MAN CONVICTED OF OBSTRUCTION FOR REFUSING TO OPEN HIS DOOR FOR POLICE
Levi Pulkkinen — Oct 17, 2018
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If his conviction stands, it could criminalize people who refuse to do things like unlock their phones or garages at police request.
Shouting voices coming from an apartment building broke the suburban quiet in the early hours of March 1, 2016.
A man walking past called officers to the Seattle-area apartment, reporting a loud argument. The yelling had stopped when police arrived outside Solomon McLemore’s Shoreline home, but was replaced by amplified demands from police that McLemore come out or let them in. As the incident stretched on, frustrations grew.
“Open the fucking door,” one officer demanded during the 15-minute exchange.
McLemore declined and stood by as police, having heard glass shatter inside the home, broke down the door. No one inside was hurt. But McLemore was arrested on suspicion of obstruction of a law enforcement officer for failing to open his home to police. He was convicted as charged on Sept. 29, 2016, following a three-day jury trial. Sentenced to 20 days under house arrest, McLemore began a series of appeals that landed his case in the Washington Supreme Court, which is expected to hear oral arguments Thursday.
If McLemore’s conviction stands, Washington would most likely be the only state to criminalize the refusal to assist police in a warrantless search.
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Iannotti and the ACLU contend the framework put forward by prosecutors could lay the groundwork for obstruction charges against people who refuse to do things like unlock their phones or garages at police request. It makes it dangerous for residents to stand up for their rights.
“You have a right to be free of searches without a warrant,” Iannotti said. “A person shouldn’t be penalized for exercising that right.”
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I wonder how this went. If badly, I hope it gets appealed to the Supremes.
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