A Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling could open a Pandora’s Box that the NHP and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department would prefer remain closed. Back in 2011 I reported (beginning 2:30 in) on K9 troopers who complained the state’s cash seizure program was out of control, that citizens’ rights were being violated, and sadly, that the beloved drug-sniffing K9s were being mistreated, even abused, by some law enforcement agencies.
The ruling filed yesterday is a win for the First Amendment, which the NHP tried to quash when it put a gag order on K9 troopers in 2011, some of whom were challenging questionable policies that potentially violated the U.S. Constitution search and seizure laws.
The case now goes to a federal jury to determine damages in favor of former trooper Matt Moonin, who says he was dirtied up by his former employer and forced to retire early. Moonin’s employer, the NHP, basically said he was crazy and denied the allegations, as did Metro. Metro officials admitted they were buying dogs from their own officer, Mel English, but shrugged off the conflict.
Now, armed with voluminous evidence, including videos (that didn’t exist according to the Nevada AG) of illegal searches, dogs who failed to alert being cued to respond, and cops surreptitiously slicing in to “suspicious” packages at Fed Ex facilities, as well as depositions exposing efforts to deceive at the highest levels of government, Moonin is ready to do battle. Nevada AG Adam Laxalt may want to put this pooch to bed without going to court.
Regardless of how Moonin fares, he says cops named in the case – Ervin Raab, Hugh Shook and Donald Dice, are still on the beat and violating your civil rights, according to evidence presented. .
Search and seizure laws are gaining much more attention today than they did in 2011 when I broke this story. Hopefully Moonin’s long road to redemption won’t end until Nevada law enforcement agencies address the rogue cops in their ranks.
Here’s video of the Ninth Circuit hearing, with Judge Marsha Berzon making the seminal point about the gag order. “You can’t go to the newspaper and say ‘I can’t tell you anything but we have a lousy K9 policy.'”