SWAT Team Terrorizes Family In Wrong-Home Raid

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 10 months ago

A report from Delaware:

MIDDLETOWN, Del. — Steve Tuppeny was in the garage having a smoke at 6:15 a.m., Thursday his wife and daughter asleep inside, when the Wilmington SWAT officers made their move.

Dressed in black, several officers rushed Tuppeny, ordered him to lie face down on the ground and handcuffed him. Other SWAT officers smashed the storm door in the front of the Tuppenys’ two-story colonial-style home, then used a battering ram to break through the red front door.
Jennifer Tuppeny, an elementary school teacher, said she was asleep upstairs when officers threw open the door to her darkened bedroom and ordered her at gunpoint to get up.

The couple’s 8-year-old daughter was awakened out of a “dead sleep” by “men dressed in black with guns shining flashlights in her face,” Jennifer Tuppeny said.

Police carried out the early morning raid in search of a man whom they called a “person of interest” in a homicide. The man, in a Sept. 19 court appearance, had said he lived at the Tuppenys’ address. Police had a search warrant authorizing them to obtain a DNA sample.

The man was located later Thursday in Smyrna, given a DNA swab and released, said Wilmington police spokesman Officer Mark Ivey. Police did not release his name, and Ivey said late Thursday afternoon that the man is neither a defendant nor a suspect.

“The person of interest had resided at the residence and provided court officials with this address within the last month indicating he currently lived there,” Ivey said in a statement released Thursday afternoon. “In compliance with standard operating procedure, officers verified that the person of interest was no longer residing at the home and did not search the residence any further.”

By that time, Steve Tuppeny said, his family had been terrorized.

“I’m lying on the garage floor at gunpoint and they are invading my home terrorizing my family,” said Tuppeny, a line chef and general contractor. “This is America. We’re innocent people here.”

Jennifer Tuppeny said her family has lived in the home for four years. They purchased it from the father of the man who was the target of Thursday morning’s raid.

Analysis & Commentary

Make no mistake about it.  Ms. Tuppeny said that she was at “gunpoint” by the officers, and the child had lights pointed at her.  These lights weren’t cheap hand carry lights, they were tactical lights, just like I have, and they were attached to picatinny rails on weapons, just like mine are.  In other words, they were pointing their weapons at an eight year old child in bed.

As I’ve observed before, “this is yet another example of poor muzzle discipline, and the incident may have included poor trigger discipline.  When anyone who doesn’t happen to be a law enforcement officer does something like this, it’s called trespassing, brandishing a firearm, and assault with a deadly weapon (a felony offense that generally includes ”the intentional creation of a reasonable apprehension of imminent bodily harm”).  And bodily harm often does result, as with the case of Mr. Eurie Stamps, prone on the floor after his home had been mistakenly invaded, and who was shot dead by an officer who had his finger on the trigger of his weapon and stumbled, firing as a sympathetic muscle reflex.

I’ve also remarked that based on my own friends who are law enforcement officers, one who is a Captain and who has effected hundreds of felony arrests, it just isn’t that difficult to ensure safety.  A little OC spray makes the worst offenders very compliant while officers maintain stand-off distance.  Furthermore, a little investigative work goes a long way.  Stake out a home, effect the arrests in driveways, ensure that it’s the correct address, and so on.

It’s not only the reasonable and sensible thing to do, it’s the moral approach.  Invading homes (when as far as the homeowner knows, the invader is posing as a LEO and intends his family harm) is the immoral approach, and pointing weapons at women and children is the behavior of cowards.


What Does A SWAT Team And Eight Children Have In Common?

SWAT Raids A Snake Shooting


Continuing SWAR Raid Errors And Pranks

DEA SWAT Raid And Ninth Circuit Ruling

ATF SWAT Failure

D.C. Police Bullies

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

Judges Siding With SWAT Tactics

The Moral Case Against SWAT Raids

Department Of Education SWAT Raid On Kenneth Wright

The Jose Guerea Raid: A Demonstration Of Tactical Incompetence

Trackbacks & Pingbacks


  1. On October 5, 2012 at 3:14 pm, matt said:

    Hi Mr. Smith,

    This is a question from my libertarian boss to whom I occasionally email your articles and his response is that these swat raids are the direct result of our imperialism in foreign lands; that we (not the terrorists) are responsible for the deaths of our soldiers and conservative law-and-order republicans are to blame for the spate of no knock raids gone wrong.

    As for me, I’m going thru your stuff on AfPak from 2009 and nodding my head every 5 min.

  2. On October 5, 2012 at 3:23 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Right. Blame someone else, the premier sickness of the twentieth century.

    American police don’t have to act with military tactics, they just choose to. No one forces them to do this. Oh, and SWAT tactics began before OIF and OEF.

  3. On October 7, 2012 at 6:42 pm, bsts said:

    Better safe than sorry…
    It’s really easy to criticize LEOs safely from behind a computer. It is quite another situation when you deal with armed criminals on a daily basis and your life and the lives of your colleagues are at stake every time you enter an unknown house or approach a suspect.
    I guarantee (money back) that none of the LEOs would knowingly point the barrel of a weapon at an innocent 8 year old and that they would happily arrest anyone who does.
    Was it a mistake? Definitely, but the blame lies with the intelligence they received from whoever asked for SWAT to execute this search.
    Do you really think these guys LIKE to get all dressed up at 0430 (in order to be there at 0615) to rough up an innocent American family?
    The attitude apparent in this article is one of the classic “disconnects” between civilian and military/security agencies: civilians see bloodthirsty thugs in balaclavas pointing guns at them for no reason. They don’t realize it’s done for a reason and that these guys have families themselves and are doing their best to protect the civilians who are oh-so-happy (trigger-happy?) to point out every mistake. You can rest assured somebody got an earful at the very least for this.
    Show me an organization that has never made a mistake… the higher the stakes, the bigger the mistakes. When your life is on the line, you tend to be really paranoid.
    If they had entered a meth lab with half crazed criminals wielding automatic weapons, you would not have criticized them of course for the way they entered the house… my point is they did not know… to a hammer, EVERY problem is a nail.
    And before you get all holier than thou on me: I was arrested once as five LEOs had their sidearms pointed at me because someone had (erroneously) told them I was armed… I’m surprised I didn’t piss my pants back then.
    They were doing their jobs as best as they could trying to protect themselves and their fellow co-workers.

  4. On October 7, 2012 at 7:18 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Oh horsecrap. That’s all your comment is. This tactic is voluntary, not necessary. They utilize it because they choose to, not because they have to. Stop home invasions and you stop these kinds of tactics.

    I don’t care whether it is a home invasion by criminals or LEOs. It’s still a home invasion.

    And yes, I see people pointing weapons at women and children for no good reason, because that’s what happened.

    No muzzle awareness or discipline, no trigger discipline. If these LEOs want to play soldier-boy, then sign up, fly across the pond and do it for real. Otherwise, leave the policing to smarter people who don’t have to act like thugs.

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