LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – “There’s no hunting like manhunting and those who’ve hunted gunmen long enough and enjoyed it, never really care about anything else afterwards…”
The quote, by Ernest Hemingway in a 1936 Esquire magazine article, appeared on the cover of a training course on executing search warrants used by the Louisville Metro Police Department.
Louisville police have since removed the words from the training manual, calling them “completely inappropriate”.
But a recent court filing reviewed the citation and images of training materials, including a photo of a bloodied black man who appears to be dead as well as a cartoonish gang member firing a gun next to him. drugs and money pictures.
The training material was filed as part of an ongoing lawsuit accusing at least 10 SWAT officers of raiding a vacant home to serve a search warrant on a drug suspect – only to handcuff a painter in construction, his girlfriend and his 11-year-old daughter.
Attorney Josh Rose, who represents painter Roy Stucker and his family, wrote in a court filing that the coverage of the training materials “appears to promote the portrayal of citizens as enemies and not worthy of constitutional protection.”
Rose said in an interview this week that he was “shocked” by the language and the images.
“The police are there to protect and serve, not to hunt anyone,” he said. “To me, it fosters a culture of an us versus them mentality that the people they’re supposed to protect and serve are the enemy.”
The lawsuit alleges the target of the raid had been selling drugs at other locations for several weeks without even going to the raided police home, which he had only visited twice in the previous months. In fact, he had already been arrested earlier in the day before the raid, according to the lawsuit.
Hemingway’s quote has already come under scrutiny after being used by police elsewhere.
Members of the New York City Police Warrant Squad, for example, were criticized several years ago for wearing shirts with the quote on the back.
It was also placed on the wall of a house in the Brooklyn police station.
In a Gothamist article earlier this year, the NYPD Deputy Commissioner said Hemingway’s quote should not be seen as threatening, but as a tribute to the fearlessness of local officers tracking down “violent criminals whose victims are members of this community”.
Along with the quote, Rose said the images of a bloodied man and the caricature of a “stereotypical gang-banger”, as well as the images of large amounts of money and drugs, were “concerning to me because that you describe that every search warrant, you engage in some sort of war with the public.
“It is not conducive to protecting the constitutional rights of citizens.”
In a statement to WDRB News, a spokeswoman for the police department said the training course was conducted by someone outside the department and that “the quote and images were removed from the program approximately a year ago after that the LMPD training staff asked the instructor to remove this part”.
The LMPD, according to Alicia Smiley’s statement, “finds this quote totally inappropriate, which is why it is no longer part of our training materials.”
When asked exactly when the material was removed and how long it had been used to teach LMPD officers, Smiley said it was removed in 2019 but declined to comment further.
Rose said he requested the training materials from the city after filing the lawsuit in November 2019 and did not receive them until mid-2020. He said he did not receive any other training materials on the city’s search warrants.
The search warrant class was taught by a retired LMPD Ofc. Michael Halbleib since around 2012, according to a deposition on the court record from an LMPD sergeant in the training division.
Halbleib, now a major with the Bullitt County Sheriff’s Office, said in an interview that he didn’t believe he was still using the cover with Hemingway’s quote and photos.
When asked if the quote and images were appropriate, Halbleib said he should ask his supervisors if he was allowed to comment. He didn’t call back.
The so-called “warrior mentality” in police training has become a contentious issue for many departments and mentioned in lawsuits across the country in recent years.
In Kentucky, an October 2020 report by student journalists at duPont Manual High School in Louisville found that training materials used by Kentucky State Police included quotes from Adolf Hitler and advocated violence. “ruthless”.
An online course for recruits training to become police officers statewide featured an image from a website called Nappyafro.com and used the term “Gorilla Pimp” alongside a photo of a shirtless black man in a section on human trafficking, according to documents in a 2021 whistleblower lawsuit.
The slides, which included several photos of black people in the trafficking section, were called “derogatory and racist” by some former employees of the state Department of Criminal Justice. The trial is ongoing.
A recent review of the LMPD by Chicago-based Hillard Heintze found that search warrant training was not mandatory and the department could not determine the percentage of officers who chose to take the course.
However, the city reported in the Stucker lawsuit that between 2018 and 2019, less than six percent of LMPD officers completed search warrant training.
The search warrant training course is still not mandatory, Smiley said in an email. And she added that the department is working to review “all lesson plans for content.”
Hillard Heintze’s work also found a “culture of acceptance” within the LMPD in which “supervisors rarely questioned officers about the underlying facts and circumstances necessary to demonstrate probable cause.”
Rose wrote in court records that there is a “custom, culture and tolerance” in Louisville for officers to obtain search warrants without probable cause.
The detective who obtained the search warrant in the Stucker case acknowledged that he was not required to take the training until January 2021, about 18 months after the raid.
“Most of what I’ve learned comes from experience and from fellow detectives,” Det. Wesley Troutman said in a deposition.
In the Stucker case, officers can be seen breaking down the doors and windows of the rental house near Muhammad Ali International Airport in Louisville, assault rifles fired on July 15, 2019, according to camera video bodily.
Stucker, his girlfriend and his 11-year-old daughter were handcuffed for about 30 minutes.
Stucker had been hired by the property owner to paint the house and was on his second day.
The search warrant, obtained by Troutman, contained “stale and insufficient information” and was not properly reviewed by the appropriate people in the department before being submitted and signed by a judge, Rose wrote in court documents.
Officers didn’t even “both bother to determine who lived in the residence,” he wrote.
In his deposition for the trial, Troutman said he tried to determine who lived in the house but “never succeeded”.
“The police had no idea who was actually living at the residence, even before she was released,” Rose said in an interview. “And they had no idea he was even released for at least a week.”
The city defends the raid
Rose’s recent filings also argued that the LMPD had not changed its methods after more botched search warrants.
“It was a trend that led to the Breonna Taylor incident,” Rose said of the March 13, 2020 raid in which officers shot and killed Taylor in her apartment near Pleasure Ridge Park.
The city paid the Taylor family $12 million and passed numerous reforms to settle a wrongful death lawsuit six months after the 26-year-old was shot.
More recently, the city paid $460,000 to a Louisville couple and their three children earlier this year to settle a 2019 lawsuit claiming 14 SWAT officers erred in raiding their home, smashing the front door, using explosive devices and holding the family at gunpoint.
“As in this case, the officer … used outdated information, did not determine who lived in the residence, and did not complete search warrant training,” Rose wrote in a court filing.
In addition to information from a confidential informant, an LMPD detective claimed he had smelled marijuana coming from outside the West Chestnut Street house on different occasions and believed someone was growing and selling marijuana inside, according to a search warrant.
The man and woman named in the search warrant affidavit and described as growing and selling marijuana did not live at the home — information that could easily have been uncovered by police, according to the prosecution.
The settlement agreement said the city did not admit wrongdoing and both parties agreed to “avoid the expense and uncertainty of continued litigation” in a contested claim.
No officers in that raid or in the Stucker case were punished, Rose said.
“In fact, there wasn’t even an internal investigation to determine whether the officers should be disciplined,” he said. “It seems to tolerate a culture of acceptance.”
Meanwhile, the city defends the actions of LMPD officers in the Stucker case.
In a motion to dismiss the lawsuit last month, Metro’s attorneys argued that Troutman’s search warrant request was approved by Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Mary Shaw, who found that there was enough evidence for the warrant.
A city attorney also noted that the suspect later admitted he had previously recovered drugs from the house, and he claimed that Stucker and his family failed to open the door to the SWAT offices in a reasonable delay.
“The windows of the residence were covered with newspapers which obstructed the view of the residence,” Jefferson County Assistant District Attorney John Carroll wrote. “A proper break and rake of two windows was carried out by SWAT officers in the present circumstances.”
Rose said in an interview that it’s disappointing but not surprising that the city continues to deny any wrongdoing.
“Unfortunately (the city) in no way apologized or acknowledged anything went wrong,” Rose said. “It takes a lot of time and effort to change the culture.”