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Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Deputy Shaquille O'Neal Part of Botched Police Raid?

Back in May, Geoff blogged about Miami Heat star Shaquille O'Neal "assisting" Florida law enforcement in busting those who sell or possess child pornography. At the time, O'Neal said that he only arrived at the defendant's house after the arrest, so it wasn't entirely clearly what services he provided, other than, I suppose, the novelty of having a 7'1, 220+ pound future hall of famer suddenly appearing in a police uniform at the bad guy's house. I imagine that might disorient the defendant and maybe make him more likely to talk to Shaq than other uniformed officers--I'm not sure. Regardless, O'Neal said that his reasons for tagging along were not entirely voyeuristic, as he plans to pursue a career in law enforcement after his NBA career ends.

But Shaq's post NBA law enforcement career might be in jeopardy before it starts. Last month, while working in Bedford County, Virginia as a uniformed reserve sheriff's deputy, O'Neal allegedly took part in a botched child porno raid at the Gretna, Virginia home of A.J. Nuckols, a married man with kids. The police raided Nuckols' home, believing that they had the correct IP address for someone selling child porn, but unfortunately for both the police and Mr. Nuckols, they had the wrong IP address--and thus the wrong home and the wrong guy.

Although O'Neal denies that he was at Nuckols' home, the Bedford County Sheriff's Office confirms that he was there. And what happened at Mr. Nuckols' house wasn't too pretty:
Nuckols described being "held at gunpoint, taunted and led into the house," and said the home was ransacked by a "paramilitary search-and-seizure team" that took computers, cameras, DVDs and VHS tapes.

"Men ran at me, dropped into shooting position, double-handed semiautomatic pistols pointed at me, and made me put my hands against my truck."

The raid at Nuckols' Gretna, Va., home "scared beyond description" him and his family.
When asked why they brought Shaq onto its staff, the Bedford Sheriff's Office said that they enlisted him "to be the spokesman and public face of its anti-child pornography and child predator campaign" and because of that, they deputized him last year. So Shaq apparently does offer something to the Sherff's Office, at least in terms of public relations. And, in his defense, it doesn't appear that he was in any way at fault for what happened to Mr. Nuckols and his family (and his home). But should Shaq even be on these missions? Setting aside the potential of him getting hurt, what about him hurting other police officers or innocent victims? Really, what is he doing? Can anyone with a lot of money and fame go on active police duty and raid people's homes?


Why not? He can go on active police duty and raid people's homes, even if he has a lot of money and fame. I agree - "that might disorient the defendant and maybe make him more likely to talk to Shaq than other uniformed officers".
Very interesting post.

Blogger Olga B. -- 10/25/2006 7:22 AM  

"Can anyone with a lot of money and fame go on active police duty and raid people's homes?"

Shaq went to the police academy to become a reserve officer. He is fire-arms certified and, as of '05, he was only a few hours short of being able to make arrests.

His intentions seem legit. He wants to be a cop after retiring from the NBA, which is certainly respectable for a multi-bazillionaire.

I would go as far to say that he is a professional when going on these raids, and if his popularity, can assist the officers in any way then I'm all for it.

If it hinders the police procedure, then that's another story. It appeared that he just tagged along in this botched raid.

But, yes, I would certainly agree that random famous people shouldn't have privileges to get involved with police procedure.

Anonymous Adam W. -- 10/25/2006 9:37 AM  

i'll take opinions...

shaq is hard to miss. if he was there at the raid then the guy will recognize him.

if he sues for emotional distress, can he go after shaq's money? the guy said he was "scared beyond description."

The Bedford Sheriff's Office enlisted O'Neal to be the spokesman and public face of its anti-child pornography and child predator campaign, making him a deputy last year. (

If he's a spokeman and not an "officer" of that police department, then can they separate shaq from the Bedford PD in a lawsuit?

Anonymous Adam W. -- 10/25/2006 9:50 AM  

i guess they made him a deputy of the department. does my question still apply?

Anonymous Adam W. -- 10/25/2006 9:52 AM  

police raids get "botched" all the time, so what? Whether the Shaq daddy was there or not it would have happened, this story sounds rather sensationalized...I would venture to say that more raids will get jacked up in the future, it just goes with the territory and job description...if Shaq wants to work in law enforcement more power to him...

Anonymous Anonymous -- 10/25/2006 11:25 AM  

Side question... When these raids go wrong in such a horrible way, it usually opens the Police Department up to severe civil liability. People like to sue when they get, you know, arrested for being child pornographers in front of their family when, in fact, they are not. Don't know why that would be, but whatever.

I would think that when folks sue under normal conditions, they include the police officers who participated, but their real target is the Department. Maybe they can't even sue the officers individually -- I don't know.

But here you have a case where the reason it's in the news nationwide is because of Shaq's involvement. In other words, his presence at the scene of a botched raid made this poor guy become todays face of child porn. If Shaq hadn't been there, it would've been bad enough, but now? Wow.

So the question is, in a case like this where an individual officer's presence is the key reason for additional humiliation above and beyond the "oops...sorry" kind, can the guy go after Shaq individually?

Offhand, I'd say no...but I'm not quite sure why.

Anonymous Collin -- 10/25/2006 3:32 PM  

I am curious as to the contract implications this might have on Shaq. Should the Heat be able to stop Shaq from going on such raids? If he were to get hurt outside the scope of basketball what would be the effects? Isn't this just another Roethleisburger (sp)on a motorcylce?

Anonymous James -- 10/30/2006 1:54 AM  

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