A police state in the making?

Jonathan Septer

Your government doesn’t trust you. They may not even like you. But, trust them, they are working in your best interests. Just ask Joseph Kinney, 36, of Madison Township.

If Kinney could talk, he’d assure you that you’re safe. According to NewsNet5.com, he’s safely underground – six feet under.

Kinney was subdued by Madison Township police because he was on drugs and unruly, the article said. The police used taser guns, just recently issued, to subdue Kinney, which led to his death last Friday.

Matthew Webb, a witness at the scene, said, “when the guy’s on the ground, you could have cuffed him. They could have used pepper spray. They could have done a number of things, but to use these lethal weapons in a manner like that.”

So why did they? For answers, let’s go to the Supreme Court and the case of Booker Hudson of Detroit.

In 1998, Hudson was convicted for possession of crack-cocaine. Hudson appealed his case before the Supreme Court because the Detroit police broke his door down before he even had time to get off the couch. According to the Fourth Amendment and past Supreme Court cases, police officers must wait 15 to 20 seconds after they announce themselves before breaking in a door to serve a search warrant.

The arresting officers’ testimony said they announced themselves, waited approximately three seconds, and broke Hudson’s door down to find him seated on his couch. They proceeded to search his home and found drugs and a gun inside. According to the Fourth Amendment and countless previous Supreme Court cases, the Detroit Police Department violated Hudson’s rights and all evidence gathered during the investigation was inadmissible.

Hudson lost his appeal this week. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Detroit Police Department in a 5-4 decision.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that this new decision “weakens, perhaps destroys, much of the practical value of the Constitution’s knock-and-announce protection.” He “fears police will now feel free to routinely violate the knocking and waiting requirements, knowing they might not be punished for it.”

It sounds like Justice Breyer fears a police state in America.

But wait, there is hope.

If you do manage to make it to prison, something Joseph Kinney wasn’t lucky enough to experience, your rights will be fiercely protected. Take, for example, Anthony Ray Stockelman, 39, of Wabash Valley state prison in Carlisle, Ind.

In September, Stockelman, a convicted child rapist and murderer, was attacked by his fellow inmates. He was held down and forcibly tattooed with the words, “KATIE’S REVENGE.” The Katie in question is the little girl Stockelman raped and murdered. Convicts punished one of their own, because men like Stockelman are not received kindly in prison. Even the inmates could recognize true scum. Stockelman was moved to a separate part of the prison for his own protection.

The rights of any individual who has yet to be convicted, regardless of their crime, are certainly greater than the rights of a convicted child molester and murderer, right?

You would hope so. Stockelman’s rights will be protected, but that does little good for Joseph Kinney or Booker Hudson. Justice Breyer’s worst fears may be upon us. May your Deity have mercy on your soul.

Jonathan D. Septer is a senior English major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].