Claiming to have more jurisdiction than local cops, a team of Florida bounty hunters used a battering ram and a crowbar to break into the home of a family in search of a man with a suspended license who owed the state $750.
But the man had not lived in the home for 20 years.
Now the family plans on suing with their lawyer calling the search a “state-sponsored home invasion.”
The raid was captured on video by the family who sent it to the Miami Herald which reported the following:
The bounty hunters broke down two doors, searched under mattresses and quoted a 147-year-old Supreme Court opinion.
The man, Colas’ 28-year-old cousin Berlin Gabriel, wasn’t there. He hadn’t lived there in 20 years, Colas said.
What Colas says he didn’t know: His cousin used his address when police asked where he lived. That gave the bounty hunters — referred to as bail bond agents in Florida and bail recovery agents elsewhere — a right to locate and detain Gabriel at his listed residence.
As private agents licensed by Florida’s Department of Financial Services and empowered by Florida Administrative Code, they do not require a search warrant to enter the home where they believe the fugitive they’re seeking is residing.
The 1872 Supreme Court decision referenced by the bounty hunters is Taylor vs Tainter and allows bounty hunters to enter private property without warrants to seize fugitives.
When bail is given, the principal is regarded as delivered to the custody of his sureties. Their dominion is a continuance of the original imprisonment. Whenever they choose to do so, they may seize him and deliver him up in their discharge; and if that cannot be done at once, they may imprison him until it can be done. They may exercise their rights in person or by agent. They may pursue him into another State; may arrest him on the Sabbath; and if necessary, may break and enter his house for that purpose. The seizure is not made by virtue of new process. None is needed. It is likened to the rearrest by the sheriff of an escaping prisoner.
The incident took place on May 5 in Miami Gardens, a municipality in North Miami-Dade County renowned for its corrupt police department. The Herald reported that the family called police three times but it does not look like they responded.
“We have more jurisdiction than police officers,” one of the bounty hunters said in the video here.