Another judge has weighed in on the issue of whether a suspect is due his Miranda warnings when the police execute a search warrant in an aggressive manner in the suspect’s home. The judge, like an increasing number of judges around the country, found that Miranda warnings are, indeed, required when the police use a tactic to execute a search warrant which can be described as shock and awe. In United States v. Freeman the police executed a search warrant at the home of Ralph Freeman who was suspected of possessing child pornography. The judge described the scene as follows:
The officers’ 6:00 a.m. entry was loud and harrowing for any reasonable person who was inside that home. Within seconds of waking up, Freeman immediately faced several armed officers wearing tactical bulletproof vests rushing up the stairs. Their handguns were drawn and equipped high-powered LED lights, which are powerful enough to disorient or momentarily blind an individual. One officer even used his handgun to knock a napkin out of his hand. From that initial encounter until the moment Freeman left the home, he was under the supervision and control of at least one, if not two, officers at all times. Freeman was separated from his family at all times, and the HSI Agents secretly recorded his interrogation in a closed second-floor bedroom. … Freeman’s house was swarming with federal and state agents, he was rousted from bed at gunpoint, held … and not allowed to move unless guarded, and ultimately separated from his family and placed in [an upstairs bedroom] with two agents where he was questioned.
The judge in Freeman found that under these circumstances – circumstances which are becoming increasingly common as law enforcement across America has adopted this shock and awe method – a reasonable person in Freeman’s position would not have felt free to leave. As a result, he was effectively in custody and was entitled to be informed of his Miranda rights.
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