Pubdate: Sun, 10 Jun 2007
Source: Grand Rapids Press (MI)
Copyright: 2007 Grand Rapids Press
Author: Barton Deiters, The Grand Rapids Press
Bookmark: (Drug Raids)
Bookmark: (Marijuana)
Bookmark: (Asset Forfeiture)


GRAND RAPIDS -- The cost has been tremendous and the victories small 
so far, but an Alger Heights couple say a long court battle has been 
worth it to support their claims of abuse by the Grand Rapids Police 

Lawyers, representing the city in the couple's 2005 civil rights 
lawsuit, say Jelte and Janine Jansma got what's coming to people who 
bring drugs into neighborhoods.

It's been nearly four years since Grand Rapids police burst through 
the couple's bedroom door. The couple say police threw Janine Jansma, 
who was naked, on the floor, breaking her wrist and arm, as they 
demanded to know where they had hidden drugs.

"I'm not the same person I used to be" Janine Jansma said. "When this 
happened, something snapped inside my soul."

Police were led to the home after a group of teens were found smoking 
marijuana outside Alger Elementary School. The teens said they 
purchased the marijuana from one of the Jansmas' sons.

Police swept through the Jansmas' home in August 2003 and found 
marijuana -- mostly stems and seeds, plastic baggies and a small scale.

The Jansmas were charged with hindering and opposing a police 
officer, drug possession and maintaining a drug house. Police later 
seized the home.

Now, after spending tens of thousands of dollars on attorney fees, 
the Jansmas have had all charges dropped.

On Thursday, they found out an appeals court has ruled the city 
cannot take their home of 27 years, which they mortgaged to pay the lawyers.

However, the house was declared a nuisance to the neighborhood and 
the son who allegedly used and sold drugs there cannot live in the home.

Grand Rapids Deputy Attorney Janice Bailey says the actions of police 
were completely justifiable.

"Neighbors don't want drug dealers in their neighborhoods," Bailey 
said. She said the couple resisted police, who used appropriate force.

But Janine Jansma, 56, said the incident cost her job as a health 
care assistant -- she says she is restricted to lifting no more than 
five pounds -- as well as her sense of safety in her home.

"The worst part is I can't even hold my grandbabies anymore without 
help," Janine Jansma said.

The couple hopes a federal judge will award them more than $1 million 
and -- as important, they say -- send a message to Grand Rapids police.

They also believe the city needs to hold back on using the Special 
Response Team -- a team that wears body armor and helmets and is used 
in house-entry situations.

The Jansmas say machine guns were held to their heads in the raid.

"They should only be used for high-risk operations like hostage 
situations," Jelte Jansma said.

Bailey said police have no idea what to expect when they enter a 
house, and she said weapons were found at the Jansma home including a 
.357 caliber handgun.

Jelte Jansma also pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of 
possession of marijuana.

The civil rights lawsuit in U.S. District Court was filed in July 2005.

Two weeks ago, Judge Richard Enslen threw out several elements of the lawsuit.

What remains as the parties gear up for a July court date are a 
counts of assault and battery/excessive force and loss of consortium 
when Janine Jansma said she was so "freaked out" she had to "split 
for a while to clear my head." 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake