One Police Officer Dead And Five Wounded From No-Knock Raid

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 4 months ago

From San Francisco Chronicle:

Ogden, Utah —

Search warrant in hand, a team of bulletproof vest-wearing officers rapped on the door of a small, red-brick Utah house, identifying themselves as police. When no one responded, authorities say, the officers burst inside.

That’s when the gunfire erupted.

When it was over Wednesday night, a seven-year veteran officer was dead and five of his colleagues were wounded, some critically. The suspect, an Army veteran whose estranged father said suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and may have been self-medicating with marijuana, was injured.

As the city tried Thursday to grapple with the outburst of violence and the loss of one of its officers, investigators were trying to determine how the raid as part of a drug investigation could have gone so terribly wrong.

“It’s a very, very sad day,” an emotional Ogden Police Chief Wayne Tarwater said.

Police declined to reveal details of the shooting besides a general timeline, citing the ongoing investigation.

Among the questions that authorities will try to answer was whether the officers, in the chaotic moments upon entering the house, may have inadvertently fired on each other.

Police said the warrant was based on information about possible drug activity, but would not say what officers were specifically looking for inside Matthew David Stewart’s home.

Stewart, 37, was in the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, authorities said. He does not have an attorney yet.

Stewart served in the Army from July 1994 to December 1998, spending a year based in Fort Bragg, N.C., and nearly three years stationed in Germany, Army records show.

He held a post as a communications equipment specialist, earning an Army Achievement Medal and a National Defense Service Medal. Both are given for completing active service.

Stewart’s father, Michael Stewart, said his son works a night shift at a local Walmart and may have been sleeping when police arrived.

“When they kicked in the door, he probably felt threatened,” said Michael Stewart, who has been estranged from his son for more than a year, but keeps track of him through his two other sons.

He said he didn’t believe his son owned any automatic weapons and that the family is upset by what happened. Weber County Attorney Dee Smith said it wasn’t yet clear what charges Stewart might face once the shooting investigation concludes.

SWAT raids, in all but a handful of cases, constitute reckless endangerment of the individuals inside the home.  Recall that we previously discussed how these kinds of raids also involve endangerment to the officers themselves?  In this case, one officer is dead and five wounded – all unnecessarily.  It will be interesting to see how this case proceeds.  If Mr. Stewart believed that his life was in danger from a home invasion, will a judge or jury actually rule that he had no right to defend himself?  Should he sit and allow a home intruder to kill him given the possibility that it might be police officers?  Will prosecution bring charges against Mr. Stewart?

There is a solution, of course, to this problem.  Don’t do no-knock SWAT raids.

  • carl

    It will indeed be interesting to see how this thing proceeds, if we get the truth out of the authorities. I hope it won’t turn out to be some officers adventuring.

  • GaryD

    Your recommendation does not fit the facts: according to the article this was not a no-knock entry.

  • Herschel Smith

    In most so-called no-knock raids, they knock once and then wait for a couple of seconds and break the door in, entering in a stack if they’re trained, entering falling and tripping all over each other with their fingers on the triggers of their weapons (ready to shoot due to sympathetic muscle reflex if they fall down) if they’re bumpkins.

    Let me be clearer about my recommendation. Police serve warrants by showing up at domiciles carrying their duty handgun and wearing a tie and formal uniform. They do not serve warrants using military tactics. They do not bust doors down to serve warrants. They wait until the inhabitant answers the door and voluntarily opens the door.

    Is that clear enough for you?

  • good

    In the late 1960’s a uniformed LEO with a small Houston suburb made a name for himself following “hippies” into houses, counting to ten and kicking in the door in a “no knock” raid. One day he kicked in the door and instead of hippies found a heroin dealer with a gun. He died outside in the gutter.
    As far as these sort of swat type raids go, a DA I knew in california once told me that he always trained his teams to position one team to kick in the back door “at the same time”; meaning when they thought it was time. His front entry team were to knock on the front, yell, “Police, search warrant”, count to 5 as fast as possible, blow the lock off and storm in. As the rear entry team often ended up going in before the front was even in position it was a miracle that the only injury was once a cop dropped his weapon and it went off in the hall.

  • GaryD

    “Is that clear enough for you?”

    You’re taking an article with very few real facts and overlaying your one-sided view of things. You really have no idea what the circumstances were.

    It’s certainly reasonable to make your proposal. I assume you’ve thought through the consequences – more injury and death, destruction of evidence, etc. – and have decided that the cost is worth it. I can just imagine it: the police go up to the door of a Mexican drug trafficking organization’s safe house, all spiffy in their ties, and politely knock on the door and announce themselves. The bad guys get set up for the ambush, then say, “Please come in!”

    There may very well be an overuse of no-knock warrants, but your proposal as currently written is just plain silly. It’d be great if people like you got together with the ACLU, IACP, DOJ, and so on to come up with some reasonable middle ground that protects citizens AND police.

  • Michael

    > There may very well be an overuse of no-knock warrants, but your
    > proposal as currently written is just plain silly

    No it’s not. No one says you can’t make an exception in the comparatively rare case that you are serving a warrant on a Mexican drug cartel.

    If you have no reason to believe that there’s a Mexican drug cartel’s safe house behind that door, then I would ask you to operate on the the assumption that there’s not.

  • Herschel Smith


    Several points. First, what Michael just said. “No one says you can’t make an exception in the comparatively rare case that you are serving a warrant on a Mexican drug cartel. If you have no reason to believe that there’s a Mexican drug cartel’s safe house behind that door, then I would ask you to operate on the the assumption that there’s not.”

    Moreover, you’re just using a rhetorical technique to justify treating everyone like Mexican cartels. “What about the exception?,” is what you’re asking. In response, I would say that exception makes bad law.

    Further still. You’re trying to place us on the horns of a dilemma. The dilemma is this: unless you do military raids on homes of citizens of the U.S., evidence will get flushed down the toilet. You and I both know that that’s not true. Police can be smarter than that, and we have discussed this in previous posts in my SWAT raid category. Police can watch and listen, separating suspected criminals from their support network and families, arresting when it’s safe for everyone. It’s not like a SWAT raid is the ONLY option.

    Further still. You’ve asked me about my assumptions, and yes, in fact I have considered the consequences of my position. But have you considered the implications of your own position? You apparently believe that it’s acceptable to endanger the lives of pets, infants and children in order to catch a perp with a bag of marijuana. To me, that’s a dark position and I’m glad that I don’t hold to it.

    Finally, let’s return to your use of the Mexican cartels and drugs as the anchor point for militarization of policing in the U.S. There is no replacement for sealing the border. Period. Policing in America is using these tactics and an overall change in culture in order to address the problems created by open borders. But it’s a Potemkin solution. It won’t work. It’s fake, and none of the problems created by open borders will be solved by unleashing military tactics on U.S. citizens.

    Return to classical policing doctrine in the U.S. Militarize the border – not vice versa. Then the problems created by open borders won’t need to be solved elsewhere. They can be solved on the border where they belong.

  • Eric Palmer

    I remember back in the early 1990’s. Shreveport, LA lost two SWAT guys in one month in two similar scenarios (forced entry). Sad business that.

  • GaryD

    Mr. Smith: Hey, I’m just going by what you wrote. If this is no longer your position, then great:

    “Let me be clearer about my recommendation. Police serve warrants by showing up at domiciles carrying their duty handgun and wearing a tie and formal uniform. They do not serve warrants using military tactics. They do not bust doors down to serve warrants. They wait until the inhabitant answers the door and voluntarily opens the door”

    Excuse me for misunderstanding you. I’m used to thinking that when a person says “Let me be clear…” he means he wants to be clear. You also throw up a strawman argument when you claim, against all evidence, that I’m for the status quo. I’m not, as I wrote.

  • Herschel Smith

    GaryD, I said “let me be clear,” and I was clear. That’s good enough for me, even if it isn’t for you.

    It isn’t me who is throwing up a straw man argument. Your example of the Mexican drug trafficking organization is completely irrelevant. I was talking about American citizens, and you know that I was.

    When you have to revert to the Mexican cartels in order to show that U.S. police should use tactics on American citizens, you are admitting you’ve lost the argument before you even start. Your example is ridiculous in the superlative.

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    As a follow up to this posting….after more than a year and a half the defender of his home from home invasion by government agents, Michael Stewart, is dead.

    Dateline 24 MAY 13, the Salt Lake Tribune

    “Ogden • Matthew David Stewart, awaiting trial in the slaying of a police officer during a botched 2012 drug raid that ended in a shootout, died late Thursday night after apparently hanging himself in his jail cell”. The article continues, “On Wednesday, Stewart, 39, had experienced a courtroom defeat when a judge rejected defense attorneys’ arguments that a police officer lied to obtain the “knock-and-announce” warrant that led to the raid on his home during which an Ogden police officer was killed and five others were wounded”.

    Very simply, more than 18 months after Stewart’s home invasion Stewart by a SWAT, Stewart was still locked up in a jail cell. His right to a speedy trial denied as the “justice” system played with Stewart’s life. In turn Mr. Stewart allegedly hanged himself in his jail cell.

    In January of 2012 Mr. Stewart defended himself against an attack by those with guns and badges. He justifiably killed one of the invaders and wounded 5 others. Did anyone believe that the government judge would rule in Stewart’s favor during any pretrial hearing ? There is a reason jury trials are delayed for so long.

    “One of Stewart’s attorneys, Bernard Allen, said he found it hard to believe that his client had committed suicide. Allen said while Stewart was “a little bit depressed” about losing the bid for a hearing on Wednesday, he and other attorneys were not concerned that Stewart might take his own life”.

    Weber County district attorney ….”Smith said the Utah Department of Public Safety would investigate Stewart’s death”. Yeah, right.

    Remember….if one survives a physical confrontation with the thugs and tyrants referred in today’s America as “government”, it is doubtful you will survive the aftermath. Take down as many of the bastards while you still have a fighting chance.

    And that my friends….is the rest of the story.

  • Julio de la beretta

    There are two points here that need to be considered. It’s best and easy to do a search warrant when the house is empty- thus, Hershels point about jackets and ties. And it’s easier to execute an arrest warrant when the guy is stopped at a stop sign. The only reason to raid the house when everyone is home is to catch people in the act and evidence in their hands. The opening paragraph of the affidavit says-there is reasonable cause to believe- and then you list your 10 pages of probable cause. Most times, the warrant is executed to obtain the evidence you don’t have yet, when in fact, the warrant should be the icing on the cake. But, as long as we have incompetent psychopaths in management and AUSA positions, we will have cuts in direly needed training.

You are currently reading "One Police Officer Dead And Five Wounded From No-Knock Raid", entry #8085 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Police,SWAT Raids and was published January 6th, 2012 by Herschel Smith.

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