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SB1: Indiana’s “No Illegal Police Entry” Bill

Last night, the Indiana General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1, which, once signed into law, will resolve a nearly year-long deprivation of the civil rights of residents of the State of Indiana. Readers who have followed me for the last year will be aware of my previous “Outrage In Indiana” posts on this very subject. For those who haven’t, let me recap.

In Part One, on May 13th of last year, I described the appalling decision by Indiana’s State Supreme Court in the case of Barnes v. State of Indiana. The court determined that a private person had no right to resist unlawful police burglary of their home. I detailed the 800-year-old legal precedents which allow for such use of force, and the farce of the court’s decision. In Part Two, I published an open letter to Governor Mitch Daniels, imploring him to take whatever action he possibly could to provide relief to Hoosiers subjected to police lawlessness. In Part Three, I published the very thoughtful response I received from his office.

To review the matter at hand: Richard Barnes had an argument with his wife, and neighbors called the police. Upon their arrival, the Barneses had reentered their home, and no further argument was occurring. Officers Lenny Reed and Jason Henry (more on them in a moment) insisted on entering the home, and Mr. Barnes refused them entry. The police, unlawfully, entered the home anyway. Mr. Barnes attempted to use non-deadly force to expel them, and he was tased and arrested.

Eight centuries of legal precedent, from the Magna Carta to two 20th century SCOTUS decisions, explicitly authorize the use of reasonable force to prevent unlawful acts of the police. The laws of the state of Indiana do not privilege police officers from justified force if they are acting outside the bounds of the law. The Fourth Amendment, and a substantially similar provision in Indiana’s Constitution prohibit precisely this conduct- the unwarranted and unlawful entry into a private home by government agents.

Nonetheless, Indiana’s Supreme Court ignored the eight centuries of legal tradition, multiple decisions of the United States Supreme Court, the United States Constitution, and the Constitution and laws of Indiana, and determined that a Hoosier’s only lawful recourse was to sue the police agency for damages after being the victim of a violent crime (in this case, burglary and assault) committed by a police officer.

Our Second, Third, and Fourth Amendment rights were established by our Founding Fathers for expressly this reason: Prior to, and during, the American Revolution, armed agents of the British government- soldiers- would routinely enter private homes without cause, assault homeowners and arrest them without charges, and quarter themselves in private homes in order to intimidate homeowners into submission. Expressly for this reason, we have a right to keep and bear arms, a freedom from quartering in private homes, and a freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.

We also have a natural, or God-given (depending on your outlook), right of self-defense, a topic which I have written about extensively. The instinct to protect ourselves, our families, and our property from violent attack is as natural to us as the need to eat. A government decree that a certain class of persons- namely, police officers- are “untouchable”, and may commit violent crimes at will, and the prosecution of private persons who exercise this right against them, is wholly offensive to the basic principles enshrined in our founding document.

Thankfully, Indiana’s legislature has taken up the cause of preserving individual liberties in this matter. Senate Bill 1, introduced by State Senator Mike Young and sponsored by numerous other state legislators, seeks to amend the Indiana Code to explicitly authorize the use of reasonable force against law enforcement officers who commit crimes against private persons.

In short, SB1 changes the language of the state’s use-of-force laws to state that “any person” may be the recipient of defensive force, and adds a section specifically addressing the use of force against police officers. This section authorizes the use of non-deadly force against “any law enforcement officer” to prevent the police officer’s criminal attack upon the person or property, and authorizes deadly force to prevent a law enforcement officer’s criminal attack which may inflict death or serious bodily injury.

Once signed into law, Indiana will become only the second state in the nation to specifically authorize the use of force against police officers acting unlawfully. North Dakota authorizes the use of force to terminate a police officer’s unlawful use of deadly force. Indiana’s statute would dramatically exceed this limited level of protection.

I applaud the state legislature for taking this necessary step to improve the right of self-defense. I also understand Sen. Young is facing a primary challenge this year. I hope Hoosiers will go to the polls in droves and show their support for this fine representative of the people.

And on a final, and ignominious note: Officer Lenny Reed, one of the two goons who burglarized Mr. Barnes’ home, and (ironically) the medic for Evansville PD’s SWAT team, was also involved in an incident involving racial profiling and substantial damage to an innocent man’s RV- which the man was delivering to a buyer- when Reed initiated a wrongful drug search. This incident occurred less than four months before the Indiana Supreme Court’s Barnes decision. Inexplicably, Reed was promoted to Sergeant during roughly the same time frame.

The other goon involved, Officer Jason Henry, resigned from Evansville Police Department after beating up a former sheriff’s deputy, only three months before the Barnes decision. The beating occurred at a meeting of the Indiana Fraternal Order of Police, no less.

Residents of Vanderburgh County have ample reason to question Evansville Police Chief Brad Hill’s professional judgment. Apparently Hoosiers can’t even rely upon the common sense of local officials and police administrators for relief from police lawlessness, which makes the passage of SB1 all the more vital. Mary Beth Schneider of the Indianapolis Star tweeted last night that SB1 passed the Indiana Senate 38-12 and passed the Indiana House 67-26, and is now on its way to Governor Daniels’ desk.

Many thanks to my dear friend April Gregory for her invaluable assistance in researching this post.

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  1. A major league idiot. Quit trespassing in Indiana we enough manics already without morons like you provoking them further.

  2. Wow you are an idiot along with the other dumb asses that passed this. Lets think about how this will really be interpreted by all the other un-abiding citizens. I would like to have my husband come home every night to me and his two kids. Now this bill has added even MORE danger to his job which will probably come with a pay cut, by the way officers don’t make anything compared to what they should, my husband is a trooper because he loves his job, and loves taking horrible people off the streets. Everyone who is smart enough to understand this bill wont be resisting. It will be all of the idiots out there that don’t want to be arrested for say rapping their children, killing their neighbors, or driving drunk that will take it too far and end up shooting officers. Of course they don’t want to be arrested but are we really holding court on the side of the road now?!?!? And what gives them the right to shoot my husband because they don’t want to be arrested when he has to be faced with a life or death situation or already shot before he can shoot someone. I just hope that you and all the other idiots find your self in a situation that you need law enforcement’s help and they don’t come to your side because they are to afraid of the person resisting and then in return them loosing their life! Why in the HELL should they risk their lives and chances of making it back to their family every night for peices of shit like you BURN IN HELL!!

    1. Wouldn’t it be something if all law enforcement officers said screw it and there weren’t any any more?! It is the attitude you have for them, its about time they had it back for you. The US would be a mess, how about you have a little respect for them.

    2. The bill would only protect INNOCENT civilians from illegal police entry, TW. If it’s a murderer or thief or drug dealer then do a little real police work, like investigating, and get a warrant or catch him away from home.

      But when I’m sitting quietly in my home, having done nothing, with my family and some ass comes crashing through my door he is likely to face rapid fire from a high-powered rifle. Yeah, I’d probably die, too, but I’d die a free man not a prisoner of a police state.

      How difficult would it be for a couple of bad guys to get some uniforms and a phony badge and force their way into a home and help themselves to whatever they want claiming that they are seizing “evidence?” This Supreme Court ruling would leave me helpless in that situation. It is considered “resisting” to even ask for an ID or to see a warrant.

      I am sympathetic to the risks your husband takes every day and I thank God their are men and women willing to do it, but please don’t ask innocent Americans to forego basic rights because some police are too lazy or incompetent to be able to tell the bad guys from the good guys with an adequate investigation.

      Good police work has always depended on the good will of the citizenry. If this ruling stands that good will will soon be lost and we will have a them-against-us relationship instead.

    3. Another thing, TW, do you think that the Supreme Court ruling will make all the bad guys give up without a fight? Hell, they’re criminals. Criminals, by definition, don’t obey laws. What makes you think that they give a damn about what the Supreme Court says. And you’re calling other people idiots?

      This ruling makes your husband less safe. Now, not only will he have to worry about the bad guys resisting, he’ll have to worry about people like me that believe that America is a land of laws not unwarranted force, and that I am Constitutionally protected from unlawful entry and searches of my home.

  3. Officers responded to a “domestic” that neighbors witnessed. Upon their arrival, both subjects had re-entered their home. So, lets suppose that Barnes had gone inside and knocked-out his wife. Officers arrive and have to leave because Barnes told them everything was OK. Then he goes back inside and kills his wife. Guess what two officers loose their job the next day? Guess what female victim’s family sues the police department for failing to perform their duty?

    All Barnes had to do was send his wife to the door to tell the officers everything was OK, and once they saw that the domestic was over, they would have left. It was the officer’s responsibility to go inside and check the welfare of the female when the male refused to let them see if she was OK. They acted on a reasonable belief that she was in danger because of the statements of the eye witnesses next door. If the officers had left, and Barnes had killed her, and she was your daughter, sister, mother, etc., what two officers would you blame for the preventable death?

    Trooper’s Wife…………you tell em!!

  4. I stand by my above post because it could happen in any domestic situation. This Indiana Law is going to cause the above hypothetical situation to happen. Mark my words…..
    HOWEVER, I stand corrected in the Barnes case. I just read details of the incident. Apparently, both Barnes and his wife were outside when the police arrived. They both ran inside and shut the door on the police. If that is the case then screw them. Let him beat the crap out of her. See if we care. The officers tried to help. We don’t like going to domestics anyway. The officers in the Barnes case should not have gone inside if this was the case.

  5. That troopers wife …she refers to everyone she thinks is out to get her husband as an idiot, dumbass, piece of sh*t, and wants them to burn in hell.
    No..we just want the true idiots, dumbasses, and pieces of sh*t to not be employed in the field of law-enforcement.

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