On November 14, 2014, Home School Legal Defense Association filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against Chief Sheriff’s Deputy David Glidden and Sheriff Darren White of the sheriff’s department of Nodaway County, Missouri. The suit charges Glidden and White with unlawfully forcing their way into the home of HSLDA members Laura and Jason Hagan on September 30, 2011, in violation of their Fourth Amendment rights.
A child protective services (CPS) caseworker had been inside the home several days earlier to investigate a report of a messy house and had returned for a follow-up visit. When Jason and Laura declined to allow her inside she summoned Glidden and White.
When Deputy Glidden arrived at the Hagans’ home he demanded to be allowed inside. Jason opened the door and told Glidden that he could not enter unless he had a court order.
Glidden said he would enter anyway.
As Jason turned to go back inside, Glidden sprayed him with pepper spray—first at the back of his head and then directly in his face. Glidden also sprayed Laura, who fell to the floor. Glidden then turned to Jason, who was still standing, and shot him in the back with his Taser. As Jason fell, Laura closed the front door. Glidden triggered the Taser three more times through the closed door.
Sheriff White joined Glidden on the front porch. Together they forced open the door and found Laura and Jason lying on the floor. Glidden sprayed Laura in the face a second time while White sprayed Jason and tried to turn him over onto his stomach.
Laura shouted to the officers that Jason had been taken to the emergency room earlier in the week for chest pains. White nevertheless continued attempting to turn Jason over and sprayed him a third time when he was unsuccessful. The officers also sprayed the Hagans’ dog with chemical agent and threatened to shoot it if it didn’t stop barking.
At Jason and Laura’s trial, the judge determined that White and Glidden had violated the Fourth Amendment when they forcibly entered the Hagans’ home without a warrant. “The State has not offered sufficient, if indeed any, evidence of an exception that would justify a warrantless entry,” the judge wrote in his ruling. The case against Laura and Jason was dismissed.
This kind of thing is not entirely unique, though it was more violent than any such encounter I’ve heard of. In the Calabretta case (linked in the previous sentence), the police and social worker did not appeal their losing case farther than the Ninth Circuit Court (which ruled against them). By so doing the case is only binding in the Ninth Circuit, though it can be cited as a precedent in other circuits. The chances this sheriff, deputy, and social worker will lose if they go to trial is rather high; if they do and appeal this new case could become a precedent in that circuit, and nationwide if it is appealed to the USSC.
A couple years after their ordeal the Calabrettas moved from Woodland and Yolo County to Sacramento County. It seems rather likely to me that distrust of Woodland PD and Yolo County DSS was at least a factor in that move. Sadly, the Hagan family may have to do likewise, if only to improve their peace of mind.