On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department launched a jumbo-sized, Grade-A raid of Justin Bieber’s California home, looking for egg-related evidence in connection with an ongoing felony vandalism investigation.
According to several reports, roughly a dozen officers were on scene to execute a search warrant, and they brought their battering rams with them. Police helicopters also flew overhead, creating quite a stir in the normally quiet gated community, located in the affluent city of Calabasas. A spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Department claimed that both the size and scope of the search was due to two things: that Bieber is a suspect in a felony investigation, and an uncertainty about just who — or what — offices may have found when they entered his residence.
“In these types of situations, we don’t know what we’re going to confront,” Lt. Dave Thompson told reporters. “We don’t know who’s staying at the house, and we don’t know who may be under the influence of anything, so it’s better to err on the side of safety.”
Thompson added that officers did encounter “seven or eight” people inside Bieber’s house — the singer himself was confined to his garage, and did not have a lawyer present while the search was conducted — and discovered drugs, too (believed to be either cocaine or ecstasy), subsequently arresting Bieber’s friend, Lil Za on felony possession charges .
So, in that regard, it would seem the decision to “err on the side of safety” was a wise one. But given that all of this is related to a vandalism charge, was the size of the search excessive? And is Bieber being harassed by the law, as his fans are now claiming?
To answer those questions, MTV News spoke to Andrew Scott, an expert on police practices and procedures and the former chief of the Boca Raton Police Department. And, sorry Beliebers, but he thinks the Sheriff’s Department did everything by the book.
“It would appear to be excessive on first blush, but you have to take a look several factors. First, the size of Justin Bieber’s house, it’s a large L.A. mansion, and if you only send 3 or 4 detectives to do a search warrant, it would take forever,” he said. “And then, you learn that there were 7 or 8 people in the house, and when you conduct a warrant, and you have too few people, it’s like trying to corral cats into a bag, too few hands.
“Second, there have been a number of complaints from his neighbors , and he’s become a nuisance,” he continued. “I mean, is he creating terror? Is he going to become a serial killer? No, but he’s become a nuisance to a degree where the police have decided they need to do everything the right way, and they need to get the evidence to prosecute him.”
Scott added that, while battering rams and helicopters also may seem like overreach, neither were unreasonable — “If the warrant allowed them to force entry after serving notice, what else are they going to use?” he asked — and no matter what Bieber’s fans (or legal team) might suggest, in this instance, the deputies acted in an appropriate manner.
“I mean, if the SWAT team busted down the door, and were tossing stun grenades, I’d say maybe this was excessive. But, in this case, I think this was a proper deployment of its resources,” he said. “The best offense is a good defense, and I would think that would be one of those things his defense attorney would say. ’Look at the overreaction!’ But you’ve got to predicate their actions on Justin’s behavior and the number of complaints he’s generated. If the department sides on the side of caution are they to be blamed for that?
“Given the totality of the events, it doesn’t seem excessive or out of the ordinary. Given the size of the house, the fact that it’s Justin Bieber’s house, this is a media case,” he added. “So I think the department wanted to do this by the book.”