No Drugs Found, Yet Drug Charges Stand after No-Knock Warrant
By: Gerri L. Elder
Many times when people have a criminal history, they become suspects and targets of police investigations for crimes of which they are completely innocent.
For Tracy Ingle, his past criminal history created a monumental legal problem and could have cost him his life.
Although Ingle has never faced drug charges or been accused of a violent crime, a drug raid was conducted on his home in North Little Rock, Arkansas on January 7, 2008 and his front door was broken down by a police battering ram. It wasn’t until the dust settled that the officers realized that they had raided a house with a sleeping occupant and no drugs – and apparently not the “Michael” they thought they had caught.
Ingle was asleep when the drug raid started and police surrounded his house. When he awoke, he heard breaking glass and believed that his house was being broken into by robbers. He grabbed what he had handy – a broken gun – thinking that he might be able to frighten the intruders into backing down and leaving. He had no idea that it was a SWAT team at his door executing a no-knock warrant.
Ingle says that he grabbed for his useless gun, realized it was police inside his house and threw the gun down before an officer who was already inside the house opened fire on him. The first bullet hit Ingle in the thigh and shattered the bone, leaving his lower leg dangling. The other officers heard the gunfire and also opened fire on Ingle, shooting him four more times. As Ingle was lying on the floor with five bullet wounds, he says that police called him “Michael” and “Mike” and did not realize why he was not answering until he told them his name was not Mike. According to a report by Reason Magazine, Ingle’s sister says that one of the bullets is still inside her brother, right above his heart, and can not be removed.
After spending a week and a half in intensive care because of the botched drug raid, Ingle was taken from the hospital intensive care unit to the Little Rock Police Department for several hours of questioning. During the interrogation, Ingle was not allowed to speak with his family and was never advised that he was suspected of a crime. However, after five hours of questioning, he was arrested and booked into the Pulaski County Jail. For the next four days, he was behind bars and says that he was never given any pain medication or antibiotics. His bandages were changed only twice during the four days and his wounds became infected, according to reports.
There were no drugs or drug residue found in Ingle’s home during the criminal investigation. A scale and plastic bags were found, which Ingle’s sister says that she used in a jewelry making business. She has reportedly stored her supplies at Ingle’s home while she traveled. The broken gun and a police scanner were also located inside Ingle’s home.
Because of these items, police charged Ingle with running a drug dealing operation from his house. He was also charged with assault for pointing his broken gun at officers who entered his home. The judge found that Ingle engaged in a shootout with police, and therefore set his bail at $250,000.
The Supreme Court has previously ruled that police are required to show that time is of the essence through case-specific evidence in order to obtain a no-knock warrant. However, the warrant in Ingle’s case does not contain specific information showing that the warrant needed to be urgently served, no information indicating that Ingle was a threat to public or police safety or was at risk to dispose of drugs before answering the door.
There is no mention of any informant, no controlled buys and the drug of choice on the warrant was changed from crack cocaine to methamphetamine before it was served. Further showing that there were no legal grounds for a no-knock warrant is the fact that the warrant was obtained approximately three weeks before the raid.
North Little Rock Police Chief Danny Bradley stands behind the SWAT team tactics and according to an affidavit signed by NLRPD narcotics investigator Mickey Schuetzle, narcotics had been sold from the residence. There are no details included in the affidavit as to what type of drug was allegedly sold or by whom.
Ingle sold his vehicle to pay a bail bondsman and is out of jail for the time being. With his injuries and infections, it is reportedly difficult to get around without a car and he has walked for miles on crutches to make his court appearances.
He is trying to come up with the money to hire a criminal defense lawyer to represent him. He has no health insurance, so he can not continue treatment for his injuries and has to go without medication.
He is awaiting trial on the drug charges and although he maintains his innocence, he says that if the Little Rock Police Department wants to see him convicted, he believes he will be. Others hope that there will be justice for Ingle and the bogus charges against him will be dropped so that he can attempt to put his broken life back together.