Pubdate: Wed, 17 Dec 2008
Source: News Leader, The (VA)
Copyright: 2008 News Leader
Author: Gregory Trotter
Bookmark: (Corruption - United States)


Alyssa Kaye Smith's bedroom is filled with saddles, fishing poles, a
gurgling fish tank with an albino frog inside, some books and, yes,
normally, a shotgun under the bed.The Smiths don't deny they have guns
at their home in the Bolivar countryside and aren't shy about
expressing their rights to use them for hunting, trap-shooting and

"She really is a good shot," said David Smith, Alyssa's father,
proudly holding up a target practice sheet Tuesday that was riddled
with holes in the middle.

The family vehemently denies, however, that Alyssa knew the intruders
in her house were a Missouri Highway Patrol SWAT team when she fired
her 12-gauge shotgun through her closed bedroom door during a
marijuana raid last weekend.

Alyssa Smith, 19, was charged with assault on a law enforcement
officer and armed criminal action. She faces a minimum of 10 years in
jail -- and a maximum sentence of 30 years to life -- if convicted of
the crimes.

Though no one was injured, the prosecutor's complaint charges that she
knew there was an officer behind the door and attempted to kill or
seriously injure him.

Standing in their daughter's bedroom Tuesday, David and Barbara Smith
painted a very different picture of what transpired during the dark
morning hours Saturday.

They were in their own bedroom, down the hall about 50 feet, when they
heard the doors knocked down and Alyssa's ensuing shot.

"All she was doing was trying to protect her family from intruders,"
David Smith said, slowly shaking his head. "And now they're trying to
send her to jail for 20 years."

All six people in the house -- Alyssa, her boyfriend, her parents, her
17-year-old sister, Chelsey, and Chelsey's boyfriend -- were
eventually arrested. Everyone except Alyssa was released 24 hours
later. Patrol defends bust

According to the Highway Patrol's probable cause statement, the
officers announced their presence and had emergency lights on their
vehicles, which were parked within plain view of Alyssa's window.

But none of the six people in the house heard them yell "Highway
Patrol," said Barbara Smith. And Alyssa could not have seen anyone in
the driveway from her south-facing window because the police were
parked in the driveway on the north side of the house.

"All these Rambos came in, throwing flash grenades and swinging their
guns," David Smith said. "We didn't know what was going on."

When the officers broke down the side door, David Smith said, he heard
Alyssa yell through her door asking the intruders to identify
themselves. She fired a shot when no one responded.

After the shot, Alyssa Smith and her boyfriend realized the intruders
were officers and surrendered, he said.

Meanwhile, her parents were handcuffed and kicked while on the ground,
according to Barbara Smith, who claims to have bruises from being kicked.

The couple's 17-year-old daughter, Chelsey, and her boyfriend, Caleb
Shoemaker, also were pulled from a bedroom and ordered to lie
face-down on the floor.

Chelsey refused to get down on the ground because she is seven months
pregnant, Barbara Smith said. After her refusal, an officer grabbed
her by throat and slammed her back into a wall.

"I kept telling them to take it easy on her because she's pregnant,"
said Shoemaker, the girl's boyfriend. "But they would just say 'Shut
up, naked guy.'"

Both Shoemaker and Chelsey Smith were unclothed, he said, and were not
allowed to put on their clothes or shoes. Shoemaker was given a
blanket and Chelsey Smith was made to dress in provided coveralls in
front of the officers, Shoemaker said.

By the time the six were arrested, all were bruised or cut in some
way, said David Smith.

The Smiths also allege $8,300 was taken and not reported on the search

"We're not going to lay down and let them get away with this," Barbara
Smith said. 'High-risk situation'

In addition to two guns that were seized during the Saturday raid,
officers allegedly found four pounds of marijuana -- which, according
to the "no knock search warrant" given to the Smiths, was the point of
the search.

"You don't smoke that much marijuana -- you distribute it," said Dan
Bracker, spokesman for the Missouri Highway Patrol Troop D, which
executed the search warrant at the request of the Combined Ozark
Multi-jurisdictional Enforcement Team.

"That's a high-risk situation," he said.

Bracker declined to comment on the claims of unnecessary force but
defended the SWAT team's mission.

"We don't use guerrilla warfare tactics," Bracker said. "And I'm not
surprised that people under suspicion of drug use are in disagreement
with law enforcement officers."

The Smiths are now collecting their funds to hire an attorney and bail
out Alyssa, if her bond is lowered at an arraignment Wednesday.

She is currently with bond set at $250,000; they hope to have it
lowered to $50,000, said David Smith.

In their living room, decorated with Christmas lights and garland
Tuesday, they talked to Alyssa on one of her 15-minute phone calls.
Barbara Smith held her head in her hands and told Alyssa she loved her
and that they would see her in court.

David Smith sat brooding beside her, holding an unlit cigarette in his
hand. Alyssa recently had been accepted into a welding apprenticeship
in Kansas City, he said, but those plans were now on hold.

"Even if they did find some marijuana in this house, they went way
over the line," he said.
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