If you guessed “underage drinking,” stumble to the head of the class. And all of that doesn’t really even begin to describe all that went down in Damascus, Maryland. Here’s more from local newspaper editor Brian Karem:
The events in the 9400 block of Damascus road on January 4 came after a pizza delivery driver tipped officers about some “young-looking” people drinking. Jumping to conclusions and using questionable methods, Smalley and Durham then took fellow officers on a thrill ride through a private party, ripping apart a home, tasing an accountant, his son and arresting his wife and other son. In the process they put others at risk – including other officers and civilians . . .
When they were done raiding the home two people had to go to the hospital and many more – according to charging documents – apparently left the scene of the party without being detained.
Last week defense attorneys Rene Sandler, Chris Griffiths and Terrell Roberts challenged the entire raid as a violation of a homeowner’s Fourth Amendment rights. Circuit Court Judge Steve Salant agreed with them and suppressed the evidence gathered in the raid.
He noted the many inconsistencies in statements by officers Smalley and Durham – calling some of them “untrue” and “doubtful”. A 26-year veteran of the police department who attended the Damascus party even contradicted testimony offered by the arresting officers.
Some of this testimony sounded more like bad comedy than serious facts.
Durham and Smalley claimed they could tell a 21-year-old from a 20-year-old who drank too much by sight. How is that possible? Well according to Smalley and Durham, based on their extensive experience busting underage drinkers you can tell because the way a 21-year-old and a 20-year-old acts is “very different,” Durham said. “It’s exaggerated movements,” he told the court. “Hey look at me,” he added as he waved his arms. He also said urinating outdoors is sometimes a giveaway. Loud music and boisterous laughter also adds into the decision process . . .
When police raided the home in Damascus a few weeks after Christmas this year, the raid made local television, radio and newspapers because of the “near riot”, the number of people involved and the fact Smalley and Durham claimed the homeowners tried to beat the police officers and take their guns.
The judge noted that in the subsequent warrant – issued five hours after the raid – the police didn’t mention the alleged assaults. Because of the inconsistencies in the testimony of the two officers, it is questionable such an assault ever even occurred. Indeed the videotape the police tried so hard to get, and which I’ve seen, shows police dragging the homeowner out of his house, handcuffing him and repeatedly tasing him while he offers little to no resistance.
There is a point at which a police officer’s sworn statements in a case are so ridiculous that you have to start to question his or her credibility in other cases, too. I’d submit that officers Durham and Smalley are well past that line. And not because a drunk 2o-year-old pushed them.