Tametta Bellotte, Individually; E. B.; C. B., by and through their next friend and mother, Tametta Bellotte, Plaintiffs-Appellees V. TRACY L. EDWARDS, P. G. SMITH, ; Keith Sigulinsky, Ranson Police Department, ADAM LETTS, Corporal, Charles Town Police Department, Robert Sell, Corporal, Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, Kevin Boyce, Corporal, Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, James Tennant, Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, Brandon Haynes, Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, Sam Smith, Patrolman, Charles Town Police Department, Anthony Mancine, Patrolman, Charles Town Police Department, Patrick Norris, Patrolman, Ranson Police Department, Defendants-Appellants, and Wal-Mart stores east, L.P., Defendant, v. Samuel Joseph Bellotte, Third Party Defendant.
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT No. 10-1115,
Use of a Special Operations Team On May 31, 2007, Sam Bellotte went to the Wal-Mart located in Winchester, Virginia, to print photographs and make other purchases. Using a memory card he printed his photos at the self-service machine. He went to a clerk to pay for the prints. The clerk was adamant to look at the photographs. Sam Bellotte told them that there was nudity and the clerk would not release them to Sam Bellotte. Sam Bellotte paid for the non-offending photographs then paid for his the other items and left.
Another employee who was to destroy the photos saw one had male genitalia next to what looked like a child's face. Believing that it was child pornography the Fredrick County Police was notified. An officer arrived and placed the photo into a file then verified that Sam Bellotte was the person paying for the photos and contacted the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. Detective Tracy Edwards reviewed the file and ran a check on Sam Bellotte's address. He discovered that Sam Bellotte and his wife had firearms permits. Detective Edwards obtained a search warrant from a magistrate. The warrant was signed around 2100 that evening.
Detective Edwards contacted a superior officer and obtained approval to have the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Special Operations Team (SORT) go with her to execute the warrant. The SORT team leaders assessed the situation and believed that they should assist as there were firearms in the home. Three squads were dispatched and, after a briefing and plan in place, went to Sam Bellotte's home around 2215. The officers were dressed in tactical gear to include helmet, vest, and displaying Sig Sauer pistols. They also had entry tools in case they were needed.
The squads opened the unlocked front and back doors then entered without announcement. They executed a dynamic entry in which all entered the home at the same time from different points. After entry they identified themselves repeatedly to the occupants and that they were serving a search warrant. They encountered E. Bellotte, Sam Bellotte's son. He was coming out of his bedroom talking on his cell phone; he was handcuffed by the officers. E. Bellotte alleged that officers put a gun to the back of his head. Officers then found C. Bellotte and she was escorted downstairs un-handcuffed. Other SORT members found Tametta Bellotte in her bedroom. She leapt from the bed and ran screaming to a closet and a gun bag. Officers forced her to the floor and handcuffed her. She was later allowed to dress in the presence of a female officer. The residence was searched and the officers left before midnight.
Sam Bellotte was at his hunting cabin in West Virginia. Tametta Bellotte told Sam Bellotte what had occurred. He went straight to Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and met with Detective Edwards. Bellotte gave a statement regarding the photographs that the person in the photograph was not a child but, a thirty five year old woman from the Philippines. Bellotte did not have any child pornography and was never charged with anything.