Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

FEDERAL AGENTS FUMBLE GUNS AND DRUGS RAID IN FITCHBURG

Hey, anybody out there remember the movie (original or remake) of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Well, a Fitchburg woman experienced a scene more akin to that than the federal criminal investigation it turned out to be.

Everybody ended up taken by surprise in this horror story…

The Fitchburg woman, and her three-year-old daughter, ended up shocked by the chainsaw entrance of the FBI agents. The agents ended up surprised that they had accidently raided the wrong home!

The federal agents had come ready to seize drugs and guns and make the accompanying busts. However, while they had the right floor…they had the wrong apartment.

This, of course, was no solace when the woman who” just happened to glance over and saw this huge chainsaw ripping down the side of my door.” she said. Within moments, the chainsaw had cut through most of the door, and one of the agents kicked the rest of it in.

Then came the shout, “FBI! Get down!” and the clicking of a gun.

She hit the floor.

The dog was apparently barking and the young child was in another room screaming for her mother. An agent told her to get her dog and she did so, laying in the dog’s urine as she urinated on herself. The three-year-old continued screaming, but the agents told mommy not to move. Fearing she would be shot if she got up, she stayed on the floor as the child continued screaming.

The investigation which had led the agents to the home had been approximately two-years long. It took a little longer to determine they had the wrong place.

While an agent came back later to apologize, the woman says the apology did not seem genuine. “For me it felt (like a) routine apology, it felt like just a regular, ‘I’m sorry for the inconvenience. Here’s the phone number for your landlord to get reimbursed for the door, have a good day.’ And that’s how I felt, like it was a smack in the face.”

Attorney Sam’s Take On Investigations And Credibility

No, this is not simply me taking advantage of a mistake made by law enforcement in order to tear into them. As I have said in the past, I actually have a great deal of respect for most officers. They have an extremely difficult job and I think that most of them try to do it to the best of their ability.

That being said, there are two points here which this Boston criminal lawyer thinks are important to keep in mind.

Both points originate from the same truth. Namely, police officers, including federal agents, are human beings. This means that they have all the vulnerabilities to bias and mistakes that we all have…even in the best of circumstances.

This being the case, the simple fact that you may not have done anything wrong, as far as you know, does not mean you will never be a suspect. It does not mean that you will never be accused. And it certainly does not mean that you will never be arrested.

“So…what do I do if that happens?”

You do what the woman in this story did. What they tell you to do. After all, a gun/drug bust is dangerous business. The officers are putting their lives on the line. A person being righteously indignant when the police make such a mistake can end up just as dead as someone who is indeed factually guilty.

You do what the officers tell you and, should you be taken into custody, go quietly and notify an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as is possible. Do not try to outsmart, out fight or out run the officers.

Further, do not make the mistake that, since you believe you are innocent, you can convince the officers of that fact. If you are being arrested, any search for the “truth” is over. The officers have decided what their truth is. Anything you say is likely to only get twisted into a noose and end up around your throat.

The other point left to make is one which most people fail to realize until either they or a loved one is facing the finger of accusation in court. As a society, we give a lot of faith to police officers. We assume they are professionals and we give them great latitude when it comes to judging credibility in a courtroom setting. Judges and prosecutors routinely accept what is written in a police report as The Gospel.

The fact is…it isn’t.

It is a report written by a human being and should be judged as such. There are many laws of evidence, of course, which recognize this. However, as a rule, if a criminal defendant (who, after all, has a motive to lie)tells a different story than a police officer (who allegedly has nothing to gain or lose in the matter) it is generally the police officer who is believed.

Is that the just result?

Sometimes. Always? In my experience…no.

Whether you agree with me on that or not, the fact is that such prejudice does exist. We do not like to believe that police officers might be less than truthful or might make a colossal mistake.

But they are, after all, human.

These little vignettes, as in today’s story, remind us of that.

Happily, nobody was killed during the execution of this particular mistake.

For the original article upon which this blog is based, please go to http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-57369821-504083/fbi-chainsaw-mistake-agents-raid-wrong-mass-apartment-cut-down-door/

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