Militarization of Police

This Week in Botched Police Raids

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Another isolated incident in Hendersonville, North Carolina:

Sandra Braswell said the officers threw two smoke grenades into her house at 208 N. Oak St. around 1:30 a.m. Saturday while her 16-year-old grandson and six of his friends were having a party on the back porch.

She said the officers, with guns drawn, told the teenagers to get on the floor. When some of the teenagers tried to run, the officers forced them to the ground and pinned their hands behind their backs.

"They didn't show no warrant," she said on Monday. "They didn't have no warrant for this house. They made me lay in the floor, though. I couldn't say nothing, with my hands up in the air and all these kids in here on the floor. One of the kids laying across form me, cop got a gun pointed to his head."

Braswell said the officers made her and her 11-year-old granddaughter get on the floor in the living room. When her granddaughter tried to get up to find her 7-year-old sister, Braswell said an officer told her to get back down on the floor.

Braswell said they were forced to lie on the ground for 10 minutes before the officers got a call realizing their mistake.

And across the pond…

A disabled man was forced out of his bed and made to walk naked in front of officers during a bungled police raid at his home.

Steven Way has told of his humiliation after seven officers smashed their way through his front door in the mistaken belief that a drug dealer lived there. They demanded the sleeping Mr Way get out of bed and the 50-year-old, who suffers with a degenerative bone disease, had to walk naked in front of the officers, some of them female, to get his dressing gown.

On a lighter note…

NEXT: Baby Carrots and Twigs

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  1. *opens bottle. Hands it to Warren…

    sigh.

  2. well as long as its isolated….

  3. Radley’s got a bit of a fetish for these kinds of reports, but some context would be nice.

    For example, what percentage of police raids end with innocent people killed or in some way traumatized? There must be thousands of such police raids going on daily across the country and so I wonder if the handful of mistakes we see reported on here is really outside the acceptable margin of error?

  4. That was one of the better trolling comments I’ve seen recently. Well done, Dan!

  5. Dan:

    I wonder if you’d feel the same way if you were involved in a non-fatal incident within the “acceptable margin of error”.

  6. Wait, let me try one of my own: Radley, your fetish about Cory Maye’s being on death row would be nice with some context. For example, what percentage of people on death row are actually innocent? There must be thousands of such prisoners across the country and so I wonder if mistakes like the Maye case are really outside the acceptable margin of error?

  7. What percentage of violent intrusions into innocent people’s private homes for the purpose of enforcing nonviolent crimes would be an acceptable margin for error, Dan?

    If these raids were aimed at rounding up dangerous fugitives, stopping hostage-takings, or ending school shootings, you’d have a point about a tolerable margin for error.

    But we’re talking about violent police tactics aimed at preventing people from getting high.

  8. Yo! Jacob Sullum! Your fetish about guys like Dr. Horwitz being sent to prison for “overprescribing” pain medication would be better with some context. There must be thousands of doctors who prescribe pain medication without going to jail for it, so I wonder if the handful of overzealous prosecutions like Horwitz’s is really outside the acceptable margin of error?

  9. Dan T.,

    What, to you, would be an “acceptable margin of error?” If that margin of error includes you or beloved members of your family getting traumatized or killed, is it ok then? As Mr. Balko has demonstrated in several posts now, the procedures that are calling for these violent raids are too open to abuse and inevitably lead to tragedy.

  10. When some of the teenagers tried to run, the officers forced them to the ground and pinned their hands behind their backs.

    I’m just glad they didn’t get shot.

    Dan T., if Radley’s point is that police are uniformly incompetent, your point would have merit. Whatever merits those less wise than us (tongue’s in cheek there, in case that’s not obvious!) see in fighting the Drug War, it may behoove us all to know about some of casualties. Dan T.’s comment reminds me of what conservatives say when atrocities are revealed to have been commmitted by our military: “That’s war, what do you expect?” As a response to those on the far left who think such atrocities reveal the inherent evil of our Western capitalist society, the retort has merit; to anyone who simply wants to know what is going on and the full cost of going to war, it clearly does not.

  11. There must be thousands of such police raids going on daily across the country…

    Does anyone else get the sense that Dan T. actually relishes the thought of thousands of police raids on a daily basis?

  12. Hey, that looks like fun. Let me try.

    Sure, that Lacrosse Team was unfairly persecuted by an out of control prosecutor, but some context would be nice.

    For example, what percentage of parties thrown by collegiate athletes end with a stripper telling conflicting stories about being raped and an over eager prosecutor not caring that innocent people willed in some way be traumatized?

    There must be thousands of such parties with jocks and strippers going on daily across the country and so I wonder if the handful of mistakes we see reported on here is really outside the acceptable margin of error?

  13. The word “botched” could be left out of the headline since these things now seem to be typical.
    It is just standard operating procedures, without consequences

    Just…. “This Week in Police Raids.”

  14. What percentage of violent intrusions into innocent people’s private homes for the purpose of enforcing nonviolent crimes would be an acceptable margin for error, Dan?

    I don’t know exactly what is considered the acceptable margin of error for police raids. I’m asking you to tell me, since you’re reporting this stuff.

    But if we’re going to do any sort of aggressive policing, there does exist a margin of error that we’re going to have to live with.

  15. Does anyone else get the sense that Dan T. actually relishes the thought of thousands of police raids on a daily basis?

    No, he relishes the thought of getting a rise out of people by asking provocative (by which I mean stupid) questions. Remember: this is the same guy who said Kerry Howley would change her mind about libertarianism once she had a baby.

  16. But if we’re going to do any sort of aggressive policing

    WHOA! Careful there Dan, you almost tripped over a real thought.

  17. But if we’re going to do any sort of aggressive policing, there does exist a margin of error that we’re going to have to live with.

    Exactly! Dan T.
    It’s not policing that is bad, it is this notion of aggressive policing that is the cause of civil rights violations to law abiding citizens who get their doors busted in, suffer screaming verbal abuse, and have guns pointed at their heads.

    But I’m sure that Dan T believes the ends justify the means. You can’t make omelettes without breaking a few eggs.

  18. URKOBOLD IS WITH DAN T. ON THIS ONE–CAN’T MAKE AN OMELET WITHOUT KILLING SOME INNOCENT OLD LADIES.

  19. Exactly! Dan T.
    It’s not policing that is bad, it is this notion of aggressive policing that is the cause of civil rights violations to law abiding citizens who get their doors busted in, suffer screaming verbal abuse, and have guns pointed at their heads.

    But I’m sure that Dan T believes the ends justify the means. You can’t make omelettes without breaking a few eggs.

    It’s true that we could police less aggressively, but that would mean an increase in crime. So you have to pick your poison, or at the very least find a balance you can live with.

  20. One death is a tragedy, but a million deaths are a statistic — Stalin

    Dan. T please explain how you can justify the death of a single innocent citizen in the ongoing effort to prevent a segment of the population from engaging in non-violent crime (e.g., the use of non-theraputic, recreational drugs).

    There is no margin of error when it comes to the state killing innocent citizens. Period. Got that. Period.

  21. “It’s true that we could police less aggressively, but that would mean an increase in crime. So you have to pick your poison, or at the very least find a balance you can live with.”

    Not all crime is committed by criminals, Dan. Some “crime” is legal and state sanctioned.

  22. Dan T,
    You seem to forget that abusing innocent people and busting down their doors is a crime in itself even if it is the police committing the crime.

    We have three choices.
    1. Accept the status quo, i.e. do nothing, ignore the problem.

    2. Change the law, end the drug prohibition, removing the rationale for this aggressive policing.

    3. Change the law to state that anything a cop does is lawful.

  23. For example, what percentage of police raids end with innocent people killed or in some way traumatized? There must be thousands of such police raids going on daily across the country and so I wonder if the handful of mistakes we see reported on here is really outside the acceptable margin of error?

    If they kept government records on this, then we would not have to wonder about it here. Go, Radley!

  24. Waiting for Dan to respond with a ridiculous post about the semantics of the word “crime”, ie, if it’s not against the law, then by definition it’s not a crime…

  25. Dan’ll come to his senses as soon as he has a baby.

  26. mmmmm. Old Lady Omelets.

    Baked Alaskan with Lady Fingers for dessert.

    mmmm.

    *finds Dan T. Blow Up Doll. (Noam is soiled at present)
    BATIN! GO ‘WAY!

  27. I don’t know exactly what is considered the acceptable margin of error for police raids. I’m asking you to tell me, since you’re reporting this stuff.

    And the margin, whatever it is with respect to drug raids, should be somewhat smaller than the margin killed from marijuana and cocaine overdoses.

  28. Dan T,
    You seem to forget that abusing innocent people and busting down their doors is a crime in itself even if it is the police committing the crime.

    I’m not forgetting that at all, I’m just pointing out that sometimes in the course of bringing legitimate criminals to justice, the wrong doors will be smashed and the wrong people arrested.

    It sucks, but police work is like that. What I’m merely asking Radley for is a little more context as to determine if botched raids are a real problem. Simply letting us know that they happen from time to time doesn’t tell us that.

  29. There is no margin of error when it comes to the state killing innocent citizens. Period. Got that. Period.

    Fine, but in that case you’ll probably need to get rid of the police force altogther. Which I’m pretty sure would not turn out as well as you’d like to think.

  30. Comment just to form a sandwich with DW and DT.

    mmmmm. Batshit sandwich.

    mmmmmmm

    [keed keed!]

  31. “Dan’ll come to his senses as soon as he has a baby.”

    Dan procreating and spreading his genes… :shudders:

  32. I’m just pointing out that sometimes in the course of bringing legitimate criminals to justice, the wrong doors will be smashed and the wrong people arrested.

    Radley already pointed out the difference between SWAT teams handling hostage situations versus SWAT teams preventing people from getting high. Did the bridge you’re under knock out your wi-fi when he wrote that?

  33. I’ve not seen too many cases of SWAT teams being employed to prevent casual drug use. Aren’t they mostly used to arrest dealers and distributers?

    You know, the kind of guys who might not go to jail peaceably.

  34. I’ve not seen too many cases of SWAT teams being employed to prevent casual drug use. Aren’t they mostly used to arrest dealers and distributers?

    another thing we should not have to guess about.

  35. I’m not forgetting that at all, I’m just pointing out that sometimes in the course of bringing legitimate criminals to justice, the wrong doors will be smashed and the wrong people arrested.

    We are not talking about raids to capture violent criminals for whom arrest warrants have been issued (meaning probable cause has been established). These are raids against homes where non-violent crimes are suspected of being committed, where those suspicions are based upon higly-tainted intelligence.

    Fine, but in that case you’ll probably need to get rid of the police force altogther. Which I’m pretty sure would not turn out as well as you’d like to think.

    Dan. T either you are being spiteful or you really are as dumb as you appear some days.

    Eliminating full-combat police raids to arrest people suspected of non-violent crime does not in any way negate the need for a police force to protect the populace from violent crime.

  36. “but that would mean an increase in crime.”

    OH NOES the stoner down the block might get stoned FIVE nights a week instead of FOUR

    PLEASE SAVE ME MR GOVERNMENT MAN

  37. I’ve not seen too many cases of SWAT teams being employed to prevent casual drug use. Aren’t they mostly used to arrest dealers and distributers?

    Bullshit, you have commented on many threads here at H&R regarding exactly this topic.

  38. …where those suspicions are based upon higly-tainted intelligence.

    Batshit crazy taint I tell ya.

  39. you have commented on many threads here at H&R regarding exactly this topic.

    His troll-fu is weakening. Urkobold is sucking out his energies like some psychic troll vampire.

  40. What, to you, would be an “acceptable margin of error?”

    I say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.

  41. [glug glug glug] {chin whipe}

    Thanks Moose

  42. What, to you, would be an “acceptable margin of error?”

    I say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.

    [quote marks messed up my handle the first time]

  43. Hey, all I’m asking is for Radley to give use some figures as to how many police raids are successful in their objective compared to the ones where innocent people are victimized via police mistakes or corruption.

    As much as he’s researched this sort of thing I’m surprised that he does not seem to know.

  44. edit “…give us some figures…”

  45. all I’m asking is for Radley to give use some figures as to how many police raids are successful in their objective compared to the ones where innocent people are victimized

    0f course you are, dear. We believe you. There there.

  46. I say we bring Guy Montag into this thread with Dave and Dan and then we crash the server!

  47. Dan T.

    It’s impossible to know because police refuse to keep track of such things.

    If you’ll read Overkill, you’ll see that one of my recommendations is that warrants be tracked from the time they’re applied for through their execution (no pun intended), including if they were served on the wrong residence.

    But police departments across the country have been reluctant to embrace the idea when others have suggested it. Just like they refuse to keep track of the number of people shot by police officers.

    So ’til then, we’re reduced to guessing how often this tough happens, based on common sense, news reports, lawsuits, and context.

  48. Dan T. has a fetish for saying retarded shit even he can’t believe just for the sake of negating whatever perfectly reasonable point was just made. What percentage of HnR posts going unanswered by your bullshit would be within the acceptable margin of unfettered intelligent discourse?

  49. Let me tell you a story. When I was younger and lived on the wrong side of the tracks I got home from work on a sunny afternoon and noticed a funny looking bread van parked 2 houses down with armed men(helmets,shotguns ,and assault rifles) wandering around the neighborhood. Kids were riding bicycles up and down the sidewalk. It was a strange scene to come home to. My wife was home at the time of the raid (again 2 houses down in the middle of summer in a urban enviroment) the windows were open and she heard men yelling and the door being broken. The Swat team didn’t say anything to me when I pulled into my parking spot literally 20′ away from the breadvan.
    The neighbors they had raided were 18-20 year olds who by the grace of God weren’t home at the time. And come to find out the fugitive/ terrorist/drug dealer/ cock fighter they were looking for had not lived at that address in over 6 months. I do wonder how many times a day this scenario happens?

  50. I think the most important point to make is that ALL of these raids are the direct consequences of the decision to ‘deal’ with drugs by making them illegal, rather than having regulated sales. If we chose the other model whereby drugs could be obtained legally, there would be no illegal sales of drugs, so no need for the police to break doors down. This would obviously stop all such bungled raids.

  51. Face it today there is no such thing as actual investigating going on by the police. They get a tip regardless of the source and they over react immediately not bothering to check out the info themselves with say some survailence.

    Masterchief- A few years ago I got a call at 2 in the morning from the police saying they were @ my door to open up. So I went to the door and low and behold no one was there. So they call back and I tell them ummmmm YOUR not outside MY door and ask them exactly which door they are @ and where. Then they tell me the address of the house I rented a few years earlier. Come to find out they were looking for someone that lived in that house 2 tenants before I even got there. They were at the house but never bothered to check to see if someone else had moved in over all those years. So the they check when they don’t get an answer and find my phone number for that address and call as thought the guy was still there this many years later. Some real Dick Tracies let me tell ya. So they call back a 3rd time demanding we come out and I tell them go ahead and kick the door down if you want in so bad and hung up. I called the department the next day to bitch about them bothering me all night with their bad info and asked why they thought the guy they wanted was still there when the name on the phone was changed years before. Needless to say they had no excuse besides the obvious one, their own stupidity.

    Of course the cops don’t keep stats on their fuck ups they would need a full time statistician on staff to handle those kinds of numbers. Plus you don’t actually expect them to be held accountable to anyone when they are the LAW do you? They have stats for everything else but oddly enough not themselves. Even if they did keep stats from past experience what are the odds they would be accurate and true? Anyone that would kill a woman and plant drugs is not likely to concerned about fibbing about some stats.

    Dan T – NO AMOUNT is close enough a margin for error when its innocent peoples lives being lost for something so stupid and obviously pointless as the WoD.

  52. I just want to say, this is my first time on this site and reading these comments really brightened my day. You are some seriously witty folks.

    I want to add to the stories here a part of my own that was recently resolved in court, resulting in two years of probation (thankfully – it could have been 15 years in prison.). Sparing details, I was arrested for possession of MDMA when I pulled up on a raid of a house and was told to stop my car in the middle of the street and questioned and eventually searched. In all of the police reports, however, the police (all of them SWAT officers) wrote that I stopped my car in the middle of the street, without reason. This is untrue, but due to the fact that their actions during these raids goes completely undocumented save by the officers themselves, I could not raise an argument for myself, as of course it’s their word against mine.

  53. I’ve not seen too many cases of SWAT teams being employed to prevent casual drug use. Aren’t they mostly used to arrest dealers and distributers?

    You know, the kind of guys who might not go to jail peaceably.

    How about casual gambling? I’m sure Dr. Sal Culosi has something to say on the topic.

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