Police officers in Lansing, Michigan are in hot water after an investigative report by local ABC News affiliate WXYZ.
According to the report’s source, officers with the OMNI Drug Task Force executed a search warrant on the home of Rudy Simpson in June 2008, and found a small bag of marijuana and half a pain pill that he’d been prescribed.
While talking about what they should do, officers began to eye the expensive recording equipment around Simpson’s home, ultimately deciding that they could very well take everything if they wanted thanks to the drugs they’d found.
What they didn’t realize is that when they raided the home, Simpson and friends were in the middle of a recording session, and the microphones were live.
“Basically what I heard them talking about is what equipment, what materialistic stuff could they take out of my house,” he told the ABC affiliate. “It seems like…that they were just trying to figure out what they could come out of here with.”
After the incident, Simpson said prosecutors played hardball and even threatened to prosecute him for the medicine he’d been legally prescribed. He forfeited some property and spent time in a half-way home, according to the report.
Simpson also claimed officers were eating his food, and that they stole a gold ring.
Police ended up leaving Simpson’s home that day in 2008 with “a 52” flat screen TV, a DVD player, two computers, a camera and a bunch of DVDs,” reporter Scott Lewis wrote.
Now, two of the officers involved — Lt. Luke Davis and Lt. Emmanuel Riopelle — are facing “dozens” of charges. Both have been accused in a long-running scheme to steal from drug suspects and profit from sales of their property.
In spite of the incident, drug task forces across the nation continue to operate with secret budgets and the backing of laws that permit wanton seizure of property if drugs are discovered.
This video is from ABC News affiliate WXYZ Action 7 in Lansing, Michigan, broadcast Feb. 23, 2011.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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