Latest Police Harassment

Radley Balko has the skinny on a series of recurring harassing actions undertaken by the police force against the proprietor of a local bar (including a 90 person SWAT-team raid under the auspices of an “alcohol inspection”) in Manassas Park, VA. The story seems almost too absurd to be true, as the harassment has gone on for over 2 years, and it begs the question why. Of course, money and local big shots are involved, along with an interesting gambling twist, and the possibility of a personal vendetta. The courts have denied said proprietor legal recourse, at least for now. Make sure to read the other posts that he links to, especially the video of the SWAT raid.

More here.

Update: Be sure to check out the comments as Neil Ruttenberg, the father of David Ruttenberg (the proprietor), has left one with quite a bit more information about the court case.

  • Neil H. Ruttenberg

    I am Neil Ruttenberg. I’m David Ruttenberg’s father and co-counsel on Ruttenberg v. Jones, 1:06cv638, Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

    You have advertised a credo to the effect that the United States Constitution is the vehicle by which men(women) “would no longer be subject to oppresive government that traded their individual liberties and rights for the paternalism of government.” If your serious about that credo, and I’m sure you are, then what has happened to date in the Eastern District, i.e., the dismissal by that court of alleged viiolations of the 1st, 4th and 14th Amendments, should be of more than a little concern.

    Curiously, David Ruttenberg did in fact win on the law as argued by the City of Manassas Park and Prince William County. The Eastern District denied the City/County’s motion to stay or abstain per the various abstention doctrines (Younger, etc.) but then, on its own, decided that the complaint’s allegations of fabrication of evidence, and perjury with respect to that fabrication, was not sufficient to provide a cause of action with respect to deprivation of property without due process of law, i.e., a violation of the 14th Amendment. As absurd as the foregoing, the Court’s treatment of the 4th Amendment violation allegations was, in my view, frightening.

    Based solely on unsubstantiated rumor, the “state actors” convinced themselves that David Ruttenberg’s office was a den of iniquity in which could be found drugs, illegal pornography and who knows what. However, since they had absolutely no evidence of any wrongdoing by Mr. Ruttenberg they apparently could not get a warrant to search that office. Further, they knew in advance of the huge 2 June 2004 raid that Mr. Ruttenberg’s office was not part of the ABC licensed premises (see below). Nevertheless they searched that office, under the guise of an ABC inspection and seized two unopened bottles of vodka. Nothing else was found in that office or anywhere else in Rack N Roll. (It might be noted that Mr. Ruttenberg has absolutely no criminal record and operated two businesses in the Manassas Park shopping center for 18 years, both with ABC licenses, without a single violation before the 2 June 2004 raid).

    At the susequent ABC hearing, the senior ABC officer, who helped plan and participated in the 2 June raid and search of the office, testified, under oath, that the office was not part of the licensed premsises, not subject to ABC inspection and that the two bottles of vodka were not a violation of ABC law or regulation. The charge of unauthorized alcohol stemming from the vodka was dropped. This officer had met with the raiders prior to the raid and it is inconceivable that he did not inform them in advance that the office could not be searched. In any event he knew it was not subject to search yet he took part in that search.

    The Eastern District, claiming to operate under a standard whereby the facts alleged by a plaintiff must be accepted as true if an allegation is to be dismissed as totally failing in law, apparently ignored the facts, which were set out in the complaint, dismissed the 4th Amendment claim and thereby denied Mr. Ruttenberg the opportunity of presenting evidence with respect to his allegations.

    The United States Constitution, and the supposed protections that it affords the American citizenary, is nothing but smoke and mirrors in the face of such “oppresive government.”