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Wrong-Door Raids, Phantom Informants, and the Controlled Buy
By Dennis G. Fitzgerald
Editor’s Note: This guide to best practices regarding the way the police should conduct a controlled drug buy is tantamount to a manual for minimizing the tragedy of wrong-door raids. It is also an invaluable tool for defense attorneys that suggests areas of inquiry when cross-examining law enforcement officers. The government manuals referenced in the article are subject to change and should be verified before citing as authority.
During the last 20 years, police have killed at least 40 innocent people while conducting wrong-door raids.2 According to a study by the Cato Institute, “Because of shoddy police work, over-reliance on informants, and other problems, each year hundreds of raids are conducted on the wrong addresses, bringing unnecessary terror and frightening confrontation to people never suspected of a crime.” The Cato Institute called the botched paramilitary police raids “an epidemic of isolated incidents.”3
There have been at least three investigations of botched search w
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