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Posted: 5/10/2005 11:50:24 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/10/2005 12:35:17 PM EDT by jchewie]
Sorry if this is a dupe, I haven't seen any discussion on this particular incident though.
My comments at the bottom of the article.


Edit. This was not a "no knock" warrant.



Sheriff indicates both sides were with their rights in veteran's death
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
By Ken Kolker
The Grand Rapids Press

SARANAC -- Fred Bletz might have been legally protecting his home when he pulled a gun on deputies in his family room, but that does not mean his shooting by police was unjustified, the Ionia County sheriff said Monday.

Sheriff Dwain Dennis said it was possible Bletz and Sgt. Travis Gribble, who shot the Vietnam veteran to death, acted within the law.

"It's not a matter of who's the most right, or who's the most wrong," Dennis said. "It's a tragic situation on both sides."
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Bletz, 56, of Saranac, was shot and killed in his home by Gribble about 11:30 p.m. May 3, when the sergeant and a deputy were arresting Bletz's son, Zachary Bletz, 28, on a misdemeanor bench warrant.

Zachary Bletz told The Press his father would not have known the deputies were police officers because they never identified themselves once they got inside the home, which he said was illuminated only by the deputies' flashlights.

He said his father was sleeping until the officers came inside, yelling to shut up the family's dog.

Zachary Bletz said he did not recall hearing the officers order his father to drop his gun before opening fire. His father did not fire a shot.

Dennis said the sergeant shot Bletz after warning him twice to drop the .45-caliber handgun, which was loaded. But Dennis acknowledged it was possible the deputies, who were in uniform, did not identify themselves to Fred Bletz.

"I don't believe time permitted that," he said. "It was very rapid action: 'Drop it, drop it.'"

Dennis said he did not know the lighting conditions in the house at the time, although the deputies reported they saw the elder Bletz clearly.

State Police Lt. David Greydanus refused to comment on the investigation, which is being conducted by his department. The prosecutor must determine whether the shooting was justified.

State law allows police to use lethal force to protect themselves or others from an immediate threat. A ruling on whether it is justified is based on what the officer believed "at the moment" and not with "20-20 vision hindsight," reads a legal manual kept by police.

Dennis has called the shooting justified and "by the book," but Monday conceded he based that on only brief discussions with the deputies involved.

He was not aware of statements made by the son or Zachary Bletz's mother, who was in the bedroom when her husband was shot, Dennis said.

Zachary Bletz said he was leaving with the deputies -- who were picking him up on a bench warrant for failing to appear for a drunken-driving case -- when they told him to go back inside and get his shoes. He said they followed him inside with their guns drawn.

Dennis said he believed the younger Bletz asked the deputies for permission to get his shoes. "It was an act of compassion" when they told him he could, he said. But since they already arrested him, they could not let him go inside alone, Dennis said.

"It wouldn't matter what shoes he wears to jail, because when they get to jail, we take" their shoes.

Dennis also defended his department's practice of making late-night misdemeanor warrant arrests at suspects' homes.

"We do it when we can find the person home. In this case, I think the time was justified."

He expressed condolences to Bletz's family.

"I seriously grieve for the family, for the officers, for the officers' families, and for the community. Something like this that has the potential to divide people is not good."

Meanwhile, Dennis said his department did not receive threats from members of Ethical Good Government, or EGG, a group of government watchdogs in Ionia County.

He was quoted last week as saying the group was "talking retribution" after Bletz' death.

"There may have been a misunderstanding. ... I do not think officers would be hurt by any of them," Dennis said.

He said he received several angry e-mails from Vietnam veterans. Bletz was a helicopter gunner in Vietnam who received two Purple Hearts.

"At the time this happened, nobody had any knowledge that Mr. Bletz was a Vietnam veteran. They killed a man with a gun; they didn't kill a Vietnam vet," Dennis said.



A couple of things:
1. When this was first reported on the local news a week ago, the line was repeated "a man was shot after he had an altercation with deputies serving a warrant." Over the weekend I was surprised to read how the deputies permitted the guy they picked up to go back inside.

2. I don't know if the the lesson here is to shoot first or just don't bother defending your life or property.

3. This has the potential to become an LEO bashing thread, I don't intend for that to happen, and want to ask LEOs who have served warrants if, given the information in the news article, similar procedures are followed elsewhere.

Another article regarding this man's generosity
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 11:52:49 AM EDT
10 pages then a lock.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 11:56:32 AM EDT
Dark house, their flashlights in his eyes, can't see a fucking thing but the scene he walked in on.

Helluva a way to die. And his lawbreaker son is what set up the situation to occur.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 11:56:58 AM EDT
All that for a

misdemeanor bench warrant
.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 11:58:41 AM EDT
I agree. I have no idea if the guy was a clean upstanding citizen or not, but the story is tragic all the way around. I would like to hear from LEOs on warrant serving procedures.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 11:58:47 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/10/2005 11:59:18 AM EDT by Dolomite]
Sorry, but if someone's in my house shining flashlights and all they're saying is "drop it! drop it!" - All that really accomplishes is that now I have a point of aim.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 11:59:59 AM EDT
shoot first ask questions later.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:00:24 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/10/2005 12:37:28 PM EDT by macman37]
Edit: not a no-knock
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:00:54 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Dolomite:
Sorry, but if someone's in my house shining flashlights and all they're saying is "drop it! drop it!" - All that really accomplishes is that now I have a point of aim.



+1
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:01:22 PM EDT

Originally Posted By jchewie:
He said his father was sleeping until the officers came inside, yelling to shut up the family's dog.



How the hell was he supposed to know they were cops if they didn't shoot the dog?

Actually, there's nothing funny about this.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:01:50 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/10/2005 12:07:27 PM EDT by jchewie]

Originally Posted By Dolomite:
Sorry, but if someone's in my house shining flashlights and all they're saying is "drop it! drop it!" - All that really accomplishes is that now I have a point of aim.



See point number 2. As I understand it (from the Sunday article) the guy didn't point his pistol at the deputies.
I just read the article again.
Link to Sunday's article here
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:02:55 PM EDT


Man, I am speachless, I feel for all the families involved.

Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:03:45 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/10/2005 12:05:52 PM EDT by TheFreepster]
What have we learned?

1) Shoot first, ask questions later

2) Have a five-seven
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:04:11 PM EDT
The officers made several flaws in conducting themselves, creating the situation needlessly, regardless of who is "most" right or wrong. The officers are should be punished and dept. should be sued.

Whatever happened to picking up non-violent warrants at the workplace or during daylight hours at a person's residence?
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:05:42 PM EDT
One step closer to bounties on badged bandits.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:06:38 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/10/2005 12:09:09 PM EDT by Grunteled]
Letting that kid go back inside was not smart if they had any inkling that there were other people home. Damn, that just sucks all around.

ETA: Serving other than high-risk warrents in the dead of night without making sure everyone in the home is aware of who you are and what you are doing is not bright I think.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:08:24 PM EDT

Originally Posted By STRATIOTES:
One step closer to bounties on badged bandits.

Shut your punk-ass up.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:09:18 PM EDT
Tag
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:11:40 PM EDT

Originally Posted By rayra:

Originally Posted By STRATIOTES:
One step closer to bounties on badged bandits.

Shut your punk-ass up.



The bloody redcoats said the same thing on the Lexington green.

Gal.6

1. [7] Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:12:17 PM EDT

Originally Posted By rayra:

Originally Posted By STRATIOTES:
One step closer to bounties on badged bandits.

Shut your punk-ass up.



I agree. Cops perform a necessary job that I would have a difficult time performing. Nearly all of the officers I have met were extremely professional.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:14:13 PM EDT

Originally Posted By jchewie:
2. I don't know if the the lesson here is to shoot first or just don't bother defending your life or property.



Shoot first, preferably from cover.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:15:23 PM EDT
well I say double standards AGAIN.

first ask the question if a person not a cop, was the ones saying, drop it. Now just because they are LEO the same rules dont apply. Lack of respect especially by LEO's, always leads to trouble.

damn shame.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:17:25 PM EDT
Rest in Peace Mr. Bletz.

Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:18:39 PM EDT
I don't understand. How does a misdemeanor bench warrant justify a no-knock midnight raid?
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:19:00 PM EDT
I'm curious. If the weapon is only held at the side and never pointed at anyone does that give justification for lethal force as an officer. I mean if I answered a 1:00am pound at the door with pistol in hand could they just shoot me dead for that? I know heat of the moment changes perceptions so maybe it's reasonable in this story but not in the analogy. As a monday morning quarterback, I'd be a little questioning of knowing a person had a pistol and knowing it was not pointed at anyone but shooting anyway.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:19:40 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/10/2005 12:27:36 PM EDT by mgw1181]
.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:21:20 PM EDT
i can't imagine they didn't announce themselves right from the get-go at least ONCE. our sop was you bang on the door, shout "police-warrant", go through the door with the guy in the rear still id'ing the team as police (you don't need everyone screaming "police").

what a tragedy...
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:21:57 PM EDT

Originally Posted By STRATIOTES:
One step closer to bounties on badged bandits.



+1
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:22:54 PM EDT

Originally Posted By STRATIOTES:
One step closer to bounties on badged bandits.



fuck you
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:23:05 PM EDT
Letting him back in the house? A mistake. People in a given agency or area will do that - decent, kind-hearted officers will - until someone does it & the subject comes out & shoots a cop, or shoots himself while inside, or shotguns a jug of Drano, or jumps out a back window. The good-hearted officers who hear that story then fetch the shoes, feed fido, or turn off the TV themselves. . .until everybody forgets and the practice becomes common again . . . until - you get the point. It's sort of like doing cursory searches of a guy you have peacefully arrested a half-dozen times. It's usually OK. Then you arrest him the day after his mom died, and he shoots you in the back of the head.

99.99% of the time, the officer's judgment is correct: Jethro will go get his shoes, feed his dog, tell you what pocket his pistol is in, et c., and peacefully ride downtown. The one in 10,000 is a bear for all concerned. This is why things like careful pat-downs, constant contact with/supervision of a subject who has been reduced to custody and the like are supposed to be drilled until they are automatic. There are plenty of opportunities for a police officer to display human decency and/or Christian kindness to people in his custody. Doing cursory searches and letting them out of your sight are not such opportunities.

I hope I understood your query.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:23:30 PM EDT

Originally Posted By hardcorps1775:
i can't imagine they didn't announce themselves right from the get-go at least ONCE. our sop was you bang on the door, shout "police-warrant", go through the door with the guy in the rear still id'ing the team as police (you don't need everyone screaming "police").

what a tragedy...



Did you or other officers ever go back in to an occupied home after you had the guy?
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:23:33 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/10/2005 12:28:05 PM EDT by mgw1181]
.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:24:21 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/10/2005 12:26:15 PM EDT by TomJefferson]
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:24:44 PM EDT
Once you have the guy in custody, why let him back into the house? Stupid stupid stupid. Once you've made that stupid decision why didn't they ask who else was in the house?

Why serve a misdemeanor warrant at night? Why not at 0500 or so?
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:25:08 PM EDT

Originally Posted By ryann:

Originally Posted By STRATIOTES:
One step closer to bounties on badged bandits.



fuck you



Dude, ignore it. He's an idiot trying to pick a fight.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:25:10 PM EDT

Originally Posted By FLAL1A:
Letting him back in the house? A mistake. People in a given agency or area will do that - decent, kind-hearted officers will - until someone does it & the subject comes out & shoots a cop, or shoots himself while inside, or shotguns a jug of Drano, or jumps out a back window. The good-hearted officers who hear that story then fetch the shoes, feed fido, or turn off the TV themselves. . .until everybody forgets and the practice becomes common again . . . until - you get the point. It's sort of like doing cursory searches of a guy you have peacefully arrested a half-dozen times. It's usually OK. Then you arrest him the day after his mom died, and he shoots you in the back of the head.

99.99% of the time, the officer's judgment is correct: Jethro will go get his shoes, feed his dog, tell you what pocket his pistol is in, et c., and peacefully ride downtown. The one in 10,000 is a bear for all concerned. This is why things like careful pat-downs, constant contact with/supervision of a subject who has been reduced to custody and the like are supposed to be drilled until they are automatic. There are plenty of opportunities for a police officer to display human decency and/or Christian kindness to people in his custody. Doing cursory searches and letting them out of your sight are not such opportunities.

I hope I understood your query.



Yes. Thank you.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:26:07 PM EDT

Originally Posted By gunman0:
I don't understand. How does a misdemeanor bench warrant justify a no-knock midnight raid?



Did you even read the article?

They arrested Junior outside and followed him inside to get his shoes.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:27:30 PM EDT
Making those types of arrests can happen at anytime or day. The best time to find them is late at night, early morning or on Sundays.

Most people like that do not have jobs or change jobs frequently.

I would not have let him go get his shoes. I would have woke someone else up in the house and get them to bring the shoes to the patrol car.

Sad deal.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:28:09 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/10/2005 12:30:04 PM EDT by FLAL1A]

Originally Posted By mgw1181:

Originally Posted By hardcorps1775:
i can't imagine they didn't announce themselves right from the get-go at least ONCE. our sop was you bang on the door, shout "police-warrant", go through the door with the guy in the rear still id'ing the team as police (you don't need everyone screaming "police").

what a tragedy...

Why do they need to break in for a misdemeanor? They should at least try the traditional way (knock and announce) with a misdemeanor.



It doesn't look like they broke in. They arrested Junior, who lived there. Junior wanted his shoes. They said OK, but we'll have to go in with you. He consents to their entry. As they entered, accompanied by and with the consent of a resident, Pop woke up and responded to the noise with a gun in his hand. Not knowing they were cops (Why wasn't Junior saying "It's OK Dad, they're cops?" ) Pops ignores their instructions to drop his gun. They shoot. It may have been a bad shoot (depending on what Pop was doing with the gun), but I see nothing to suggest that this was a no-knock raid - or any kind of raid at all. Just an act of kindness by the cops blowing up in everybody's faces.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:28:14 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/10/2005 12:29:03 PM EDT by nationwide]
So the Officers had him in custody, then as an "act of compassion" took him inside to get shoes.

Hmm...

sounds to me like one of the universal truths around here...

No good deed goes unpunished.

ETA: Very bad situation, good shoot.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:28:18 PM EDT

Originally Posted By TomJefferson:

Originally Posted By Grunteled:
I'm curious. If the weapon is only held at the side and never pointed at anyone does that give justification for lethal force as an officer. I mean if I answered a 1:00am pound at the door with pistol in hand could they just shoot me dead for that? I know heat of the moment changes perceptions so maybe it's reasonable in this story but not in the analogy. As a monday morning quarterback, I'd be a little questioning of knowing a person had a pistol and knowing it was not pointed at anyone but shooting anyway.



Yes, they can shoot you and no charges filed. Gun in the hand is a free shoot ticket. Its been that way my entire life. Its why I always leave my pants by the bed and slap them on then put my gun in the waist.

The real crime here is the policy of "No Knock" warrants on misdemenors. This set this inevitiable scenario in place.

This is tragic for everyone involved.

Tj



Interesting. Adds yet another reason why I will take a position and let them come to me. Having a member of your family down there with them kinda interferes with that plan though.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:29:06 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Bama-Shooter:
Making those types of arrests can happen at anytime or day. The best time to find them is late at night, early morning or on Sundays.




It's the late at night thing I have a problem with. Early in the morning or on Sundays, fine, but you're just asking for this sort of thing to happen late at night.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:29:50 PM EDT

Originally Posted By STRATIOTES:
One step closer to bounties on badged bandits.



Eat shit.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:31:13 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Bama-Shooter:

Originally Posted By STRATIOTES:
One step closer to bounties on badged bandits.



Eat shit.



Bama... don't feed the
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:32:05 PM EDT
I don't read that this was a no knock warrant. I read that they already had the kid in custody, and it's departmental policy to serve these warrants at odd hours. I read that they led the kid back in the house, in uniform, so he could pick up his shoes, the dog was either barking or confronted the officers, and the cops were telling the arrestee to shut the dog up when the dad confronted them with a gun.
Yes this is tragic, but if the cops were able to see well enough to hit their target, why couldn't the deceased see that they were uniformed officers? Even if their lights were shining in his eyes, which I'm sure they were, they didn't concentrate their flashlights until confronted by the father. Was the kid yelling to his father that these guys were police officers? Or yelling for daddy to shoot them?
What was the kid/arrestee saying? What were the cops saying? If the guy is pointing a gun at them, what are the cops thinking? Was the deceased intoxicated?
Sometimes in life theres an unfortunate series of events, in which all involved are not totally blameless or totally culpable.
This sounds just like one of those incidents.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:32:28 PM EDT

Originally Posted By dport:

Originally Posted By Bama-Shooter:
Making those types of arrests can happen at anytime or day. The best time to find them is late at night, early morning or on Sundays.




It's the late at night thing I have a problem with. Early in the morning or on Sundays, fine, but you're just asking for this sort of thing to happen late at night.



You go when the person is most likely to be home. And don't kid yourself the parents would have known a warrant was issued for their son.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:32:51 PM EDT
Damn this thread spiraled downward faster than usual
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:32:51 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Bama-Shooter:

Originally Posted By STRATIOTES:
One step closer to bounties on badged bandits.



Eat shit.



+1. I think my anti-JBT bona fides are a matter of record, but for Pete's sake, this was Andy Griffith letting Otis get his shoes, not BATFE at Waco. Of course, one shouldn't let facts get in the way of a good evening of barking at the moon. And eating shit.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:32:58 PM EDT
I'm sorry, but if, late at night, somebody busts down my door OR I find two strangers in my house yelling at my dog to shut up, I'm going to shoot first and make demands/ask questions later.

If it turns out they didn't need shooting, I'll send flowers. Better them than me.

It sounds cold, but no matter how you look at the situation, it's a tragedy. I'd rather it wasn't my own personal tragedy, thank you kindly.
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:34:02 PM EDT
Link Posted: 5/10/2005 12:35:31 PM EDT

Originally Posted By dport:

Originally Posted By Bama-Shooter:
Making those types of arrests can happen at anytime or day. The best time to find them is late at night, early morning or on Sundays.




It's the late at night thing I have a problem with. Early in the morning or on Sundays, fine, but you're just asking for this sort of thing to happen late at night.



Why? whats wrong with serving an arrest warrant in the middle ofthe night? They knocked on the door and when the subject came to the door they informed him of the warrant and arrested him. The problem was not in the time of day, but rather that they let him back inot the house. Someone simply turning on a light in the house would have prevented this.

But where does it say that a person can't be arrested on a warrant after sunset?
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