Two More Isolated Incidents

After a "wrong-door" drug raid in Harlem led to the death of 57-year-old Alberta Spruill in 2003, New York City officials promised to implement reforms with respect to the use of confidential informants, and institute checks to verify that narcotics officers and SWAT teams were hitting the right residences.

But as civil rights attorney Joel Berger and I explained in the Wall Street Journal a couple of years ago, the city soon reneged, claiming that the promised reforms were merely discretionary, and could be revoked at will.  Soon enough, stories of wrong-door raids began popping up in the newspapers again—and have since.

There were two more in the Bronx this week.

The NYPD is admitting it was wrong when officers broke down the doors of two apartments in the Bronx during a pair of misguided drug raids.

They found nothing, and it turns out both homeowners were innocent.

Officials say the apartments never should have been raided, and they admit the search warrants were based on lies from a confidential informant.

[...]

Police say that three separate times, the drugs from his alleged undercover buys were really drugs that were hidden under his clothing. Cops were fooled, and because of it, two local residents were traumatized.

[...]

On Saturday, when Eyewitness News began questioning cops about the story, they adamantly insisted there were undercover drug buys in both apartments.

[...]

Now, after repeated calls to the NYPD, their story has changed. They now tell Eyewitness News that they can't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there were any undercover buys in the apartments, just a confidential informant who allegedly lied.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, police say, "We've initiated an investigation which has resulted in the informant being arrested for possession of narcotics. The investigation is continuing regarding his conduct leading up to these two search warrants."

They also say surveillance video shows the informant, who was supposedly searched beforehand by cops, reaching into his undergarments three separate times, exchanging the cops' money for hidden drugs, then allegedly walking out of the building.

Why didn't they check the surveillance video before conducting the raids?  And how thoroughly could they possibly have searched this informant if he was able to hide drugs in his clothing?  Moreover, if they were this sloppy while using this informant, how do we know other cops in the city aren't making similar mistakes with other informants?  This particular informant has been the source of information for at least a dozen other drug raids.

Once again, the larger point here is that these raids are too violent and dangerous, the margin of error too small, and the tips and investigations that lead to them too subject to mistakes and bad information for them to be used on nonviolent drug offenders.

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  • Elemenope||

    And Balko finds a way to ruin my birthday.

    Thanks, Balko.

  • LarryA||

    Radley:

    Coffee table book. Photos. Stories. Overview.

  • Grandson of Sam||

    Is the use of such force justified when they do find what they're looking for
    and the homeowners are violent?

  • ||

    And Balko finds a way to ruin my birthday.

    LMNOP, you'll get over it when the cake appears and your family/friends start singing.*

    Once again a confidential informant scummy snitch crackhead is caught lying. Once again the cops are "blameless" fot trusting a piece of human refuse.

    Honest injun, gullible public, we had no idea that this incorrigible drug addled miscreant was untrustworthy. How could we?

    I'm confident that nobody here is surprised.

    * Wishing you many more.

  • JLE||

    There's a couple little too/to issues in that last paragraph.

  • ||

    And Balko finds a way to ruin my birthday.

    Happy Birthday, LMNOP.

  • ||

    You know, Radley, I'm beginning to wonder if these really are isolated incidents.

  • ||

    Happy BD LMNOP!

    "Once again a confidential informant scummy snitch crackhead is caught lying. Once again the cops are "blameless" fot trusting a piece of human refuse."

    Who (CI) is bargaining for his own freedom or drugs or however these scum are being compensated.

    "Honest injun, gullible public, we had no idea that this incorrigible drug addled miscreant was untrustworthy. How could we?"

    Because when we break out the Jack Bauer / Walker Texas Ranger / CSI, no holds barred, war on some drugs, we have to trust some pretty untrustworthy people, so we can meet our quota, make children safe, etc. rid the world of those dope fiends.

    "I'm confident that nobody here is surprised."

    Way past surprised, I have been outraged so long at the war on some drugs, I wished I could harness it as an alternative energy source.

  • ||

    What, nobody was shot? Not even the dog? What gives Radley? Are we suppose to get worked up into a lather every time the cops kick in someone's door. They had a warrant, supported by their criminal informant. What more do you want? If they had to do actual police work before breaking down doors, no one would ever get arrested.

  • Grandson of Sam||

    Sometimes the little old ladies are bad asses:

    From Associated Press
    July 18, 2008 2:02 PM EDT
    NEW YORK - They bound their victims with duct tape, beat them and held guns to their heads. When that didn't work, the bandits applied pliers to their genitals and pressed hot irons to the soles of their feet. Sometimes they held victims' heads under water in a bathtub.

    Prosecutors say the torture was inflicted by a brazen New York gang that impersonated police officers and preyed on rival drug dealers along the East Coast, stealing their money and cocaine. The crime spree netted more than 1,650 pounds of cocaine worth $20 million and $4 million in cash. At least 100 people were injured.

  • Episiarch||

    When I lived on E84th between York and 1st, we had a highly unusual crime occur (that's about two blocks away from Gracie Mansion--we didn't have crime in our neighborhood) right on my street. Some dudes had busted into a female cop's apartment and rolled her. When told what had happened, at first I changed it in my head to "some cops had busted into some woman's apartment and rolled her".

    That's the level of my opinion of cops. Plus, since crime just didn't happen there, it made more sense. Later on I believe I found out it was some kind of crime of passion, which also made much more sense.

  • ||


    In a statement released Thursday afternoon, police say, "We've initiated an investigation which has resulted in the informant being arrested for possession of narcotics. The investigation is continuing regarding his conduct leading up to these two search warrants."



    Well, jeez. They had to arrest someone, didn't they? You don't want to suggest that the police could be at all at fault here, do you?

    Next you will be suggesting that there be some sort of connection between power and accountability.

    /snark

  • Elemenope||

    Thx, guys. And I do the pie thing. Pecan pie. Mmmmmmm!

  • ||

    Hmm, unintended consequences...if I ever have a criminal living next door I'm going to treat him with absolute courtesy and respect, so he won't have any reason to send the cops kicking in my front door at 3am and killing my dog.

  • ||

    """New York City officials promised to implement reforms..."""

    You're an idiot if you believe any government official will honor their promise. Promise to reform is a code phrase for you'll forget about it later.

  • ||

    Meanwhile, in Daytona Beach, a police lieut. has been dismissed for demanding free coffee from Starbucks.

  • ||

    Lets stop these raids and just mandate a mandatory death penalty for anyone dealing drugs (after three convictions).


    Begin the whinning.

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