Raid Of The Day: Lewis Cauthorne

Note: The "Raid of the Day" features accounts of police raids I've found, researched, and reported while writing my forthcoming book Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces. It's due out in July, but you can pre-order it here.

In November 2002, Lewis Cauthorne was in the basement with his mother, girlfriend, and three-year-old daughter when a police team raided his Baltimore home. The cops didn't announce themselves. Cauthorne had no prior criminal record. His father had been robbed and killed while working as a cab driver.

When the police broke down his door, Cuathorne fired at them with his .45-caliber handgun. He claimed he thought they were criminals. The police fired back. Four officers were wounded, but miraculously, no one was killed. The police initially claimed to have found six bags with traces of marijuana, empty vials, a razor with cocaine residue, and two scales in Cauthorne's home. But an ensuing investigation found peculiarities with the evidence that precluded Cauthorne from being charged even with a misdemeanor. There was no record of where exactly in the home the drugs were found, and crime lab technicians were told by police not to photograph the evidence. The raid was based on a tip from a confidential informant.

The officers who conducted the raid were unavailable for interviews with investigators -- some for days after the raid, others for weeks.

Cauthorne was arrested after the raid and served spent six weeks in jail until prosecutors decided in January 2003 that he had acted in self-defense. They dropped the charges, and Cauthorne was released. The four wounded officers were issued citations of valor.

Sources: Allison Klein and Del Quentin Wilber, "Prosecutor to drop charges in shooting of four officers," Baltimore Sun, January 7, 2003; Del Quentin Wilber and Ryan Davis, "Police shooting suspect is denied bail by judge; Prosecutor, defense tell far different accounts," Baltimore Sun, November 22, 2002; Del Quentin Wilber, "4 city police officers presented certificates for valor ; Each was shot during November drug raid," Baltimore Sun, May 21, 2003.

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