What would your instinct tell you? If officers believed that you were driving drunk but instead of pulling you over followed you to your home, would they have the right to force their way into the premises to investigate? This matter and the extent of violence to which this matter escalated in a Colorado DUI case are of central concern in trial.
According to The Daily Sentinel, two officers with a ride-along-trainee in their vehicle approached a DUI suspect’s home on July 20, 2010. The officers went to the door of the home, reportedly attempting to kick it in. They did not have a warrant but claimed that they didn’t need one due to supposed probable cause. The story gets more complicated.
Not only did the officers try to get into the suspect’s home without a warrant, but the incident ended with a fatal gunshot. One of the officers shot his gun at the DUI suspect, killing him. So now, not only is there a debate regarding whether the officers were violating the suspect’s right to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure, but there is also a debate regarding whether the officer was right in shooting the suspect.
The questions intertwine to make this a complicated case. Prosecutors argue that the officers did not have the right without a warrant to aggressively pursue the house. They were eyeing the DUI suspect for a misdemeanor, not an offense serious enough to violate his right to privacy in his home.
If the officers did not have the right to be kicking in the suspect’ door, the suspect, according to the prosecution, could have reasonably believed he was in danger. Colorado’s “Make My Day” law allows homeowners who believe they are in danger to use deadly force against those threatening them. In this incident, the threat was coming from the officers.
When this trial produces more answers, we will post an update.
Source: The Daily Sentinel, “Trooper’s right to enter home debated in trial,” Paul Shockley, April 11, 2012