Auroran Riled at Cops Over Drug Search

Auroran Riled at Cops Over Drug Search
Posted by FoM on March 16, 2001 at 10:34:23 PT
By Sean Kelly, Denver Post Staff Writer 
Source: Denver Post
Living next door to a reputed crack dealer, John Henderson found himself caught between his neighbor and the police.City officers executed a search warrant last April, seeking the neighbor's crack cocaine. They instead searched Henderson's apartment, which was identified by a confidential informant, and found less than an ounce of marijuana in the butter dish of his refrigerator.
Henderson, 70, a great-grandfather with diabetes and a heart condition, said he kept the pot "for the ladies.""In the fridge, all I had was booze I don't drink and marijuana I don't smoke," said Henderson. "They made a mistake coming in here like that."The search was the start of a difficult 11 months for Henderson. He was charged with drug possession but was later acquitted, prompting an appeal by the city.The incident was humiliating and aggravated his health problems, he said. So Henderson filed notice that he intends to sue the city, a decision he says led to malicious prosecution by Aurora.The April 4 search was intended to find crack that his neighbor was selling, officials admit. Narcotics officers, using a confidential informant, spotted the neighbor coming out of Henderson's apartment just off South Havana Street. Believing there was crack inside, they got a search warrant.Henderson answered the door and was handcuffed and pushed against a wall. A search of his apartment with a drug-sniffing dog turned up a few cigarette rolling papers in his bedroom.When questioned, Henderson told police about the small amount of marijuana in his refrigerator. Officers confiscated it and left without charging Henderson with a crime."People could knock on my door, and I'd get scared for a week," he said.A month later, in May 2000, Henderson's attorney sent a letter to the city asking for a $20,000 settlement over the search. Three weeks after the city received the letter, Henderson was issued a misdemeanor summons for marijuana possession.He believes it was payback for his threat to sue. Aurora officials said the ticket was not issued earlier because it would have compromised the undercover investigation of the neighbor, who was later charged with dealing drugs."We get a hundred notices of claims a month. Any suggestion that it drove or caused police to initiate something against Mr. Henderson is wrong," said City Attorney Charles Richardson. "It would just never rise to a retribution/retaliation scenario."Yet Henderson's attorney, Michael Andreu, said the city is continuing to harass his client."They are accruing damages every day I represent him," Andreu said.In criminal court in December, Henderson was acquitted after a judge suppressed the evidence found by police in the search.The judge said she believed the police targeted the wrong apartment.Aurora officials appealed that decision, seeking clarification on search-and-seizure issues, said Deputy City Attorney George Zierk."We are just seeking a ruling of law in regards to this area. This will not change his acquittal," Zierk said.Yet Henderson sees it as the city putting him through the wringer for a $100 pot ticket. He was one of the first African-American car salesmen in Colorado and says the entire ordeal has hurt his pride.His initial settlement offer has been withdrawn, and he says he'll seek substantially greater damages when the suit is formally filed in coming weeks."An apology would have sufficed at first," Henderson said, "but not now." Source: Denver Post (CO)Author: Sean Kelly, Denver Post Staff Writer Published: March 16, 2001Copyright: 2001 The Denver PostAddress: 1560 Broadway, Denver, CO 80202Fax: (303) 820-1502Contact: letters Website: Police Archives
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Comment #1 posted by sm247 on March 16, 2001 at 22:21:08 PT
Sic em man good job stand up for your rights !!
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