Lance Thornton was sitting at his home in Erie, Pennsylvania, on the morning of March 12, 2023, when US Marshals, Pennsylvania State Police, and a SWAT team appeared at his door demanding to be let in. The officers were responding to the recent shooting of two state troopers—but they had the wrong man, and, moreover, didn’t even have a warrant. Despite Thornton having early-onset dementia and therefore being legally unable to consent to a search, the officers raided his home anyway. Police Accountability Report delves into the case, investigating the flimsy pretext for the raid and why a judge refused to sign off on the warrant.
Studio: Stephen Janis
Post-Production: Stephen Janis, Adam Coley
The following is a rushed transcript and may contain errors. An updated version will be made available as soon as possible.
Taya Graham: Hello, my name is Taya Graham, and welcome to the Police Accountability Report. As I always make clear, this show has a single purpose, holding the politically powerful institution of policing accountable. And to do so, we don’t just focus on the bad behavior of individual cops. Instead, we examine the system that makes bad policing possible. And today, we will achieve that goal by showing you this raid by Erie, Pennsylvania police and US Marshals who burst into the home of a man who later had a stroke. But it turns out the police actually had the wrong address. And what happened when the mistake was exposed shows just how easy it is to abuse police power and the people who push back against it.
But before we get started, I want you watching to know that if you have evidence of police misconduct or brutality, please share it with us and we might be able to investigate for you. Please reach out to us. You can email us tips privately at PAR@therealnews.com and share your evidence of police misconduct. You can also message us at Police Accountability Report on Facebook or Instagram or, @EyesonPolice on Twitter. And of course, you can always message me directly, @tayasbaltimore or Twitter or Facebook. And please like and comment. It helps share our reporting and it helps support our guests. And of course, I do read your comments and appreciate them. Even if I don’t get to answer all of them, I really do read them.
Okay, now we’ve gotten that out of the way. Now, as we have discussed many times on the show, the use of police power to conduct so-called SWAT raids can often lead to catastrophic results. Hardly a day goes by in our work when a person does not contact us about a botched, misdirected or otherwise overly aggressive raid, that often leads to grave consequences for the people who experience the overwhelming aggression of cops acting like soldiers.
But the videos we are about to show you certainly take the cake with regards to both an unnecessary and illegal intrusion on the rights of an innocent man. The story starts in Eerie, Pennsylvania when Lance Thornton was at home minding his own business. Mr. Thornton suffers from the early onset of dementia, but he’s also a US citizen. And though disabled, is still endowed with the unalienable rights offered to all of us. But that didn’t seem to be the case when police in full battle regalia approached his home at 8:00 AM, guns drawn, on March 12th this year. As you can see here in this video taken from his Ring camera police surrounded his residence as if Mr. Thornton was a dangerous and violent fugitive, a notion that we will explain later was far from the truth. But for now, as you can see, the police approach and quickly disable his Ring camera. Let’s watch.
Now, it turns out that police were responding to a tip about a fugitive who had fired a gun towards two Pennsylvania state troopers. That crime occurred earlier that month, and of course, was serious, deserved investigation and should be solved. But Mr. Thornton was neither a suspect nor in any way connected to this case. The entire idea that he was someone involved seems ludicrous, especially given his condition. In fact, a judge was so suspicious of the probable cause officers had for the raid, he refused to sign off on the warrant. Still, police demanded entry into Mr. Thornton’s home.
Speaker 2: Not going to be store on here, for you.
Lance Thornton: I’m being told to put my phone down. I was told I had a right to pull-
Speaker 4: Who’s vehicle is at?
Lance Thornton: That is my rental car. You’re not allowed to inside. I want to know what’s going on.
Speaker 4: I’m going to tell you what’s going on.
Lance Thornton: Then you tell me right now.
Speaker 4: Relax.
Lance Thornton: No, this is my house. No, there’s nobody in my house.
Speaker 2: All right. Can we go in to make sure he’s not in there?
Speaker 4: [inaudible 00:03:47].
Lance Thornton: What?
Speaker 5: Go ahead. Whatever you’re going to say.
Speaker 6: You don’t want to put yourself in the jackpot. If he’s in there-
Lance Thornton: No, I swear to you right now. Okay, right now.
Speaker 4: Do you know him?
Lance Thornton: No, I don’t know him. When I say I’m going to start recording, yous told me to turn it off. But you said off camera. Right now, I want evidence of this.
Speaker 2: I already told you. We had a tip that was credible information that he was here. So that’s why I asked you, is your daughter here? Does she stay here? It’s very important because she could be in danger.
Lance Thornton: My daughter’s in Washington, DC.
Speaker 2: Okay.
Lance Thornton: She’s freaking a school teacher in grad school. I’m a granddad because of her.
Speaker 2: Okay.
Lance Thornton: I have Alzheimer’s. I have dementia right now, and I’m really scared.
Speaker 2: Okay. Well, there’s no reason to be scared. We’re not here-
Lance Thornton: I told him to stop the consent until I got the truth and you already told him, and he’s still searching my house.
Taya Graham: Now, it is worth noting that Mr. Thornton’s dementia means legally speaking, he cannot give consent for a search. In fact, even though it appeared pretty obvious that Mr. Thornton was not involved or linked to the crime, police continued to march around his house, guns drawn, like an invading army. Just watch.
Speaker 4: You want me to plug up you? You want to turn and plug that and I’ll plug over here.
Speaker 7: I got this here.
Speaker 8: [inaudible 00:05:26].
Taya Graham: Now, the apparent lack of connection between Mr. Thornton and the attack on the officers might seem obvious, but it didn’t stop officers from confronting him, ridiculing him, and even spitting in his house while chewing tobacco. Take a look.
Lance Thornton: Hold on. Hold on. What’s your name and badge number?
Speaker 9: 436.
Lance Thornton: And you’re with?
Speaker 9: Erie Police.
Lance Thornton: Okay. Yours?
Speaker 10: Mine?
Lance Thornton: Yeah.
Speaker 10: I’m TFO Bail.
Lance Thornton: You’re with who?
Speaker 10: Marshalls.
Lance Thornton: US Marshall?
Speaker 10: Yeah.
Speaker 11: 254.
Lance Thornton: And you’re with?
Speaker 11: EPD.
Lance Thornton: And you, sir?
Speaker 12: US Marshalls 5791.
Lance Thornton: All right. Thank you, sir.
Speaker 11: So, Mr. Thornton, again, tip was called in last night at this residence. Mr. Jones is staying with you. Okay? He’s got some sort of connection with your daughter and possibly is it your ex-wife or your current wife, Susan?
Lance Thornton: Susan, my wife.
Speaker 11: Okay.
Lance Thornton: Well, that’s not the question. Yeah, keep going.
Speaker 11: Yeah. Not relevant. And that he was up here, staying here for the weekend for some reason. Okay? I don’t know who would’ve called this in on you. It’s an anonymous tip that’s able to be emailed in or called in. Okay? So that’s why we’re here.
Lance Thornton: Totally respect the fact is that you’re trying to find this asshole.
Speaker 11: Yes.
Lance Thornton: Totally respect it.
Speaker 11: Again. No one meant to disrespect you in any way, but when we’re trying to get in, to knock on your door and we’re not getting an immediate response. I get your shock. Okay?
Lance Thornton: I told him I have dementia. Okay? I’m 52 years old with early onset dementia and I’m confused, okay?
Speaker 11: Okay.
Lance Thornton: I asked him to stop the consent. I looked right here and I called you guys and said, “I withdraw consent.” I got the stare down. No, let me finish my part, okay? Yes, I’ll tell you why. What I did was I withdrew consent after being told I can’t withdraw at any time. You continued in this house. It’s on that security camera, this security camera, and the one right outside.
Speaker 11: Okay.
Lance Thornton: Let me finish.
Speaker 11: You do understand attempted homicide. Okay?
Lance Thornton: No, I understood… Asked and answered.
Speaker 11: Do you know him?
Lance Thornton: Asked and answered.
Speaker 11: You didn’t answer me. I’m just saying. I’m showing you a picture though.
Lance Thornton: He showed me a picture, very same time.
Speaker 11: Same picture?
Speaker 5: I showed him a different one.
Lance Thornton: How is this related to my daughter? And I’ll call her.
Speaker 5: That’s what we’re trying to find out too.
Lance Thornton: But how is her name involved in this?
Speaker 5: Your name, your address came up as the address that you were supposed to be at. The tip came to your address.
Lance Thornton: But how did I get asked about my daughter, Hope? Her name was used.
Speaker 5: No, her name is associated with you. We didn’t know if she has association with him. Maybe an ex-girlfriend.
Lance Thornton: What is Susan?
Speaker 5: Susan, that’s your ex-wife, right? Or your estranged wife, right?
Lance Thornton: Right.
Speaker 5: Okay. She has connections with you too. We didn’t know if he has connections with her.
Lance Thornton: I have five kids. Is it because my kids are black?
Speaker 5: Are you kids black? I know one is. That’s all I know.
Lance Thornton: How do you know?
Speaker 5: Hope.
Lance Thornton: Yeah. How do you know?
Speaker 5: From her picture.
Taya Graham: Shortly afterwards, Mr. Thornton was taken to the hospital, which he will be telling us about later. But the botched raid was just the beginning of the consequences Mr. Thornton has endured due to this apparent example of police overreach and possible violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. And for more than that I’m joined by my reporting partner, Stephen Janis. Stephen, thank you so much for joining me.
Stephen Janis: Taya, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Taya Graham: So you’ve been looking into the raid and learned some pretty important information on why it was worse than it looks. What can you tell us?
Stephen Janis: I think this raid was all predicated on a mirage. There were supposedly this source, right? They said credible source, but of course, police don’t have to divulge what makes that source credible. And they use that source to direct them to, I think what was at best, the wrong address.
Taya Graham: Okay. Wait, wait. You’re saying this was the wrong address? How did this raid even happen?
Stephen Janis: Well, I think the judge felt that there wasn’t enough evidence and probable cause to brush into a man’s house with guns blazing. Now, let me say something as a reporter about anonymous sources. We had to be very careful. Even as reporters, we’re very hesitant to use anonymous sources because you give someone a lot of power to be able to make an accusation without having to stand by it. This is the same thing. When you use a source like this and you say, we can’t tell you it is, but it’s credible. And then you direct a whole militarized unit to an address that has nothing to do with the crime, then we need to know who the source was and what the methods was and what gives this person the right to send police to an innocent man’s house. So I think there are a lot of questions.
Taya Graham: So how are police justifying this raid? What are they saying about why this occurred?
Stephen Janis: What’s really interesting, it’s what they’re not saying that’s kind of interesting to me. I reached out to the Erie Police Department, which is not responding to my questions. But what I find very troubling is that the actual police department with jurisdiction here, which I think is Millbrook police, and I’m looking into this, was not present during the raid. And in fact, it was just Erie Police, the state police and the Federal Marshals. They were all there. They haven’t commented yet, nor have they justified this. But really they didn’t have jurisdiction. So I think it’s very sketchy because I think perhaps the local jurisdiction was like, “You don’t have a right to do this. You don’t have probable cause. We don’t want any part of it.” It just raises more questions, makes this messier and uglier than it actually looks on camera, which is pretty ugly.
Taya Graham: And now to speak to the man who is still living with the consequences of the mess I just discussed with Stephen, I’m joined by Lance Thornton. Mr. Thornton, thank you so much for joining us. Now you have a health issue that made this incident with the Erie Police and US Marshals worse. Can you talk a little bit about it?
Lance Thornton: I am 52 years old. I have been diagnosed with early onset of dementia. And although it is sad and it is terrible, and I’m going to say tragic, I watched my dad go through dementia and I watched his decline. The differences between me and him is I’m able to prepare my family, able to prepare myself. And I’m at an early onset, which allows me to still drive, cook. Not the best cook, but it gives me an excuse when I forget to put some seasoning in. And also, it gives me an excuse not to have to do dishes when they say, “Why didn’t you do dishes?” “I forgot. You can’t get mad at me.”
I like to say that I have an opportunity at such a young age and with my enthusiasm for life to be able to spread the message about Alzheimer’s. I want to make it fun for people to use it as an opportunity for me to spread the word and educate people. Because yeah, it is tragic. But how many diseases do you know that… I mean, I get to meet new friends every day. How many people you know get to hide their own Easter eggs? I can go on and on. My son asked me the other day, he goes, “Dad, is dementia hereditary?” I’m like, “Who the hell are you?” So it’s what you make out of it.
Taya Graham: So first, tell me about how the police approached you. Did they have a warrant and what was their reason for being there?
Lance Thornton: I walked out of the shower and I just happened to sit in bed back in my pajamas, just thinking, okay, I had a couple hours. And my alarm, my security system started going off on my phone, started alerting me of outside intrusions. And it wasn’t just in one, it was on several on the outside. I have several cameras on the outside of my home. And I see officers surrounding my house. I see armored SWAT truck. I’m like, “What?” And so thank God I saw that because if I wouldn’t have saw that and I started hearing someone trying to break in my house, I would’ve gone into defensive mode and would’ve went downstairs with a gun in my hand and my life would’ve been over. And next thing I know, I see my front door getting hit so hard, like a battering ram, but at the bottom.
And I’m actually watching. I can see the outside of my house because my door’s being jammed in. And you can hear me yelling, “Yo, yo, yo, what’s going on?” And I open up the door, totally peaceful. Not in any way derogatory, not in any way defensive. You clearly hear me saying, “What’s going on?” And when I opened up the door, I had eight guns, long barrel guns, four were pointed directly at me, four were pointed towards the ground. And it was a natural reaction. I said, “Do you have a warrant?” And they said, “No, you need to get out of your house.” At which time they forcefully took me out of my home. But we still had 21 officers on my property loaded with guns. I’m in my pajamas, I’m in socks, I’m in about eight inches of snow. They had taken, when they came up to my house, again no warrant, they had me made my hands up in the air, and I’m scared.
I said, guys, “I’m scared. What’s going on? I’m confused.” Again, I have dementia. I let them know I have dementia. It’s very clear I said I have dementia. “I’m scared, guys, I’m confused. Can I please grab my phone?” They tell me that I am not allowed to record them, and that is where my recording starts. Some guy comes down, found out his name is Lieutenant DeLuca. He’s in charge of the SWAT team. He has a very checkered past. We’ve discovered that, in the Erie Police Department. And he’s been sued many times for 1983 cases and he’s in charge of the SWAT team. But he’s one that comes down off the patio and doesn’t deescalate. He escalates the matter and he’s one then that lies to me and tells me my daughter could be in danger. My daughter is a grad student. She’s the chair of the history department in Washington, DC schools. I’m crying because I’m so proud of my daughter. I was scared for her.
I would let anybody do anything to protect my kids. So when they said my daughter could be in danger, they lied to me. My daughter hasn’t lived in that house for six years. My daughter, she doesn’t hang around people like that.
Taya Graham: So did the anonymous tips seem valid? It must have been flimsy if a judge wouldn’t issue a warrant for them to search based off it.
Lance Thornton: We did find out a few days later that the warrant application was denied by the judge for no probable cause, that there was no reason to raid my house. There’s no reason to have a warrant. And they still proceeded. They also proceeded without a warrant to disconnect my home security system and destroy my ring doorbell, which is on camera them doing. They said that they had a credible source that this man was linked to a female in my home. We find out that he associated my daughter, who’s mixed race, my daughter’s half black, half white, he said that there was a social media relation between my daughter and this guy. It was two degrees of separation. They’re the same age and they have one friend that knows each other, but they are not friends.
Taya Graham: Now, something that was upsetting to me was that you have a medical condition, early onset dementia, and this can be very difficult to manage. Did the police know this, and were the police at all understanding of this?
Lance Thornton: Dementia with other cognitive declines is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. And in this issue we’re going to be discussing when the police did come to my house with the wrong address and knew when they did the research on my address that I did have, they recognized that I had dementia. There was absolutely no way based on the ADA that I can give consent. I was very confused. So I am not able to give consent, and I knew that walking in because on my Facebook it says, I post about dementia and yeah, sad, but they took advantage of that and intimidated me.
Taya Graham: So it looks like they broke your door and damaged your security system. How much damage did they cause?
Lance Thornton: Police absolutely refused to secure my home on video after they broke my door. It was not lockable, was not completely shutable without throwing your shoulder into it. They are seen laughing as they’re walking away when I’m asking about them fixing my door. That’s broken. Then the fixtures, the deadbolt and the other one, the latch one, that’s all got bent too. So you have to use the pliers to turn it. So now we have the door gone, the smart lock, the Ring doorbell, the security camera, then you have them that walked in, that one of them or two of them had. You can see the heel had tar or something on it and we couldn’t get it out of my daughter’s bedroom or the guest bedroom. So those carpets are going to have to be replaced. The contractor says estimate between 15 to $20,000 to fix it all.
Taya Graham: So what happened after the police left? The stress of this caused you to be hospitalized. Right?
Lance Thornton: Shortly after this Taya, which I don’t know if I told you before, but I had another stroke right after this incident. The stress was too much for me to handle and my dementia’s caused, I believe, because of the strokes I’ve had. And so each one does more damage to my brain and I’ve probably lost some time with my kids.
Taya Graham: So how has this impacted you either personally or financially or emotionally or even your physical health? How has this impacted your family?
Lance Thornton: This hasn’t impacted me at all financially as of now. As I started saying earlier, my kids have never seen me really cry all their life and now they have. Not in person, they’ve heard me on the phone. As I said earlier, I’ve never felt so worthless, so vulnerable, so intimidated and all those emotions all at once. When the officers were controlling me mentally and physically because I have five kids and my five kids all have 100 friends. And so I bought this home for my kids, seven bedrooms, six baths, and it was for my kids. And I don’t want it anymore. They don’t want it anymore. This was supposed to be where my grandkids come home and see grandpa. It was supposed to be our summer home for the kids.
Taya Graham: Has this changed the way you look at police?
Lance Thornton: Well, Taya, I have always had the utmost respect for law enforcement to the point where, very respectful. I find on a regular thing up until this issue, or military or law enforcement or even first responders sitting there eating in a restaurant, I pay their tab without them knowing. I don’t look for recognition. I can afford it, I felt there’s something I can do. It makes them feel good that someone appreciates that. I’ll never do that again. I literally have a disdain to watch these officers lie. And it’s such a small portion, such a small, but every single one of those officers in my house laughed at me, made fun of me, called me names. I got called a retard because I’m dementia. They even spit in my house, spit chew, tobacco, in my house. So I have a disdain now.
Taya Graham: What would you like to be the result from this experience? What do you hope happens next?
Lance Thornton: Several things. It’s time that qualified immunity needs to have its limit. It really needs to have its limit. To hide behind it and protect behind it, it needs to end. I get there needs to be in limits and it can be abused, but this is one of those examples where it needs to stop. So I’d like to use this opportunity to show a cause to end qualified immunity, if not fully, but limit it. I’d like to use this opportunity to help with police understanding dementia. Deescalate.
Taya Graham: Now, I mentioned Americans with disabilities, a population of people that if you are not one yourself, you most likely have a friend, a family member, or a loved one with a disability. And whether the disability is easily visible or not, these Americans still have rights protected by the Constitution. However, police violations of these rights seem to be endemic. Remember 73 year old Colorado grandmother Karen Garner, a woman with dementia and sensory aphasia who suffered a broken arm, dislocated shoulder and other injuries while being violently arrested in Loveland, Colorado for accidentally shoplifting. And of course, we know of many incidents where diabetics in crisis have been mistaken for intoxicated and been brutalized, like Mr. Leadholm, a 41-year-old father in type one diabetic who was pepper sprayed, beaten with a baton and tasered five times for being considered uncooperative because he was in insulin shock and was mistaken for being drunk. Commerce City, Colorado now has to pay $825,000 for the PTSD, the multiple surgeries Mr. Leadholm had to endure, and the metal rod that is now in one of his fingers.
Even Graham v. Connor, which is Supreme Court precedent to determine reasonableness of force by an officer was established after a diabetic with low blood sugar was cuffed, injured and had his foot broken by the arresting officers. I could literally spend hours explicating encounter after encounter with police and people with disabilities, visible and invisible, that have gone tragically and horribly wrong. And I think it will make a point of an episode with this as its primary focus because I do think we need to agree as a society to protect vulnerable people. These folks are our family, our friends, and our loved ones, and their human rights and human dignity should be valued and preserved.
Okay, I’m going to speak more broadly about the ideology undergirding police here. I think that the trauma experienced by Mr. Thornton is a good example of something that is lacking from American policing and insight into what happens when we ignore the imperative revealed by law enforcement overreach. But I think we should take it more seriously. I’m talking about the fact that much of the process of policing seems to occur in a socially constructed vacuum where no alternatives exist, meaning police procedure has become a kind of Bible of social coercion, absolute, unassailable and thoroughly immune to criticism. Think about Mr. Thornton’s case. A little bit of investigation dotting your so-called i’s and crossing your t’s would have gone a long way towards avoiding the type of trauma and pain Mr. Thornton endured.
Was there no other way to investigate this anonymous tip before you burst into his home? Could cops not have, so to speak, checked it out through surveillance or some other means before pulling the trigger on a SWAT read? Couldn’t a couple of officers just sit outside his house and observe before putting on their imperial Stormtrooper outfits? I guess the whole ordeal raises the question as to why law enforcement seems to choose the most deadly tactic first. Rather than exploring less risky, and I would argue, more effective tactics, cops simply turned to a SWAT team without pondering a less dangerous method of pursuing leads. Now, I realize this was a serious case. Certainly, attempted murder is not something to be taken lightly. But what I think police are doing here has nothing to do with solving a crime. I don’t think the SWAT team was sent to Mr. Thornton’s door as an example of good, thoughtful policing.
Okay, so just think about it. If a maniacal killer had been ensconced inside his home, armed to the teeth, what would’ve happened if that person, just like Mr. Thornton, had been made aware of the SWAT team’s presence before they entered the home. Isn’t it more likely that a gun battle would’ve been sued rather than an arrest? And did it appear that the officer’s primary goal was to ensure Mr. Thornton’s safety? He certainly doesn’t think so.
The point I’m trying to make here is that policing has a sort of uncritical stature in our society. We always imbue any police decision with the seal of good procedure because we never take the time to consider the common sense alternatives to a militarized show of force. Just consider that maybe, maybe, doing some surveillance outside the home would be both safer and more effective. Maybe taking the time to observe and assess rather than storming and subdue could have led to avoiding the illegal rate in the first place and actually catching someone without bloodshed, to the benefit of all.
But like much of the discussion that surrounds law enforcement, these types of questions are never asked because the mainstream media simply assumes that there’s only one way to police a problem, and that’s with force. Consider a story of how police power distorts our critical thinking about law enforcement that occurred earlier this year in California. It involves a young girl, a goat named Cedar and a lot of driving. I’m not kidding. Cedar was the favorite pet of a nine-year-old girl who raised it. Initially. Her family had planned to offer cedar at a 4H auction intended to teach children about animal husbandry. But after the auction, the girl had second thoughts and begged her mom to withdraw Cedar so that he could live out his life on the family farm, which the mom did even though Cedar had been sold. The family refunded the money to the purchaser and hid Cedar on a farm.
But Shasta County, California Sheriffs had another idea. Despite the fact that the person that bought Cedar had agreed to relinquish the goat. And despite the fact that a young girl was devastated by the thought of her goat being slaughtered, officials with 4H contacted Shasta County Sheriff’s Department and told them to get the goat back. Now, here is the point of the story where my idea of how policing lives in a social bubble immune to serious critique comes into play because instead of hanging up and laughing off the request to track down Cedar, officers for the Shasta County Sheriff’s Department drove roughly 500 miles to track down the goat, filling up their SUV with gas multiple times at taxpayer expense. And this fool’s errand didn’t just lead to racking up mileage.
So the dynamic duo of officers hot on the trail of the wayward Cedar visited several family farms where they thought the fugitive goat might be hiding. They grilled several people at a refuge for farm animals who escaped the brutality of commercial slaughter. Finally, they rated the family home, seized the goat, and returned it to the 4H Club where presumably, poor Cedar meant an ignominious end. Talk about ruining someone’s childhood.
But the point I’m trying to make here is not just about the cruelty of taking a beloved animal from the arms of a nine-year-old or even the presumed end of life of an animal that could have lived out his life in golden years under the care of a loving child. No. What I’m referring to is something about American law enforcement we see in both stories, a sense of carelessness, arrogance, and the presumption that the imperative of a cop supersedes any other moral consideration that might suggest a different course of action. So what do I mean? Well, because of the relentless propaganda spouted by the mainstream media, because of the constant touting of the idea that you are either for or against police, we, meaning this country, have created an unhealthy lack of skepticism about how the process of enforcing the law should be managed. It seems to me watching how police is covered by us, the media, is that unless something egregious happens, the process of policing itself is never truly questioned.
It’s clear to me that we just sort of accept it at face value that cops have the right to use resources and impinge upon people’s liberty as long as they’re wearing a badge. We just never really peel back the layers of the decision making process that often has a devastating and lasting impact on people’s lives until it’s too late. Much of this, I think, has to do with how we simply turn to law enforcement to resolve issues that could be addressed with different approaches. A failure to use our collective imaginations to envision a branch of government that doesn’t drive 500 miles to pick up a goat or raid a man’s house who’s suffering from dementia without a warrant.
But there’s also, I believe, a reason for this lack of vision, a deficit of foresight that I believe is not just an accident. Put simply, I think the raging economic inequality that defines us also limits us. I think the disproportionate aggregation of wealth for the top 1% not only steals common resources, but inhibits and inhabits our imagination for alternative approaches to not just law enforcement but governance in general. Because the key to all this police overreach is a single idea, and it’s this, the injustice perpetrated by the police sends a very distinct message. To quote our documentary on the propagate use of tax breaks in Baltimore, called Tax Broke, we are, simply put, not worthy of anything better. We’re not worthy of robust mental health services, presumption of innocence or freedom from unnecessary raids and overly aggressive police tactics. We are not worthy of a fair and balanced judiciary, affordable housing or healthcare without the threat of bankruptcy.
We are not worthy of our first and fourth and fifth Amendment rights unless we can afford a high price lawyer to argue on our behalf that we indeed should be the beneficiaries of our own constitution. The point is that the police process shrouded in secrecy is purposefully opaque to obscure a less palatable truism. The power of the few outweighs the rights of the many. That’s what we witnessed in the case of unwarranted and illegal raids, and that’s why police can chase a child’s beloved goat for 500 miles.
But let me say this, you are worthy. You are worthy of dignity. You are worthy of the right to protect your constitutional rights of self-affirmation and the pursuit of happiness. That’s why we produced this show, and that’s why we’ll continue to hold police accountable because you deserve better. I want to thank Lance Thornton for coming forward and sharing his story and helping educate us about dementia. Thank you, Lance. And of course, I want to thank Intrepid reporter, Stephen Janis, for his writing, research and editing on this piece. Thank you Stephen.
Stephen Janis: Taya, thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.
Taya Graham: And of course, I want to thank [inaudible 00:35:04] of the show, Noely D and Lacey R., for their support. Thank you. And a very special thanks to our Patreons. We appreciate you and I look forward to thanking each and every one of you personally in our next live stream, especially Patreon associate producers, John E.R., David K. and Lewis, and super friends, Shane Busta and Pineapple Girl, Chris R and Matter of Rights, and Angela True T. Thank you.
And I want you watching to know that if you have video evidence of police misconduct or brutality, please share it with us and we might be able to investigate for you. Please reach out to us. You can email us tips privately at PAR@therealnews.com and share your evidence of police misconduct. You can also message us at Police Accountability Report on Facebook or Instagram or @EyesonPolice on Twitter. And of course, you can always message me directly, @tayasbaltimore on Twitter or Facebook. And please like and comment. I do read your comments and appreciate them. And we do have a Patreon link in the comments below called Accountability Reports. So if you feel inspired to donate, please do. We don’t run ads or take corporate dollars. So anything you can spare is truly appreciated. My name is Taya Graham and I am your host of the Police Accountability Report. Please be safe out there.
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