A Stewart Trial? The body armor question

If the Preliminary hearing on Matthew David Stewart is any indication, the trial should be a doozy.

Stewart was bound over for trial Friday after a 3-day prelim (click) that showed a pretty serious shoot-out in the tiny house on Jackson Avenue. Police describe making a lot of cop-like noise while they searched through the house, then a hand coming out of a doorway and a pistol blazing away.

Prosecutors are calling it an ambush, although that sounds like a bit of a stretch — an ambush would mean that Stewart knew the cops were coming and set things  up ahead of time. His being barefoot and wearing a bathrobe would seem to argue against that.

The Prosecution also argues that Stewart should have quit shooting when he knew it was cops in his home — heck, I suspect they are arguing he shouldn’t have started shooting, that cops yelling “Police!” and “Search Warrant!” should have told him that it was cops in his home and he should sit tight and let them do their things.

On the other hand, Mr. Stewart was already operating on the other side of the law if he was growing marijuana, and it can be argued that someone who is not all that law-abiding would be a bit paranoid about people coming into his home. And if that person claims to be a cop? Well, what better way to get an innocent castle defender to let down his guard?

From what I can tell, the current gun culture in the US is fed, at least in part, on fear of the government. When that government comes into peoples homes with guns, it has to expect that, someday, someone is going to shoot back, no matter how loudly it announces itself.

Did I just blame the Jared Francom for his own death? No no no.

I blame a situation involving police force dependent on heavy power and gun owners who fear that power and feel they have to respond with their own. This is a situation that is asking to explode in everyone’s face eventually, and apparently it did.

I really hope that, at some point in time, the prosecution sets out the police strategy in this case and explains why an entry by the task force was needed IN THIS CASE.

If they thought they were dealing with an armed guy, which argues for force, then why weren’t they all wearing body armor? But if they weren’t expecting trouble (no body armor) then why all the heavy force? Why not wait until Stewart’s leaving for work and serve the warrant on him then? Of course, with a wearch warrant that involves knocking, announcing and then entering you are always taking a chance on surprising some half-awake gunslinger who will shoot first and ask questions later, but doesn’t that again argue for mandatory body armor? 

Or maybe they figured the situation wasn’t dangerous and they just always go in heavy. That’s scary — where do they draw the line, at parking tickets?

Many questions, still waiting for answer.

The only thing we know for certain is that this bust sure as heck didn’t go the way it should have and a cop died and a bunch more were damaged for life and one other guy is looking at the death penalty, all because of 16 marijuana plants.

What that tells me is someone screwed up and I really hope that that problem is being dealt with so it doesn’t happen again.

We shall see.

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30 Responses to A Stewart Trial? The body armor question

  1. Evidence (or the lack of) proves the WMNSF is negligent in their attack upon Matthew Stewart. Who would attack a house without their vest, their GUN, and with no investigation?? Our “above the law” Strike Force, that’s who.
    Commander Lt. Darin Parke, congratulations on your promotion to South Ogden Police Chief. Since the Strike Force was operating under your lack of leadership, do you accept the responsibility for your officers complete lack of training, discipline, knowledge, or investigative abilities on the night of January 4, 2012?

    • hawg says:

      did Darin make chief? hadn’t heard, good deal!!

    • Libby says:

      How special Stewart was waiting with enough bullies that he could load his gun three time . While officers were trying to pull officers from the house. Anyone who heard the officer describe how they were trying to pull there fellow officers after being shot at Stewart just kept on firing . How can that not effect the Stewart’s knowing he killed one an injured others that will have problems the rest of there lives.wheres the compassion

  2. Sonja Stewart says:

    There are a lot of steps to the Supreme Court to change these gestapo tactics. We are on our way!! There are so many “wrong addresses” and “oopsies” that one wonders if any one of us is really safe from our own government! This cannot just be ignored. I think it will have to happen to everyone’s loved ones before the ‘awakening’ is complete!!!

  3. Libby says:

    Maybe Matthew needs to stop growing drugs. Or move to a state where he can. As far as I know anyone who grows marajuina
    Would be braking the law. That is the issues her. How proud you must be as a family that your son can grow marajuina .

  4. Anonymous says:

    Why were all the Dash mounted camera’s turned off before the Raid? Why were no hand held cameras used to document the Raid? both leaving dash cameras on and using a hand held camera are supposed to be standard operating procedure. As well as wearing clothing identifying the officers as Law enforcement, and bullet proof vests… I believe that after the brutal slaying of the Roy man which was video taped showing him 20 feet away with a golf club then being shot 22 times hurt the police’s credability and that is why they stopped filming their Raids. The video’s were being used against them to show they were not following proper procedures so they simply stopped filming it. During the Fire fight no neighbors were allowed to film or whitness the police actions because it is hard to say you did the right thing when there is first person whitness’es or video evidence proving otherwise.

    • DannyE says:

      This comment nails it on the head. If the police were doing nothing wrong, why don’t they want to be filmed? Its the same question the nanny state asks us all the time.

      Its high time these gestapo tactics stop. The drug war causes these types of problems. Our 4th amendment freedoms have been tossed aside in pursuit of a war upon our own citizens.

      Police are just the tip of the iceberg in this. Overzealous prosecutors, judges willing to sentence jail time for the smallest infraction, and the maw of the prison system wanting ever more convicts to feed its prison industrial complex are the nexuses around which these travesties occur.

      Showing up at the wrong address after an “investigation” is a laughable excuse. We no longer have peace officers, we have thugs posing as such and satiating their blood lust.

      If any citizen tried to go in and do what police do regularly–kill innocents and pets–that citizen would be hung from the highest yardarm. But if its a police action, oh well…

      This is just the tip of the iceberg. America has its belly full of gestapo tactics and I reckon these incidents will only get worse.

      Many people keep a shotgun next to the front door these days due to the prevalence of gangs and individuals operating as if they were police.

  5. Charlie,

    I love you and think you do a good job usually and are impeccably well-intentioned, but there it is so sad that you didn’t catch this irony before you published this post.

    “I really hope that, at some point in time, the prosecution sets out the police strategy in this case and explains why an entry by the task force was needed IN THIS CASE.”

    CHARLIE! WHY DON’T YOU ASK THEM? THAT’S YOUR JOB. The question you want answered is not “relevant” in the eyes of the court (maybe maybe maybe at the sentencing hearing but probably not anywhere else besides a civil suit which costs major $$ that no one has).

    I have asked a several times on every media and in every forum open to me this same question you are asking, and yet it’s only those of us who have publicly stated our support for Matthew who bring this up–until now.

    So pursue this question. Make it a 30-inch Sunday cover story for crissake. It’s a HUGE question. Please, do it (they don’t return my calls anymore, as you might imagine).

    • Dantes says:

      “those of us who have publicly stated our support for Matthew” = pieces of sh!@.

      If you want to voice your opposition to home raids and certain police tactics, that’s one thing. I can understand that. But supporting a man who was not only breaking the law beforehand (no matter how little or big his marijuana grow was), but then went on to kill someone and damage countless lives is absolutely shameful. Matthew Stewart is garbage. Cut and dry. Plain and simple. I hope he rots in jail for the rest of his worthless life before entering the hell that awaits him in the next.

      For those of you who don’t like cops, next time you’re in trouble, call a crackhead like Matthew and see how it works out for ya.

      • Dantes, you seem to indicate that a violent, unannounced and unwarned police invasion of your home is justified “no matter how little or big” the crime. Do I have you right?

        And, follow me here, let’s say the police invade your home, or your child’s home, for a minor offense that is both non-violent and victimless, are you going to be singing the same tune then?

        I doubt it.

        • Imagine you have brutes bashing on your door and let’s say you do hear them barking “POLICE SEARCH WARRANT.” Although we’re not sure Matthew heard them, let’s say that you do. You look out the window to the side door of your house and the men there don’t look like cops–they’ve got ugly goatees and big lambchop sideburns, they’re all wearing jeans. So you run to the front window and there isn’t a single cop car out there–no flashing lights, no squad car–indeed, no car at all. Then it dons on you: any burglar can SAY he’s a cop. Any burglar can get a little embroidered/cloth fabric badge and sew it to his jacket.

          So, you get your gun. And you defend your castle.

          Moreover, Matthew was well aware of the Todd Blair murder. Had he indeed KNOWN they were strike force cops, he might have been even more worried for his life than if they were burglars. And in my opinion, he would be justified.

          • Marvin says:

            A few rebuttal points: First, Jesse, you very well know that Todd Blair wasn’t murdered. Murder is a legal term which does not apply in this instance. Thru due process, the Blair death was investigated, and the investigators determined that Blair advanced on the task force with a weapon and they were therefore justified in using deadly force, so no murder was committed. Was the investigation a white-wash, a cover-up, or was it completely fair and unbiased? We don’t know. We weren’t there. Whether you agree with the conclusion of that investigation – obviously you don’t –calling it a murder is inaccurate and hyperbole of the magnitude that will only serve to throw more gasoline on this fire. It’s as bad as, or worse than, someone calling Blair’s death “suicide by cop”.

            Second, Burrell and Vanderwarf testified that they were wearing bulletproof vests marked “Police.” Hutchinson testified he was wearing a fleece police vest. Your straw man argument says the men milling around outside Stewart’s home don’t look like cops. But they are wearing equipment that identifies themselves as such, and they are announcing themselves as such. What would the reasonable person do in this situation? I believe he would conclude that they are indeed cops and open the door and demand to see the warrant.

            What did the man with reason to fear police because of the illegal marijuana grow in his basement choose to do? He got his gun and hid. When the task force members, who testified that they were announcing their authority while searching the house, got close enough, he started banging away.

            Then the first patrolman – Rounkles was dressed in his Ogden police uniform and a bulletproof vest – rolls up in his squad car with lights flashing, and I’m guessing siren blaring, and rushes into the house. What would the reasonable man do in a case where he was defending his castle and the police appeared on the scene? That’s an interesting question, as I can think of many different responses that a person may have in this case. What did the man with police paranoia because of the illegal marijuana grow in his basement chose to do? He shot the responding officer in the mouth.

            I believe that many of the Stewart supporters are blurring the lines between two completely separate issues. I am no lover of law enforcement – I think the number of people who become cops because they were picked on in high school far out-numberers those honorable souls who do the job to actually help people. I completely agree that the practice of drug raids and what DannyE calls “gestapo tactics” need to be re-examined and law enforcement policies, perhaps many of them, need to be changed. I believe that police should never break down a door unless someone inside’s life is in imminent danger

            Having said that, I do believe that police authority should be respected. I completely disagree with DannyE’s claim that “The drug war causes these types of problems”. I believe that people choosing to embrace the drug culture and engage in criminal behavior causes these problems. What Stewart chose to do that night goes far and above what a reasonable person would do. I believe that Matthew Stewart murdered Jared Francom, and that Stewart should pay for that with his life.

        • Dantes says:

          Just like someone with your level of thinking to only quote part of what I said and leave off the key word. What I said was “no matter how little or how big HIS MARIJUANA GROW WAS.” I didn’t say for any little or big crime like you suggest, now did I? Here’s the difference between me, and you, and Matthew. While I might not agree with all laws, I abide by them because I know of the consequences, and because of that I’ve never had to worry about the police knocking down my door. And if they did so by mistake, they wouldn’t need to fire on me, because I wouldn’t be firing on them. Because I’m not a pothead, I’m of sound mind to know when police are announcing themselves, or at least when I see flashing lights, what’s going on, and if I see a man down, with his friends trying to help him out, I’m sure as hell not going to keep shooting at him, and then shoot some more as they’re trying to leave my property. People justifying murderers and drug addicts and criminals of other natures, whether violent or non-violent, are what’s wrong with this world. How about we praise people who are doing the right thing for a change. Matthew’s life wasn’t going anywhere before this happened, and it sure as hell isn’t going anywhere now.

    • Charles Trentelman says:

      we have asked, jesse — answers are not forthcoming.

  6. Don says:

    This was a thoughtful commentary from Trentleman.

  7. Neal Cassidy says:

    I do not know how the case will unfold in court but a troubling question has arisen. Stewarts exgirlfriend testified in preliminary court that she told the police that Stewart has claimed he would go down shooting if raided. The girlfriend was the basis of the search warrant. If she told police that Stewart had said he would go down shooting why weren’t the police wearing all of their safety vests?

    • Phoenix Smith says:

      She told police that AFTER the raid, when I suspect police finally thought oh damn, we don’t have any good evidence and we need to bury this guy in the media while we still can… No effort was made by the Strike Force to interview her after the initial tip a cop before the raid, this was testified by Vanderwarf.
      Again these guys strongly believe in themselves that they can and will do what they want, when they want, to whom they want.

  8. U know who I am ;) says:

    Mr Trentelman,
    These are the questions I have been trying to get someone in the media to start publicly asking!! Why is it that these issues have been so blatantly obvious to us since day one can be not even noticeable to others. Someone has GOT to get some people thinking a little for themselves. This does not add up and plenty of things could have happened differently that night. We need to get them (the county, state, police force) to admit it!!! Post an article in the paper, sure it’s controversial, but it will give people something to actually ponder.

  9. Travis B. says:

    Boom, and their is a million dollar question.
    I could be wrong on this. But I believe she told police this AFTER the raid and shoot out took place.
    I guarantee the state is trying to use her statement as “premeditation” so they can go after the death penalty.
    So many of the police statements don’t make sense. They say they didn’t think anyone lived there, that it was a “grow house.”. Well if this was all based off of info she gave police, shouldn’t she have also been able to tell them:
    He lived there, what time he would be there, etc.

    • Actually, the way I remember Stacy’s testimony, she said that she can’t remember if she told them about the “going out” and the “anti-government” stuff in the calls before the raid or after. I may be wrong. Does anyone feel that they remember for sure?

    • But you are absolutely right that their own dang snitch told them he lived there, but many of them testified to believing that maybe or even probably the house was just a grow house. I can hardly conceive of how that happened, or if it’s true, or what.

      And, had they done even baselevel homework they could have found out he was retired military and previously had a license in private security. From they stand, those in charge of such things admitted to not even trying to do any of that kind of homework. (they did check to see if he had a concealed carry permit).

  10. Mike Johnson says:

    This was a event that was not necessary, which has and will negatively impact many lives. There was no reason for a no knock warrant. It’s scary, that the police and the courts have created a balance favoring the state over the citizen. We see these no knock warrens use growing. We now have police, with guns drawn, kicking the doors in of homes occupied not by criminals but, old ladies.

    The terrorist won. They helped take away the freedom once enjoyed by Americans. We, the citizens, have become collateral damage in war on drugs.

    The war on drugs is little more than welfare for the growth of a police state. It fills our prisons consuming resources best spend on schools. The war on drugs has failed, like it’s predecessor, prohibition.

  11. Cathy says:

    The strike force stated themselves during the prelim, that they thought stewarts house was an unoccupied “grow house”, why would they feel the need to raid an unoccupied house? Makes no sense to me. And why is’nt the ex girlfriend being held accountable for her role in this mess? She is after all, the person that put all of the events of Jan, 4 2012 into play, she, in my oppinion, is guilty of murder, or conspiricy to comit murder, or at the very least wrongful death!

  12. Cathy says:

    I agree. I’m sure Dantes oppinion would drastically change. The strike force does not care if the target of their raid is a place where children live, or senior citizens, they still knock down doors, guns ready, percussion grenades exploding, they do things they would never allow to happen to their home and family. They shoot innocent pets, most of which they find cowaring in terror! They drag the terrified animals out from where they are trying to hide just so that the owners can see them execute their pet! The strike force raids are legalized terrorism, plain and simple. They are wrong in so many ways, they change lives forever.

  13. Marvin says:

    No Cathy, the the person that put all of the events of Jan, 4 2012 into play is Matthew Stewart when he (a) chose to violate the law and cultivate 16 marajuana plants and (b) chose to fire upon police executing a legal search warrant concerning those 16 illegal marajuana plants.

  14. DannyE says:

    If the police were doing nothing wrong, why don’t they want to be filmed? Its the same question the nanny state asks us all the time.

    Its high time these gestapo tactics stop. The drug war causes these types of problems. Our 4th amendment freedoms have been tossed aside in pursuit of a war upon our own citizens.

    Police are just the tip of the iceberg in this. Overzealous prosecutors, judges willing to sentence jail time for the smallest infraction, and the maw of the prison system wanting ever more convicts to feed its prison industrial complex are the nexuses around which these travesties occur.

    Showing up at the wrong address after an “investigation” is a laughable excuse. We no longer have peace officers, we have thugs posing as such and satiating their blood lust.

    If any citizen tried to go in and do what police do regularly–kill innocents and pets–that citizen would be hung from the highest yardarm. But if its a police action, oh well…

    This is just the tip of the iceberg. America has its belly full of gestapo tactics and I reckon these incidents will only get worse.

    Many people keep a shotgun next to the front door these days due to the prevalence of gangs and individuals operating as if they were police.

  15. Winston says:

    You also have to remember that the Ogden PD murdered Todd Blair and got away with it. Even if Mr. Stewart knew the home invaders were police, he still had every right to fear for his life.

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