5 years, 3 months ago
From Columbia Daily Tribune:
A federal judge yesterday dismissed all 18 causes of action in a civil lawsuit filed against Columbia police officers involved in a February 2010 raid.
The suit filed by Jonathan Whitworth, his wife, Brittany Whitworth, and her son was scheduled for a Jan. 23 trial in federal court in Jefferson City. U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey granted the defendants’ request for a summary judgment, dismissing all counts alleged against the city of Columbia and the 12 police officers who were on the scene during the SWAT raid.
“We always knew this was a tough case, but that doesn’t mean we will shy away from tough cases,” said Jeff Hilbrenner, the Whitworths’ attorney. “The conduct of Columbia police was so extreme we thought it needed to be reviewed by a court. The Whitworths will evaluate whether they want to appeal the judge’s ruling.”
[ … ]
The plaintiffs’ lawsuit stemmed from a Columbia police SWAT raid of the Whitworths’ home in southwest Columbia. Police believed Jonathan Whitworth was a major distributor of marijuana. Two of the family’s dogs were shot, one fatally, during the SWAT team’s entry, and a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia were found. Whitworth pleaded guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia in April 2010 and was issued a $300 fine.
His wife and her son, who was 7 at the time, were present during the raid. Bullet holes, a dead dog and another wounded dog allegedly amounted to thousands of dollars in damages, the suit claimed.
The lawsuit was seeking restitution for damages to personal property and medical and veterinary expenses. It was filed in September 2010 against the 12 police officers who were at the raid for their contribution toward an alleged violation of the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.
Here is video of the SWAT raid.
Let’s summarize this. A “small amount of marijuana,” one dead and one wounded dog, a shot-up house, and endangerment of a family. The use of SWAT tactics is inherently dangerous, which is why [innocent] 68 year old Eurie Stamps was shot and killed by a SWAT team member who tripped with his finger on the trigger of his weapon causing him to fire it due to sympathetic muscle reflexes.
These tactics are dangerous for the team members too. Let me be clear about this. I have weapons. If I think my home is being invaded, I’m not slowing down to figure out by whom. The home invader is going to get shot. Period. So the salient question is this: why would anyone voluntarily choose to implement such tactics when there is another choice?
They could have chosen to wait until everyone left the home, bring along animal control to safely handle the dogs, and searched the home in assured peace and safety. If anything was found that warranted further legal action, then wait until the individual comes home and arrest him in the driveway.
But they chose to endanger themselves, the targeted individual, his wife, his child, and his two dogs. Why? What good reason could there possibly be for making this choice? Do SWAT teams want to play soldier so badly that they are willing to endanger the public, and are judges concerned enough about a “small amount of marijuana” that they are willing to see military tactics used against U.S. citizens?