Several months ago, Washington, D.C. resident Matthew Corrigan, a depressed veteran seeking help for a sleeping disorder, was arrested by a SWAT team after he mistakenly called the National Suicide Hotline. Despite the fact that he was neither a criminal suspect nor a suicide risk, Corrigan – like Raub — was hauled away in handcuffs and imprisoned.
When Corrigan, an Army Reservist employed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, placed the phone call on February 2, 2010, he hadn’t slept for several days. He dialed what he thought was the number to the Military Emotional Support Hotline. While speaking with a counselor, Corrigan mentioned that he was a veteran, and answered “yes” when asked if he owned a firearm. He then turned off the phone, took a sleeping pill, and retired for the night.
At about 4:00 a.m., Corrigan was startled awake by the sound of his name being called through a police bullhorn. Ordered to come out of the house, Corrigan did so, locking the door behind him. He was surrounded by police, handcuffed, and put in the back of a van. When the officer commanding the Emergency Response Team (ERT, the local equivalent of SWAT) demanded access to his home, Corrigan replied: “There is no way I am giving you consent to enter my place.”
Lt. Robert Glover, the on-scene ERT commander, angrily replied: “I don’t have time to play this constitutional bullsh*t!” and ordered the team to invade the property. Corrigan was taken to a VA hospital, where it was determined that he wasn’t a suicide risk. Despite the fact that he hadn’t been charged with a crime, Corrigan was held in jail for roughly two weeks before being released. He was also required to report each week to Pretrial Services.
In Corrigan’s absence, the SWAT team ransacked his residence. Without either a warrant or probable cause, the police deployed a bomb squad to search for explosives and firearms. They eventually found two handguns and a rifle, all of which were legally owned and properly stored.
Corrigan was not the first innocent gun owner to be seized by a SWAT team and detained without criminal charges owing to his suspected psychological instability.
On March 8, 2010, David Pyles of Medford, Oregon awoke to find his home surrounded by company-strength contingent of police — two SWAT teams, officers from two local police departments, sheriff’s deputies from two counties, and troopers from the Oregon State Police. A few days earlier, Pyles had purchased two handguns and an AK-47 rifle. Shortly before he used a tax refund to buy the guns, Pyles had been put on administrative leave by the Oregon Department of Transportation.
This convergence of events led police to categorize Pyles — without evidence of criminal intent or derangement — as a “disgruntled employee” planning retaliation of some kind against his ODOT supervisor. The police that surrounded his house demanded that he submit to a mental health evaluation. They also seized his firearms for “safekeeping.”
“They woke me up with a phone call at about 5:50 in the morning,” Pyles recalled later. “I looked out the window and saw the SWAT team pointing their guns at my house. The officer on the phone told me to turn myself in. I told them I would, on three conditions: I would not be handcuffed. I would not be taken off my property. And I would not be forced to get a mental health evaluation. He agreed.”
The negotiator, being a police officer, performed as he was trained to – that is to say, he lied.
“The second I stepped outside, they jumped me,” continues Pyles. “Then they handcuffed me, took me off my property, and took me to get a mental health evaluation.”
Within a few hours Pyles had been discharged from the hospital. He never saw the inside of a jail cell. The local police — most likely in reaction to a nation-wide outpouring of outrage triggered by their persecution of an innocent gun owner — returned the firearms, albeit not before lying to him again by claiming that he would have to undergo a second “background check.”
All of this, according to Sgt. Jeff Proulx of the Oregon State Police, was a successful exercise in “proactive” police work.
The February 2010 paramilitary assault on the Salem County, Massachusetts home of engineer Gregory Girard was an even more egregious case. Girard had an unremarkable gun collection – at tota 11 legally purchased and registered rifles and two handguns. The police who stole Girard’s property described that collection as “an alarming, nearly military-grade stockpile,” and his food storage supplies, flashlights, batteries, and camping gear as “military-style items.”
Girard’s “arsenal” came to the attention of the police when his wife, a psychiatrist, told them that she was afraid to return to their home following an argument. On the following day the police were contacted by the ATF, which relayed a report from someone described as a “friend” of Girard’s wife who supposedly saw hand grenades in the apartment.
At the time, Girard held a Class A firearms license and had registered all of his weapons. Glenn McKiel, Chief of the Manchester-by-the-sea Police Department, revoked Girard’s license and called in the Cape Ann Response Team (CART) — the Homeland Security State’s local paramilitary affiliate — for a joint assault on Girard’s home.
Among the specific concerns related to the police by Girard’s wife was his supposedly alarming view that martial law is imminent. In terms of his personal experience, Girard’s fears were vindicated in every detail by the behavior of the police who invaded his home.
“The logic of sending somebody with a gun after somebody who’s going to commit suicide fails me,” Sarti later pointed out. After being taken to the hospital by sheriff’s deputies, Sarti was detained for several hours while undergoing a lengthy and redundant series of tests. Protesting again that he had a farm to tend and animals to feed, Sarti told the hospital staff that he considered himself to be a “prisoner” and demanded to speak with an attorney. At that point he was taken to a mental health facility and held for “observation.”
“At no time did I ever say I wanted to commit suicide,” Sarti insists. “I feel that they put me in there [the mental health ward] because I made them mad by saying I was a prisoner … and I told them they were Gestapo.”
Following his release, Sarti discovered that medical authorities had “terminated” his right to own firearms and seized his guns.
“You have been declared mentally defective by having been committed to a mental institution,” declares the document Sarti received.