Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"You Know How to Leave": Scenes from a Police Riot in Idaho Falls



Officer Clark Lund and illegal arrest victim Delosanto Madrigal.



“You’re under arrest!” snarled Officer Clark Lund as he lunged into Victor Madrigal’s home, his Taser at the ready. Madrigal had triggered that response by moving to comply with the officer’s unconstitutional demand that he produce his driver’s license. Seconds later, Madrigal – who put up no resistance – was being swarmed by police as his brother Delosanto (known to friends and family as Dindo) was writhing on the floor as a result of an unprovoked Taser strike. 

Madrigal, a resident of Idaho Falls, Idaho, was not a criminal suspect, nor had he been accused of a traffic violation. He and his wife Alissa were having a Saturday evening barbecue on August 31st to celebrate their daughter’s sixth birthday, and a woman who lives a block and a half away from their home called to complain about the noise. None of the family’s immediate neighbors was troubled by the festivities. Chantal Meek, a young mother who lives next door, had no complaints about the party, but was terrorized when two cops burst into her home with their guns drawn after Lund called for backup. 


According to multiple witnesses on the scene, and a video record of the event, from the time Officer Lund arrived he was visibly hostile and suspicious. 

“It was pretty clear he didn’t intend to leave without arresting somebody,” Alissa Madrigal told me when I visited the family’s home. “He and two other officers came right to our backyard. They never knocked on the front door – they just walked into the yard. Lund, who was the oldest of the three, stood off in the corner with his hand on his Taser the whole time, staring at Victor.”

Alissa’s name is on the lease to the home, and she tried to speak with the officers. This is in part because Victor, a retired professional baseball player from the Dominican Republic, still has occasional difficulty with English, and also because he has a deep, resonant voice that carries very well in the stillness of a late-summer evening. Alissa was also aware that Victor has a very negative opinion of the Idaho Falls Police Department, in large measure because of what he describes as routine harassment at their hands (such as a recent citation he received for driving without headlights – at about 7:00 on an August morning). But the officers repeatedly told Alissa that they wanted to speak to Victor, rather than to her.

“Victor has a loud voice, and since there were concerns about noise I wanted to be the one who interacted with the police,” Alissa told Pro Libertate. “But the officer who spoke with me kept saying, `I don’t want to talk to you, I want to talk to him’ – meaning Victor. I told them that we would turn down the music and be as quiet as possible. But it was obvious that the cops didn’t come to issue a citation. It seems that within minutes of arriving here they had decided that Victor was going to be arrested. And the older cop [Lund] had his hand on his Taser practically from the moment he walked into our backyard.” 
 
Victor during his playing days.
The announcement that the Madrigals would receive a citation for disturbing the peace prompted Victor to unleash an admittedly vulgar expression to express his frustration. Rather than trying to maintain the peace and de-escalate the situation – which is how a peace officer would have responded – Lund treated Victor to a racially charged taunt.
“If you don’t like it, you know how to leave,” sneered Lund, a comment that was not merely unprofessional but an unambiguous provocation. Several of the guests criticized Lund’s remark, some of them pointing out that Madrigal is a U.S. citizen (he was naturalized in 2007) and had every right to be where he was. 

At that point, Lund announced he was leaving, and Mr. Madrigal said he was glad to see him go. According to several witnesses I interviewed, it was after Lund had ended his investigative contact that he called for backup, removed his Taser from the over-burdened belt straining to contain his tax-fattened girth, and demanded that Madrigal show his ID. As Madrigal moved to comply Lund responded by bellowing that Madrigal was “under arrest.”

According to the official account, Lund and his comrades were obstructed by a “blockade” as they tried to follow Victor into the living room, and Dindo supposedly shoved Lund as he pursued his brother. A video of the incident documents that nobody obstructed the police when they illegally invaded the Madrigal residence, nor did Dindo – or anybody else- shove Officer Lund, who was the first through the door.



“I was inside the house, and too far away to touch Lund,” Dindo recounted to Pro Libertate. “I was shot in the back with the Taser, and hit the floor face-down. How could that have happened if I had been facing him and pushing him?”
 
There were more than a dozen guests – including several small children – at the Madrigal home at the time of the police riot. On his way inside the house, Lund made a threatening gesture to Sara Horne, a young mother holding a newborn baby in her lap. One witness recalled that Lund “made like he was going to back-hand” the terrified woman. Horne told me that Lund pointed his flashlight and Taser into her face. 

Officer shoves 79-year-old Maria Madrigal.
Maria Madrigal, the brothers’ 79-year-old mother, had been sleeping before the police surged into the home. Summoned by loud noises, Maria came into the living room to find Dindo on the ground and Victor in handcuffs with a Taser in his face. Concerned for her sons’ safety yet displaying eerie composure, Maria repeatedly reached out to calm and reassure Victor and Dindo. One of the officers guarding Victor shoved Maria in the chest. 

“Don’t push my mother!” exclaimed Victor, instinctively rising to his feet to defend. As he did so, his head made incidental contact with one of the officers assaulting him. That act would later be described as “battery on an officer.”

Letty Hernandez, a pregnant mother, was also shoved by an officer – most likely Lund – just before a Taser was fired a few inches from her face. As she was knocked to the floor, her abdomen struck the corner of a couch. After paramedics arrived, Letty was told that she should go to the hospital for an examination. To minimize expenses – since her family doesn’t have health insurance -- she drove herself to the emergency room.
 
Victor rises to defend his elderly mother.
On the Monday following the police riot, Letty called the department to find out how the medical expenses would be dealt with. She was brusquely informed that she should be abjectly grateful that she wasn’t arrested, like her husband who had “interfered” with the police. Letty’s husband, Miguel, was not arrested that evening. Like their comrades elsewhere, police in Idaho Falls aren’t fastidious about such details.

The initial police contact – to investigate a noise complaint, recall – occurred at around 10:49 PM. Within about twenty minutes, the air was thick with shouting and screaming, and a fleet of about a dozen police cars had converged on the address. Lund’s attack on Dindo left the living room floor filled with shattered furniture. So in the interests of preserving the “peace,” Lund and his costumed buddies assaulted two unresisting men, committed felonious battery on a 79-year-old woman and a pregnant mother, destroyed property, terrorized a completely innocent next-door neighbor, and disrupted an entire city block.

Dindo was charged with resisting and obstructing an officer. Victor was likewise charged with resisting arrest, as well as battery on an officer. Their grim mugshots were prominently displayed on the local Sunday Evening News, along with a police-provided summary asserting that Victor “began yelling and swearing” the moment police arrived. The local ABC affiliate claimed that the brothers had been arrested “in a fight with police.”

“I didn’t struggle with the police at all,” Victor told Pro Libertate. “I was sitting on the couch with my hands behind my back, saying, `Here, go ahead’ -- and you can see in the video that I’m not resisting. Dindo was facing away from the officer when he was tazed. The only time I didn’t cooperate was when one of them shoved my mother, and all I did was stand up and say, `Don’t push my mother.’”

Within a few days of the assault on their home, the Madrigals were able to post unedited video of most of the episode on-line. They were also able to get at least a portion of their story into the local press.

“We have a friend who contacted the Post-Register and persuaded them to send a reporter to come and interview us, as well as our neighbors,” Alissa explained to me.
“It was never that invasive,” said neighbor Chantal Meek, referring to the noise from the birthday party. “I’m 20 feet from where they were outside.” However, she did regard as “invasive” the actions of the two Idaho Falls police officers who barged into her home with their guns drawn after Lund had called for backup.

Amanda Saxton, another witness who was visiting a next-door neighbor on the night of the party, also told the Post-Register that she had her door open “and didn’t hear anything that would justify a noise complaint.” According to Saxton, “Victor came over and invited our kids over [to the party]. They seem nice.” 

After the Post-Register published its report, Idaho Falls Police Chief Mark McBride demanded space on the opinion page to reiterate the discredited official account – and to traduce the Madrigal family by repeating unsubstantiated gossip as if it were actual evidence.

Chief McBride claimed that the “regular activities” at the Madrigal home include “loud music, yelling, shouting, arguing and fighting until late hours of the night all summer long” – something denied by both the family’s immediate neighbors, and the Madrigals themselves.
 
Maria Madrigal (l.) with Victor and Alissa Madrigal.
“We had three parties this summer, all of them for children’s birthdays,” Victor pointed out to me.

“I work two jobs, and so does Victor,” added Alissa. “I’m rarely home during the weekends, and during the weeknights we have no time for the kind of parties they claim go on here all the time.”

If those parties went on all summer long, why didn’t the police receive a complaint prior to August 31st? According to McBride, the neighbor who spoke to him “never reported any of these parties because of fear of retaliation.”

During my September 13 visit to the Madrigal home, the family hosted a large number of neighbor kids – happy, well-dressed, well-behaved children from good homes presided over by responsible parents who obviously would not send their children to a house filled with angry, violent people of the kind depicted in McBride’s dishonest little screed.

According to McBride, “officers have the authority to make an arrest for a public offense committed in their presence and to use the force necessary to affect [sic – he’s a police officer, after all, and therefore a stranger to literacy] the arrest. Running into one’s house or into a crowd does not prevent the arrest. People and things usually get knocked around when the arrest is made.”

What was the “public offense” that supposedly justified that armed incursion? Recall that Lund had said he was leaving before he returned to arrest Madrigal, who – according to every non-police witness present -- was complying with the unjustified demand to produce ID. It was after he turned to leave that Lund called for backup and drew his Taser. All of this happened after Victor Madrigal, replying to Lund’s statement that he was going, said, in a conversational voice: “All right, then – go.”

Prior to this, Lund had made a deliberately antagonistic remark to Victor that had an unmistakable racial subtext. In an interview with the Post-Register McBride claimed: “There was [sic, again] no racial comments made in the video until they [the Madrigals and guests] brought it up.” Calling this assessment disingenuous is an act of tremendous generosity. Like his minion Clark Lund, Chief McBride is bright enough to recognize what it means to tell a large brown man with an exotic accent that he doesn’t belong in Idaho Falls.
“Idaho Falls police officers are not racist,” McBride insisted in his op-ed column. “We are biased against crime and disorder. We have a responsibility to the citizens of Idaho Falls to keep the community free from crime and disorder.”

Chantal Meek, the neighbor who was terrorized in her home by armed strangers carrying out that sacred “responsibility,” offers a very different perspective.

“I don’t see why race wouldn’t be an issue with the police,” she told the Post-Register. Referring to Victor and Delosanto, Meek observed that they “are obviously not from Idaho. I think it was uncalled for.”

According to McBride, an official review board ruled that the actions of Lund and his comrades were appropriate. The board somehow reached that conclusion without interviewing any of the witnesses to the incident.

It is entirely possible that the actions of Lund and his comrades were not motivated by racial bigotry, but by a different form of tribalism -- the shared conceit that as members of the punitive caste they are entitled to slap down impudent Mundanes for the grievous offense commonly called “contempt of cop.” 

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Dum spiro, pugno!

21 comments:

kirk said...

let's face reality: cops and their actions reveal that cops have become an occupation force.

when things worsen economically and financially, as it will, we will all be at the mercy of the occupation force. given the nature of many of the costumed brutes feeding at the tax trough, they will then reveal their true natures - quislings who have sold out to the power structure and sadists who really like their jobs harming people.

be prepared for the onslaught as things worsen and the dogs of hatred, currently barely muzzled, are set loose on us.

Anonymous said...

Kirk, I agree with your comments with exception to being at their mercy. Those of us who have had enough of cops' criminal conduct outnumber and outgun them by several orders of magnitude and the numbers are growing. Eventually these swine will pick a fight with people who do not cower like sheeple and the call to arms for all of us will be impossible to ignore.

jk

non de guerre said...

RE: Anonymous

Except most Americans are state-worshipping cowards who always give the cops the benefit of the doubt. As long as they have the pubic on they're side, politically (and legally) the police will be able to keep getting away with their crimes.

Scott said...

What about the more distant neighbor who made the complaint?

Part of the problem here is that we've all just accepted that there's an appropriate govt agent who'll deal with stuff like this.

I imagine there was a time when people handled things like this face to face, as individuals; no third-party intervention required; a time when we knew our neighbors better; a better time.

joyce said...

Will,

Thank you as always for the work that you do. Please please post an update to this story when (hopefully) the charges are dropped. (And hopefully) they sue the police dept... (and hopefully) several of the criminal pigs get hit by a bus.

Jerri Lynn Ward said...

How do we know that any neighbor actually made a report? Will says that the cops were routinely harassing Victor.

Anonymous said...

That was *some* video.

It was sickening reading the cop defenders comments on the YouTube website.

The sad part is, that happens every single day.

The Moon is Down.

- IndividualAudienceMember

Keith said...

Further to Scott's comment,

There was once a time when both parents didn't need to work two jobs each in order to pay around half of what they earned to fill the trough fill the ever increasing herds of tax guzzlers.

There was a time when people didn't have their attempts at saving for their own and their family's future robbed from them by money printing, to bail out the parasitic class' favoured cronies.

There was a time when people weren't fed a daily diet of the Hobbesian myth, in hourly and half hourly installments - the myth that their families friends and neighbours (no to mention those who "aren't from round these parts") are a constant threat to their safety, and full time specialists in thuggery are needed to protect them from those who would otherwise be their community and support network, but whom they are persuaded not to use their few remaining free hours to get to know.



Anonymous said...

wow, shove an old lady. these guys must have some DEEP seated insecurities.

the cops are really making it easy to dismiss their jackboot thuggery when they cite children's birthday parties as "disturbances".

sadly, we expect such disrespect. sadly, we tolerate it as well.

Cedric Ward said...

Oh, how I long for the day when the entire neighborhood unloads on these thugs with their weapons and absolutely obliterates them in a cloud of gun smoke.

Maybe then they will be too afraid to put on their uniforms, or even have the balls to come to 'work'.

Kent McManigal said...

Clark Lund goes on the Liberty Offender registry.

Cops are brutal cowards. They need to not be able to go home at the end of their shift anytime they behave in this way. The first offense should be their last.

Anonymous said...

I hate to say it, but he should go back to the Dominican Republic. This country has gone so far to he'll, him and his family would be safer there than in this crooked backwards America. I've had as much as I can take of this place and even I am getting ready to move out of America.

Keith said...

Anon at 3:08

You are right,

The Dominican Republic sounds like a lot better place to be.

as far as new passports go, it sounds relatively quick and cheap to get in there.
http://tdvpassports.com/dominicanrepublic/

Anonymous said...

I WISH I had the money to go to The Dominican Republic. ...Or Chile. ...Or maybe even Mexico?

Instead I'm going to donate some, but I don't want to use a credit card. Does ProLibertate have a P.O. box or something I can send a few bucks to?

- IndividualAudienceMember

Anonymous said...

Amerika, the fundamentally changed America under Obama, is now a Police State with Detention Centers, armored vehicles, indefinite detention and no trial, purchase of 5 bullets for every citizen by "Homeland Security"... And people will keep electing those that make this possible! The sheep want more!!

Tim Buck said...

Did we watch the same video? There was a noise complaint which continued even further while the officers were on scene! If they would've shut up & took their child's birthday party for the adults inside the arrest would've never happened. The tasering was due to getting in the way of an arrest, obstruction. By all means, in the cop's mind is the suspect is going inside to get a gun to shoot me! So, everyone needs to understand that you can't run inside a home when dealing with police officers just outside.

Furthermore, why did she allow the rest of the police officers to remain inside her home? After her husband and brother-in-law were handcuffed and escorted out, she should've went outside with the rest of the police officers while her party guests remained inside QUIETLY. After all, it was 11:00 at night!!!

William N. Grigg said...

The tasering was due to getting in the way of an arrest, obstruction.

The only people who "obstructed" Lund as he barged into the home without cause or warrant (after he and two others had illegally entered the backyard in the same fashion) were Letty Hernandez and her unborn child. Dindo Madrigal was nowhere near Lund when he was tasered in the back.

By all means, in the cop's mind is the suspect is going inside to get a gun to shoot me!

This is probably true, but both morally and legally irrelevant -- true, because cops in general labor under a cultivated sense of paranoia, and Lund in particular was doing everything he could to exacerbate this needless confrontation; legally irrelevant, because at the time Lund tried to arrest Victor, the noise complaint had been dealt with, the Madrigals were cooperative (including Victor, who was getting his ID), and Lund had already announced, "I'm going" -- which meant that the investigative contact was over.

So, everyone needs to understand that you can't run inside a home when dealing with police officers just outside.

Actually, police officers need to understand that they cannot simply walk onto private property without a warrant, consent, or probable cause.

From the moment this episode began, the police were unlawful intruders and should have been dealt with accordingly -- that is, ordered off the property and told to come back with a warrant.

Additionally, it's important to underscore the fact that the Madrigals were cooperating at the tine Lund announced that he was going. How could Victor have cooperated with the demand for his driver's license (which wasn't legally required of him anyway) without going into the house to get his ID?

If the "problem" was noise, it could have been solved by having one officer knock at the front door and inform the adult who answered that a neighbor had complained. That contact would have lasted perhaps a minute or so. Instead, the police trespassed onto the property and precipitated a needlessly confrontational contact that developed into a full-scale police riot that disrupted an entire neighborhood.

By any rational perception, that's a failure for which the police bear full responsibility.

Kent McManigal said...

"By any rational perception, that's a failure for which the police bear full responsibility."

True, but, judging by his defense of the indefensible, you are talking to a copsucker, so there's not going to be any rational perception involved.

Tim Buck said...

It's 10:49PM and officers arrive on scene for a noise complaint. It's obviously noisy because they can hear people talking and music coming from the back yard. So, instead of knocking on the front door, the police go straight to the source, the backyard, which is NOT illegal for them to do so. Ignorance of the law is part of the problem here. Investigative contact is not over until the officers have physically left.

But, based on Officer Lund's statements & actions he was really wanting to arrest someone that night. One thing I find odd is why the other officers just stood there when Lund said he was leaving. Why did they not also turn to leave, they remained on scene as if they were waiting for him to return.

William N. Grigg said...

Ignorance of the law is part of the problem here.

On this point, we are very much agreed -- as we are about this:

...based on Officer Lund's statements & actions he was really wanting to arrest someone that night. One thing I find odd is why the other officers just stood there when Lund said he was leaving. Why did they not also turn to leave, they remained on scene as if they were waiting for him to return.

It's also worth asking why three police officers were sent to answer a noise complaint -- something that could be addressed by one officer knocking on the front door. I'm persuaded that the intent to arrest someone -- most likely Victor -- existed before the police trespassed onto his family's property (about which more anon), and that the objective was to create a pretext for that arrest.

So, instead of knocking on the front door, the police go straight to the source, the backyard, which is NOT illegal for them to do so.

Unless they're executing a warrant, making a felony arrest, or acting in exigent circumstances, it certainly was illegal for them to enter the Madrgial family's home or the curtilage thereof. (Most federal case law dealing with curtilage specifies that warrantless entry into a backyard is permissible only if officers have knocked on the front door and not gotten a response.)

The illegality of the IFPD's intrusion on the Madrigal property is underscored by one element of the Idaho State Supreme Court's otherwise horrible ruling in State v. Lusby (2008)--

http://caselaw.findlaw.com/id-court-of-appeals/1385111.html

That ruling dealt with a case very similar to the Madrigals', in which officers were investigating a "disturbance" between Ms. Lusby and a neighbor. Lusby, angry and disgusted, ended the contact with the officer and went into her home. The officer barged into the apartment and "arrested" her for "resisting and obstructing" -- and subsequently found a marijuana pipe.

Both the trial court and the state supreme court ruled that the entry was unlawful. The supreme court, however, insisted that Lusby's resistance included an alleged act of "battery" against the intruder, and that this retroactively justified the otherwise unlawful entry.

I suspect, but cannot (yet) prove, that cops in Idaho, post-Lusby, have been trained to provoke "resistance" as a way of validating unlawful entry onto private property. That would certainly explain the behavior of Lund and his buddies at the Madrigal home.

One additional point regarding "investigative contact":

In the case of Rita Hutchens in Sandpoint, Ms. Hutchens was accosted by an officer on her own property. The officer kept trying to induce Rita to step to a public sidewalk. Rita refused, and turned away -- and the officer reached out and threw Rita to the ground, eventually arresting her for "resisting and obstructing."

The trial judge threw that charge out, ruling that when Rita turned to leave, the investigative contact was over, despite the physical presence of the officer nearby.

The Prince said...

Lucky for me, I'm white and I grew up in Idaho, so I never have had to deal with this kind of crap personally. However, I do embrace punk rock culture, meaning I dress like a punk, look like a punk, and act like a punk, and so I've had my own share of crap from IFPD myself (apparently the way I dress and act makes me a suspicious individual, which warrants some harassment). I've never had to deal with anything this bad, but I'm 22 now, and by now I can honestly say that I have no love for, and no trust in, the IFPD. I don't think I would ever call them for anything to be honest, because I get the feeling that it would only come back against me or some other innocent person. I would like to know, we're supposed to call the police when normal citizens are trying to screw us over, who are we supposed to call when its the cops who are screwing us over?