms and badges. What good is that sort of respect if it almost gets you killed and then thrown in jail for 18 years by a monkey court which never finds the cops guilty of anything?

    So many people wonder why strangers have walked up to cops in their patrol cars and just killed them on the spot without warning. I really don't see any reason to wonder. In fact, I think that, unless the cops back off of the people and instead start policing themselves, there are going to be a lot more dead cops. I don't want this to happen! It's horrible that anyone has to die so needlessly but let's face it, they started it because they think they are superior. They have been talked into being steroid pumped attack dogs of the status quo. This has never worked out for tyrants in the past and no it won't be different this time. If you are a cop, please take heed. You and yours started this so only you and yours can back down and release some pressure from this overfilled scuba tank which is sitting in a barbeque grill.

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