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On the heels of a court argument that the mere presence of an inanimate gun was no reason for fearful police to conduct a no-knock raid on a home in Texas comes a case where a school boy was suspended for the presence of an “impotent toy” in his jacket pocket.
Officials with the Rutherford Institute have written a letter to officials to the public school system in Chicago, which has among the most restrictive gun limits in the nation, about the case involving student Caden Cook, 11.
He was suspended for finding that he inadvertently had left a plastic toy gun in his jacket pocket, which he wore to school. He decided to turn it in to officials when he found it.
“This case speaks volumes about what’s wrong with our public schools and public officials: rather than school officials showing they are capable of exercising good judgment, distinguishing between what is and is not a true threat, and preserving safety while steering clear of a lockdown mindset better suited to a prison environment, they instead opted to exhibit poor judgment, embrace heavy handed tactics, and treat a toy gun like a dangerous weapon,” said John W. Whitehead, chief of the organization.
“In the process, school officials sent a strong, chilling message to this child and his classmates that they have no rights in the American police state.”
The Institute described the school officials as being “overzealous, misguided and incapable for distinguishing between an impotent toy and a dangerous weapon.”
The letter to school officials, which seeks to have the suspension reversed and the student’s record cleared, accuses school officials of subjecting the student to counseling as well as “intimidation tactics, interrogation, and dire threats by school officials.”
The legal team said the student was waiting in line for the routine bag search, screening and pat-down procedures used on students before they can enter the building when he realized the toy was in his pocket.
“Realizing his error and that the toy was a prohibited item on school grounds, Caden alerted the security personnel to his predicament, explaining that he had accidentally brought the plastic toy to school and relinquishing the toy to school security personnel,” the organization said.
“While we all have an interest in ensuring that students remain safe at school, there is no reason that this young boy should have been deprived of adequate procedural safeguards, stigmatized, branded a miscreant, denied an educational experience, and made to suffer the long-term consequences of a ‘weapons violation’ on his permanent school record…” the letter explains.
The situation developed at Frederick Funston Elementary, which runs random “pat-down” procedures on students, in addition to having students go through metal detectors.
Further, the school then turned their attack to Caden’s mother, Edith Fraustro.
She ‘was berated and criticized for allowing her son to use toy guns and warned that the ‘seriousness’ of his offense could result in expulsion. School officials also explained that Caden would be required to serve a one-day at home suspension, would have to undergo counseling and a psychiatric evaluation before he would be permitted to return to school, and that the suspension would remain on his permanent school record.”
The incident, school officials concluded, fell under the heading of “Very Serious Disruptive Behaviors.”
In the earlier case, it was a real gun involved. But the fact that is was an inanimate object didn’t deter police from demanding a no-knock raid on the house.
They broke into the resident’s home as if a firearm in the home “could somehow load itself, disengage its own safety, open the door, and begin to fire at the police,” according to a brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Quinn was targeted by police because his son – who was suspected of possessing drugs – lived in the same home. His son was absent, and police records reveal they knew that fact when officers broke into Quinn’s home in a no-knock, SWAT-team style forced entry.
The state admits the raid was based “solely on the suspicion that there were legally owned firearms in the household.”
The case began in August 2006 when police in Collin County, Texas, got a warrant for Quinn’s home. Lower courts rejected Quinn’s objection to the “no-knock” entry on the grounds that because police had information that guns were present at the residence, they were justified in making a forced and unannounced invasion.
WND reported also that lawyers with the Rutherford Institute, who are representing Quinn, asked whether the state could demand that Quinn relinquish his Second Amendment rights to keep his Fourth Amendment rights.
They argued that tradeoff was impermissible.
“Although police had obtained a search warrant for John Quinn’s home based on information that Quinn’s son might possess drugs, the warrant did not authorize police to enter the residence without knocking and announcing their entry. During the raid, Quinn was shot by police because he had reached for his lawfully owned firearm, thinking that his home was being invaded by criminals,” Rutherford explained.