This is becoming an old story. Blogger gets fed up with an out-of-control police department and starts exposing their actions to the public, police department proves the blogger right by trying to prosecute the blogger for vague crimes that really amount to “saying bad things about powerful people.” But in this case, the police actually raided the blogger’s home and seized virtually everything.
In what should send a frightening chill down the spine of every blogger, writer, journalist and First Amendment advocate in the United States, Phoenix police raided the home of a blogger who has been highly critical of the department.
Jeff Pataky, who runs Bad Phoenix Cops, said the officers confiscated three computers, routers, modems, hard drives, memory cards and everything necessary to continue blogging.
The 41-year-old software engineer said they also confiscated numerous personal files and documents relating to a pending lawsuit he has against the department alleging harassment – which he says makes it obvious the raid was an act of retaliation.
Maricopa County Judge Gary Donahoe signed the search warrant that allowed at least ten cops to raid his home in North Phoenix on March 12 while handcuffing his female roommate for three hours as they tore the place apart.
Pataky, who was out of town on a business trip during the raid, also believes police were retaliating against him for the content of his blog, much of it which comes from inside sources within the department.
“They broke into my safe and took the backups of my backups,” he said in a phone interview with Photography is Not a Crime on Wednesday.
“I can’t even file my taxes because all my business plans are gone. They took everything.”
The warrant apparently listed “petty theft” and “computer tampering with the intent to harass” as the probable cause for the warrant, neither of which would justify seizing so much material. And the petty theft charge is truly absurd:
The allegation of “petty theft” against Pataky stem from photos he posted on his blog of police name plates that appear to have been taken from within the department. He said he actually made the plates himself.
Interestingly, almost everything he gets on the department comes from good cops within the department blowing the whistle:
“We were going to shut down the website after that but then all of a sudden all these good cops started hitting the site and sending us tips,” he said.
He said they would also deliver all kinds of internal documents from within the department exposing everything from a cop with multiple DUIs to another cop whose son was a child molester and was trying to get on the force (and was eventually arrested).
“We have about 50 to 100 retired and active cops who provide us information,” he said.
Police apparently believe one of the tipsters is an officer named David Barnes, who fell out of favor with the department in 2007 when he was a detective and went public with claims of mismanaged evidence at the city crime lab.
Police also raided Barnes’ home and according to Pataky’s inside sources, plan to raid the homes of more cops.
I’d say it’s time for the FBI to do a serious investigation of this police department. I suspect things there are every bit as bad as they were in Atlanta.