Man says police broke into home

Posted: Sunday, July 24, 2005

John Shakespeare said he would like to build a home with steel grates and bars so police couldn't break in and abuse him, as he claims they did two years ago, when his son was arrested on drunken-driving charges.

"How safe do I have to be in my own home?" the Switzer Park man said.

Acting as his own attorney, he filed a lawsuit in Juneau Superior Court last week, seeking $350,000 from the city, the police department and four officers - Ben Coronell, who has since retired, Matt Torok, Robert Kolvig and Brian Dallas.

Juneau Police Capt. Tom Porter said he was familiar with the allegations but could not comment. He referred questions to the city's legal department.

City Attorney John Hartle was unavailable Friday. Calls were referred to a staff attorney, who did not return them Friday afternoon.

Shortly before midnight on July 19, 2003, two men on Renninger Street in the Lemon Creek area heard tires screech and saw a white van nearly hit a light pole and skid onto the sidewalk at Glacier Highway, according to police and court reports.

The two men also saw a shirtless man run from the scene and they followed him to a Switzer Park trailer, that of John Shakespeare. They told police the shirtless man was "staggering," according to court records.

Police found Trevor Shakespeare in the trailer's bathroom, took him to the hospital and arrested him on drunken-driving charges.

The older Shakespeare said he told officers six times to get off of his property unless they had a warrant. His lawsuit quotes the profanity he used.

"Juneau police violated (Trevor) Shakespeare's constitutionally guaranteed rights when they kicked down his door and rampaged through his home," Assistant Public Defender Eric Hedland wrote in arguments to suppress evidence in the criminal case.

"One's home is a private place that Alaska is willing to recognize," he wrote.

Juneau District Attorney Patrick Gullufsen argued police had reason to believe Trevor Shakespeare might have been injured in the accident.

"As it turned out, he was hurt, and because of the officers' actions, he received medical treatment," Gullufsen said.

John Shakespeare said his son was injured by police.

Before the drunken-driving trial, Gullufsen also argued the entry was justified because the defendant had just committed a crime and officers were in hot pursuit.

Juneau District Judge Peter B. Froehlich, who has since retired, ruled the officers were motivated by arresting Trevor Shakespeare, not by addressing his medical needs.

Froehlich suppressed the evidence police gained after entering the Shakespeare home. That included the blood test taken at the hospital, which showed Trevor Shakespeare had a blood alcohol level of .199 percent, far more than the legal threshold for drivers of .08.

A jury in January 2004 found Trevor Shakespeare guilty of drunken driving and driving after his license had been revoked, court records show.

John Shakespeare said his son wasn't driving that night. "He was taking the rap," he said, but wouldn't say for whom.

His son's conviction is irrelevant to his case, though, he said.

John Shakespeare has had a long history of problems with the Juneau police himself, but a lot of people have, he said. John Shakespeare said he spent a year in jail on a cocaine charge in 1984.

He said police stormed his home that night two years ago "like the Gestapo and the Mafia. They cracked a picture window. They broke a door."

He said no local attorney wanted to go against police in the case, but have encouraged him to file it himself.

"I'm not going to settle," he said. If he has to, he said, "I'll go to the Supreme Court of the United States because they have to go by the letter of the law."

• Tony Carroll can be reached at

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