New details emerge in controversial detainment of Va. Marine veteran
By BILL MCKELWAY | Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va. | Published: July 26, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. — Information about the detention of Marine veteran Brandon J. Raub a year ago adds new details that show Raub may have presented a clearer and more likely danger to himself and others than was first made public.
In a hearing scheduled this morning before U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson, lawyers for Raub and for the mental health workers and law enforcement officers who took the Chesterfield County resident into custody and assessed him are expected to argue over his involuntary commitment to a mental hospital.
In a case that generated national attention and was taken up on Raub’s behalf by the Charlottesville-based Rutherford Institute, Raub is arguing in a federal complaint that he was deprived of numerous constitutional rights. He is asking for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
“Brandon Raub’s case exposed the seedy underbelly of a governmental system that is targeting military veterans for expressing their discontent over America’s rapid transition to a police state,” Rutherford Institute’s president John W. Whitehead said when the complaint was filed this year in federal court in Richmond.
But in legal arguments justifying Raub’s detention and transfer to a mental hospital, lawyers for Chesterfield police and mental health workers as well as employees of John Randolph Medical Center laid out specifics about the incident not previously released.
A memorandum for some defendants argues that Marine veteran Howard Bullen, who had served with Raub in Iraq and kept in touch with him, “contacted federal officials expressing concern that Raub had had a recent personality change.” The memorandum says that Bullen contacted officials Aug. 15, the day before Raub, then 26, was first detained, and also that Bullen said Raub was “posting increasingly threatening and action-oriented posts on Facebook.”
Raub posted, “I’m gunning whoever run the town” on Aug. 13. In the next two days, he added posts saying, “This is the start of you dying” and “This is revenge. Know that before you die.”
Raub “posted that these events were imminent,” according to legal briefs, and said that they “were the start of the dying.” Raub, according to court documents, threatened presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush.
The legal documents lay out how Chesterfield police officers, as well as federal agents and then mental health workers, followed state laws pertaining to temporarily detaining Raub. After further examination at John Randolph, Raub was ordered to be committed to a Salem hospital for treatment.
“It was appropriate and prudent for (police and mental health workers) to have acted pursuant to Virginia mental health statutes to seek prompt care and treatment of Raub for the protection of others,” the legal memorandum filed in the Chesterfield County Attorney’s Office reads.
“It would have been recklessly negligent for the officers to neglect these threats, which were made barely a month after the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shootings,” a memorandum reads.
The legal documents cite “a meticulous, 10-page report” submitted by a county mental health worker presenting reasons why Raub needed to be detained for further evaluation; the prescreening report included a mental assessment, clinical findings, medical history and risk factors that included homicidal ideations and possible access to weapons.
A second sealed assessment of Raub, done at John Randolph Medical Center and performed by an independent physician, further supports authorities’ belief of his need for hospital treatment as well as a hospital worker’s decision to petition a special justice to order inpatient treatment.
Ordered by the special justice to receive care at the veterans hospital in Salem, Raub was nevertheless released Aug. 24 when Rutherford Institute lawyers successfully appealed the special justice’s order committing Raub to the hospital.
Hopewell Circuit Judge William Sharrett ruled that the order sending Raub to Salem was “so devoid of any factual allegations that it could not be reasonably expected to give rise to a case or controversy.”
Sharrett, though, was referring to a checklist of items that had not been correctly filled out, an omission that one attorney compared to a clerical error or an arrest warrant that fails to state a specific wrongdoing. That error undercut the administrative and clinical process that preceded Raub’s involuntary hospitalization in Salem.
Raub appeared to be in control of his thoughts in interviews after his release, including a video in which he discussed his political views and hospitalization with Whitehead, the Rutherford Institute president.