A few victims of the drug war's "standard procedure" are fighting back in court. First, a Colorado Springs woman who suffered a heart attack during a raid has brought a lawsuit:
Rose Ann Santistevan, 71, is suing for medical expenses and noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering.
An emphysema sufferer, Santistevan was alone in bed receiving oxygen on Oct. 6, 2009, when a multijurisdictional SWAT task force with a search warrant surrounded her home in the 200 block of South Prospect Street. They threw in a flash-bang grenade before rushing in with guns drawn, authorities have confirmed.
Stricken by a heart attack, Santistevan was admitted in critical condition at Memorial Hospital Central, where she remained for several days. A search of her home yielded no arrests and turned up no drugs, the family said.
And a New Jersey family who received the nightmarish black-clad gunmen treatment from SWAT is suing the police department for unlawful entry and false arrest. They specifically target one Police Detective William Palomino in the civil suit:
About 40 narcotics and emergency response team officers executed search warrants at numerous locations during a major drug raid following four months of undercover surveillance. The Colons’ apartment was not among the approved targets in the “no-knock” search warrants obtained by authorities, who mistook a door leading to the family’s apartment for what they thought was a door to the building’s basement.
Palomino admits what happened to the Colons was a mistake, but his attorney says he wasn't there after he pointed out the door to the rest of the team. So it was his kind of his fault, but it wasn't. After all, he did not personally do the following:
[Now 18-year-old] Miguel Colon testified that he, his little brother and a friend were in one room of the apartment, and that his mother was in the kitchen, talking on the phone, when “more than five” men dressed all in black and not bearing any police identification burst in.
“I asked: “Who are you?’ The response I got was: ‘Shut up and get on the floor,” Colon testified.
They then ordered everyone to the floor at gunpoint and ransacked the apartment, overturning beds and going through the laundry as his brother cried and his mother started having a “panic attack,” Colon said.
“She couldn’t breathe,” he testified. “I told them, ‘My mom needs to breathe. She needs medication.’ They told me to shut up.”
When she started choking, he said, he defied them and got up to get the medicine anyway, but they pushed him back down. Eventually, they went with his mother to get the medicine but had their guns drawn the whole time, he said. The family was held for about two hours before being freed.
Months of surveillance, and they can't tell which door is which. Warrant or no, they couldn't bother to check whether a disabled grandmother was lying in bed before they tossed a potentially lethal device in her general direction. But don't worry, we're gonna win this drug war soon.
(Hat tip: BakedPenguin for that last link.)