A family in Henderson, Nev., is suing the city, claiming that police officers violated his Third Amendment rights by occupying their home without permission.
Anthony Mitchell was at home on July 10, 2011, when cops called his home and said they needed to occupy the house in order to gain a "tactical advantage" in dealing with a domestic violence case at a neighbor's home, Courthouse News reported.
Mitchell said he told the officer he did not want officers to enter his home. Nevertheless, five officers showed up and smashed the door open with a metal ram before pointing their guns at Mitchell, cursing at him and telling him to lie on the floor.
As Mitchell lay on the floor with his hands over his face, officers fired multiple pepper-ball projectiles at him, causing him "injury and severe pain," according to the complaint, which was filed June 30 of this year. Officers also fired pepperball rounds at Mitchell's dog, even though the dog did not threaten them.
The animal was allegedly locked outside the home for hours without water, shade, or food on a day where temperatures reached more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mitchell's parents, Michael and Linda Mitchell, live in the same neighborhood and say they experienced a similar situation. Michael says he went willingly with officers to the command center on the premise of making a phone call to the domestic violence suspect, but when he tried to leave, he was arrested. Meanwhile, Linda Mitchell says officers physically forced her from the home.
Anthony and Michael Mitchell were both charged with obstructing an officer and spent 9 hours in jail.
Now, the family is seeking punitive damages from the city of Henderson, as well as Chief of Police Jutta Chambers and officers Garret Poiner, Ronald Feloa, Ramona Walls, Angela Walker and Christopher Worley.
The complaint alleges that officers are not only guilty of a slew of crimes -- including assault, battery and abuse of process -- but also that they violated constitutional amendments. Most notably, the suit alleges officers violated the Third Amendment, which states:
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Legal scholar Eugene Volokh told WND that the Third Amendment portion of the case may hinge upon whether the court decides that police qualify as soldiers.
“In jurisdictions where the police have become increasingly militarized," Volokh said, "perhaps the courts should treat them as ‘soldiers’ for Third Amendment purposes.”
Henderson Police Department Keith Paul told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the department does not comment on pending lawsuits.