Pubdate: Sat, 13 Jul 2002
Source: Herald-Sun, The (Durham, NC)
Copyright: 2002 The Herald-Sun
Author: John Stevenson


DURHAM -- Criminal charges are being dropped in a Cheek Road drug raid that 
was found by a judge to be unconstitutional and partially illegal, court 
officials confirmed Friday.

For defendants who already have pleaded guilty, the district attorney will 
not oppose a reversal of the convictions, officials said.

"This sounds like good news to me," said Public Defender Bob Brown, whose 
office represents six of the suspects. "It's more than I had hoped for. In 
fact, it's much more than I hoped for. I certainly appreciate the DA's 
willingness to pursue justice."

On Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Orlando F. Hudson said the February 
police raid at Cheek Road Apartments was unconstitutional because officers 
improperly "seized" the entire neighborhood and conducted "unreasonable" 
searches and seizures.

The behavior of some officers amounted to "criminal conduct," Hudson added.

The two-day raid was dubbed Operation TAPS, standing for The Aggressive 
Police Strategy. It involved more than 100 Durham officers, two National 
Guard helicopters, 10 State Bureau of Investigation agents and other 
law-enforcement resources.

Officers seized an undisclosed amount of heroin, cocaine and marijuana, 
along with two pistols.

The cost of the operation has not been revealed.

Thirty-five arrests and 65 citations resulted.

Some residents promptly complained that police were unnecessarily brutal, 
and that officers even tackled a 13-year-old boy and held a gun to his head 
for no apparent reason.

On the other hand, an unidentified resident said on television that she 
thought the raid was good because it might help rid her neighborhood of 
drugs and guns.

Police consistently maintained they did nothing wrong or unconstitutional.

After watching a lengthy videotape of the raid, Senior Police Attorney 
Arnetta J. Herring said Wednesday that officers conducted themselves in "a 
very fine and upstanding" manner.
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