Archive for the 'SWAT Raids' Category



U.S. Court Will Not Block Lawsuit Over Connecticut SWAT Raid

BY Herschel Smith
3 weeks, 3 days ago

Reuters:

A U.S. federal appeals court has ruled that Connecticut police cannot claim immunity to quash lawsuits seeking millions of dollars in damages from a botched 2008 raid by a SWAT team that severely injured a homeowner and killed his friend.

The decision by the U.S. 2nd Court of Appeals in New York clears the way for a judge to decide whether five suburban Connecticut police departments violated the constitutional rights of homeowner Ronald Terebesi by using excessive force.

On May 18, 2008, a heavily armed SWAT – or special weapons and tactics – team unit knocked down Terebesi’s door, threw stun flash grenades into his Easton home and fatally shot 33-year-old Gonzalo Guizan of Norfolk as the two men watched television.

Guizan, who was visiting the home, died after being shot a half dozen times.

“The court ruling here is going to be relied upon in other courts throughout the country,” Gary Mastronardi, a Bridgeport attorney who represents Terebesi, said on Tuesday. “They set up the parameters that define the extent to which qualified immunity can be asserted by police in SWAT cases.”

In a 51-page ruling that upholds a lower court decision, the appeals court said the police responded with unnecessary and inappropriate force and under the circumstances, are not protected by “qualified immunity” from the lawsuits.

Good.  Like I’ve said before.  If you are the police and you want to come into my home, call and make an appointment.  Otherwise, you may get shot.

This is the way it should be.  Engineers don’t get immunity when bridges collapse or systems malfunction, and doctors don’t get immunity when they leave surgical instruments inside of your body.

I hate incompetence.  I truly do.  And the incompetence in many SWAT teams we see today (piss poor rules for the use of force, no trigger discipline, no muzzle discipline, wrong addresses, etc.) is compounded by the indifference of police to the rights of citizens, as if no one has the latitude to press the issue of safety except law enforcement (for their own safety rather than yours).

One can only hope this ruling is used as precedent across America.  Now, if we could only get what reader Ned Weatherby calls Herschel’s law passed across these United States?

Police Departments Weigh In On The Use Of Military Gear

BY Herschel Smith
1 month ago

LA Times:

The department has posted the list, complete with pictures, on its SPD Blotter website. It includes floatation vests and binoculars, signage and gloves, pistol holders, a radiation detector and rifle sights “used by the approximately 130 officers who have passed the department’s rifle-certification program.”

“We have equipment that we feel is necessary for a city of our size,” Whitcomb told The Times. “The equipment we have serves a police purpose. Our No. 1 priorities are protecting people’s lives and looking after their well-being. Our second most important is looking after possessions and property.

“The gear that our department employees use … is primarily defensive in nature,” Whitcomb said. “Our equipment is police specific. We don’t have any military weaponry. The weapons we do own are specific to our profession. … No rockets, no predator drones, no cannons, no tanks.”

The department’s SWAT team does use a BearCat – an armored truck for situations where there may be gunfire, Whitcomb said, but such a vehicle is standard operating procedure for modern police departments.

“It’s used to get our personnel in and out safely, so we can rescue people and evacuate if necessary,” Whitcomb said. “You cannot do that in a sedan. Though we have put some armored plating on the doors in our cars. We also have purchased ballistic shields. It all goes back to the problem of gun violence in our country. … But ultimately we are a police service. We are not the military.”

This is a red herring.  Only seven percent of all SWAT deployments are for hostage, barricades or active shooter situations.

So here’s the deal.  To the Seattle Police Department, you are liars.  I don’t believe you since you invoked a rarely used justification for having SWAT.

What you really want to do is use SWAT to save evidence by busting in doors and invading homes.  Frankly, I don’t give a damn about your evidence collection.  Find another way, including the old fashioned use of detective work.  Or in other words, be thinking men and women rather than knuckle draggers.

You promise me that you’ll never use SWAT in incidents unless it involves hostages or active shooters, and I’ll take back my charge that you’re liars.

Any takers among the PDs who read these pages?  I’m waiting.

And by the way, that picture of the police “sniper” shows it to be absolutely the goofiest setup on a rifle I’ve ever seen.  I certainly wouldn’t use that setup.  You can read more here if you wish.  I’m just not interested enough to elucidate the details for you.  Readers may wish to weigh in.  And I wonder how the U.S. Marine Corps feels about this jerk wearing MARPAT?

Massachusetts SWAT Teams Claims They’re Private Corporations, Immune From Open Records Laws

BY Herschel Smith
2 months, 3 weeks ago

Radley Balko:

As part of the American Civil Liberties Union’s recent report on police militarization, the Massachusetts chapter of the organization sent open records requests to SWAT teams across that state. It received an interesting response.

As it turns out, a number of SWAT teams in the Bay State are operated by what are called law enforcement councils, or LECs. These LECs are funded by several police agencies in a given geographic area and overseen by an executive board, which is usually made up of police chiefs from member police departments. In 2012, for example, the Tewksbury Police Department paid about $4,600 in annual membership dues to the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, or NEMLEC. (See page 36 of linked PDF.) That LEC has about 50 member agencies. In addition to operating a regional SWAT team, the LECs also facilitate technology and information sharing and oversee other specialized units, such as crime scene investigators and computer crime specialists.

Some of these LECs have also apparently incorporated as 501(c)(3) organizations. And it’s here that we run into problems. According to the ACLU, the LECs are claiming that the 501(c)(3) status means that they’re private corporations, not government agencies. And therefore, they say they’re immune from open records requests. Let’s be clear. These agencies oversee police activities. They employ cops who carry guns, wear badges, collect paychecks provided by taxpayers and have the power to detain, arrest, injure and kill. They operate SWAT teams, which conduct raids on private residences. And yet they say that because they’ve incorporated, they’re immune to Massachusetts open records laws. The state’s residents aren’t permitted to know how often the SWAT teams are used, what they’re used for, what sort of training they get or who they’re primarily used against.

The reddit comments are priceless:

If they are private corporations, then they shouldn’t have immunity from being sued. That’s just bullshit.

I believe the bigger issue is that if they claim themselves to be “private corporations” then they should have zero access to surplus weapons of war. If they want their tanks, they have to pay full price like everybody else. It’s cool, they’re a corporation, so you know they can afford it.  While we’re at it, we should probably get rid of their public funding. Nobody likes a Wellfare Queen.

Not to mention liscenses for all of those personally owned automatic weapons. Also demolitions licenses for all of those personally owned explosives.

Also, as private corporations if they show up at my doorstep with ill intent I can safely stand my ground.

Can you say “secret police?”  Or Gestapo?  This argument is the most crass, brazen, insulting thing SWAT could have done concerning truthfulness in law enforcement.  Not even Soldiers and Marines get to claim secrecy like this if they get charged with violation of the ROE.

And this certainly doesn’t comport with Herschel’s law (named by Ned Weatherby).  As for the Massachusetts SWAT teams, they have long ago lost the mandate of heaven.  When that happens, it’s not immoral to treat them like the criminals they are.

A SWAT Team Blew A Hole In My Two Year Old Son

BY Herschel Smith
2 months, 4 weeks ago

By now you are all aware of the SWAT raid where in Cornelia, just outside of Atlanta, where cops threw a flash bang into a crib.  Here’s an update and first hand account, a perspective you need to hear.

After the SWAT team broke down the door, they threw a flashbang grenade inside. It landed in my son’s crib.

Flashbang grenades were created for soldiers to use during battle. When they explode, the noise is so loud and the flash is so bright that anyone close by is temporarily blinded and deafened. It’s been three weeks since the flashbang exploded next to my sleeping baby, and he’s still covered in burns.

There’s still a hole in his chest that exposes his ribs. At least that’s what I’ve been told; I’m afraid to look.

My husband’s nephew, the one they were looking for, wasn’t there. He doesn’t even live in that house. After breaking down the door, throwing my husband to the ground, and screaming at my children, the officers – armed with M16s – filed through the house like they were playing war. They searched for drugs and never found any.

I heard my baby wailing and asked one of the officers to let me hold him. He screamed at me to sit down and shut up and blocked my view, so I couldn’t see my son. I could see a singed crib. And I could see a pool of blood. The officers yelled at me to calm down and told me my son was fine, that he’d just lost a tooth. It was only hours later when they finally let us drive to the hospital that we found out Bou Bou was in the intensive burn unit and that he’d been placed into a medically induced coma.

[ ... ]

As of the afternoon of 6/24/2014, Baby Bou Bou has been taken out of the medically induced coma and transferred to a new hospital to begin rehabilitation. The hole in his chest has yet to heal, and doctors are still not able to fully assess lasting brain damage.

So the officer prevented a mother from assisting her screaming child who had just had a hole blown in him, and lied to her about the condition of her child.  The man who did this deserves to be hung by his scrotum until it decays and falls off.  And unless you repent, you sorry sack of shit, God will not forget your actions.  You will pay for your sins.

But hey, the cops got to push around some folks, blow a hole in a child, perhaps inflict TBI, and go home safely at the end of their shift.  Mission accomplished.  I hope their mothers are all proud of what they’ve become.  Make sure, cops, to tell your mothers what you did that night.

Houston Police Department Raid Grandmother And Autistic Boy In Wrong Address Operation

BY Herschel Smith
3 months, 3 weeks ago

The video has the complete story.  Notice the same elements I point to every time I link one of these sorry tales.  Lack of muzzle discipline (if you or I pointed rifles at someone we would be arrested for assault with a deadly weapon), lack of discernment, assumption that everyone is a criminal, destruction of private property, lose of confidence in the police, and refusal of the police to apologize or explain.

In fact, notice at the very end of the video.  The Houston Police Department obviously lied to the press, claiming that police never entered the home.  As I’ve said before in the context of the reflexive shooting of family dogs in SWAT raids (parroting one of my commenters), “if you need to speak with the occupant of the home, make an appointment.”  I don’t give a damn about your evidence-gathering.

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Wrongful Police Raid And Chum In The Water

BY Herschel Smith
4 months, 1 week ago

Like sharks feeding on chum, there has been another wrongful police raid.

Cops stormed a Kalamazoo, Mich., house looking for a man named Chum — a drug dealer who apparently hadn’t lived there for a year.

The home’s current occupants, the Handley family, had no idea who Chum was.

But as a result of the police SWAT tactics — which involved kicking down the back door, ransacking every room and making the occupants feel like endangered victims — the two young Handley children now believe Chum is coming to get them, and have nightmares to that effect. They are also afraid of the police, according to WWMT.

“One dream was about Chum coming in our house with a gun saying ‘Get on the ground,” said 8-year-old Aurora Handley.

The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety burst into the home and handcuffed the parents.

“I thought it was someone trying to rob us or hurt us,” said Jeremy Handley, the father, in a statement.

The children hid in the closet while police moved from room to room trashing the premises in search of drugs and cash. They found neither.

After admitting they made a mistake and should have known that Chum no longer lived there, the cops gave the kids some stuffed animals. Aurora and Brenden appreciate the new toys, but they are still mortified.

Well, since the cops gave toys away everything is cool, I guess.  SWAT raid = toys for the kids.  Who could argue with such an arrangement?

Police Antics And SWAT-Capades

BY Herschel Smith
4 months, 2 weeks ago

It’s a well worn category here, and that itself is a sad commentary on the state of affairs in Amerika.  Here is the first report we discussed just recently.

HENRICO, Va. (WTVR) –Ruth Hunter, a 75-year-old woman, said she was tied up while State Police invaded her Henrico apartment.

She said officers told her during the raid what they were looking for, and court documents also show the information. She said she had nothing to do with the investigation.

Virginia State Police said a drug investigation is what prompted a Henrico County magistrate to issue a warrant for an apartment in the 5600 block of Crenshaw road.

The woman claims that officers ultimately arrested a man who lives two doors down from her.

“I thought someone was breaking in to rob or kill me,” Hunter said.

Seconds after her front door flies open Hunter said she heard a voice yell “Police!”

“…Took my hands with a tie-thing and said ‘You’re under arrest’ and started asking questions,” she recalled. “The more I told them I didn’t know these people, the more he continued.”

Hunter said that police left her apartment and went two doors down, while she was left handcuffed with a zip tie.

The fiancé of the man arrested says she was there at the time, and asked CBS 6 to hide her identity

“Just so happened they came to the apartment and they got it mixed up,’ she said.

The team left her zip tied because as you know, seventy five year old women are such an ever-present danger to law enforcement.  She could have thrown down with the best of them while they were busy doing other things, like going to the right house rather than grandmother’s place.

Next up, police in Miami-Dade badly beat a young man with Down Syndrome for packing a Colostomy bag.

Gilberto Powell says the police were following him in their cruiser as he was walking home. The police report says the officers decided to stop Gilberto after they noticed a “bulge” in Gilberto’s pants. After an officer tried to conduct a patdown, the report claims Gilberto attempted to flee.

Gilberto denies trying to run away and says he did everything the officer asked him to do. What happened next resulted in the photograph above.

After Powell was finally handcuffed and questioned, the officers realized he was “mentally challenged, was not capable of understanding our commands, and that the bulge in his waistband was a colostomy bag,” the report said.

By that time, Gilberto had been hit, knocked to the ground and the bag had reportedly been ripped from his body. The father says by the time he and Gilberto’s mother ran outside to their son, the cops had removed Gilberto’s pants and had him out there in his boxer shorts.

The mother asked the officer, “Didn’t you know he was a Down Syndrome kid?” to which the cop responded, “I’m not a doctor, I didn’t know.”

The family’s attorney Philip Gold said that it should’ve been immediately obvious that Gilberto has special needs.

If you just look at Gilberto, he 5-foot-3, 130 pounds with Down Syndrome, it’s 100 percent obvious he has Down Syndrome,” he said. It’s impossible to believe [the police's story] if you hear one word out of Gilberto’s mouth.”

Because even though Florida’s stop and identify statute applies only to prowling and loitering, 5 foot tall boys with Down syndrome and colostomy bags are such a danger to society.

Next up, news from Framingham.

A Boston television station reported Thursday night,  Framingham Police and members of the Massachusetts State Police raided the wrong apartment Thursday morning, when conducting a drug raid.

The police meant to raid 78A at 6 a.m. Thursday morning but instead raided 78B, which was occupied by a mom and her five children, ranging in age from 4 to 18.

Oh, what’s the difference, 78A and 78B?  The alpha-numeric characters are, after all, so similar.  I’m sure that officers pointed rifles at women and children just in case, you know, so they could be assured of going home safely at the end of their shift.  But don’t forget that we have history with the Framingham Police Department when innocent Mr. Eurie Stamps was shot to death by their SWAT team.

Finally, no door is safe with a SWAT team on the prowl.

Midland-A Midland family says they don’t feel safe in their own home after the Midland Police Department’s SWAT team kicked in their front door during last Friday’s tragic standoff.

The family is asking that the city fix the damages that were made to their door, but it could take several weeks before the city takes any action.

For the past four nights, Cesar Reyna and his girlfriend have not been able to sleep in peace knowing that at anytime someone could walk right through their front door.

“I worry for the safety of my son, anything can happen whenever,” said Reyna. “Anybody can just walk into my house, it’s just uncomfortable.”

When Reyna got home from work last Friday night, his front door was wide open and police officers covered his front lawn.

“I came out and talked to them [police officers] and they said they had kicked it in, but they wouldn’t tell me why,” said Reyna.

According to Sarah Higgins,  the Public Information Officer for Midland, the SWAT team knocked on the door several times before kicking it in. She said the team had to evacuate the home being that it was right across the street from were the standoff took place.

Reyna and his family were told to call the City’s Safety and Risk Management department to file a claim for the damages that were made to their door, but when they did make the call they were told their case wouldn’t be reviewed until May 13.

These folks weren’t just on some correct or incorrect raid party list.  They lived across the street from the raid party.  They had the misfortune of living in the wrong place, and the SWAT team decided to bust in their door, and are now guilty of breaking and entering, trespassing, violation of due process rights, violation of rights against illegal search and seizure, destruction of property, vandalism, and so on the list could go.  But hey, they got to go home safely at the end of their shift.

The saddest part about all of this is that no judge in America, local, state or federal, so much as gives a damn about any of this.  They all play for the same team.  And in anticipation of comments concerning the root cause of this sorry state of affairs, it isn’t either police or judges (or politicians, for that matter).  It’s not either-or.  It’s both-and.  All participating parties are culpable for the moral obscenity and the grotesque, twisted monster that has become our system of justice.  Let the fan boys from PoliceOne.com chew on these things for a while.

Virginia State Police Raid Wrong Address

BY Herschel Smith
4 months, 3 weeks ago

WTVR.com:

HENRICO, Va. (WTVR) –Ruth Hunter, a 75-year-old woman, said she was tied up while State Police invaded her Henrico apartment.

She said officers told her during the raid what they were looking for, and court documents also show the information. She said she had nothing to do with the investigation.

Virginia State Police said a drug investigation is what prompted a Henrico County magistrate to issue a warrant for an apartment in the 5600 block of Crenshaw road.

The woman claims that officers ultimately arrested a man who lives two doors down from her.

“I thought someone was breaking in to rob or kill me,” Hunter said.

Seconds after her front door flies open Hunter said she heard a voice yell “Police!”

“…Took my hands with a tie-thing and said ‘You’re under arrest’ and started asking questions,” she recalled. “The more I told them I didn’t know these people, the more he continued.”

Hunter said that police left her apartment and went two doors down, while she was left handcuffed with a zip tie.

The fiancé of the man arrested says she was there at the time, and asked CBS 6 to hide her identity

“Just so happened they came to the apartment and they got it mixed up,’ she said.

State Police cite an ongoing drug investigation as why they can’t comment any further.

Ms. Hunter doesn’t say, but I suspect the LEOs pointed rifles at her head.  They can’t comment any further because they screwed up, and we wouldn’t want the public to get wind of things like this, would we now?  They may start to question why we have to do raids like this in the first place.

At 75 years old, it’s seriously in doubt that she posed any threat to anyone, much less the police, and the fact that she was zip tied is obscene.  Hey, but at least the LEOs got to go home safely at the end of their shift, and that’s what’s really important, right?

NYPD Tangles With Vicious Killer Parakeet

BY Herschel Smith
9 months, 2 weeks ago

DNAinfo New York:

ST. GEORGE — A Staten Island woman has sued the city claiming police entered her St. George home without a warrant, beat her family and killed her beloved pet parakeet, according to court documents.Last year, Evelyn Lugo’s bird, Tito, was thrown from his cage after it was knocked off a dresser as cops came into her Corson Avenue home, the Daily News first reported.

The officers then stepped on the bird intentionally, killing it, court documents say.

Officers also beat two of Lugo’s sons, her daughter and a family friend, the lawsuit claims.

According to court documents, police entered Lugo’s home on Sept. 2, 2012, as her family was celebrating Labor Day.

Police stopped and questioned her son Edwin Avellanet as he was outside throwing out garbage and asked for identification, the lawsuit says. When he refused to show any, officers allegedly grabbed his right arm and Avellanet broke free and ran into the building.

Officers broke windows of the home, and when Lugo opened the front door she was thrown outside by police, court papers say.

When inside, police allegedly struck Avellanet two or three times with a hard object, struck their friend in the face and threw a woman into the dresser with the bird cage on it, court documents say.

Police then allegedly pepper sprayed Lugo’s daughter and son, according to the documents.

Lugo’s son, daughter and family friend were arrested and all three were taken to Staten Island University Hospital in custody.

They were treated for multiple facial lacerations and lacerations to the head. Lugo’s daughter was also treated for an asthma attack, the court papers say.

All charges were eventually dropped and sealed by Richmond County Supreme Court, the lawsuit says.

Lugo could not be reached for comment on the story.

The city’s Law Department did not say why police entered the home last year, or what charges were lodged against the family, but said they’re reviewing the case.

“We will review the allegations in the complaint, which at this point are merely allegations,” a spokeswoman for the department said.

But what isn’t “merely allegations” is that the family was beaten up, as we can ascertain from the lacerations.  And apparently there is a dead parakeet.

Look, I know what you’re thinking, but here is the scoop on the event.  That parakeet could have been concealing a weapon, or worse, it could have gotten into a pecker fight (um, excuse me, I guess we would call it a bill fight) with the cops.  This could have been worse than a bull terrier going after the cops.  And as it stands now, at least they got to go home safely at the end of their shift.

That’s what really matters, after all.  As for the parakeet, perhaps he shouldn’t have resisted arrest.  All dogs and parakeets involved in police raids reflexively get shot by cops unless they roll over or run away.

Eighty Year Old Man Shot Dead In Bed By L.A. County Sheriff

BY Herschel Smith
11 months, 1 week ago

KTLA5:

The wife of an 80-year-old man who was shot dead by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies in a mistaken meth lab raid is planning to sue the county for $50 million, she said.

On the morning of June 27, detectives raided the couple’s home in unincorporated Littlerock, serving a search warrant granted because the property allegedly smelled of the ingredients used to make methamphetamine, according to sheriff’s department officials.

There’s a dispute about what exactly happened at the home in the 36600 block of 117th Street East (map), east of Palmdale, but Eugene Mallory ended up dead, shot six times.

No evidence of a meth operation was ever found, though sheriff’s officials say marijuana was found on the property.

On Friday, attorney James Bergener plans to announce his filing of a civil lawsuit on behalf of Mallory’s widow Tonya Pate against the sheriff’s department and the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner, which Pate says released Mallory’s remains to an out-of-state relative. Pate will ask for upwards of $50 million.

During the June raid, Mallory raised a semi-automatic handgun in response to deputies, who fired on him, the sheriff’s department said at the time. Two guns were recovered at the scene, according to sheriff’s department spokesman Steve Whitmore.

“Age does not preclude somebody from being aggressive toward deputies,” Whitmore said. “The lesson here is… don’t pull a gun on a deputy.”

Pate said Mallory, a former engineer with Lockheed Martin, respected law enforcement and would never have used a gun against officers.

“He would never point a gun at officers,” said Pate, 48. “Every day I stay in that house with that bloody bedroom … where I know he was taken from me for no reason.”

Mallory did own two guns that were in the house, Pate said. She said his glasses were beside his bed when he was killed, and could not have seen because of poor eyesight.

“He was shot in his bed before there was any warning given,” Bergener said..

Marijuana was found on another part of the property where Tonya’s lived, she said.

“There was a drug operation that was certainly going on in this house,” Whitmore said.

There was a drug operation that was certainly going on in the house.  Certainly.  Even though there is no evidence, because, certainly.  And shut up, they explained.

I have noted before the exigent conditions that can obtain in situations of home invasion – and a police raid is a home invasion – including the fact that wearing police insignia and tactical gear and announcing themselves as police is a favorite method of the serious criminals now.  Poor eyesight is yet another condition.  The Sheriff’s department has no way of proving that Mallory knew they were LEOs.  Mallory cannot be reached for comment.

But then this condition obtains in most situations, doesn’t it?  Can anyone ever know that those busting in the door are real LEOs?  Can anyone ever know that those shadows moving in the dark are not there to harm him?  Can anyone ever know – in the presence of flash bangs, gunfire, screaming and shouting and cursing – that they are not under threat by someone intending malice?

And listen to the takeaway.  “The lesson here is don’t pull a gun on a deputy.”  Because, you know, only LEOs get to be concerned about going home safely at the end of their shift.  Because, shut up.  Just lock up your damn guns since you can never be sure about anything.


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