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40 Innocent People Cuffed After Bank Robbery

June 6, 2012 by  

40 Innocent People Cuffed After Bank Robbery
Police corralled nearly 20 vehicles in the search for a bank robber.

In an attempt to apprehend a man who robbed a Wells Fargo bank in Aurora, Colo., every adult at an intersection was detained. Some people were held for more than two hours. The cops had a “virtual certainty” the culprit was at the intersection.

When asked to describe a “virtual certainty,” Police Chief Daniel Oates explained that a virtual certainty is “a virtual certainty. That’s the language I’m using.”

The suspect was eventually apprehended, but the strategy of the police department raises questions about personal liberties.

Legal expert Jim Miller weighed in: “The concern is that the officers involved couldn’t point to any of these people they stopped and say ‘here’s my articulable suspicion for believing you did something wrong.’ They could individually file their lawsuits for false arrests.”

Oates apologized to innocent bystanders, but was quick to note that the end justifies the means.

“The law is clear that investigative detentions are lawful for a reasonable period of time,” he said. “Reasonableness is determined by the facts and circumstances at issue, and the facts and circumstances were the suspect was in one of 19 cars.”

Bryan Nash

Staff writer Bryan Nash has devoted much of his life to searching for the truth behind the lies that the masses never question. He is currently pursuing a Master's of Divinity and is the author of The Messiah's Misfits, Things Unseen and The Backpack Guide to Surviving the University. He has also been a regular contributor to the magazine Biblical Insights.

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  • Vicki

    Gee why don’t we just detain everyone within a mile of a reported crime. Bound to catch more bad guys that way too.

    • eddie47d

      I agree that it was an unusual step for police to take and gave them too much discretionary power. The perp was in among all those detained at this traffic stop so they got lucky this time. Seems like the bank tellers could have identified the perp instantly and allowed the others to go without handcuffing anyone.

      • independant thinker

        eddie, perhaps you are privy to information we don’t have but the article does not say where the suspect was apprehended.

      • Thor

        “The suspect was eventually apprehended, but the strategy of the police department raises questions about personal liberties.” Quoted from article above. Looks to me like it says ‘The suspect was eventually apprehended’ in the context of the investigative detention.

      • HH

        I would really like to know exactly “where” the perp was caught, Was he among these folks OR was he captured somewhere else. Sorry job of reporting if you ask me, to leave that pertinent information out of your story!

      • eddie47d

        IT: I live next to Aurora and the perp was within the group of cars stopped.

    • Carlie

      Oh, wow. I WAS HERE watching the whole thing. No, they have NOT CAUGHT ANYONE related to this crime yet. I was going into the King Soopers at Buckley & Iliff and saw this spectacle, with at least 20 police cars, some unmarked cars, and black SUVs from the Denver SWAT team, all with their flashers on. One policeman was standing guard with his gun pointed over the crowd. A swat team went to the vehicles one by one. They would take one person at a time, point a gun in the person’s face, even children’s faces, then they would take each person over to the side and they handcuffed the adults. Only one woman wasn’t handcuffed, as she was holding a newborn. There was a lady in a long red dress and high heels, who had a hard time walking across the street in those shoes who was handcuffed. A policeman standing in the middle of Buckley, directing cars away yelled at us to move back. We moved back about 30 feet but could still see the whole thing.

  • Harold Olsen

    I hope every one of those people who were handcuffed and held files false arrest law suits against the police. By being handcuffed and detained and being prevented from going about their business, they were all under arrest. Sure, they may not have been booked but they were arrested nonetheless. Lawsuits should be filed and the idiot police chief should be fired!

    • Steve E

      I agree, those people should not have been arrested. The police overstepped their bounds. A large law suit should be filed by each person involved to keep the police state in check.

    • Vicki

      Though I agree they should not have been arrested they were “detained” not arrested. It is a gotcha to allow the police to arrest you without actually legally arresting you. What the people should do is as repeatedly if they are under arrest and if not then ask of they are free to go. When the police say they are being detained they should ask if they are under arrest and then if they are free to go. I am sure there are lawyers that can explain how that helps break up an illegal action that police call “detention”.

  • http://Bud12 Ed

    Fire the police chief and revoke his pension

  • nanc

    I agree with Harold Olsen. Why should we be held for some stupid reason like that. Time for the “WE the People stand up for our Rights”.

  • tim

    Too many sheep, and if people don’t get a spine and start standing up for thier rights they will walk all over us. The government needs to be afraid of WE THE PEOPLE!!!!!! Not the other way around!!!

  • lady kroft

    If he thought it was a male bank robber why are there women in handcuffs?

    • Gary L

      Lady Kroft, There must have been a “virtual certainty” that they were all acomplices.
      That is my articulable suspicion (haha).

      • Jim K

        Virtual certainty is a concept in English Law, not law as practiced in the United States of America. This is the kind of thing that happened in Germany in the late 30s and early 40s not in 21st century America. I guess we should get used to being considered guilty until proven innocent.

    • Isaac Davis

      Precisely! If a man was identified as the perp, why are there blonde women in the picture in handcuffs? There is the Rule of Law, and there is the “color of law”. This crackpot team of keystone-kops was operating under the color of law, made up as they went, answerable to no one but themselves.

  • coongirl3

    they knew the bank robber was in one of the 19 cars at that intersection. he had 2 assault rifles and a handgun. would you have rather he went on a shooting or hostage spree to get away?

    • lady kroft

      You’re right, and it’s a good point you made. Kudos to you.

    • Chris Byers

      Your statement is simply moronic!
      Just as easy to say, “we know the person is in the city, we have declared martial law and will search everyone for weapons!” Where do you draw the line? Where does it stop?

      The reason we have laws for REASONABLE SEARCH AND SEIZURE, is because of injustices done by those with power and authority. It is about checks and balances, this had no checks and was not balanced!!

      The means are not justified by the ends, only simpletons are accepting of this kind of thinking!!!

      • lady kroft

        Chris…Had they not done this and he did go on a shooting rampage, you’d be one of the first to be whining and screaming about how they should have corraled everyone and arrest the bad guy before he shot your wife and kids and dozens of others. Police are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

      • Big Woody

        Lady Kroft might change her tune if the bad guy started shooting and killed the people that were sitting defencless on the curb. Two sides to every coin. The cops were wrong and I hope those responsible will be fired and made to personally pay for any lawsuits that result.

      • Opal the Gem

        “Lady Kroft might change her tune if the bad guy started shooting and killed the people that were sitting defencless on the curb.”

        My guess is she would then blame the guns.

      • Joe H

        Yeah Opal, you gotta watch those mean guns!!! They might shoot all those innocent people all by their lonesome!!!

      • Vicki

        Give us back our guns. That will put a quick end to any “shooting rampage”

    • Jim K

      Detaining a group of people might as just as easily precipitated a violent reaction from the robber since he was so armed. I believe that most law enforcement agencies recommend against this kind of action where you are forcing a confrontation in a group of citizens.

    • Nadzieja Batki

      So you would give up Liberty for a little security. But the ones who give you security can also take it away on a whim. You would not like living in a constant state of uncertainty, but with your comment there is a possibility that you wouldn’t care.

    • Mikey


      Maybe America isn’t the place for you. Maybe you’d feel more at home in Red China,North Korea, or Cuba where the state constantly tramples on it’s citizens’ rights in exchange for security.

  • Gary L

    Tyranny. This is where it starts. Allowed to continue, you can say goodbye to liberty.

  • martin w

    remember it is We the people against them

    • lady kroft

      Yeah? Well “We the people” aren’t doing squat about the imposter in the Whitehouse; the creeping in of shariah law; the unmitigated corruption in our Congress and Senate; the invasion of muslims and islam in our country; the war against states; the war against Christianity and I could go on forever. So, “We the people” means nothing when WE keep turning a blind eye to these invasions on our freedoms and way of life and do NOTHING. We all need to march, rally and protest!!…because Romney isn’t any much better than Obama.

      • Robert Smith

        Hey lady, can you offer us any examples of: “the creeping in of shariah law;”

        I don’t recall any.

        Is killing abortion doctors one example? Oops, that’s from the christian right.


      • Robert Smith

        That’s from an article that begins: “First, it was South Dakota. Then Nebraska and Iowa. The similarly worded bills, which have quietly cropped up recently in state legislatures, share a common purpose: To expand justifiable homicide statutes to cover killings committed in the defense of an unborn child.”


      • George Grover




      • Sirian

        You are as typical of a fool concerning this issue as most liberal idiots are. You asked for an example or shall we say source. . .
        Go to that site, go through the video course, and then read one book
        Between the two you should be able to PERHAPS get a grip on what is actually taking place. But, as usual, you will ignore this information and continue with your BS.

      • Opal the Gem

        Ah Robert Smith, a two bit hot dog trying to pass himself off as a prime steak.

      • Jay



        Wow, talk about going off topic. Did you remember to take your meds today?

        And btw, i was under the impression that only the religious-Christian-right is full of hate. Judging by your rant, however, you seem to have the monopoly on hate. I suppose its safe to assume, then, that even atheists can succumb to the level of stupid worms. If only you had kept your mouth shut…your foot would not be lodged in your mouth. Fool!

      • Jay

        robert says: Is killing abortion doctors one example? Oops, that’s from the christian right.

        I wouldn’t call them doctors, mr. smith. More like, psychotic-butchers! And why shed a tear when one of them receives their just-reward….what goes around, comes around. It should not come as a surprise, should it?

        Just think of it this way; one, who was dedicated to “population control”, is no more. You should view it as a valuable contribution. I mean, what finer example could there be of one’s conviction to the cause of population control, when he/she, is no more. Just one less person on the planet. Isn’t that the idea? So why weep their departure, robert, rather, you should celebrate it! I’m quite certain that that is what they would wish you would do, if they were able to communicate with you. Its all good!

      • Joe H

        for an example of sharia law creep, I suggest you visit Dearborn Michigan. Look close!

  • Ron The Marine

    We The People need to wake up! Here in Mississippi just about every small town hot dog Barney Fife is looking under every rock they can unlawfully turn over looking for their “BIG POLICE BUST” at the expense of law abiding citizen’s rights! They passed a bill in MS that you will be fined only $25 (bold face lie) for not wearing a seat belt. Everyone leaned over and said OK Masa, give it to me! You will be lucky if the total “FINE” is less than $100 after the “SYSTEM” adds their corrupt add-ons (corn hole fees) for court cost, fees, May Berry screw you fees, etc. Now when you here your state is going to pass a law fining you “JUST” $25 for not having and applying GOD given common sense, don’t say NO, say HELL NO! AS THEY SAY IN ARKANSAS SUE PIG SUE!!! Semper Fi and keep some powder dry and the knives sharp!

    • lady kroft

      There is no provision to answer Robert’s query, I’m using Ron the marine’s space. Sorry, Ron.
      Well, Robert Smith, send me your e-mail address and I’ll inundate your inbox with tons of examples of shariah law rulings in our courts. And if you don’t want to do that then ponder the reason why some states are passing laws against using sharia to rule in their state. And if that’s not good enough for you either, put in your search “Sharia law in the United States” and you’ll be snowed under with information. You may not do this if you yourself are a muslim.

      • Jon

        Don’t worry Lady, Robert is one of the morons that thinks it’s Ok to kill innocent babies and it’s a woman’s choice to kill that baby inside her. So for him to think Sharia Law isn’t creeping into America, well, that’s what you get with liberal minded idiots.

      • THG 1956

        I live in Georgia and the law was just passed here . NO sharia LAW IN GEORGIA . If it wasn’t for judge malihi , I’d be proud to be a Georgian again .

      • Jay

        lady, just think of robert as a animal with rabies, and you will soon stop wasting your time trying to educate him. Rather, you should always address him by his proper title, “Demented Pedophile”, or, “Depraved Homosexual”, same thing really! Either one is a perfect fit…

    • Larry Kemp


  • Tom Cook

    The people just need to relieve the thug Daniel Oates from his cushy profitable job–he should be cleaning urinals in a local junior high.

    • rocketride

      But that would put him in contact with children. Anyone really think that’s a good idea?

  • peter

    It’s known as collateral damage, fully condoned by Obama dependiing on the colour of the victim. Decent folks do not have any rights, only the perp’s enjoy that privilege. OK?

  • Raggs

    You are under arrest because I thought that you might do something wrong!… sounds good doesn’t it?
    Just wait until the drones are spying on you while you are grilling hotdogs in your own back yard next thing you know KNOCK-KNOCK….

    • Joe H

      Just ponder the problem of explaining to your boss when he asks why you are late that you “were arrested”!!!! Good luck with THAT one!!

  • Raggs

    No actually they won’t even knock they will just bust in.

  • Sirian

    HA, this sounds very similar to the movie “Inside Man”.

  • David

    Every SOB cop involved in this action should be put in stocks publicly horse whipped and then fired. Every citizen of the US has a right to resist such Nazi actions, even to the point of using lethal force against those police that would subject them to such tyranny and slavery. Stand for your rights or loose them! Everyone involved should sue their A** off

  • Big Woody

    An armed man robs a concession atand at the Rose Bowl. Do they cuff 107,000 people and make them sit on the field until they find somebody with a stolen beer? I say handcuff the police chief, make him sit on the curb for public viewing until the courts decide if he violated anybody’s constiturional rights. This is without pay. Fire him and then hang him. Police like this do not belong in America.

  • GiveAwayJimmie

    Believe in the excitment of the moment—poor judgement was used by the police. I still like “probable cause” before we go handcuffing a bunch of people due to their proximity to crime.

  • JT

    “the end justifies the means.”

    That’s a major part of the problem. The prevalence of this mentality in our “modern” society is precisely why we have abominations to personal liberty like the Patriot Act. It’s why people are becoming comfortable with the perception of government and law enforcement as our “keepers”, rather than our civil servants.

    The unconscious acceptance that our liberty exists only at the behest of those with power is an insidious one. It is a direct reversal of the concept that made the birth of this nation possible. That is the concept that ALL power and authority in our society is SUPPOSED to derive collectively FROM INDIVIDUAL CITIZENS. Instead, we are now seeing power and authority as existing in its own right, as a natural extension of one’s position.

    In other words, WE are supposed to be the boss government, but when a majority of the public forgets this (or more accurately, was never taught this), then the battle is already half lost.

    EVERY public official has a duty to protect the rights of the individual, but far too many of them view these rights as disposable and “discretionary”. Believe me, MY rights are not discretionary. They are NOT “granted” by any government, and they are are NOT subject to the “discretion” of any public official.

    It is said that the pen is mightier than the sword, and often this is true. However, they each have their time and place, and neither is a substitute for the other.

    • Thor

      There is absolutely no reason to employ any ‘means’ that cannot produce the desired result. Here there were three basic scenarios: one, the bank robber gets away because the cops, having empirical knowledge of his general location, do not use the means available to them to catch him because it might violate someone’s personal liberty; two, the cops do not have the knowledge of his whereabouts and the crook is never caught; and three, the cops use the means at their disposal to catch the thief but detain innocent persons while doing so, as in this case. Please tell me which of these you think the cops can win…precisely how do authorities win your trust and admiration in fighting crime…by letting bad guys get away?

      • ddoug1

        we need to decide if our personal liberties trump the possibility that a bad guy might get away. in this case times 39 personal liberties.
        did i miss something that he was armed with a shotgun and more? that should have been a clue.
        why were the women arrested?
        btw, the definition of arrest used to be any time a cop stops your movements or touches you. has that changed.

  • JT

    OOPS, forgot a word……… the third paragraph should read “WE are supposed to be the boss OF government”

    • Thor

      And what, precisely, would you like government to do about crime?

      • JT


        1) The possible outcomes are more numerous than the few you chose to list above.

        2) I’ll not be pigeonholed by your ridiculous suggestion that I need to defend the validity of anyone’s civil rights by describing “precisely” how else law enforcement could have handled this. It’s up to THEM to do THEIR JOB without running roughshod over the rights of those whose only “crime” was being unlucky enough to be in the general area of a real crime committed by another individual.

        3) To suggest that individual liberty can be suspended AT WILL by those in authority is to grant them discretionary dictatorial powers without accountability. Ever hear of a “slippery slope”, Thor? Your willingness to surrender personal liberties for the illusion of security is “precisely” what progressives, fascists, and other central-rule proponents count on.

      • Thor

        Law enforcement is difficult enough without folk like you pointing out the obvious and having not the first solution. You know nothing of how to enforce the law and certainly you have no concept of where law enforcement begins and ‘your’ civil liberties begin. Life in a complex, well-populated society presupposes some suspension of illusory rights by its very nature. Whiner….

      • Nadzieja Batki

        Since crime is a symptom of a sick society the possibility exists that the family and churches failed to train the young offspring before they became criminals.
        Get rid of that collective mindset where you punish everybody for the crimes of one.

      • Nadzieja Batki

        My bad. The comment should read. Get rid of that collective mindset where you punish everybody for the crimes of one person.
        Question for you.Did your parents punish all your siblings for the wrong that was done by one? That kind of parenting involves incredible laziness.

  • GB

    Just like Nazi Germany’s Gestapo better to execute 1000 innocent people than to have one guilty individule go free. The Police State in operation.

  • Average Joe

    Trezevant v. City of Tampa is a perfect example of why the police were wrong…and most likely will be sued by 39 of thos folks who were illegaly detained:

    This one single case cost the City Of Tampa over $ 65,000.00….I would imagine that the cost to Aurora, Colo… going to be much more costly…with 39 plaintiffs….just saying….

  • 45caliber

    So if we are innocent, we shouldn’t mind being arrested, cuffed, and forced to sit in the hot sun for several hours while the police check things out, huh? If these people don’t sue, then I won’t feel sorry for them. I also think they should demand new authorities for the city. And if they don’t get it, then I think they should see about doing something about it.

    Our Founding Fathers weren’t interested in the way the British were doing things. They were known to arrest people for any reason and keep them locked away for months or years simply because they could. So they wrote the Constitution to prevent our own people from doing that. Yet it is apparent that they are getting away with in now.

    • Jazzabelle

      I wonder if they searched all those people’s cars for the guns that the perp was reported to have, while they were all handcuffed on the curb….

  • Mikey

    “Virtual Certainty is virtual certainty. That’s the language I’m using. ” I’m so sick of these cops with their My way or the Highway, I’m the law, POS attitude. They are NOT the law nor are they above the law. They are paid to enforce the law & the law applies to them like it does everyone else. I truly hope the people falsely detained sue & that criminal with the badge looses his job.

  • 45caliber

    Out of curiosity, if the police were trying to find a man who committed a crime, why did they also arrest all the women??

  • Silas Longshot

    Anybody notice how this police trend is progressing? Police state seedling sprouting here, soon that vine will be in every city that lets them get away with this BS. New abuses every day, new ‘adapting’ the laws as written (or making them up as they go along). The victims of this illegal detention as a ‘virtual certainty’ of being the perp should individually and collectively sue the badges off this gang of Nazi wanna be’s.

    Click the name.

  • Homer

    Seems this is the same Modis Operandi of Karl Marx and Joe Stalin and Adolf Hitler and Moa se Toa …Seeeeee people, this country has had it’s day, and will see a new day of what the world has seen, now it is our time, WHY because man continues to fall….He continues to reject Jesus Christ and will never succeed unless he accepts the same! i.e. 1500-1900 the greatest era in mans history. Now the worst era is upon us, and it will be bad, and it has been here since 1900. Just read and look at mans history since then!! IF YOU can’t see that then you are as “Blind as a bat backing into a blizzard”

  • HH

    I was investigating this a little more, not taking Brian’s word for fact, just to try and find a way to “maybe” justify the Aurora PD’s decision to detain 40 innocent people and here’s what I found. This is SCARY to say the least! No justification for this kind of action! I thought they said 40 adults? This kid’s what, maybe 12 years old? The cop has his finger on trigger too!!! I’d crapped my shorts if I were in this kids shoes!!! WOW fire, prosecute and fine all the police officers involved!!!

  • Jim

    In this one case, it seems a reasonable thing to do…although, I do believe the police should have just held these people in their cars while they did a car-to-car search with some witness from the bank to identify the robber. Having the autos blocked off so they couldn’t move would demand the criminal make a run for it. And, having basically quarantined the vehicles in the area with cops at the ready, it is a good chance they robber would be caught.

  • Rocky Adams

    I’m curious if the “virtual certainty” was so certain, why did they not have certainty enough to distinguish between male or female as a suspect. It would also seem to me once they had detained the persons and the positively identified themselves, at that point they should have had the right to go about their business. I hope none of them submitted to a search of their person or property. This is the kind of crap you can expect more of with the Patriot Act.

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