By Matthew Schacht
COLUMBIA, Mo 7/16/14 (Feature) -- The expanded search of Allan Rodgers' apartment building and confiscation of his legally-owned firearms (video below) was "clearly outrageous," says Columbia attorney Stephen Wyse, representing Allan's son Greg in a civil rights lawsuit against City of Columbia and Boone County officials.
Now before the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Rodgers case alleges Constitutional and civil rights violations. The search of an area not listed in a warrant usually violates the Fourth Amendment, says Professor Sean O'Brien, who teaches criminal law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Judge Crane's warrant did not authorize a search of any other parts of Rodgers' apartment building -- only apartment eight. Searching the downstairs gun safe and seizing the weapons therein violated the Amendment's "particularity requirement".
"No Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized," the 4th Amendment commands.
"Police should have posted a guard and sought another warrant," O'Brien told the Heart Beat. "I have to say, I don't understand the prosecutor's advice [that police could search an area outside of the warrant]."
From Greg Rodgers' apartment to Allan Rodgers' gun safe
Citing the pending litigation, the Columbia Police Department and Boone County Prosecutor's Office declined to comment, making it difficult to ascertain their reasoning for the non-warranted search -- or find the truth about a case that involves many players with conflicting perspectives.
"You have the defendant's truth, the prosecutor's truth, and the truths of the individual witnesses," says William Stephens, a senior law enforcement trainer for the Law Enforcement Training Institute (LETI) at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and advocate for conceal-carry weapons laws. "The real truth is usually somewhere in between."
For Chris Kettinger, the real truth is that Rodgers had become "increasingly paranoid and hostile," prompting Kettinger into hiding. "My location is a secret from anyone not blood or relative, and I intend to keep it that way," he said during a telephone interview.
Rodgers' attorney insists investigators discovered nothing truthful in Kettinger's CrimeStoppers report, and that his subsequent accusations are baseless. "The Columbia police did not find his very serious allegations about a threat to kill a judge and blow up the police station as having even the baseline credibility of 'probable cause' for an arrest," Wyse told the Heart Beat.
Though he still maintains Greg Rodgers is "dangerous," Kettinger nonetheless criticized the search warrant and the investigation it prompted. "There were a lot of things wrong with that investigation," Kettinger said, without elaborating. "I would love it if some attention were brought to the situation."
LETI's Stephens insisted he "would not come down on one side or another." But he did advise police officers to exercise great care in the execution of search and arrest warrants. They may find weapons; they may arrest the right perp; they may discover critical evidence of serious crimes.
But to make it all stick, they have to do it right. "All those actions by police can be undone," Stephens said, opening his folded hands as if he were releasing a firefly back into the night.