|Former task force officers named in federal lawsuit|
|Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor|
Aug. 1, 2006 -- Two former drug task force officers and seven other law enforcement officers are named in a federal suit seeking unspecified damages, filed last week in Texarkana by a Nacogdoches attorney on behalf of a Sulphur Springs couple, David and Kathryn Rogers.
Named as defendants in the suit are former Red River Valley Drug Task Force officers Matt Hooper, a Hopkins County deputy sheriff, and Mike Taylor, a Franklin County deputy, who were both assigned to a special drug investigation force, and Sulphur Springs police investigator Monty Tipps. The suit also names six additional officers, identified as "John Doe." According to plaintiffs attorney Curtis Stuckey, the six will be named during the trial.
Stuckey said task force officers were attempting to execute a search warrant,on Sept. 10, 2004, at a house at 131 Russell Drive, but instead raided the home of David and Kathryn Rogers at 127 Russell Drive, smashing their way through the front door.
The lawsuit, which requests a trial by jury, seeks unspecified damages.
No response has yet been filed by any of the defendants in the lawsuit. The News-Telegram was unable to contact any of the named defendants Tuesday morning.
According to information contained in the suit, the Rogers "were in bed sleeping shortly before midnight when they were startled by a loud boom" as the "defendants busted in the door with a battering ram. The masked intruders were all inside the house within seconds."
"They busted in the wrong house wearing their little ninja outfits," the attorney said.
The description of the raid in the lawsuit stated the couple were handcuffed and held at gunpoint.
"In a split second, there was an assault rifle in [plaintiff] Kathryn Roger's face," the suit states.
David Rogers was shoved up against a wall and "handcuffed by another big guy wearing a mask and put, face down, on the floor. He was finally unhandcuffed 10 to 15 minutes later and allowed to get dressed."
Stuckey said the officers then explained to the Rogers they had the wrong house and went down the street to the correct house "where they should have gone in the first place."
The attorney said both Mr. and Mrs. Rogers were terrorized by the incident.
"They are very good people, law abiding citizens," Stuckey said. "They were home in bed minding their own business."
In the suit, Stuckey said the search of the home and brief detention of the couple amounted to an "unlawful search and unlawful detention in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution," and that "the terrorizing of [David and Kathryn Rogers], including, but not limited to busting in their door and detaining them at gunpoint, amounts to a search and seizure conducted in an objectively unreasonable manner in violation of the Fourth Amendment" and of the Fourteenth Amendment "for which redress if provided."
"The constitution protects citizens from having law enforcement people bust in your house if you haven't done anything wrong ... they can't do that," The attorney said. "For a citizen in his own home, it is a scary, scary thing."
The Red River Valley Drug Task Force, which replaced the Tactical Narcotics Task Force, was disbanded in March after state program funding drug interdiction operations was ended.