Militarization of Police

Gonzalo Guizan: Another Death by Drug War

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On May 18, police in Easton, Connecticut conducted a heavily-armed drug raid on the home of Ronald Terebesi, Jr. They began the raid by throwing flashbang grenades through Terebesi's windows, then battering down his door and storming the house. Friends say at the time of the raid, 33-year-old Gonzalo Guizan was visiting Terebesi to discuss the possibility of opening an employment business. According to police, the unarmed Guizan charged the raiding officers, at which point they shot and killed him.

As usual, the police, prosecutors, and state investigators are hunkering down, and not talking to the press. But some information is tricking out. Here's what we know:

• The raid came after a tip from a stripper who had visited Trebesi's home. She reported seeing two glass pipes and said she witnessed Trebesi smoke a small amount of crack cocaine he stored in a tin. She made the report at 9am on the same day of the raid.

• There was a reported drive-by shooting at Trebesi's home in March, though Trebesi appears to have been the victim, not the perpetrator.

• Police found no guns in the home, but did find some cocaine and the two pipes, and have charged Trebesi with possession, which means there wasn't enough to trigger an automatic charge of distribution.

So we have a heavily-armed, paramilitary-style raid conducted based on a tip from a stripper of drug use, not distribution. In the process, a slight, unarmed man runs toward the raiding police officers, and is shot dead.

I think it's safe to say that Guizan likely had no idea the intruders were police. If he was aware of the shots fired at Trebesi's home in March, he likely thought Trebesi was being attacked again. But it seems unlikely (to put it mildly) that an unarmed man would knowingly run toward a team of well-armed, raiding police officers to protect his friends small stash of cocaine.

We're told over and over that even in no-knock raids, the police announce themselves as they're coming into the home, and that everyone inside ought to know they're being raided by cops, not criminal intruders. But if that's the case, why deploy flash grenades just before making entry? They're designed to disorient and confuse. That's the whole reason for using them. You can't at the same time say it's necessary to disorient and confuse people, but that they also should hear, recognize, process, and believe the police announcement you make at the same time you're deploying the concussion grenades.

Finally, it looks right now as if the raid was a reaction to a tip from a single source that Trebesi and possibly Guizan were using drugs. There's as yet no indication there was any evidence of distribution. The raid was done within hours of the tip from the stripper, so it's unlikely the police did much surveillance or attempted a controlled drug buy from Trebesi.

The police will argue the officer who shot Guizan was reacting to a volatile situation. He had precious little time to determine whether the man running toward him was armed, or whether he presented a threat to the officer's safety. That's all probably true, though it doesn't account for the fact that the police created those volatile circumstances in the first place. It also doesn't account for the fact that had Guizan been the one who misjudged the threat and shot and killed one of the raiding officers, he'd almost certainly be in Ryan Frederick's shoes right now.

The best solution is of course to stop these aggressive drug policing tactics, which continue result in unnecessary deaths and injuries. But if you're going to insist on using them, you can't keep holding the people you're raiding to a higher standard than the (hopefully) well-trained police officers conducting the raids.

Guizan's parents—who lost their only other son in a car accident—are considering a lawsuit.

NEXT: "Upcoming trial will see hours of hard-core fetish pornography"

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  1. There is no lower form of life on Earth than the piece of shit narc.

  2. There is no lower form of life on Earth than the piece of shit narc.

    Not entirely true. There’s the self-impressed cops who form the thin blue line to protect each other from having to face justice for their crimes.

  3. Why the hell would the stripper take the time to go down to the police station and rat out this guy and her supposed friend Guizan over some casual drug use? Something’s fishy here.

  4. you can’t keep holding the people you’re raiding to a higher standard than the (hopefully) well-trained police officers conducting the raids.

    Oh sure you can. The legal system does it all the time. The legal system expects everyone, to know all of the law: federal laws, state laws, federal regulations, state regulations, county ordinances, city rules, etc. And you, you peon little layman, are supposed to know it 100% correctly. Ignorance is NOT and excuse or a defense. Well not everyone, the courts get to fuck shit up.

    The courts, on the other hand, don’t have to have omniscience when it comes to the law. That is why we have appelate courts. So if the trial judge fucks it up. But you Mr. Layman, you better know it, and if you don’t, it is only your life that you are risking.

  5. BC,

    It doesn’t appear there were any narcs involved in this mess.

    Episiarch,

    Maybe he’s a stingy tipper?

  6. Why the hell would the stripper take the time to go down to the police station and rat out this guy and her supposed friend Guizan over some casual drug use? Something’s fishy here.

    Probably picked up for prostitution, and ratted out Terebesi to get ROR (which would explain the 9:00 am tip – that’s when overnight vice pickups get processed).

  7. RC,

    That doesn’t seem likely — there is no strip in Easton where she’d get picked up. I’m with Episiarch — something fishy here.

  8. I guess what bothers me about this is that, yet again, the cops fail to do any investigation and just come in guns blazing. Hell, don’t call it an investigation, call it reconnaissance if you want. Even the military actually scouts ahead.

    These guys look like they just wanted an excuse to kick down some doors and show off their SWAT training.

  9. Maybe he wouldn’t let her hit his rock?

  10. oh, and mr. Balko,
    thanks for another dismal start to an otherwise crappy week.
    But we need to now, so keep up the great work.

  11. If the cops are going around performing raids without trying to gather intelligence then they are setting the stage for a dangerous situation to themselves. They aren’t even trying to analyze the risks before going in, let alone trying to minimize them. It’s a shitty way to run any sort of organization.

  12. Maybe he wouldn’t let her hit his rock?

    That was actually my first thought 🙂

    there is no strip in Easton where she’d get picked up

    She could have been working a bar.

  13. I guess what bothers me about this is that, yet again, the cops fail to do any investigation and just come in guns blazing. Hell, don’t call it an investigation, call it reconnaissance if you want. Even the military actually scouts ahead.

    One does wonder how we go from a tip saying “Hey, I saw a man smoking crack at his house” to “Let’s raid the place!”? It’s not exactly “I saw a man smoking crack while he tortured the prisoners in his basement” or “I saw a man smoking crack while his infant child was unattended”.

  14. There’s a corner of Easton that butts up against Bridgeport. Dollars to donuts that’s where this fiasco occurred.

  15. Use Drugs — Die Young

  16. A SWAT raid complete with flashbang grenades on a tip of a couple of crack pipes? That’s a head scratcher. Cops attitude towards pipeheads generally resembles that of a domestic cat’s attitude towards insects, i.e. if you’re board they’re fun to fuck with for a while before you chew them up. No cop could afford to call for backup and body armor just for a crack head.

    I agree there’s something fishy here.

    That aside, Balko is still hammering all the right points.

  17. Use Drugs — Get Murdered by Thug LEOs Young.

    Fixed that for you Neil

  18. I’m thankful every day that cops don’t have nuclear weapons.

  19. Dead Crack Head — No Human Involved

  20. Someone posted the idea here of a non-professional police force (I know they’re not technically professionals as in licensed). I think it’s a great idea. Let’s get rid of the police as we know them. Create a part-time voluntary group that rotates. All volunteers would be selected from the areas where they live. Participants would have to be violent felony clear, pass a shooting test, have no major mental or physical illnesses, and agree to having there names and id numbers printed in large letters on the back of their coats.

  21. Monday morning, huh?

    A military style raids for drug use in Easton, Connecticut, that hotbed of ionternational narco-terrorism. A bystander shot dead. Police stonewall while they get their stories straight. The victim are minorities. Business as usual in the War on Drugs Brown People.

    Radley, if the informant were a stenographer, would you have mentioned her occupation three times?

  22. Can I interest you in a rock neil? I have a stripper friend that will deliver it?

  23. I’m a bit tired this AM so it may take some time before my usual foul penned invective towards the this insanity gets up to speed. Don’t fret, it’ll come to me.

  24. There’s a corner of Easton that butts up against Bridgeport. Dollars to donuts that’s where this fiasco occurred.

    It is, but that section of both Bridgeport and Easton is populated by very white and affluent people. Where this occurred is about a stone’s throw north of Sacred Heart University, which is on Park Ave., in the city known as the Park City. There are more million dollar homes in this section of Bridgeport than there are in neighboring Fairfield.

    Also, this informant could not have been working in a bar because Easton doesn’t have any, with the exception of the Olde Blue Bird Inn, which is a nice place to kick back some Glenfiddich, but a place where you are more likely to pick up a Mrs. Robinson type than a common whore. The only Easton commercial enterprises are Silverman’s farm (and petting zoo), a general store with (at least the last time I was there) a single gas pump, and the Bridgeport Hydraulic Company which owns the Easton Reservoir and all tributaries and land surrounding them that lead into the lake. Don’t even think of fishing there.

  25. If the War on Drugs SAVES even ONE life…..

    Er-ummmm, what was the question again?

  26. Does the rock keep away tigers?

  27. It is, but that section of both Bridgeport and Easton is populated by very white and affluent people. Where this occurred is about a stone’s throw north of Sacred Heart University, which is on Park Ave., in the city known as the Park City. There are more million dollar homes in this section of Bridgeport than there are in neighboring Fairfield.

    Yes, but many strippers have cars, and the bad-neighborhood part of Bridgeport, where the strip clubs are, is no more than 10 or 15 miles away from the “good” neighborhoods. It’s not like there’s some impenetrable barrier keeping the poor folks away from the rich neighborhoods.

    Radley, if the informant were a stenographer, would you have mentioned her occupation three times?

    Had a stripper volunteered information which would’ve made a cop look bad, do you think the police would’ve been so quick to act on it? Even a stripper who says “I’ve been attacked” is often given the brush-off. But a stripper who says something that lets the cops wave their big dicks around and be all “ooh, look at us,we’re badass SWAT guys” is taken at her word?

  28. Is Sen. Dodd doing anything about this crap?

    Great issue for Bob Barr. “If elected president, I will have all the U.S. attorneys review and investigate the proceedures used by police departments, in their jurisdictions, to conduct raids. If any procedures are found to violate the rights of citizens, those procedures will be changed, or else. And i will request each U.S. Attorney set up civilian review boards to investigate and recommend prosecution of any government officials and police officers who exceed their authority or resorted to excessive force in the conduct of their duties.”

  29. J sub D,

    You’re tired because you’ve been commenting around on other blogs behind our backs. I saw you over there… I can’t believe you got through comment moderation.

  30. You’re tired because you’ve been commenting around on other blogs behind our backs. I saw you over there… I can’t believe you got through comment moderation.

    Feministing? Link plz

  31. Bonus: See if you can make a lick of goddamn sense out of the fourth post.

  32. Jennifer,

    You are, of course, correct that it’s not far to Marina Village and that a stripper could easily drive her car to Easton. I assume that’s how she got to the house that was raided. I was just commenting that it is unlikely that she would have been picked up for prostitution anywhere in Easton as some commenter upstream had mentioned.

  33. Jennifer,

    Don’t you need to do a disclosure statement on this subject?

  34. You’re tired because you’ve been commenting around on other blogs behind our backs. I saw you over there… I can’t believe you got through comment moderation..

    [Hangs head in shame]Busted! I admit it. I’m a internet slut. I have even been visiting LGF occasionally just to see if I can register. I really hope to open an intelligent discourse with those folks as well. In hostile territory, I’m much more polite than I am here. I figger reasonoids can handle the unvarnished J sub D.

  35. YES. PHOTOGRAPHIC DISCLOSURES.

    BOUNCY, BOUNCY!

  36. I have myself an LGF registration. But you can’t have it; I am saving it for a day when I am bored and want to cause the on-line equivalent of a nuclear bomb going off on their comment threads.

  37. I find the possibility of a law suit encouraging; enough expensive losses and this style of no-knock paramilitary raids may finally fall out of favor.

    Or not. There have been many lawsuits in the past and anecdotally anyway, this type of raid still seems popular.

  38. “””You can’t at the same time say it’s necessary to disorient and confuse people, but that they also should hear, recognize, process, and believe the police announcement you make at the same time you’re deploying the concussion grenades.”””

    Authority has no problem ignoring the contradiction.

    “””The legal system expects everyone, to know all of the law: federal laws, state laws, federal regulations, state regulations, county ordinances, city rules, etc. And you, you peon little layman, are supposed to know it 100% correctly.”””

    Everyone but those who enforce the law. I wish I had a dollar every time I heard the we need cops not lawyers, or cops shouldn’t be lawyers bullshit. It’s amazing how the concept of law enforcement knowing what they are enforcing goes right over their head.

  39. So what exactly is the policy on banning folks around here for wishing ill on law enforcement thugs?

    Cause in generally when people make a habit, or career, out of gunning down average citizens reprisal in kind is a tempting thought.

    Week after week they shoot us in the streets or in our own homes for absolutely no valid reason and yet you can’t even suggest that they should be treated the same?

    I mean is it saying “We should kill all cops!” or saying “these cops invaded an innocent mans home and were killed by their intended victim so they got what they deserved”?

    I guess I’m asking is it only explicit threats that get you banned? Or do you get banned just for saying “Fuck ’em, they deserved it and the guy was right to defend himself”?

    Or would you get banned for just saying, “I WISH he’d of killed all those thugs invading his home.”

    I am not advocating any of these. I’m asking for clarification.

  40. I find the possibility of a law suit encouraging; enough expensive losses and this style of no-knock paramilitary raids may finally fall out of favor.

    Not when it’s the state paying the tab.

  41. I have myself an LGF registration. But you can’t have it; I am saving it for a day when I am bored and want to cause the on-line equivalent of a nuclear bomb going off on their comment threads.

    I’m sooo jealous. I’ve already set up a new e=mail accout and picked out a new pseudonym. Just checked, registration is closed but I’m a perststent bastard.

  42. I hope those asshat cops don’t have “To Protect and Serve” on their cars. In fact, no cop in America should have that one their car.

  43. “To Protect and Serve”
    It’s a COOKBOOK!!!

  44. To Protect (Ourselves) and Serve (Warrants).

    They just shortened it to fit on the shield.

  45. Radley, How often do these types of police raids occur in areas known for very high gun ownership compared to areas thought to have very low gun ownership?

    If, as I suspect, police in very high-ownership areas conducted these kinds of raids much LESS frequently, I wouldn’t be surpised if they cited the high rate of gun ownership as a reason: the homeowners are armed, and the results would be ugly.

    If that were the case, then it would really belie other police department’s claims that it is the possibility of suspects being armed that *necessitates* dynamic entries.

    Which puts an entirely different perspective on why these raids are conducted this way: it would mean that dynamic entries are how the police *prefer* to interact with *unarmed* citizens. Police don’t do dynamic entries on people they truly suspect of being well armed, but they do do dynamic entries in communities where there is a decent chance the people are *unarmed*. That is, paramilitary dynamic-entry raids are how they would conduct raids everywhere if everyone was unarmed.

  46. Which puts an entirely different perspective on why these raids are conducted this way: it would mean that dynamic entries are how the police *prefer* to interact with *unarmed* citizens.

    As far as I can tell, claims (much less evidence) that the citizen at issue is likely to be armed and or dangerous are not a prerequisite for going in heavy. I don’t see any such claims in this case.

  47. They lose their flashbang budget if they don’t use the flashbangs they have. The purpose of flashbangs is to make the occupants confused and disoriented. Then, when the team enters the house, if the occupants seem confused and disoriented, the team gets to shoot them for acting confused and disoriented. This is because people who act confused and disoriented sometimes have weapons and sometimes pull them out quickly and sometimes shoot policemen with them. Not always, but it has happened. The shoot is also good because people who use any amount of illegal drugs (or are friendly with people who do) deserve the death penalty and the courts just aren’t giving it to them. Of course, if the stripper had been wrong about the cocaine then the mistake would have been her fault, but the team found residue and paraphanalia so there was no mistake, justice was done and the team took out (some of) the trash. Now we need to castrate the homeowner because they didn’t manage to get him during the raid and he is still in the gene pool. We need more vets on board, and faster guns, to really show’em how to really clear a house quickly! A vet probably could have found more drugs in the house, too. They know just how to look. I’ll tell you what though, the team better not forget to pay the reliable young lady for her tip, though. Nosireebob, not this one.

  48. Gonzalo was a friend of mine and we have been screaming to anyone who would listen about this excessive use of force. A crack pipe and a previous sighting of a gun? This no-knock execution of a warrant was brutal. And last I checked owning a gun was legal in this country. In fact, in Connecticut, as long as the handgun is in your home you don’t even need a permit! In addition, he was tiny. 140lbs tops! And after tossing in concussion grenades and an attack dog, what is someone to do. Sit still and hope no one wants to harm him? He definitely was not a violent guy.

  49. Citizen Nothing wins.

  50. You are beautiful, you are unique, but before you first have to find your own

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