Nov. 2, 1972 – Ann Arbor police force their way into a house at 608 Packard twice in one day, both times without a search warrant. They steal a pocket-knife and a box of seeds and vandalize the inside of the house.
"Why are you giving us such a hard time?" smirks one cop. "We're just trying to do our job."
Their job in this case is to apprehend two men who had ripped off some candy bars from a drugstore. The men once stayed in the house but neither lives there now.
Dec. 5, 1972 – Ann Arbor police and Ypsilanti state police smash down the front door at 219 Packard just as the five women who live there are getting ready for bed. They herd the women outside in 10-degree temperatures where the sisters hastily have to bundle up in robes and housecoats.
One sister is hit on the forehead with a shotgun butt and has her glasses broken. The police are looking for three black men who had wounded four Detroit cops. The men had once stayed at a house next door – three months previously – but had never even been at 219 Packard.
In both these incidents Ann Arbor police harrassed totally innocent people without regard for their constitutional rights.
These cases have come to light because the people involved complained. But many similar incidents are probably never exposed. The police even arrogantly admit that this kind of conduct is typical and, they argue, "it is justified as long as we get our man."
For instance, Ann Arbor Police Chief Walter Krasny shrugged off the Dec. 5 incident with the explanation: 'It was an honest mistake. We didn't do anything wrong. Look at it this way, if we had captured the suspects, we'd have been heroes."
But that was hardly a satisfactory explanation for the women who were terrorized by shotguns and rifles in the middle of the night. One sister, trying to be as reasonable as possible, said, "I can understand their difficulty in reading the street number at night. But they could have checked it out a little better before breaking the door down and coming in with all those guns."
Walter Stoye, the brother who lives at 608 Packard, also was pretty upset about cops messing up his home twice in one day and three times in three days. 'I was freaked out and pretty pissed off," he said.
The Nov. 2 incident began at 7:30 a.m. when two cops pounded on the front door. Before Stoye, who is 18 and manages the house, could get out of bed, the cops smashed through a side door and tramped into the basement where two friends of Stoye were sleeping.
They searched both and found a pocketknife on John Bowers, one of the brothers. It was legal because we'd just measured it two nights before," Stoye explained. "But the cop smiled and said, "It's sure a nice knife,' and no one's seen it since."
The cops arrested Bowers, not for the knife but for a traffic ticket they found out about after radioing the computer at headquarters. At no time did they explain why they were in the house. Nor did they have a warrant.
Stoye later figured out that they were looking for two brothers, who had once slept in the basement several weeks before and who had been charged with ripping off a drugstore for some candy.
At 11:30 a.m. the same day another cop knocked on the front door and demanded identification from Stoye. "I showed him some and he split," Stoye said. But minutes later, two cops started banging at the back door and again asked for ID.
'I must have given them 100 things with my name on them," Stoye said. But the cops hauled him off to their scout car where they accused Stoye of being one of the dudes who had ripped off the drugstore.
They were just using a ruse to intimidate Stoye. But Stoye, who was scared they were going to bust him on a bogus charge, finally agreed to let them come back in the house.
Once inside his bedroom, they began throwing his clothes around and emptying drawers. When they found a box of seeds, they sneered and hustled him downtown.
But a few hours later, after being hassled some more at the police station, they cut him loose because the seeds had been found in an iIlegal search and could not be used as evidence. Stoyle went home and found his basement completely wrecked,
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apparently by the cops. Then, just as Stoyle thought the whole episode was over, two cops again forced their way into his home two days later at 7:30 p.m.
"It was the same two cops," Stoyle said. "I asked, "Do you have a warrant?" And they got really mad and just pushed their way in."
Again the cops went down the basement. They left when they found no one. But not before telling Stoye: 'Even if we did have a warrant, we wouldn't show it to you."
In the Dec. 5 incident the police proved to be even more callous.
At 10:45 p.m. a dozen heavily-armed cops kicked down the front door of 219 Packard, where five sisters were living – three are students at Washtenaw Community College, one is a clerk at University Cellar and the other attends the University of Michigan.
"We thought we were going to be either robbed or raped," one terrified sister explained later. She grabbed a baseball bat and took a swing at one of the intruders.
But the 240 pound cop knocked her to the floor with a blow from his shotgun butt, breaking her glasses and badly bruising her forehead. The sisters, wearing only pajamas or underclothes desperately grabbed clothes with which to cover up as they were shoved outside into the cold.
They were forced to stand there for nearly 20 minutes, with guns trained on them all the time.
Only then did police acknowledge that they had busted into the wrong house. The cops said they were after three dudes who had allegedly stayed next door at 217 Packard last summer – more than three months ago.
Later the cops did promise to pay for two broken locks and the smashed glasses.
But the sisters, who asked that their names not be printed for fear of more harrassment, said they are considering filing a suit for violation of privacy. Stoye also told the SUN he hopes to do the same thing.
The City Council has ordered investigations in both cases. The SUN also asks that anyone who knows of any similar incidents to call either the SUN (761-1709) or Tribal Network (663-4208). And get badge numbers.
–The SUN Editorial Board