Posted by: Ann Corcoran | December 20, 2012

Continuance granted in Sharpsburg SWAT case

Friends and family members took up most of Judge Mark Thomas’ court room yesterday to give moral support to the man the Maryland State Police and the FBI targeted in an over-the-top raid on his rural Sharpsburg home last month.

After Terry Porter stood before Judge Thomas with his lawyer for barely a minute, then filed out, three quarters of those in the courtroom followed him out the door.

For new readers, please visit two previous posts here and here to understand the background of the egregious case and the anger this incident has stirred-up in and around Sharpsburg, MD.

WHAG-TV was present outside the courthouse and interviewed Porter neighbor, Tim Franquist who summed up the concern of the community (in addition to standing by Porter himself):

“They’re very upset, a no-knock search warrant for someone we know as being a pretty friendly easy going guy, with a wife and three children, and to come in there and bang the doors down, they weren’t even locked from my understanding,” says Timothy Frenquist, a neighbor.

Indeed, at that meeting in Sharpsburg with Lt. Thomas Woodward of the MD State Police, several in the audience wondered if this could happen to them too.  They want to know what criteria the Police in faraway Pikesville used to ask for this type of warrant and why the hurry since Porter had never threatened anyone.  (Woodward admitted that the investigation was done by the State Firearms unit and did not involve the local Hagerstown barracks or the Washington County Sheriff).

Readers should take a minute to google search ‘no-knock search warrants’ a highly controversial and in many cases illegal use of a warrant where innocent people have actually died as a result of its misuse.  Here is just one legal summary of many that one should read about ‘no-knock warrants.’    Community activists, and I am sure lawyers in the case, are going to want to see what that warrant actually said (and which judge signed it), but the word is that the warrant has been sealed.

WHAG also refers to the incident being a “stand-off.”   But, it’s my contention that since the State Police/SWAT Team/FBI had no arrest warrant that day, they had no reason to hang around all day scaring the community to death once the State Police had found some guns on the main floor of the property.   In fact, there is no reason those other units (which supposedly were training nearby) should have been called in the first place.

There were no so-called “assault rifles” found.  And, they never got the arrest warrant for Porter until the next morning at which time he peacefully turned himself in.

There are a lot of outstanding questions in this case, but it strikes me that there are only two reasons that the November 29th massive show of force happened at all—either incompetence and a poor investigation by the MD State Police or, and I shudder to say this, some at the highest levels of Maryland governance wanted a ‘gun nut/prepper’ take-down for media consumption.

Here is the Herald-Mail’s report on the case yesterday.  Incidentally, in an early story, the Herald-Mail reported that there was some problem with the original warrant and some changes had to be made in late afternoon (on November 29th).  I can’t at this moment find that reference, but when I do I will link it here.

As news develops we will stay on top of the story.  I’m making a special category entitled “Sharpsburg SWAT” so readers can easily find all of our posts on this case as it develops.


Responses

  1. Not surprised that the warrant was “sealed.” One of the Top 10 reasons I don’t trust the government. That tactic seems to be the norm, even as far back as Dallas 1963. I see no reason in this case to seal a warrant. The people are supreme, not the government. Looks like abuse of power and a cover-up to me until proven other wise.

  2. You’re right, they had a search warrant, not an arrest warrant, so it shouldn’t have been a “man hunt.” These “no-knock search warrants” should be used in very limited situations, but as Lt. Woodward casually remarked at the last Sharpsburg meeting, no-knock warrants (read bust-down-the-door-and-throw-in-a-flash-grenade) are used “thousands of times” (later changed to “hundreds”) every year in the State of Maryland. We should all be concerned at this abuse of power and a waste of taxpayer money.


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