The home– often a place that is deemed to be a safe haven. A place where an individual can seek peace, solitude, comfort, and protection. All of which things were denied in my case. This is my story, the story of Dean Secord.
My name is Dean Secord, a man who can be described as being a God-fearing, hardworking, and honest father and husband. I was 51 years of age when I endured a traumatic encounter with the Jefferson Parish Police Department. On August 19, 2019, I had just returned home from work, showered, and expected to have a normal evening, during which time I heard a knock at my door. When I looked, no one was in sight. A second knock occurred and still no one was in sight. Once I decided to open the door to ascertain whether someone was in fact at my door, there was no preparation for what was about to transpire. I was immediately grabbed and pulled out of his home at gunpoint while the Jefferson Parish police ran inside and raided my home. The police stated that they were looking for an individual who was not even myself. Nor did the person in question even reside at my residence. One would think that the ordeal would have ended there after the officers realized that they did not do their due diligence to secure the right address. However, the police claimed to have smelled burning marijuana inside my home, so they began to search my home without my consent.
While this unauthorized search took place, I, still in shock, was detained for several hours and was handcuffed in my living room. I knew nothing of what they found, photographed, or seized, but I could hear them trying to break open a safe in my roommate’s room. I was eventually presented with a half of a cigar and was informed that I was going to be charged with a misdemeanor possession of marijuana. I asked the officers for a field test to prove that he had not been smoking marijuana. I further informed the officers that I was planning to move to New Mexico for a job opportunity, as was evidenced by my belongings and furniture being packed up in the living room, so there was no reason for me to smoke marijuana and risk failing a drug test and being denied my future employment. However, I was denied the field test. Instead, I was told that I could sign a summons that was not an admission of guilt, but rather a promise to appear in court. After the officers left my home, the ordeal became even more full of deceit. A warrant that I never knew to exist was produced along with a police report that was plagued by misrepresentations and planted evidence. To add on to the troubles, an officer incorrectly filled out the police report and put the evidence obtained from his roommate under his name. As such, my background information was incorrectly recorded and reported to the FBI and to the Louisiana Supreme Court.
As a result of this demoralizing and traumatic incident, not only was I denied employment due to me realizing I was actually charged with felony possession of marijuana, but I was also denied my 2nd Amendment rights and my right to register to vote because of the inaccuracies and fallacies on my record. My record was not corrected until October of 2020, when I had to take matters into my own hands, without the aid of my attorney, to contact the Louisiana Supreme Court and have the record erased. I still have yet to be found guilty.
Not only were my constitutional and civil rights violated due to the overcharging, the illegal search and seizure, and being physically subdued and forced to comply with an armed invasion of my home, but I was also violated emotionally. I felt violated, tricked, scared, angry, confused and felt as though I was treated as a criminal from the very beginning. As a result of the police forced entry raid, I have been diagnosed with PTSD and have experienced panic attacks and night terrors since the incident. I have also spent thousands of dollars that was intended for my retirement plans in order to defend myself against the attack by the police in my home. I unfortunately still continue to pay money for representation until I can one day find a pro bono attorney to tell his story.
For these reasons, my desire to have my story told is very compelling. I feel as though we as citizens must make our voices heard through any legal means available. I believe that the government of the people does not work in silence, nor does it work with a lack of intestinal fortitude. Unfortunately, but understandably, my view of law enforcement and the judicial system has changed. I grew up under the impression that America was the best country in the world and looked to the future with hope and promise that the struggles for civil rights would someday be a reality that I could witness in my lifetime. Now, I fear the loss of democracy for minorities in this country and fear that we could fall under a police state. As such, I firmly believe that civil rights and criminal law attorneys will be very busy in the years to come. Despite the horrifying event I went through, I still remain passionate to have my story heard to effect change and to have police officers held accountable for their abuses of power.