ATF SWAT Failure

BY Herschel Smith
11 years, 10 months ago

We’ve documented and assessed the various SWAT raid failures, from the case of Jose Guerena (shot to death in a demonstration of utter tactical incompetence by the police), to the Department of Education SWAT raid on Kenneth Wright, to the sad case of Mr. Eurie Stamps, a case of mistaken identity, and who was shot to death lying prone because an officer who had no trigger discipline fired his weapon as he tripped due to sympathetic muscle reflexes.  We’ve also seen how these ridiculous military tactics perpetrated on American citizens are dangerous for the police.

And as we’ve seen from fast and furious with the gun walking illegalities, somehow the ATF has “gotten off of the chain,” as it were.  As if on cue so as not to be excluded from the party, the ATF reminds us how detestable they can be with their own SWAT raid bullying.

GREELEY, Colo. – A Colorado woman has filed a lawsuit after agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the ATF, entered her home without a warrant and threatened her and her 8-year old-son while looking for a previous tenant who had left the address more than a year earlier.

According to the filing from Linda Griego, it was on June 15, 2010, when officers with the ATF – as part of the Regional Anti-Gang Enforcement Task Force – violently entered her home without a warrant, handcuffed and pointed guns at her and her son, Colby Frias.

“They had multiple machine pistols pointed at my son. I could see the laser sights on his body and he began to freak out. While I was cuffed I had to calm him down while the officers broke down his bedroom door,” she said.

Her legal action is against the Greeley Police Department and the ATF for illegally entering the home without a warrant.

David Lane, Griego’s attorney, told WND that to this day the agency still has not produced a warrant authorizing it to enter her home. He said Frias continues to suffer nightmares about the events of that day.

[ … ]

In the months following the incident, Frias was so scared he had to sleep with his mother.

“Here he is an 8-year-old boy, and he is sleeping with mom again,” she said.

In the months prior to the incident, local authorities had been to Griego’s house several times looking for Angela Hernandez-Nicholson, a former resident.

Each time, Griego told authorities she was no longer living at the address and even provided them with information on how to locate Nicholson.

“I tell them to contact social services because she is getting government benefits. She is on Section 8 housing, if the state is paying her rent, they should be able to find her,” Griego said. “I have even seen her at Wal-Mart all the time. How hard can it be for authorities to track this woman down?”

Griego said when the officers arrived on the day of the incident around 6:30 a.m. she was in the shower getting ready for work with the radio on while her son was sleeping in his bedroom. She had just come out of a nasty divorce, and a restraining order was placed on her ex-husband.

“I heard the knocking and rushed out of the shower dressed only in a towel. I went to the window at the front and saw a man knocking on the door, but I could not make out who he was,” Griego said. “I then went around to the back where they were also knocking. My first concern was for the safety of my son, and what if my ex-husband and friends had come by.”

She then saw one of the officers turn, and she made out part of the word SWAT on the back of his uniform.

“At that point I realized everything would be OK, since we had done nothing wrong. I told the officers I had just come out of the shower and to give me a minute to get dressed.”

After getting dressed, Griego told them she was coming. Once she unlocked the door, the officer forced the door open, causing it to strike her.

According to Griego, she was then violently grabbed and yanked outside where she was pushed up against the house and handcuffed by authorities.

“They had weapons drawn and were pointing them at me. I begged them not to go in because my son was in there.”

When they dragged her back into the house, she saw the officers surrounding Frias with their laser sights pointed at him.

[ … ]

“The last thing they told me was, ‘Well I hope you have a better day than you’ve had so far.’ And then they left,” he said.

Analysis & Commentary

Ms. Griego asks, “How hard can it be for authorities to track this woman down?”  The answer, of course, is that it isn’t hard to track people down.  It requires basic police work, and apprehension can be done safely and without ugly incidents such as this one.  According to my friend, Captain Dickson Skipper of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, most apprehensions can be done physically, or with the really belligerent ones, using pepper spray.  But military tactics have replaced basic police work in America, with the behavior of tacti-cool “operators” justified by judges looking the other way, as if all of this is necessary to maintain order and peace.

With certain very narrow exceptions (such as when a police officer believes that a perpetrator will commit a violent crime against someone), the Supreme Court ruling in Tennessee versus Garner means that the police can use their own weapons in self defense, but they cannot use deadly force as a means to arrest or detain.  Basically, a police officer’s weapon carries no more legal standing than the weapon I carry on my own person, concealed or openly.  Its purpose is self defense.

Yet when the legal system looks the other way and allows this sort of thing to happen with impunity, the lines become blurred and police officers get away with pointing weapons at children.  The implications of this are staggering, from exhibiting poor muzzle discipline to brandishing weapons because they happen to be law enforcement officers.  It is manifestly obvious that an eight year old child isn’t a threat, but tacti-cool operators conducting raids can’t be bothered with such trivialities.

There are those who feel differently.  Having spent time in Fallujah clearing rooms with the U.S. Marines, my own son’s perspective is more peaceful than what he had to perpetrate on that city: “So, you want to be an operator?  Good.  Sign up, take the training, fly across the pond, and do it for real.  If you are a police officer in the U.S., you should first and foremost see yourself as a peace officer.”  When the public outcry is loud enough and law enforcement is held accountable for this kind of behavior, it will stop.  Thus far the outrage simply doesn’t run deep enough – at least, until it happens to you.

UPDATE: Thanks to Michelle Malkin for the link.

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  1. On June 7, 2012 at 6:04 am, bob sykes said:

    Somewhere on YouTube there is a short clip showing two very large cops (6 ft + and 200 +) beating up an old, frail women who couldn’t have weighed more the 90 lbs. This was the post-Katrine period in NO. The woman’s crime was she was showing a revolver she legally had to the cops. She would have handed it to them if they had asked. But the sadists preferred to beat her.

    In many American cities, the police have degenerated into criminal gangs. The Third-World police model prevails.

    Police are dangerous to people, more so than gang-bangers. Gang-bangers don’t operate under the color of authority. The police need to be reined into. Elimination of all SWAT units everywhere would be a good start.

  2. On June 7, 2012 at 7:07 am, StephenDvd said:

    Great article! (I got here from a link on Michelle Malkin’s website)

    I have been aware of this problem since late 1970s, when I first read of all the cases of home invasions by drug enforcement officers. One case in particular resulted in death of an innocent as the result of officers breaking into an apartment one floor below the one rented by a suspect.

    Within the last few years we had a case in Georgia where an elderly woman was murdered by drug agents who had also gone to the wrong address. It was discovered later that the information itself was bogus and came from a highly discredited informer who had his own motives.

    This issue not only reflects the ignorance of the average law enforcement officer, but the total disdain they have for the public. As the old saying goes: “Power corrupts…” and in this case, too many law enforcement officers have let their “power”, which is limited by law and the constitution, go to their heads and convince them that they have unlimited absolute power of life and death over the public.

    This is why we see so many cases of death and injury by Taser. Tasers should be considered a device for dealing with mob violence and dangerous, out of control (e.g. psychotic) individuals. But more often than not, cops use tasers simply to exercise their authority, end arguments, or bully people.

    Its long past time for our legislative authorities to start looking into limiting the powers and exercise of police deadly force and SWAT team tactics. And for judges to stop looking the other way and excusing such tactics when relevant cases come before them.

  3. On June 7, 2012 at 7:20 am, Mike M. said:

    This won’t stop as long as the police have access to weapons forbidden to the common taxpayer.

    Right now, all the victims can do is suffer and file a lawsuit. For an award of money sometime in the future. An award of money is no deterrent whatsoever to a government – they simply send out their tax collectors to wring more out of the taxpayers.

    Take away the guns, and things become VERY different. Subject these police departments to a 30-day Disciplinary Disarming, and they’ll change their tune instantly. American law enforcement regards the gun as the symbol of office. A cop with a gun and no badge is under cover…a cop with a badge but no gun is under a cloud.

    Which is why a policy of court-ordered Disciplinary Disarmings of police agencies is the fastest, most effective solution to this problem.

  4. On June 7, 2012 at 8:17 am, TS Alfabet said:

    I suggest that the solution is far easier and more effective than the other suggestions: jail time and *personal* civil liability.

    Police officers should be explicitly subject to the very same criminal and civil penalties for assault, assault with a deadly weapon, civil rights violations, breaking and entering, infliction of emotional distress, trespassing and, of course, manslaughter and murder.

    Police should have a *very* narrow window of immunity from these charges. In other words, they have a limited defense that they were acting *lawfully* within the scope of their delegated police authorities. If they screw up and go to the wrong apartment, if they fail to get a lawfully issued warrant, if they use excessive force or exceed their mandate, then they are subject to criminal and civil penalties.

    If these SWAT hot shots knew that they could be thrown in jail and be hit with personal liability for hundreds of thousands of dollars (which would be non-dischargeable in bankruptcy, by the way), they would be much more careful about their tactics and doing their homework before they proceed.

    In addition, any police department that has a SWAT unit that crosses the line like this should automatically be disbanded and each member relegated to regular police duties while the department is put under special oversight/probation to show that it has reformed before it is allowed to re-form any kind of SWAT unit in the future.

  5. On June 7, 2012 at 12:06 pm, troubledPatriot said:

    We have too, too many commando SWAT teams running around in this country. Do a quick check and you will find all types of government agencies, etc. have established “Emergency Response” teams. They are out of control, shooting family pets, on a regular basis, and endangering the lives of ordinary citizens while patently unable to conduct simple police work. Does it make sense to “commando assualt” someone who has paid taxes for over five years? How ’bout sending someone over to talk to the alleged individual, naw, far too easier to mount a “counter terrorist offensive”, courts don’t mind, they hand out the warrants all the time. Time for a change, big time.

  6. On June 9, 2012 at 12:13 pm, TS Alfabet said:

    The problem has gotten so absurdly out of control that people on the political Left are taking advantage of this SWAT over-reaction to intimidate and harass conservative bloggers.

    The practice is known as “SWAT-ting,” and involves a person calling 911 from an untraceable number and pretending to the the conservative blogger. The perp will tell the 911 dispatcher that they are armed and have or are about to kill their family. The police SWAT team descends upon the hapless blogger’s home, usually in the middle of the night, and proceeds to conduct the usual balls-to-walls home invasion, putting the entire family’s life at risk.

    Here’s a general account by Sen. Saxby Chambliss:


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

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