Durham, N.C. police used fake calls to 911 in order to support their illegal entry and search of suspects’ homes, calling the practice “departmental policy.” The officers targeted homes where individuals with outstanding arrest warrants were thought to be residing. Using the fabricated story that 911 dispatchers had received hang-up calls from that address, police would enter, search the property, seize items and arrest any scofflaws.
The Inquisitr on July 13 reported on one such incident. In a court hearing on May 27, it was revealed that a suspect arrested for marijuana possession by Durham police officer A.B. Beck was taken in after Beck used the illegal practice to place the woman under arrest.
The Inquisitr says Beck “knocked on the defendant’s door in South-Central Durham. When she answered, Beck lied and said that someone in her home had called 911 and hung up, and that he wanted to make sure everyone was safe. The defendant allowed Beck to search her home as a result, and it was then that he discovered two marijuana blunts and a marijuana grinder.”
Beck, however, could produce no warrant at the hearing, and copped to his deceitful excuse to enter the home illegally. The charges against the woman were dropped. The officer claimed that his superiors allow such unlawful entries “under a department policy in cases where domestic violence is alleged,” recalled Morgan Canady, the defendant’s lawyer.
Durham County Chief District Judge Marcia Morey, who was overseeing the case, told Beck pointedly: “You cannot enter someone’s house based on a lie.”
Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez refuted Beck’s testimony that it is a “policy” of the department.
“This has never happened,” Lopez said. “We want to find out what led him to believe that this is something he should do.”
Lopez issued the following memo to his staff, and provided the media with a copy:
It has recently been brought to my attention that some officers have informed citizens that there has been a 911 hang-up call from their residence in order to obtain consent to enter for the actual purpose of looking for wanted persons on outstanding warrants. Effective immediately no officer will inform a citizen that there has been any call to the emergency communications center, including a hang-up call, when there in fact has been no such call.
IndyWeek.com carried the courtroom dialogue between Canady and Beck:
Did you say there was a 911 hang-up? Canady asked.
Yes, Beck said.
But there was not a 911 hang-up?
So you entered the house based on a lie?
And this is your policy for domestic violence warrants?
“People have a constitutional right to privacy, and you can't fake someone out of their constitutional rights,” said Durham defense attorney Brian Aus. “You've got to be honest about this stuff.”