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Man sues Tacoma police over improper search of his home

Post by Adam Lynn / The News Tribune on Jan. 27, 2011 at 11:08 am with 28 Comments »
January 27, 2011 3:06 pm

A man who claims Tacoma police trashed his house while serving a search warrant four years ago is suing the city for damages.

A lawyer for Calvin B. Clark filed the lawsuit in Pierce County Superior Court on Monday.

The suit seeks unspecified damages, but Clark requested $200,000 in a claim filed with the city earlier this year.

Police investigating a drug case searched Clark’s house during the evening of Jan. 24, 2007. They reported in court documents they believed he might have been providing drugs to a street-level dealer they’d been investigating.

Clark later was charged with drug and weapons crimes, but the case was dismissed after Superior Court Judge Ronald Culpepper ruled police did not have probable cause to search Clark’s house. Culpepper threw out all evidence seized during the search.

Clark wrote in documents accompanying his claim against the city that the episode greatly embarrassed him and that police caused unnecessary damage to his home during their search, including damaging a wall while trying to access a safe.

“I was violated and my character defamed,” he said. “I am a firm believer of the law, but my family was wronged.”

TPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

UPDATE: Police spokesman Mark Fulghum said this afternoon the department does not comment on pending lawsuits.

Leave a comment Comments → 28
  1. surveyor1 says:

    Seems to me Calvin Clark ought to look a gift horse in the mouth and leave well enough alone. It appears the only reason he didn’t get convicted and set to prison was because of the illegal search.

    He states above that he is a firm believer of the law, but yet the police found enough eveidence to charge him with drug and wepons crimes. Had the police done their due dilligence and gotten the proper warrant, this guy would most likely be in prison. It is funny though, a drug dealer who is the firm believer in the law. I guess really only a firm believer when he can make a buck on because the cops screwed up. Wonder if he is still dealing today?

  2. thewestside says:

    So if this is the Calvin Bernard Clark Jr., he was selling drugs from his house and in possession of a sawed off shot gun and he gets off on a technicality now he wants to sue the city for $200,000? I don’t get it. Dude you got a get out of jail free card!!! Use it.

  3. dirtydan54 says:

    He did use it and still has the same rights as you and I against warrantless and unreasonable searches.

    The people who cannot grasp and/or understand the reality that law enforcement and other agencies engage in unlawful act’s and actions almost routinely really have their head in the sand.

    Also as mentioned by the comments so far he was not convicted of any crime or drug dealing.

    Having that attitude is exactly what fuels and allows many of the injustices and unlawful at the hands of police and other agencies to continue.

    Lawsuits are the only method a person has to hold those who commit criminal or unlawful acts and actions accountable since public officers that commit such unlawful and illegal acts typically are not arrested and prosecuted for those crimes.

    If you paid attention to appellate and supreme court decisions you’d learn cases like this are overturned alot more often than one would think in criminal cases, you just don’t learn about most of them in the news media

  4. Daisydog says:

    Dirtydan54: a spot on comment, well written, intelligently thought out and on topic!

  5. surveyor1 says:

    Kind of like the pot calling the kettle black, isn’t it?

  6. Frankly123 says:

    “…while serving a search warrant…” But no probable cause eh? A bit more info here to help us understand better. Doesn’t a judge issue the warrant? I don’t know the specifics but I can tell you fixing a wall and cleaning up the place costs much less than $200K. Throw this out!

  7. dirtydan54 says:

    Daisydog, read my numerous comments to the $500,000 bail for the Graham man arrested for “threats” made to the governor. lol

  8. alderscaler says:

    “while serving a search warrant”. the police had a lawful warrant issued by a judge for the search. The fact that another judge disagrees with the basis of the warrant only nulifies the evidence gained. the police acted in good faith. I say fix his house, but don’t build him a new one.

  9. brett987654321 says:

    I find it disgusting that individual police officers are never punished for their extreme behavior. Over and over again taxpayers end up paying millions in lawsuits. I think these lawsuits should come out of police budgets. Maybe that would get them to start following the laws they are supposed to enforce.

  10. dirtydan54 says:


    And what? Let them off and forget the unlawful and criminal the violations to his fundamental constitutional rights?

    Now since theres supposedly such a constitutional right and guarantee to the equal protection of the law explain how your comment makes sense.

    Just cuz they wear a badge doesn’t make it right or lawful. Under federal law that is a criminal crime.

    My only concern is the three year time limit of which to file a claim for damages that may be an issue, although there are a few exceptions to that three year limit.

  11. dirtydan54 says:


    Better yet take the funds from their union pension fund accounts instead of the department operating budgets. At least that way it impacts them in some manor since they’ll most likely never face a criminal prosecution for their unlawful actions.

  12. It’s always surprises me when others judge, jump to conclusions and WANT to believe the worst when they have nothing more than a scant story. They know nothing of the previous case, other than Clark was NOT convicted. This isn’t a ‘get out of jail free’ card. Perhaps, just perhaps, if they took the time to educate themselves without assuming the worst, they would find out that the police had the wrong man altogether.
    I have much love and respect for our fine officers as a whole, but I have seen and heard of some very inappropriate and illegal behavior on behalf of officers that had let power go to their head. Trashing a innocent man’s house and frightening his disabled son is not outside the realm of possibility.
    By the way, another point this story did not tell was that Calvin Clark is a decorated war veteran and business owner that refused to let the police manipulate and endanger him and his family him by trying to get him to sell drugs to catch a bigger fish.

  13. Everyone is entitled to equal protection under the law.

  14. swade2569 says:

    The damages do seem excessive, and there’s a bit missing about this story to form a reasonable position.

    Prosecutors and judges need to pay very close attention that they don’t make these mistakes because they are costly to civil rights and to public money coffers.

    The judge who issued this illegal search warrant should be known so the electorate can make a change. The people need judges and prosecutors who operate fully within the rule of law so that our money used to prosecute criminals is not wasted on poor decisions and taking shortcuts.

  15. BigSwingingRichard says:

    I wonder if the police had to return the illegal guns and drugs to him?

    I really do hope that someday I get put on this jury, man that would be fun.

  16. Frankly123 says:

    Swade2569 says it better than I did, more information is needed. I first searched “Calvin B. Clark” in the TNT but found nothing to fill in some of the pieces. To clarify my position, the $200K claim seems excessive for the description of damage in the article, including harm to ones character. Pay for repairs and perhaps any work time lost or other lodging & material expenses incurred, but I disagree with any large claim. I believe the truth often lies somewhere in the middle, so I’m a bit skeptical as to why Mr. Clark was searched in the first place if there was no cause whatsoever.

    Also, I don’t give the police a ‘free pass’ on their actions. I’ve always felt that anyone in front line law enforcement has a predisposition towards violence or via the job becomes predisposed by the nature of the work. It takes a well balance person to overcome constant exposure to a particular environment & circumstances then to remain objective & balanced and there’s so few of us like that ;-) Appropriate reprimands might be necessary if a review indicates such.

  17. m9078jk3 says:

    The U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights is the supreme law of the land.
    All other laws are inferior to it and if ever in conflict the Federal rights always trump other laws.Glad to know ther are some good judges out there respecting peoples rights like Ronald Culpepper.Any judge that respects federal rights over state laws will get my vote.

  18. dirtydan54 says:


    Good point. Problem is though when one of them does something they shouldnt or is unlawful in the performance of their duties, the rest of them circle the wagons to protect each other from harm.

  19. dirtydan54 says:

    It is too bad that Judge Culpepper is seemingly in the minority of all the Judges and Commissioners of the P.C. Superior Court. Believe me since 2002 I have studied in great depth a majority of the Judicial officers and those within the Prosecuting Attorneys Office,

    Simply stated, it is my opinion there exists a very serious lack of integrity to their fundamental ministerial duties, to put it lightly, within both of the aforementioned entities.

  20. wcsehmel says:

    Every citizen has civil rights, and these cops violated them. Yes even drug dealers have civil rights. I hope these cops are currently on unpaid leave pending perjury charges.

  21. thewestside says:

    It’s odd that some of you think the police and the courts are in the wrong here.
    The bottom line is this guy was selling drugs and had a sawed off gun in his house. Would you live next to him? Would you let your kids in this guys house?

    Look what happened to a guy doing the exact same thing in Las Vegas.

  22. swade2569 says:

    thewestside: Your logic suggests that anyone with a weapon and drugs need not be held over for trial since they are already guilty. Would you also agree that a third-party who doesn’t like you and knows you have weapons could plant drugs in your house and then turn you in? Cops find drugs and weapons, so you go to jail, no questions asked. Is that the legal system you would prefer?

  23. Novelist3 says:

    This guy is criminal. Once a hoodlum, always a hoodlum. The end of the day will end with his sanctimonious rear in prison, sharing time with a guy named Bubba.

  24. thewestside says:

    swade2569: I am not a lawyer, nor do I want to be. Do you consider O.J. Simpson an innocent man?

  25. wcsehmel says:

    OJ was tried by 12 and found not guilty which means… he’s innocent.

  26. harleyrider1 says:

    Judge Culpepper disagreed with the Superior Court Judge that signed the search warrant the police acted upon. It is up to the judges to approve a search warrant based on cause. The police made the application; a judge approved it and they did their job.
    The judges need to get in sync so this does not happen again. And you people need to be careful what judges you elect so mistakes are not made.

    For those that do not like the police – never call them. No matter what happens in your life, do not call them. Don’t be a hypocrites. The rest of us need them to focus on protecting us not helping ungrateful people who also lack the ability to understand who approves lawful warrants.

  27. For all you no it alls out there forget what you think you know and let’s kick the facts that we know from the story. This man is not gultiy of any crime so why should he not have the constitutional , civil , fumdamental and any other kind of rights you can think of to protect himself and his may not believe this but the cops do make mistakes. So as far as his home repairs go you or I don’t know how much was destoyed so stop acting like what’s in that mans pocket is of any concern of yours!!!

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