War on Drugs

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."