Fourth Amendment Rights Violated? You Decide.
According to the Dallas Morning News, surveillance cameras at a Garland, Texas home captured police officers rummaging through duffle bags, searching a vehicle parked in the driveway and forcing a surveillance camera to turn, breaking the mount. The officers were looking for the homeowner’s brother, a felon convicted of fraud.
According to the homeowner, his brother does not live with him, and he and his wife are upset that police officers conducted searches on their property without permission. And, the homeowners just want a simple apology.
A Garland police internal affairs investigator met with the homeowners telling them that the officers’ actions were proper, even acknowledging that he believed one of the officers had opened the unlocked, back door to the home.
University of Texas at Austin law professor and authority on criminal procedures, George Dix, feels that the homeowners’ Fourth Amendment rights were violated. The Fourth Amendment guards against unreasonable searches and requires that a warrant be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.
“I think the officers unreasonably searched the vehicle and duffle bags,” Dix said. “The manipulation of and damage to the camera was, in my view, an unreasonable seizure.” Dix also mentioned that opening the door would be reasonable if there was reason to believe a dangerous person was inside; however, nothing in the facts suggests this.”
Here is the video of one of the officers forcing the homeowner’s surveillance camera to turn.
This video shows a different officer rummaging through duffle bags and reading documents.
And, yet another video shows an officer knocking on the front door of the home and when no one answers, he proceeds to scour through the parked vehicle. It even appears that the officer read through some documents found in the vehicle.
What do you think? Were the homeowners' Fourth Amendment rights violated, or do you think police had probable cause to do what they did?
While police officers probably feel that they had probable cause, thinking or assuming that the homeowner’s brother lived there, breaking the mounting on a surveillance camera, rummaging through bags and exploring the vehicle without permission seems to violate the homeowners’ Fourth Amendment rights.