Police Remove Babies In Middle Of The Night In Gestapo Type Raid With No Warrants
The Fourth Amendment (Amendment IV) to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. It prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. In addition, it sets requirements for issuing warrants: warrants must be issued by a judge or magistrate, justified by probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and must particularly describe the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
Seems pretty clear doesn’t it? I’m betting that at least 95 percent of Americans know that the police can’t just show up at your house and search it. In order to conduct a legal search, they must present a legitimate search warrant. By legitimate, just as the amendment reads, probable cause has to be established and presented to a judge. The judge then has to agree that the reasons for the search are legitimate and he must sign off on it. Keep all of that in mind as you read on.
The nightmare began last July for Sarah Perkins and Joshua Sabey. Their 4-month-old son, Cal, was running a high fever so Sarah took him to the Newton-Wellesley Hospital for evaluation. During the examination, doctors discovered an almost healed rib fracture on Cal. When asked, Sarah and Joshua stated that they had no explanation for the injury, which then prompted health care officials to contact DCF. Sarah ended up staying all night with social workers answering questions while doctors performed more tests on Cal. The following morning, Sarah and Cal left the hospital believing that the problem was over.
Then three days later, at 1:00 a.m., police and DCF workers arrived to make an emergency removal of both of the children. The parents had no prior notification that this was even being contemplated, and no warrant or paperwork of any kind was presented. During the illegal search, the police informed Sarah and Joshua that if necessary, they would break down the door to gain entrance to their home. Hoping to avoid further trauma to their children, they complied and both children were removed to a foster home under great duress. Their three-year-old Clarence can be heard crying and screaming as he is removed from his bed by strangers in the middle of the night.
At a court procedure last August, Sarah and Joshua were awarded conditional custody of their own children. However, the DCF investigation would drag on until November, at which time they were exonerated and their case was dismissed. In addition to having to live under unjustified fear for four months, they were also unable to move to Idaho over the summer to work on a planned documentary film.
After being exonerated of any wrongdoing, Sarah had this to say:
“This is nothing I would wish on anybody. It’s completely draconian how the kids are removed, and the fact it can happen without paperwork or a warrant is just abysmal.”
Seeking help from the Pacific Legal Foundation, a nonprofit group, the family has now filed a federal lawsuit against the city and certain named individuals. Joshua Thompson, a senior attorney for the firm put it this way:
“The government cannot show up under the cover of night and take your children without a warrant or a reasonable belief a child is in imminent danger. Parents should be able to sleep without wondering if the government is going to take their kids in violation of constitutional guarantees.”
Back when this whole debacle began and confronted about the injury, the parents had no explanation, except for a fall that had occurred weeks earlier. However, they weren’t concerned because it did not result in any type of visible injury. The family pediatrician confirmed to investigators that there was “zero” concerns about parental abuse and hospital officials also concurred that there were no signs of domestic or substance abuse.
The investigators also determined that they had no concerns with the home, but told authorities that Sarah, “rolled her eyes” when they were questioning her.
In spite of a complete lack of any evidence, police and DCF still arrived at 1:00 a.m. and physically removed a 4-month-old and a 3-year-old from the care of their parents.
The lawsuit alleges several constitutional violations, unlawful search and seizure and deprivation of parental rights without due process. The filing states that the initial DCF investigation turned up no evidence of domestic abuse, no police calls to the parents’ home, no evidence of substance abuse, and no concerns from the pediatrician who had regularly seen both boys.
The legal team called the city’s actions, “reprehensible and plainly unconstitutional.” They also cautioned that:
“Nothing can undo the trauma of that early July morning and the prolonged abrogation of the Sabey’s parental rights. For parents, the emotional and physical toll of having your crying children torn from your arms never goes away.”
In addition to the City of Waltham, also named in the suit are government employees Katheryn Butterfield, Aaron Griffin, Carolyn Kalvinek, Bonnie Aruda, Anthony Scichilone, Richard Couture, Elias Makrigianias, and Stefano Visco.
The suit is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys fees and other costs.
This case reeks of thoughtless arrogance. I understand that some will say that it is better to error on the side of caution, but not in a case where there is no supporting evidence of any abuse. I mean Sarah took Cal to the hospital for a fever, does that sound like someone guilty of child abuse or someone fearful of being caught?
Then, the city and DCF conduct a nighttime grab with no warrants or legal precedence. These are two little boys, that were taken out of their beds, and from their parents.
It won’t counteract the trauma, but hitting the city squarely in the wallet should wake them up and serve as a warning against unacceptable bureaucratic behavior by other cities and rogue agencies.
Sue their ass off and use the money to enhance the boy’s lives down the road.