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Idaho SWAT team storms community yard sale in front of customers, children

Published: October 18, 2014
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The Ada Metro SWAT team during the arrest of Troy Wheeler at a yard sale. (Photo: Adam Worthington/KTVB)

The Ada Metro SWAT team during the arrest of Troy Wheeler at a yard sale. (Photo: Adam Worthington/KTVB)

MERIDIAN, ID — A SWAT team swarmed into a charity-based community yard sale pointing weapons and “scaring the heck out of” bystanders.

The raid took place at the “Neighborhood Angel” yard sale in Meridian, Idaho, which annually sells donated items to benefit a young girl suffering from cancer.  When a 39-year-old man arrived on a motorcycle to browse the tables on September 22, 2014, the event organizer described him as an “Every day kind of a guy, [an] all-American boy.”

Troy Wheeler is arrested at an Idaho yard sale by a SWAT team. (Photo: Adam Worthington/KTVB)

Troy Wheeler is arrested at an Idaho yard sale by a SWAT team. (Photo: Adam Worthington/KTVB)

Minutes later, in front of numerous customers and children, armored police officers descended upon the community event, throwing a man to the ground, along with an innocent woman who happened to be standing next to him.

“All of a sudden the SWAT team came in and arrested him and they told me he was a really bad guy,” said Flo Martinez to WTVB.  “I’m a single mom of four kids and it scared the heck out of us.”

Troy Wheeler — the “really bad guy” that required a public display of aggression in front of innocent bystanders and children — was taken into custody for parole violation and breaking prohibition laws.  Besides a battery conviction 13 years ago, his record is unremarkable and all prohibition-related.

The wisdom of the yard sale raid is questionable at best, especially if the suspect had actually been “heavily armed” as the police proclaimed.  The potential for innocent casualties — caused either by the suspect or by the police themselves — had to be higher at the crowded yard sale than if the arrest took place in a less public setting.

More unsettling is the public’s silent acquiescent to the aggressive, excessive enforcement of victimless crimes.  “Everybody here thought it was great,” explained Ms. Martinez after being told that the government had saved their lives from a “bad guy.”

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