As reported, Mike Hasenei, a 39 year old man, lived in Elkridge, MD with his 12 year old daughter, and his Australian cattle dog. He has a stepson, who has not lived in the home for years. Back on January 14, 2009, someone stole items from a couple of police cars in the area, and the police suspected the stepson might be involved. The police secured search warrants to search Mike’s home, and the stepson’s home, to look for the stolen property. The police also knew that Mike was a law abiding gun owner, and asked the judge for a no-knock warrant, which would allow them to show up unannounced, break the door down, and rush into Mike’s home. The police executed the warrant on January 15, 2009, by kicking down the door just after 9:00pm. He woke up and walked into his living room, unarmed, where he saw the room filled with members of the police tactical team. He asked what was going on, and the police ordered him to the ground. When he repeated his request for information, they threw him to the ground and handcuffed him so roughly that his wrist was sprained. Police then shot and killed his dog, which was in his bedroom, leaving blood all over. No stolen property was found at either Mike’s home, or his stepson’s home, and no one was arrested. Mike’s house has damage due to the cops’ gunfire, the breaking down of the door, and the search that police conducted. His dog is dead, and his 12 year old daughter is terrified. No action has been taken against the police or other governmental officials, who remain unapologetic. Mike has filed a complaint and is considering a lawsuit.
The abuse of police power
As I’ve discussed before, this type of violent no-knock entry by police is unwarranted in all but a very few types of situations. Even if the police had kicked down the right door and found the stolen property, the danger and trauma suffered by the occupants just isn’t justified by the goal of catching someone in possession of stolen property that is of little value. It would be an entirely different situation if there were, say, a rape or murder in progress, but seizing stolen property just doesn’t justify killing a beloved dog, injuring a person in their own home, tearing up that home, and terrifying their daughter. This situation is even more outrageous since no stolen property was found in either of the homes that were searched.
The danger to the police
The no-knock warrant was said to have been given because the law abiding home owner was known to be a gun owner. That was simply unreasonable. While some politicians may make unfounded anti gun statements that suggest gun owners are a danger to the police, the facts show that lawful gun owners tend to be more law abiding than the average citizen, and virtually never open fire on the police. This is why many police organizations support gun ownership and concealed carry. That means that coming to the door, knocking, and displaying a warrant is the safe way for police to conduct the search of a lawful gun owner’s home. Indeed, there is only danger when the police don’t knock and announce themselves, as the police kicking in the door sounds a lot like a home invasion – and a prudent person certainly can’t be faulted for opening fire on what appears to be armed and violent home invaders, who are rushing in during the night.
The dangers of gun registration
This situation also shows the danger of gun registration. Had the police not known that this law abiding father and dog owner had a gun, they likely would have asked for and received an ordinary search warrant. They would then have gone to the home, knocked on the door, showed the warrant, and then been allowed in. The dog could have been safely and humanely kept away from the cops, and the home owner would not have been thrown to the ground and injured in his own house. The 12 year old daughter could have been spared the trauma of having her pet murdered by armed and scary looking individuals who stormed in during the night.
But instead, this innocent home owner complied with the laws, acquired and possessed his gun legally, and ended up suffering. This is the type of harm that gun registration causes – yet sadly many politicians continue to call for such registration requirements, despite the fact that gun registration does not prevent crime.
I sincerely hope that Mr. Hasenei and his daughter are able to see justice done through our court system. I would really encourage everyone to use the contact information shown below to voice their thoughts on the matter to Police Chief William McMahon and the Howard County, Maryland Police Department as a whole. You can also lookup your elected officials and contact them too.
Howard County Police Department
3410 Courthouse Drive
Ellicott City, MD 21043