More on the Vang Khang Raid

I'm quoted at length in this piece by St. Paul Pioneer-Press columnist Ruben Rosario on botched SWAT raids.

The police are in prime CYA form on the Khang raid:

Minneapolis police say they are not to blame for a mistake that sent a SWAT team into the wrong house over the weekend.

[...]

"It was bad information that came on the informants end, not on the police end," said Jesse Garcia, a Minneapolis Police spokesman.

Garcia said after the informant gave police three addresses they did their homework.

"Like I said, this is a long-term investigation that involved surveillance, looking at background of this whole situation to find out exactly what's going on," said Garcia.

In addition, a judge reviewed the information from police. The judge OK'd the three search warrants.

"The first two addresses were very good, a lot of information, numerous guns were recovered," said Garcia.

[...]

WCCO-TV asked police if they would make police changes to prevent a mistake.

"I don't think it was a mistake on our part, you know, we did everything correctly. We did everything in good faith, we followed the search warrant, we did everything correctly. It turns out some of the information that was given on the front end from the informant, just wasn't right," said Garcia.

But the informant works for the police. Informants aren't sworn public servants. They aren't trained to become police officers. They aren't accountable to the public. Most, in fact, are pretty shady characters. The police ought to be independently coroborrating every informant's tip before they go kicking down doors. Even a reliable informant could inadvertently transpose numbers, or get a street name wrong.

So don't blame this on the informant. It's the job of the officers he's working with to corroborate the information he gives them. If his information is wrong, and they act on it, it's their fault.  They're the ones with the guns, the authority, and who are accountable to the public.  The fact that they shot up the wrong house by itself indicates that the police made a mistake, here. Here's more from Minneapolis police:

"This house was part of a package of very credible information that resulted in other successful enforcement actions," she said. "This was the end of a chain of things, and there was no reason to question the credibility of the information."

Except that, quite obviously, the information wasn't credible. Or they wouldn't have nearly killed an innocent family.

The police apparently knocked out six windows in the Khang home, some of them before the shooting began. The fired 22 rounds, spraying the Khang home with shotgun blasts.

One local media outlet is reporting that the police were investigating a black street gang. Had they taken the two minutes to type the address into the local property records website, they'd have seen the name "Vang Khang" pop up, which should have at least hinted at the possibility that the address might be wrong, and that it would probably be worth the time to do a bit more investigation before heading out to play soldier.

The fact that the police didn't even take this small, not particularly labor intensive step by itself puts the lie to the statement that they "did everything correctly."

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  • ||

    You know, everybody makes mistakes. Obviously, these are high stakes we're dealing with, and so you're correct that they should be doing a lot more footwork before shooting into people's homes and kicking down doors.

    With that said, is it so hard to say, "Yes, we did make a mistake. We're very sorry, and we'll take steps to prevent this from happening again."

    I understand the reason they don't do this is probably legal culpability. I just think acknowledging a mistake and apologizing is the way to go. When I stumble in a bar and spill somebody's drink, I apologize and buy them a new one. Most people are pretty gracious after that, even if they're a little wet.

  • VM||

    Radley -

    Thank you for all of your work in this area. It is greatly appreciated!

    mike - good bar analogy! How true!

  • ||

    Not that I expect people to be gracious to the police who shot up their home, killed their dog and roughed them up just because of an apology, but an apology and restitution would go a long way.

  • ||

    geeez-a-lou cut the storm troopers some slack. Ya know, two outta three ain't bad, and they did , after all, get some guns outta the wrong hands at the other two. Nobody died fer christ sake. This is a small price we sometimes gotta pay to live in a safe sane drug free neighborhood. It's like Bush goin to Iraq, ya cain't learn if your perfect all the time.ø¿ø

  • Episiarch||

    they'd have seen the name "Vang Khang" pop up, which should have at least hinted at the possibility that the address might be [sic] wrong

    What about Ving Rhames?

    Come on, Radley. You can't expect the cops to delay their adrenaline fix by doing a little work, can you?

  • ||

    I'm surprised they didn't find a way to blame it on Vang Khang, for, uhh... being suspicious looking or something...

  • robc||

    While its a good thing in this case, is anyone else worried that they fired 22 rounds and didnt hit anybody?

  • robc||

    Let me be even more clear: They fired 22 rounds at someone who shot 2 cops and failed to hit! If you are going to be a jack booted thug, do it right.

  • T||

    Hey, they hit the house. Admittedly, it's a large stationary object, but give them some credit. They could have missed that.

  • Episiarch||

    While its a good thing in this case, is anyone else worried that they fired 22 rounds and didnt hit anybody?

    Cops, by and large, are fucking awful shots. Most practice one time before a yearly qualification. A few practice and are very good shots, like that NYPD officer who stopped the Brookyn City Hall shooting (I'm too lazy to link). They think that guns are their god-given right and that they are masters with them solely because they are cops.

    A question: if this dude were black, you think he'd find himself with some charges against him?

  • Christopher Monnier||

    > I'm surprised they didn't find a way to blame it on Vang Khang, for, uhh... being suspicious looking or something...

    They did. From Minnesota Public Radio:

    Police accounts say the officers identified themselves. Sgt. Garcia says Khang fired three shotgun blasts at officers.

    "He was firing through a door -- didn't know who was behind it. It could've been a relative coming home. I just don't recommend people firing through doors," says Garcia.



    Khang lives in North Minneapolis, by far the most crime-ridden area of the city. If someone's charging into his house, there's a pretty good chance that it's not a relative.

  • robc||

    When the Louisville Police Department switched, a few years back, to Glock 10mm as their standard issue, they had 4 accidental discharges in a very short period of time - 2 cops shot themselves in the leg, another was running on a wet sidewalk with his finger on the trigger and shot the gutter just above a witness's head.

  • ||

    What Episarch said about cops being generally abysmal shots is true. Most of them oughtn't be allowed anywhere near a firearm.

  • ||

    Sgt. Garcia says the city will help the family make repairs caused by the raid.

    That would be a nice start, assuming it actually happens. No doubt offered in exchange for an immunity to lawsuits.

  • ||

    Rob-

    And yet they continually blame the Glock pistols for these negligent discharges.

    Because learning to keep your finger off the trigger is just so darn hard.

  • T||

    Because learning to keep your finger off the trigger is just so darn hard.

    It must be. I can't think of any other reason cops keep shooting themselves with the tactical tupperware. The four rules seem to work if you follow them.

  • robc||

    mediageek,

    In the LPD's defense, I believe all 4 officers were suspended for the discharges. Probably just long enough for a "dont put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to pull it" lesson. But still.

    I remember seeing the famous picture of the Elian Gonzalez capture and thinking "At least the JBTs were trained properly". I then heard some talking head say that the proof that they had no intent to fire was that his finger wasnt on the trigger in preparation. Moron.

  • ||

    "So don't blame this on the informant. It's the job of the officers he's working with to corroborate the information he gives them. If his information is wrong, and they act on it, it's their fault. They're the ones with the guns, the authority, and who are accountable to the public. The fact that they shot up the wrong house by itself indicates that the police made a mistake, here."

    True dat, true dat! These cops are getting waaay out of hand...I wonder if there would have been an outcry heard much better if this had been in a wealthy suburb? Though part of me would just be surprised to ever see the American citezenry demand some real change from our out-of-control police...

  • Big Nanny||

    "I'm surprised they didn't find a way to blame it on Vang Khang, for, uhh... being suspicious looking or something..."

    Well, he wasn't black.

  • robc||

    T,

    Vang did technically violate Rule 4 himself, although I think it is safe to say that he knew he was shooting at "bad guys, with more bad guys behind them".

  • ||

    Let me be even more clear: They fired 22 rounds at someone who shot 2 cops and failed to hit! If you are going to be a jack booted thug, do it right.

    Maybe they're playing their role as Stormtroopers a bit to closely...

  • ||

    But... but... the police are heros!

  • bubba||

    I don't know that the name of the owner tells them anything. Could be a rental.

    But it's just nuts to delegate responsibility for the deployment of a SWAT team to an informant.

  • ||

    With that said, is it so hard to say, "Yes, we did make a mistake. We're very sorry, and we'll take steps to prevent this from happening again."

    It's one thing for it to be hard for a person to say their sorry, but this is supposed to be a professional organization, and shouldn't even blink before apologizing for such a mistake.

    Sorry, but those we trust with powers beyond a normal citizen's should be held to a far higher standard.

    And as far as wording something to avoid litigation, uhh, you broke into the wrong house!

    You are going to be sued. That's what those sort of lawsuits are designed for. It's a bullshit excuse to say you can't apologize to avoid litigation, IMHO...

  • ||

    Maybe they're playing their role as Stormtroopers a bit to closely...



    WIN

  • SWAT Team Member||

    Police officers shouldn't be punished for mistakes in the line of duty. If they believed they were doing the right thing given the information they had then there is no way to hold them accountable for raiding the wrong home. Besides, if that family didn't have anything to hide all they had to do was completely submit to a violent armed raid and no shots would have been fired.

    Also, police officers need almost unlimited authority and heavy firepower in order to keep people from smoking marijuana, which is the most dangerous and destructive drug in the history of the world.

  • ||

    Besides, if that family didn't have anything to hide all they had to do was completely submit to a violent armed raid and no shots would have been fired.

    Appreciate the sarcasm. Unfortunately, sometimes people submit to violent, armed raids, and shots are still fired.

  • ||

    In the LPD's defense, I believe all 4 officers were suspended for the discharges. [my emphasis] Probably just long enough for a "dont put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to pull it" lesson. But still.

    Without pay, right?
    Silly me.

  • ||

    REMEMBER KATHRYN JOHNSTON!

  • robc||

    J sub D,

    Without pay, right?

    Its been a while, I dont remember the details, I do remember thinking the suspensions seemed reasonable (if kinda short, and a pistol whipping might have better taught the lesson), so they might have been without pay.

    Exception, the guy who nearly shot the witness should have lost his job.

  • ||

    A few practice and are very good shots, like that NYPD officer who stopped the Brookyn City Hall shooting (I'm too lazy to link) [etc.]

    This has little if anything to do with weapons training. Khang hasn't been anywhere noted as a marksman, but he hit what he was shooting at because he had to. Same with the Brooklyn City Hall cop. Those bullets meant something; they had a destination. In a typical cop-blasting-at-black-guys situation, the same officer would miss at the usual cop rate and spray a whole street with lead.

    If you can make a gun work at all, when you're shooting for a good reason, you hit. When you're making a violent display because someone pissed you off, you miss. The latter is what cops do, almost invariably.

    They're not bad shots. They're bad people.

  • ||

    Hey, they hit the house. Admittedly, it's a large stationary object, but give them some credit. They could have missed that.



    From inside??? ;-)

  • ||

    """With that said, is it so hard to say, "Yes, we did make a mistake. We're very sorry, and we'll take steps to prevent this from happening again."""

    Cops don't make mistakes, and they are not going to give an apology to some scum-sucking civilian. That's pretty much the attitude.

    If they accidently shoot you, it's oh well, we acted in good faith, and that suppose to make it ok. But if you shot one of them, good faith in protecting your home matters little. This guy isn't charged with a crime because the officer's injuries were not bad. If Vang's shots would have caused some real bodily harm or death, he would have been charged.

  • T||

    Anything is possible, Isaac. I have an almost infinite and mystical faith in the ability of idiots to screw things up when handed weapons. 6 years in the Army validated this belief more than you can imagine.

    Robc,

    Yeah, we could fault him for not positively identifying the target. But since he hit two of them, I'm inclined to cut him some slack.

    Finally, an observation for all of you: 12 gauge magnum slugs at short range make most "bulletproof" vests irrelevant. Choose your ammo accordingly.

  • Dello||

    "Vang Khang" is his Wu Tang Clan name. The cops did the right thing taking this Black man down.

  • ||

    As a Minnesotan, I'm curious about the confiscation of guns at the first two houses. Why were they taken? I believe gun ownership,per se, is not against the law, even in this socialistic,
    over taxed, high crime area.

    Additionally, Mr Khang's personal experiences may have led him to believe he was being threatened.

  • ||

    "Vang Khang" is his Wu Tang Clan name. The cops did the right thing taking this Black man down.

    Sounds Hmong to me. Hmong are big hunters IIRC so its no wonder he had a shotgun in his house.

  • ||

    I hear that not all cops are bad...I only wish the moderate voices in copdom would raise their voices to denounce the extremists' punish and enslave mentality.

  • A person||

    Don't know if this is outrageous arrogance on the part of the police or pure stupidity, but some responsible people in the police force up that way need to at least lose their jobs for this, not just receive a censure, much less a rather weasel worded paragraph in Reason or even words of praise from some crappy newspaper column somewhere. Law enforcement officers with this sort of mind set are public enemy number one.

  • ||

    "It was bad information that came on the informants end, not on the police end,"

    "Like I said, this is a long-term investigation that involved surveillance, looking at background of this whole situation to find out exactly what's going on,"


    Obviously, one of these statement is a bald faced lie. I'm supposed to give the cops the benefit of the doubt? Not anymore.

  • ||

    Sgt. Garcia obviously enters his home by beating down the door and brandishing guns on a regular basis.

  • Episiarch||

    Sgt. Garcia obviously enters his home by beating down the door and brandishing guns on a regular basis.

    Only when he's drunk and feelin' mean. Then he asks his wife "what do you say to a woman with two black eyes?" and she says "nothing, you already told me twice."

  • ed||

    I hear that not all cops are bad...

    Not here you didn't.

  • ||

    "A question: if this dude were black, you think he'd find himself with some charges against him?"

    Yes, if only because every black guy has marijuana in his house.


    "This is Vang Khang of the Wu-Tang,
    The V-A-N-G-K-hang Man!"

  • ||

    Its your police state, I'm just trying to get by in it.

  • atrevete||

    IF the law were changed that if they raid the wrong house and the innocent civilian kills one, believing "in good faith" that he is defending his home, he is acting in self defense and is not charged with a crime.

    Also, if in raiding the wrong house, even with information they believe is true, if an innocent person is killed, the cops are charged with capital murder.

    I think a lot fewer "mistakes" would be made.

  • attack of the clones||

    Make the world a better place,
    Punch a policeman in the face.

  • ||

    IF the law were changed that if they raid the wrong house and the innocent civilian kills one, believing "in good faith" that he is defending his home, he is acting in self defense and is not charged with a crime.

    Theoretically, that's the way self-defense law reads now (absent some bastardizations about retreating and all that).

    Of course, the cops and their little butt-buddies in the DAs office are very unlikely to see it that way, given their tunnel vision and us v. them mentality.

  • T||

    Actually, in Texas, the law reads that you can resist a warrant being served with excessive force or wording like that. I don't know any test cases, but the law is on the books. One problem being that most people don't survive the excessive force, even if they do resist.

  • ||

    I hear that not all cops are bad...I only wish the moderate voices in copdom would raise their voices to denounce the extremists' punish and enslave mentality.

    Well, if someone ever identifies themselves to me as a Moslem cop, I'm going to shit my pants.

  • ||

    IF the law were changed that if they raid the wrong house and the innocent civilian kills one, believing "in good faith" that he is defending his home, he is acting in self defense and is not charged with a crime.



    There was a case in Florida in the early 90s where a homeowner shot and killed a cop during a raid. He was charged with Murder 1 (dp and all) but the jury aquitted.

    All the people who helped raise money for his defense were harassed by officers in every jurisdiction in the county for some time after that. Arrests for unpaid tickets that turned out to have be paid after all and bullshit stuff like that.

    It probably helped that the raid was bas on info from a disgruntled neighbor (who, incidentally was never charged with anything) and that the only drugs they found were a sigle roach in the teenage son's bedroom and some prescription painkillers the guy had for back pain for a work injury.

    Also around the same time there had been a series of home invasions where the perps had burst into the house yelling "POLICE, POLICE, etc, etc".

    That combined with a couple of completely innocent victims getting killed in wrong address raids (again at least one of which seems to to have been based on a malicious accusation for which noone was ever charged) likely made for a sympathetic jury.

    The cops in Central Fla cooled it on the raids for a while, but once they got armed a little better it was business as usual.

  • ||

    ...the raid was based on info from a disgruntled neighbor...

    Incidentally the neighbor was never publically identified but the guy has a pretty good idea who it was according to a friend who was close to the case.

  • ||

    When we do something that produces a wrong result, we look at what we did wrong and what we need to change to prevent the bad outcome in the future.

    When cops do something wrong they blame it on you and try to figure out how to modify your behavior so their bad behavior will be accepted.

  • llee||

    Come on Garcia! Your officers barge in, shot 22 rounds at this family and you say "He was firing through a door -- didn't know who was behind it. It could've been a relative coming home. I just don't recommend people firing through doors," You don't need to be working for the justice system. You and your fellow officers need to step up to this family and apologize and take the necessary steps to correct yourselves and your DEPARTMENT before another innocent family gets shot at!!!

  • Dave W.||

    http://www.chicagoreader.com/features/stories/killedoncamera/

  • ||

    How cops train for the job:

    http://www.kptv.com/news/14882840/detail.html

  • ||

    "Except that, quite obviously, the information wasn't credible. Or they wouldn't have nearly killed an innocent family. "

    Non sequitur. Credibility does not equal true. After all, there are people out there who considered Slick Willie credible when he was committing perjury.

    The cops screwed up. They need to admit it, make reparations, then STRAIGHTEN UP AND FLY RIGHT.

    The policies DON'T WORK. The procedures are BROKEN. If law enforcement agencies don't reconnect with American society, they will find themselves completely distrusted. Without that trust, they can't do their jobs and they won't have the support that they need when they make an honest mistake.

  • ||

    T wrote:

    >>Because learning to keep your finger off the trigger is just so darn hard.

    >It must be. I can't think of any other reason cops keep shooting themselves with the tactical tupperware. The four rules seem to work if you follow them.

    Actually, the Glock trigger design is partly at fault. As a self-cocker, it has a progressive tension, but it's a very short (and soft) stroke. Not much in the way of tactile feedback, and no safety, so by the time an adrenaline-charged cop knows he's got pressure on the trigger, the notice is delivered in a loud and definite manner.

  • ||

    "We did nothing wrong, but we'll conduct a full investigation, which will prove that we've done nothing wrong."

    These cops must have been rookies. The seasoned pros would have planted drugs under the sink, thereby 'proving' that their information was right all along.

  • ||

    Make the world a better place,
    Punch a policeman in the face.


    I see a future t-shirt.

    Urkobolds get on it.

  • ||

    Garcia and his cops had access to names and address, yet they were negligent because they never bothered to check. Please stop trying to play the blame game. Don't blame the informant, the process, or the procedure. I have respects for cops, but I have to say there are a some stupid ones out there, or maybe intentionally stupid. I used to live in a pretty tough neighborhood and had something similar happen to me. A police officer walked through my front door unannuonced into my house through my kitchen and out into my backyard because he thought he heard some fire-crackers going off in my back yard. I was jsut a split second away from shooting him in the face, but I realized he was a cop and not an intruder. When I approached him, he accused me of lighting fire-crackers in my backyard, which is ilegal in California. He could not find a single trace of fire crackers. It was the neighbors behind my house. He walked out without even appologizing...what an ass....

    Maybe if the Khang family hadn't dialed 911 once they got upstairs, these cops might have had time to plant some drugs under the sink, but it was unfortunate for them that other more trustworthy cops were about to be on the seen in any minutes.

  • Dave||

    "And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say goodbye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling in terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand. The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst; the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!"
    - The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

  • ||

    Is it so hard for them to double check the info doing a no-knock raid? Lives are at stakes here.

  • atrevete||

    "but I realized he was a cop and not an intruder."

    Oh yes he WAS an intruder!

    That's why I still think, as an added incentive to have the right house, that if anyone dies in a police raid gone wrong, the cops are charged with felony murder. But if the civilian, believing his life may be in danger, shoots and kills one of the police "team", he gets off scot-free, no charge. Kind of the reverse of what it is now.

  • Mike Blackman||

    fuck white people... just wanna hurt black.brown,asian..... fuck white men till we never die........peace..ahhahah

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