Unless This Man Is a Liar, You Live in a Police State

A police state is a place where you can have guns pointed at your head because someone made a phone call about you.

Surely Alex Horton must be lying. We can’t possibly live in a police state. Right? The Washington Post must be publishing lies.

Horton claims he had guns pointed at his head because of a leak in his dishwasher.

Of course, there were more steps than that. Horton’s landlord knew the leaks would take time to fix so he moved Horton from his apartment to another model apartment to sleep there. Horton went out partying on Saturday night and got to his bed early Sunday morning. He didn’t completely shut his door. A neighbor, who thought the apartment was supposed to be empty, cracked open the door and saw a man sleeping in the bedroom. He called the police and reported a squatter.

So three Fairfax County police officers rushed into the apartment, guns drawn.

They sped down the hallway to my bedroom, their service pistols drawn and leveled at me.

It was just past 9 a.m., and I was still under the covers. The only visible target was my head.

In the shouting and commotion, I felt an instant familiarity. I’d been here before. This was a raid.

I had done this a few dozen times myself, 6,000 miles away from my Alexandria, Va., apartment. As an Army infantryman in Iraq, I’d always been on the trigger side of the weapon. Now that I was on the barrel side, I recalled basic training’s most important firearm rule: Aim only at something you intend to kill.

I had conducted the same kind of raid on suspected bombmakers and high-value insurgents. But the Fairfax County officers in my apartment were aiming their weapons at a target whose rap sheet consisted only of parking tickets and an overdue library book.

My situation was terrifying. Lying facedown in bed, I knew that any move I made could be viewed as a threat. Instinct told me to get up and protect myself. Training told me that if I did, these officers would shoot me dead.

In a panic, I asked the officers what was going on but got no immediate answer. Their tactics were similar to the ones I used to clear rooms during the height of guerilla warfare in Iraq. I could almost admire it — their fluid sweep from the bedroom doorway to the distant corner. They stayed clear of one another’s lines of fire in case they needed to empty their Sig Sauer .40-caliber pistols into me.

They were well-trained, their supervisor later told me. But I knew that means little when adrenaline governs an imminent-danger scenario, real or imagined. Triggers are pulled. Mistakes are made.

I spread my arms out to either side. An officer jumped onto my bed and locked handcuffs onto my wrists. The officers rolled me from side to side, searching my boxers for weapons, then yanked me up to sit on the edge of the bed.

If you think that’s the part of the story that means we live in a police state, you’re not quite correct. The real kicker comes a bit later, when Horton talks to the Farifax County Police Department shift commander, Lt. Erik Rhoads.

I asked why his officers hadn’t contacted management before they raided the apartment. Why did they classify the incident as a forced entry, when the information they had suggested something innocuous? Why not evaluate the situation before escalating it?

Rhoads defended the procedure, calling the officers’ actions “on point.” It’s not standard to conduct investigations beforehand because that delays the apprehension of suspects, he told me.

I noted that the officers could have sought information from the apartment complex’s security guard that would have resolved the matter without violence. But he played down the importance of such information: “It doesn’t matter whatsoever what was said or not said at the security booth.”

That’s what makes this country a police state. Police don’t always do the right thing. But these weren’t “out of control.” They were encouraged to act that way. They were expected to. Their behavior was defended by their superior. It was standard practice.

Because we don’t live in America anymore; we live in a police state. Unless Horton is making this up, there is no other term for it: police state.

One man makes a phone call alleging a completely non-violent trespass (with no real evidence), and the police barge in with loaded, drawn firearms without any investigation at all. Why don’t the police have to ask permission before trespassing on private property? It wasn’t as if they had a report of some violent attacker with a victim they needed to save from harm.

Lawsuits don’t work with these people. They simply make the taxpayers—the other potential victims to their guns—pay off the plaintiff if he wins in court.

What needs to happen is these people need to be at least fired and probably put in prison.

Because either they go to prison or they turn our country into one giant prison. That’s what a police state is: a place where the police are the prison guards and the rest of us are the inmates.

One final note: The Washington Post included a picture of Horton, and he looks completely white to me. So, once again, the issue is not that the police abuse racial minorities. The police abuse people who aren’t fellow police officers.