It's every teenager's dream. Home alone with parents out of the state, a host of friends ready to party like it's a 90s era frat movie and straight-laced neighbors calling the cops. That's what happened to one Dickinson 18-year-old and the rest is, as they say...on the blotter?
When Martin Lopez's parents left for Texas on Dec. 21st, they entrusted the care of their split foyer framed home to the responsible hands of their son Martin and nephew Sergio Alba. Less than 24 hours later, police were at the residence.
On Dec. 22, officers were dispatched to the 800 block of Shinagle Dr., following a complaint of loud music and a party. Mere days before Christmas, it wasn't the carols that had stirred the neighborhood to anger at 1 a.m. Rather, it was the popular sounds of rapper Lil Yachty and the screams and laughter of youth.
Officers arrived on the scene and set about chastising the gathered revelers, bringing an end to the boisterous affair using officer discretion and without citations.
But allegedly, the beat went on.
"It's very loud music with a lot of bass, lots of vehicles around, lots of people walking in and out of the residence," one Shinagle resident, who requested anonymity, said. "It's been probably the last month where it's been very loud. It's weekends, every weekend for the most part. We have children, younger children. It's upsetting."
The resident said that they were beyond frustrated with the seemingly routine nightly activities keeping the neighborhood awake.
"There must have been some fighting going on last weekend because we heard screaming and could actually hear it inside," they said. "We were sitting inside watching TV and all of a sudden we were like, 'Something is happening.' We heard it from quite a ways away over our TV-from inside our home."
According to police reports and neighbor statements, parties continued with each passing week prompting another visit by police.
On Jan. 11, officers used their discretion to ensure that the partying stopped-this time with citations.
Officers entered the residence and, after issuing sobriety examinations on those present, cited Tanner Theurer, 19; Dylan Gauthier, 18; Martin Lopez, 18; and Emma Wahl, 18 with minor in consumption. Theurer picked up additional charges of possession of marijuana and possession of marijuana paraphernalia.
According to the party-goers, the entire ordeal was surreal.
"We were honestly all downstairs getting ready to go to bed and we were just talking when all of a sudden we hear, 'Police, everybody let yourselves be known.' And they came downstairs and had the whole house surrounded," Alba said. "The cops just broke in. There wasn't no party at the house, it was just a few friends that were over."
Martin Lopez said that he feels like his rights were violated at the hands of the Dickinson Police Department, whom he claims forced those in attendance to take breathalyzers.
"The cops were being really heavy with us," he said. "No one told us what our rights were, that we could have an attorney when they asked us questions, nothing. They just broke in and went to searching the house."
Lopez added, "I didn't want to blow, so I said I didn't want to blow. They said, 'Ok, well we'll still give you the charges.' So I said, ok then, give me the charges. They didn't want to, they wanted us to blow. They were yelling at us, and he said they were going to charge me with resisting if I didn't blow."
The Dickinson Police Department declined to comment on the specifics of the case as it was pending litigation, however Lt. Michael Hanel provided generalized circumstances that would permit police to enter a residence.
"In a general sense, the home is the most sanctuous area for privacy. There's a doctrine out there called the Castle Doctrine, which basically says that a man's home is his castle and needs to be treated by government entities as the most sanctuous area for searches and seizures," he said. "With that being said there are a few exceptions to that. Search warrants, exigent circumstances and consent. Our officers would not enter a home without ensuring that their 'feet were legal.'"
Hanel explained that DPD always instructs their officers that when they are going to seize evidence or enter a home, to ensure that they are legally allowed to be there under the circumstances. According to Hanel, the responding officers were operating within policy and the law.
In regards to breathalyzers, Hanel said that tests administered outside of operating a motor vehicle were voluntary.
The case has been scheduled for hearing at the Stark County Courthouse on Jan. 24th, according to Lopez.
"We're hoping they drop the charges and that we can move forward," Lopez said.