Ralph Garrison, 69, was a video store owner who lived in
downtown Albuquerque, NM. In a lifetime of owning small businesses, he put away enough to buy a second house next door, which he rented out. On the night of Dec. 16, 1996, Ralph Garrison awakened to hear the sounds of someone breaking into his his rental property. His tenants were not at home. He found a gang of black-clad men breaking down the doors of his property, using sledge hammers and axes. Garrison went outside to ask who these people were and what they were doing. The men -- displaying no badges, dressed in unmarked dark SWAT gear with no visible identifying marks, wearing black "balaclava" hoods which may have been pulled down to conceal their faces, shined lights in his eyes, brandished rifles and yelled at him to get back in his house. He dialed 911. On Dec. 18, the daily Albuquerque Journal printed a transcript of that 911 call : |
Garrison: "They're breaking into my house -- a whole bunch of people. ... Please hurry up."
Police Chief Joe Polisar said it isn't department policy to notify 911 dispatchers before serving a warrant -- in this case one under which police hoped to find "counterfeit items including checks, driver's licenses and birth certificates." Garrison was not suspected in connection with the "fake ID" ring. No one was arrested, and no false documents were found. Officers also found it necessary to shoot and kill Garrison's Chow dog, when the animal tried to protect his master after he was down.
"How are they trying to get in?"
"Oh, they're breaking in with uh, axes and all kinds of stuff. ... Please. I've got a gun. I'm gonna go up there and shoot them."
"OK. Stay on the phone with me. I'm getting somebody out there, OK?"
Reporter Jeff Jones, of the Journal, writes that Garrison's voice was "filled with fear and panic" as he described lights being shined in his eyes, and insisted he had no idea who the invaders were.
"Please hurry up. Please hurry up," Garrison says. "I'm gonna go out there now."
"Can you take the phone with you?"
"OK. Take the phone with you."
As Garrison moves toward his back door, his dog begins barking, and he complains he still can't see what's going on because of lights shining in his face. "I've got my gun," he says. "I'll shoot the sons of bitches."
Police report that Albuquerque Police Officer H. Neal Terry and county deputies James Monteith and Erik Little--wearing their traditional all black Gestapo gear--saw Garrison come to his back door with a gun in one hand, a cellular phone in the other. All three officers opened fire with their AR-15 assault rifles, discharging at least 12 rounds.
Garrison's 72-year-old wife, Molly, was inside the home at the time police killed him. Albuquerque police officer Howard Neal Terry, one of the three "lawmen" involved, has been a defendant in three federal excessive-force lawsuits in the past six years, the local daily reports. The city of Albuquerque has paid more than $375,000 to settle the three lawsuits. In one case, Terry kicked an unarmed man in the head, causing permanent brain damage, and then contended the 64-year-old man "resisted arrest." In another case, the city argued (before paying up) that another man, whose home Officer Terry has invaded, was responsible for his own injuries since he failed to obey the officer's orders. In March 1993, Terry was one of two officers involved in the fatal shooting of Randy Libby, a 30-year-old man who supposedly threatened them with a locomotive-shaped cologne bottle. The city paid off the Libby family to the tune of $100,000.
Chief Joe Polisar and County Sheriff Joe Bowdich said they believe the officers shot Garrison in accordance with departmental policies, they would not be charged with any crimes, that "they could not look into the heart and mind of Garrison, and that they had to make a split-second decision". Why do I doubt that if Mr. Garrison had shot and killed the deputies, Sheriff Polisar would be holding a press conference to explain why Mr. Garrison was not being charged with any crime, since "He could not look into the hearts and minds of the unidentified, black-clad men, brandishing AR-15s at him on his own property. He simply had to make a split-second decision"? Pro-government extremists will argue that, in each case, if these citizens had docilely allowed armed strangers to have their way, they might still be alive.
But this does not constitute a rebuttal to my contention that we are now living in a police state. Rather, it merely constitutes advice on how we might behave if we hope to survive a little longer in a police state.
The Jews of Eastern Europe figured their best course was to passively obey the authorities in 1942. We all know where that got them.
Our judges are now issuing search warrants which allow police to invade private property without notice, and murder any law-abiding citizen they find there, on as flimsy a pretext as "searching for fake ID."
Like David Koresh, Randy Weavers wife and son, and so many other victims of government-gone-mad, Ralph Garrison is dead now. Let's hope he didn't die in vain.