Violent police raid disrupts South Dakota home

Lies of informant begin inquisition in small town

Middle America begins to see what inner city residents have known for years

Police now routinely rape S.D. women with urine-sucking device


It was September 23rd, 1997 at about 7PM on a beautiful fall evening. I was sitting at the kitchen table of a friend when 7 or 8 machinegun-carrying, bullet-proof-vested, screaming cops burst through the unlocked screen door yelling "Get on the floor, this is a raid, we are the police".

"Do not look up, do not look at us, get on the floor and put your hands behind your back", they yelled at the top of their lungs, just like TV!

My friend has just returned from a hospital over 100 miles away with her infant baby who was lying on the couch, recovering from surgery. We had been discussing the baby's ailments, as she and I, being an herbalist, had been trying to figure out what was wrong with him before she had taken him to the doctor. The baby remained crying throughout this entire two hour ordeal.

The Mobridge Police Department, the South Dakota State Highway Patrol, the South Dakota Bureau of Criminal Identification, the DEA and the FBI agents handcuffed both of us and asked us where the drugs, money and guns were located.

I stated "the only ones with guns are you guys!". They told me not to say anything more and above all, not to look at them as they proceeded to talk on their radios to others outside. They then brought two large, grey plastic file boxes into the living room, placed them on the floor and, taking large plastic baggies containing something (?) proceeded to run from room to room in the house searching while a cop guarded my friend, DeShannon, and I---still handcuffed on the floor.

DeShannon's father, David, sometimes lived at the residence. They wanted to know where he was. It was him and his stuff they were looking for: The search warrant which they produced a couple of hours later, (with the judge's name signed by Agent Pat West ((known to other attorneys state-wide as West's Raider's)) from S.D. BCI), indicated that they were authorized to "search marijuana" and if they found any they were to "remove it to 723 N. Main Street, Mobridge, South Dakota" (the address of the residence they were searching!) and had the Judge's name on it, signed by Pat West...

They were also looking for books, records, receipts, notes, ledgers, airline tickets, money orders, U. S. currency, and other papers relating to the transaction, ordering, possession, sale and distribution of controlled substance and marijuana, contraband, proceeds of drug sales and drug records of drug transactions in secure locations to include residence, businesses, automobiles etc., and/or records from foreign banks, domestic banks, cashier's checks, money drafts, real estate and businesses either real or fictitious, etc. etc...

They "found" a jar of roaches in the basement rafters, some prescription drugs scattered around and a miniscule amount of heroin (which I still believe to have been planted). They confiscated all of the papers, books, records, video tapes and other paperwork of any kind from the house.

There were no records of any drug transactions, no large amounts of any kind of drugs, no large amounts of money, jewels, deeds to real estate, etc, nor any evidence thereof found.

The reason for all of this searching in the first place was that they had caught an individual with 31 pounds of pot as he was across the river in Corson County, South Dakota, trying to bury it. Turns out, his girlfriend and another woman had learned that a couple of Mexican men were staying at a local motel and had pot in their car. They kept the Mexicans busy in the motel room while their boyfriends, one Tracy Peters, and another man broke into the trunk of their car and stole all of the pot.

When the Game Warden and the Sheriff caught this Peters, according to his statement (which I have a copy of, and he lies twice before he started spinning his third one) he was bringing this 31# up from Denver for David Raba and David told him to bury it, when, in reality, he had stolen it from the Mexican's car but could not tell the cops that so made up this other story. He did, in his statement, say he feared for his life from some Mexican named Sandevall (and the State did lodge his wife and family in a hotel 100 miles away) but after he said "David Raba", the cops for some mysterious reason, assumed he was now telling the truth.

At 8AM on July 27th, 1998, my telephone rang. It was Mobridge Chief of Police Brooks Johnson telling me that I should come to the Police Station as I was being arrested for "Possession of less then 1/2 pound of Marijuana".

I dressed and was there within 10 minutes, where I met David Raba who was also under arrest. I was told that I needed to give a urine specimen and would be released. I refused. The chief said I had been ordered by the court to do so. I called Judge Jack Von Wald who told me that if I did not cooperate by giving a urine sample I would have to go to court. I said "fine", I'll go to court, whereupon we were both handcuffed and taken to jail, until 1PM where we were led, still handcuffed, into the courtroom full of people.

David Raba was taken to court where the Judge's son made a big deal of declining to represent him. He did not appear that day, but was led away and incarcerated for several more days until he got some friends to lend him $10,000 for bond.

I appeared, was read the charges, and was told by the judge I was guilty because I did possess less than 1/2 pound of marijuana----I had NONE.

The judge said that wasn't what the charge meant, so I pled not guilty and was given court-appointed counsel---the State's Attorney in another adjoining county named Mark Kroontje.

David had tried to retain an attorney named John Von Wald in Selby, the county seat of Walworth County, but he wanted $10,000 cash immediately.

He talked to another lawyer, Joann Powell of Gettysburg, SD who got the court to release $5,000 of the bond money to her.

Meanwhile, the attorney son of the judge tried to get David to cooperate with the SD BCI. They told him with 5 felony charges against him he would get at least 50 years, but if he cooperated and wore a wire to apprehend others, he would get only 10 years.

He is almost 60 years old. 10 years is a death sentence...

Tomorrow, August 16th, is the date set for the third "prior bad acts" hearing held by the State. They have held two others during which they have supoenaed several other people, including DeShannon, his daughter (who was also charged with possession of less than 1/2 pound along with me) and asked them if David was a drug dealer. They have also had an agent here in Mobridge investigating from a list of names by calling individuals on the list to the Police Department and asking them if they ever smoked pot with anyone and if so, when and who, etc...

David has located person to whom Tracy Peters the confidential informant gave the 31#. He is willing to testify to the real story, even wear a wire and speak to Tracy Peters about the real truth, but Attorney Powell doesn't seem to think that is a good idea...

We really need some competent legal help out here---I am by no means an attorney. I have been trying to help Don Howell and his wife Dianne deal with the forced catatherization stuff, help David get his ducks in a row and deal with my own pot possession charge but find I am getting into this over my head...

David has some resources, including several houses, an apartment building and a bar which he would be willing to put up or sell or anything else to pay an attorney who would have to be 'waived in' to the SD court system if any out there could help us...

Please???

David Raba
721 North Main Street
Mobridge, SD 57601
605 845-5191/7748

Don & Dianne Howell
315 First Avenue East
Mobridge, SD 57601
605 845-3301/3794


More South Dakota Police Violence

Old woman thrown to floor

Woman raped with urine-sucking device

1. Last week, the cops raided the home of an old lady whose daughter was having a dispute with her boyfriend. The boyfriend stashed some 'crank' at the house then went to the police department and told them he knew where drugs were. The cops searched, throwing the old lady, the daughter and the kids on the floor handcuffed, finding the drugs and arresting them all....Orwellian????? ...and it is getting worse here...

2. A friend of mine recently went to court here in Walworth County, South Dakota after the police, "acting on a tip from a 'confidential informant'," raided his home and found a marijuana roach and a seed. He and his wife went to court, after posting $1000 bond. He was never Miranda-ized and did not appear before the court but was jailed. His wife was then re-arrested and taken in chains to the hospital, catheterized and her urine was forcibly sucked out of her. After the Sheriff made him aware of that, he capitulated and took the test. Additional charges of 'possession' will soon be filed against both... They are severely traumatized and in need of counseling, as well as legal advice, but all of the attorneys in this area are either in bed with each other or deathly afraid of retribution. The State's Attorney from a neighboring county wants to help but the judge threatened to have him jailed too.

Do our Constitution and Bill of Rights mean nothing anymore? Could you help?

Respectfully submitted for your consideration.

Tom Bennett
509 Second Avenue West
Mobridge, SD 57601
605 845-5153


Read about other victims of police violence.
Return to the Other Stories page.
Return to The Injustice Line main page.