Drug Policy

A Drug Raid Goes Viral

A violent drug raid posted to YouTube catches fire online. But the only thing unusual about the raid is that it was caught on video.


Last week, a Columbia, Missouri, drug raid captured on video went viral. As of this morning, the video had garnered 950,000 views on YouTube. It has lit up message boards, blogs, and discussion groups around the Web, unleashing anger, resentment and even, regrettably, calls for violence against the police officers who conducted the raid. I've been writing about and researching these raids for about five years, including raids that claimed the lives of innocent children, grandmothers, college students, and bystanders. Innocent families have been terrorized by cops who raided on bad information, or who raided the wrong home due to some careless mistake. There's never been a reaction like this one.

But despite all the anger the raid has inspired, the only thing unusual thing here is that the raid was captured on video, and that the video was subsequently released to the press. Everything else was routine. Save for the outrage coming from Columbia residents themselves, therefore, the mass anger directed at the Columbia Police Department over the last week is misdirected. Raids just like the one captured in the video happen 100-150 times every day in America. Those angered by that video should probably look to their own communities. Odds are pretty good that your local police department is doing the same thing.

First, some background on the raid depicted in the video: On February 11, the Columbia, Missouri, police department's SWAT team served a drug warrant at the home of Jonathan Whitworth and Brittany Montgomery. Police say that eight days earlier they had received a tip from a confidential informant that Whitworth had a large supply of marijuana in his home. They say they first conducted a trash pull, and found marijuana residue in the family's garbage. During the raid, police shot and killed the family's pit bull. At least one bullet ricocheted, injuring the family's pet corgi. Whitworth, Montgomery, and their 7-year-old son were at home at the time. The incident was written up in the Columbia Daily Tribune, noted on a few blogs that cover drug policy (including a post I put up here at Reason), and then largely forgotten for several weeks.

On April 28, I received an email from Montgomery. She had seen my post at Reason and read an account of some of my reporting on SWAT teams published in Reader's Digest. She said she was reading to her son in his bedroom at the time of the raid. Her husband had just returned home from work. Police fired on their pets within seconds of entering the home.

"I've never felt so violated or more victimized in my life," Montgomery wrote. "It's absolutely the most helpless and hopeless feeling I could ever imagine. I can't sleep right … and I am constantly paranoid. It's a horrible feeling … to lose the safety and security I thought I was entitled to in my own home. Nobody protected us that night, my son and I were locked in the back of a police car for nearly four hours on a school night while they destroyed my home."

According to Montgomery, when the couple's neighbors inquired about the raid, they were told that the SWAT team had merely conducted a drill, and no shots were fired. When neighbors learned from the family that this was a lie, they began writing to the department and the Daily Tribune to demand answers. When the couple discovered the police had videotaped the raid, they requested a copy of the video. Montgomery said in her email that the copy they were initially given had no audio, and the incriminating (to the police) portions of the video had been removed.

On February 23, the Daily Tribune published its first story on the raid. The paper made its own request for the SWAT video, which the police department initially denied. On April 20, Jonathan Whitworth pleaded guilty to a single charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. He wasn't even charged for the minor amount of marijuana in his home (marijuana for personal use has been decriminalized in Columbia). He was issued a $300 fine. On April 27, the Daily Tribune made a formal request for the video, which it received on April 30, with full audio and with no visuals removed. The paper posted the video with an accompanying article on May 3. On May 5, I posted it here at Reason, and the video went viral.

The police department has since conceded it was unaware that there were pets or a child in the home at the time of the raid. A spokesman for the Columbia Police Department initially said police had to conduct the raid immediately before the drug supply could be moved, a statement later shown to be false when police revealed the raid was conducted more than a week after the initial tip.

According to surveys of police departments conducted by University of Eastern Kentucky criminologist Peter Kraska, we've seen about a 1,500 percent increase in SWAT deployments in this country since the early 1980s. The vast majority of that increase has been to serve search warrants on people suspected of nonviolent drug crimes. SWAT teams are inherently violent. In some ways they're an infliction of punishment before conviction. This is why they should only be used in situations where the suspect presents an immediate threat to others. In that case, SWAT teams use violence to defuse an already violent situation. When they're used to serve drug warrants for consensual crimes, however, SWAT tactics create violence where no violence was present before. Even when everything goes right in such a raid, breaking into the home of someone merely suspected of a nonviolent, consensual crime is an inappropriate use of force in a free society.

The overwhelmingly negative reaction to the video is interesting. Clearly, a very large majority of the people who have seen it are disturbed by it. But this has been going on for 30 years. We've reached the point where police have no qualms about a using heavily armed police force trained in military tactics to serve a search warrant on a suspected nonviolent marijuana offender. And we didn't get here by accident. The war on drugs has been escalating and militarizing for a generation. What's most disturbing about that video isn't the violence depicted in it, but that  such violence has become routine.

As horrifying as the video from Columbia, Missouri, is, no human beings were killed. The police got the correct address, and they found the man they were looking for. In many other cases, such raids transpire based on little more than a tip from an anonymous or confidential informant. Nor is it unusual for raids just as violent as the one depicted in the video to turn up little in the way of drugs or weapons. (Whitworth wasn't exactly an outstanding citizen—he had a prior drug and DWI conviction. But he had no history of violence, and there were no weapons in the home.) Surveys conducted by newspapers around the country after one of these raids goes bad have found that police only find weapons of any kind somewhere between 10-20 percent of the time. The percentage of raids that turn up a significant amount of drugs tends to vary, but a large percentage only result in misdemeanor charges at worst.

Shooting the family's dogs isn't unusual, either. To be fair, that's in part because some drug dealers do in fact obtain vicious dogs to guard their supply. But there are other, safer ways to deal with these dogs than shooting them. In the Columbia case, a bullet fired at one dog ricocheted and struck another dog. The bullet could just as easily have struck a person. In the case of Tarika Wilson, a Lima, Ohio, SWAT officer mistook the sounds of a colleague shooting a drug dealer's dogs for hostile gunfire. He then opened fire into a bedroom, killing a 23-year-old mother and shooting the hand off of the one-year-old child in her arms.

The Columbia raid wasn't even a "no-knock" raid. The police clearly announced themselves before entering. The Supreme Court has ruled that police must knock and announce themselves before entering a home to serve a search warrant. If they want to enter without knocking, they have to show specific evidence that the suspect could be dangerous or is likely to dispose of contraband if police abide by the knock-and-announce rule. As is evident in the Columbia video, from the perspective of the people inside the home that requirement is largely ceremonial. If you were in a backroom of that house, or asleep, it isn't at all difficult to see how you'd have no idea if the armed men in your home were police officers. The first sounds you heard would have been gunfire.

But because this was a knock-and-announce raid, the police didn't need to show that Whitworth had a violent background or may have had guns in the home to use the violent tactics in the video. They didn't need to show that Whitworth posed any sort of threat at all, other than the fact he was suspected of dealing marijuana. Though SWAT teams are frequently defended as necessary tools reserved for the most dangerous of drug offenders, the reality is that in many communities, all search warrants are served with forced entry and paramilitary tactics.

The militarization of America's police departments has taken place over a generation, due to a number of bad policy decisions from politicians and government officials, ranging from federal grants for drug fighting to a Pentagon giveaway program that makes military equipment available to local police departments for free or at steep discounts. Mostly, though, it's due to the ill-considered "war" imagery our politicians continue to invoke when they refer to drug prohibition. Repeat the mantra that we're at war with illicit drugs often enough, and the cops on the front lines of that war will naturally begin to think of themselves as soldiers. And that's particularly true when you outfit them in war equipment, weaponry, and armor. This is dangerous, because the objectives of cops and soldiers are very different. One is charged with annihilating a foreign enemy. The other is charged with keeping the peace.

Soon enough, our police officers begin to see drug suspects not as American citizens with constitutional rights, but as enemy combatants. Pets, bystanders, and innocents caught in the crossfire can be dismissed as regrettable but inevitable collateral damage, just as we do with collateral damage in actual wars. This is how we get images like those depicted in the video.

It's heartening that nearly a million people have now seen the Columbia video. But it needs some context. The officers in that video aren't rogue cops. They're no different than other SWAT teams across the country. The raid itself is no different from the tens of thousands of drug raids carried out each year in the U.S. If the video is going to effect any change, the Internet anger directed at the Columbia Police Department needs to be redirected to America's drug policy in general. Calling for the heads of the Columbia SWAT team isn't going to stop these raids. Calling for the heads of the politicians who defend these tactics and promote a "war on drugs" that's become all too literal—that just might.

Radley Balko is a senior editor at Reason magazine.

NEXT: Placebo Effect: Realer Than Real Deal Holyfield

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  1. Stupid punk cops! Too bad they didnt meet a claymore anti personnel mine on the other side of the door!


    1. Even the anon bot is pissed.

    2. You hit the nail
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  2. Oooh, ooh! First human on the nuclear thread!

    Snowball fight with a cop car!

    Ape shooting cartoon!

    Ron Paul!

    Sarah Palin!

    Piltdown Man!

    1. You’re such an attention whore.

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        A few drops of sesame oil (optional)
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        Garnish with green onion and serve.

        Nutritional Breakdown – 4 servings
        Each serving contains: Calories 81, 2 g Carbohydrates, 8 g Protein, 4 g Total Fat, 1 g Saturated Fat, 106 mg Cholesterol, trace Fibre, 866 mg Sodium

        Egg Drop Soup Variations
        These would be added after the seasonings. After adding, let the soup cook for a few more minutes and then add the beaten egg.
        **1/2 cup frozen peas.
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        1. What a terrible recipe. It fails to add the ginger unless someone is sick, which is retarded, and there is no tamari sauce added or rice vinegar for tang.

          1. Holy shit! You know what rice vinegar is? I’m impressed sir. If you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to my ramen noodles.

            1. You know what rice vinegar is?

              Who doesn’t?


              1. Me and the rest of the straight men and women on this board.

    2. You may have been the first human poster, but the bot made a more intelligent comment.

      1. I won’t argue that.

  3. Remember those sage words of G. Gordon Liddy. Head shots.

    1. About a dozen years ago I saw Liddy walking alone around Westwood near UCLA. I walked up to him and told him “I like your advice on headshots”. He nervously said thanks and walked away.

      As he walked away, about every 20 paces or so he turned back to see where I was. I laffed.

      1. Just so you know, Liddy was the real deal and has a license to pack (and does) even though he’s a convicted felon. He was probably just glancing back to assure himself you were still silhouetted against that dark background.

        1. Ive wondered about that. How does he legally own a gun, let alone carry one, when the federal statute is very clear that no convicted felon can own or take possession of a firearm? IIRC Carter did not pardon him, just commuted his sentence.

          1. He’s explained that. He petitioned for a carry permit due to his “celebrity” status of all things.

          2. The same way Hollywood actors with criminal records can handle guns when making movies: laws only apply to the little people.

          3. He said that he wasn’t allowed to own firearms, but that “Mrs. Liddy has an extensive collection.” wink, wink.

  4. When I saw that video, it made my blood boil. This is like the rodney king video for pot heads. It all reminds me of the dave chapelle joke, that it was only after Rodney King that white people realized that “the police are beating up Negroes like hotcakes!” Maybe now that people will realize that unnecessary shows of government force for nonviolent offenses are occurring all over the place, too. Shouldn’t there have to be some reasonable expectation of violence before anybody even calls SWAT in? I always thought that SWAT was “the big guns.” Now it is the first response.

    Swat is the typical government program. IT started out as a good idea, then it was expanded. Then to to keep these people busy, they had to do something, so somebody said, “Hey, why don’t we have this surplus of SWAT officers served warrants to drug dealers?” Then the war on drugs itself became a justification for more expansion, and we know how government agencies love to expand, leading to a situation in which hundreds of innocents are victimized every year.

    The man is crying because they shot his dog! Clearly this is a dangerous individual……

    1. C’mon man, can’t we all just get along?

    2. Rodney King was high as kite and evading at high speed through a city and then violently resisted arrest. It is in no way similar to this. The cops never fired a weapon and no innocents were involved including any women or children. And it didn’t involve violent invasion of a person’s home for a nonviolent SUSPECTED offense. King was beaten in response to violence by him. There was no violence here but on the part of the cops.

      1. I don’t believe he said the cases are similar, it’s the public responses that are similar. It’s like “hey, we’ve got a problem here”

  5. Excellent reporting as usual Radley. I think your well on your way to another one of these.

  6. The video and audio are key. The cops knock and then immediately kick the door in, then shoo the dog upon entry. You can hear the dog howling in pain for a few seconds before three shots ring out to kill it.

    Without the video and audio, a lot of people would not believe that it happened the way it did. How much does anyone want to bet that SWAT teams will stop filming their raids or that cameras will magically stop working when things go wrong?


  7. Horrifying. Fucking assholes.

    OT: There’s a verdict in the Tonya Craft trial.

    1. Not guilty on all counts!

      1. Can I count this as being actual good news for once in a Balko article? Even though it wasn’t in the article itself? Forget it, I’ll count it.

        1. It just OK news. Actual good news would have been that the jury acquitted on all counts, *and* the prosecutors were all summarily sentenced to death by boiling in oil, with the sentence carried out immediately thereafter in the courthouse square.

  8. I think the tide may be starting to turn. The rise of the cellphone video camera is bad news for cops. Most people who vote are fat dumb and happy in good neighborhoods and have no idea what assholes most cops are. These videos are starting to debase them of that idea. And also don’t under estimate the power of animal lovers in this society. Shooting the dogs is politically about as dumb a thing the cops can do. Only a fucking cop would be dumb enough and arrogent enough to think they could get away with it.

    1. Hell yes. If a SWAT team shot my sweet dog Heather, I would avenge her death.

      1. Me too. No rush, just do it right. No need to talk about it before or after. Somebody would at a minimum lose some pets and maybe a house or two.

        1. No no no. Don’t kill MORE animals!

    2. And they’d be right, too. Have you ever heard of any cop ever being punished in any way for killing a dog? Most of the time they get away with murdering people, let alone animals.

  9. Shooting the dogs is politically about as dumb a thing the cops can do. Only a fucking cop would be dumb enough and arrogent enough to think they could get away with it.

    Shooting a pit bull ‘may’ be justified. (Don’t flame me, pit bull owners. I know some pit bull owners and they say they are loveable pets).

    But shooting a Corgi?

    Yeah, I hope the animal lovers get all up in the GesSWATtapo’s face about this.

    Final $.02 worth: My sister is a law enforcement officer who does undercover drug buys. She feels that the war on drugs is pointless, as do many of her fellow officers.

    1. Then why the fuck does she do it? Is she selling on the side?

      1. She probably needs a job.

        1. True. But where is she and other officers like her when states are considering decrim laws and such and all those other douche-bag cops come and testify about what a bad idea it would be? (yeah, I know that answer to that too)

          1. Quite a few of them do speak up. In fact, it was here on Reason where I was pointed to an organization of law enforcement officers in favor of decriminalization of recreational drugs.

            1. Hear-hear… all for the decrim of MJ. I still do not understand the hysteria associated with it in this day and age. Check out some of Joe Rogans’ youtube rants on the matter…

              1. decrim is for sissies and mommas boys FULL. LEGALIZATION! Its no ones business at all, and a totally worthless waste of billions fighting this.

        2. If this is the only job she can find or is qualified for then I would just be unemployed. The old line of I am just doing a job doesn’t fucking cut it when it comes to your job being one such as this.

          I would live in a tent and hunt and fish for my existence before I would be a NARC or fight a immoral war.

          I guess this just shows that cops really don’t have any cognitive ability to recognize just because the state empowered them to do something does not make it right and by being the states henchmen you are just a robot.

        3. No one needs a job that bad. Rag-picking at the dump would be a more honorable profession.

        4. I hate to compare the two, but “running the gas chamber was the only job I could get” didn’t justify what they did in Germany in the 40s, either.

      2. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but drugs is only a part of what she does (i.e she isn’t a DEA agent nor is she with an agency who sole/primary purpose is waging the war on drugs).

        She got bored with the work within her original department, so she transferred to another department within her law enforcement organization that does investigations that sometimes involved drug trafficking.

        1. Boredom seems about the worst excuse for amorality.

    2. Final $.02 worth: My sister is a law enforcement officer who does undercover drug buys.

      Kurt, don’t you know it’s not polite to call your sister a whore?

      1. So what’s it like having a traitor in your family?

        1. Replied to the wrong person. Fuck this blog’s interface.

          1. Yes, it’s so difficult to click the “reply to this” link under the right comment. You should consider a career in law enforcement.

            1. promoting you.

    3. But shooting a Corgi?

      Obviously, the Corgi jumped in front of the pit bull to try to save his life.


    4. IF the pitbull actually threatened them, listen to the tape, how much time passes between entry and gunfire, I find it very hard to believe that’s the case, they fired almost instantly upon passing through the door.

      1. If I were a dog and some fucker dressed in black burst into my house when my master was relaxing on the couch beside me, having just come home from work, and his wife and puppy were going to bed in the next room, I’d bark my ass off, as well. And when the fucker shouted and pointed his big, black stick at me, I’d have bitten his fucking balls off.

      2. I thought I read that the pitbull was actually in a cage. Did I read that wrong?

    5. Wasn’t the pit bull in a cage?

    6. So what about the cops that feel like dark-skinned people are potentially dangerous, or Ron Paul supporters? Is it justified that they shoot them preemptively too?

  10. How is “knock and announce” at all meaningful if they don’t allow a reasonable amount of time for the resident to open the door before busting in? I mean, what reason could there be to require knock and announce besides giving the subject of the warrant a chance to let them in peacefully? (Terribly naive, I know)

    1. It is not meaningful. It is a complete legal fiction judges have allowed cops to totally debase.

      1. Yep, pretty much.

    2. We can thank the conservative wing of the SCOTUS for gutting knock and announce in Hudson.

      1. And the progressives for starting the whole thing, and FDR and the NewDeal Liberals for adding marijuana and non-narcotic drugs to the prohibited list.LBJ banning the LSD for The Great Society.

        1. SIV we’ve talked about this. The “Progressives” that passed the laws you are talking about included a great deal of Southern conservative Democrats, folks who would now be Republicans. Ditto for the “New Deal” coalition.

          How anyone can mention LBJ’s anti-drug actions while omitting Nixon and Reagan’s efforts without realizing the hyper-partisanship revealed by that is amazing.

          But SIV’s longtime terror is that libertarians may realize how crappy his beloved conservatives are on drugs. It keeps him up at night…

          1. RIGHT< there was no more proto-Southern RightWing Republican than NY Democrat/ Woodrow Wilson crony Francis Burton Harrison THE father of the drug war.Except maybe Pennsylvanian Harry Anslinger , first head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. The “Czar” who pushed to make marijuana illegal.

            We’ve been through this before fucker and every time you are totally wrong about it, and misstate my assertions to boot. Fuck You Troll.

          2. While you’re defending the Democrat wing of the Ruling Party, you might want to mention how Obama delivered on his promise to quit harassing cancer patients who use Marijuana to treat the side effects of their chemotherapy.

            Oh, wait. He didn’t deliver on that promise. He remains a hypocritical douchebag while Charlie Lynch does time for a non-crime.


            1. When does our dear friend Charlie get out?

              Since he was jailed for committing a Federal “crime” that was completely in compliance with state law, is he allowed to profit off of his infamy if he only does so in California’s borders?

          3. The “Progressives” that passed the laws you are talking about included a great deal of Southern conservative Democrats, folks who would now be Republicans. Ditto for the “New Deal” coalition.

            And a lot of the Progressives that passed the laws were Southern *progressive* Democrats, who are considered “conservatives” because they also supported Jim Crow and disenfranchising the coloreds. The Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1901-02 was an example of the progressive/racist confluence: it enacted literacy tests and poll taxes for voting, *and* created a State Corporation Commission to put curbs on railroads and other utilities that were perceived to be ripping off the good people of the Commonwealth. (If you thought the Convention was only called in order to disenfranchise blacks, you’ll be surprised to read the published debates of the convention and see how much time the delegates spent railing at evil corporations.)

    3. It seems designed to give home invasion murders a decent chance to get off the first shot. Oh, right, home invasion murderers would never stoop to the level of impersonating a cop. The authentication protocol is horrifically broken.

  11. “Most people who vote are fat dumb and happy in good neighborhoods and have…”

    As opposed to yourself, who is slim, smart and misereable and lives in a shithole?

    1. I am slim smart and moderately happy and live in a good neighborhood.

      1. So you say.

        1. It’s all a matter of location, location; location! In Texas, they come down hard on unfortunates with out-of-state license plates…”concerned” hispanics abound, who mumble something-or-other resembling “suspicious” to their crony cops. They all believe that their ends justify their means–“need” to search vehicles without probable cause, since its perceived as preventing illegal drug/weapons running across the border. (All of these illegal “immigrants” feel more comfortable with governmental tyranny, here in their new homeland).

  12. Lurker, I’ve noticed that an increasing (still small, but on the uptick) number of cops acknowledge the cruelty and futility of drug raids. If it weren’t for the War on A Relatively Small Number of Drugs, I dare say I would have few problems with police at all.

    1. I know a lot ofpeople in LE. Very few of them believe in the Drug War.

      1. This is slightly encouraging, but more frustrating. It seems to me too that a lot of LE people are aware that the drugwar is not a good idea. SO why can’t they get their shit together and make public some alternative to the usual police party line that you hear every time legalization is discussed?

        1. the rank and file is different from the leadership. And also, the ones who are the most cynical are the ones on the front lines. They don’t make the decisions. The politicians and the ones removed from the front lines do. And they are usually gung ho for it. Also, something as big as the drug war gets a momentum of its own. It is just a monster no one knows how to stop.

          1. Also, something as big as the drug war gets a momentum of its own. It is just a monster no one knows how to stop.

            Good point John.

            When did drug use really get going? The late 60’s. Who did most of the drugs? Dirty, un-American hippies and minorities who were mostly criminally inclined anyway (at least that is how it is portrayed).

            IMHO, that is the POV of the leadership of the War on Drugs.

            1. “Dirty, un-American hippies and minorities who were mostly criminally inclined anyway (at least that is how it is portrayed).”

              That is so bigoted. Not all hippies are dirty.

            2. When did drug use really get going? The late 60’s.

              The late 1560s maybe, if you don’t count Native American ceremonies.

              1. It certainly goes back much farther than 1560 CE, and even farther back than 1560 BCE. The date when drug use really got going may predate civilization itself. Some have even suggested civilization began as the direct result of efforts to facilitate drug use.

                Cavemen can become very unruly after they discover they’ve used up all their stash. A few episodes like that and it’s easy to understand how people would find a reason to start talking to each other for the first time, ever. Could be some genius had an idea that could produce a bigger stash and an idea like that needed to be shared. Hard to say, but what is known is archaeological evidence of drug use and civilization both appear at the same point in the past.

                Interesting, because even if wasn’t the cause, it certainly didn’t prevent civilization’s founders from creating civilization.

                Prohibitions are a relatively very recent development, and as of very recently, the past century give or take, the first excuse is usually that it’s for society. Never quite understood the logic behind that one. How can something that either never was, or never would have been, without drug use be “protected” by prohibiting drug use?

        2. Three reasons why law enforcement types love the war on drugs:

          1) Asset forfeiture proceeds
          2) Job security
          3) Rich opportunities for graft and corruption

          Shooting the family pets is just standard police procedure to ensure the safety of everybody involved.

          This is your government on a war on drugs. Any questions?

          1. #2 should read “Job security and opportunity for career advancement”

          2. YES! Furthermore, remember that the war on drugs provided the federal govt the ability to militarize local police forces…the better to declare martial law. Our country’s spendings (including corrupt bail-outs) have exceeded its productivity since the ’60’s…so, the inevitability of Greek-like rioting was obvious, from the get-go!

  13. So we finally get some outrage. That’s nice?

    Have any LEO’s been charged with a felony? Has anyone even admitted that “mistakes were made”?

    Well, at least we have outrage, that’s something, for now.

    1. Mistakes? Procedures were followed. Our brave officers did every thing by the book. Brave cops die every day protecting you from people who want to rape your dog and eat your children.

      1. Luckily, they killed the dog before anyone could rape it.

        1. You assume causality in a case where none is required, much less assumed.

          1. gaoxiaen only said the dog was killed first

    2. Mistakes were never admitted when a city MAYOR, his wife and 80 something mother had their door kicked down, their two dogs killed, and were dragged out (him in the middle of changing, I think) and arrested because their UPS guy was dealing. If this doesn’t elicit an apology, their won’t ever be any.

  14. Relatively mainstream outrage, at that.
    It floors me to behold the number of otherwise intelligent people who are, ordinarily, not that pissed about this kind of thing.

    1. Agreed. It may help to remember that many taxpayers that do not indulge in illicit drugs, and many that do, resent their tax dollars going to subsidize the percentage of the drug using population that lead largely parasitic and counter-productive lives. Given that our leaders do not heed their protests and cries, some of those oppressed unfortunately become vengeful and/or direct their prejudice towards others that are being oppressed.

      Note the author’s discernable hypocritical stance. He mentions that only 10% to 20% of raids result in the seizure of weapons, implying that a higher rate of weapons seizure might somehow justify a number of the military style raids.

      Then he states:
      “Whitworth wasn’t exactly an outstanding citizen?…But… there were no weapons in the home.”

      That is an outrageous statement!

      Considering the text of the 2nd amendment and the innate right of a human to defend himself, seizure of firearms should practically never be the justification, or end, of a warrant or raid. Those like the author, that will fight against the oppression of recreational drug users, while simultaneously debasing the legal ownership of firearms, serve to divide our people and aid corrupt statist leadership. Choose freedom, not sides!

      Research the ATF raids of Ruby Ridge, Waco, and many other homes and businesses if you think recreational drug users are the only group of citizens intimidated, injured, or killed by a violent government.

      Support those that support individual rights as opposed to larger government, government intrusion, and enslavement of humanity. How can you do that, given that controlling parties across the globe are contaminated with elitists and authoritarians?

      Consider increased support of your family, your neighbors, and your coworkers. You may find them the better of most authors in media, and most holders of public office. Empower yourself, don’t tread on others, and set the best example you can.

  15. The video seems to have made it very personal to dog owners.



    1. Very personal, as well, to those having trouble understanding these cops mumbling “Open the door, police”. (You’d think they’d enunciate more clearly)! I worry that they’d all be gunned down as the door is kicked open…or, at the least, decapitated by a homeowner wielding his hedge-trimmer. Some of you have emphasized the absence of firearms uncovered in these raids–but REAL Amerikans don’t expect SWAT Teams to protect them from criminals, and don’t expect SWAT Teams to pay them a visit. Enunciate clearly, cops, and be VERY SURE you’ve distinguished yourselves from the criminals.

  16. The fact that so many people are shocked and outraged, when this happens so many times daily, is an indictment of the MSM. Most people know nothing of this issue because they don’t read Reason or the Agitator or Cato. The MSM totally drops the ball, fails to ask any tough questions, and generally just regurgitates the cops’ press release.

    1. Well, the Washington Post did a fairly good job reporting on the Cheye Calvo case in Berwyn Heights. Of course, that may not have happened if he and his wife and mother-in-law hadn’t been white, but I’ll take whatever I can get.

      1. No, they did a better (but not good) job because as a political figure, he is more equal than others.

  17. Here are the answers I want:

    Someone in the police department appears to have lied about the urgency of the raid. Who made the decision to lie to the public? What punitive action will be taken against the decision-makers?

    A judge signed off on this warrant. What evidence was presented to justify a violent “knock and announce” entry? If the supporting evidence does not appear to justify using those entry methods what, if any, disciplinary action will be taken against the judge?

    1. No one lied about the urgency of the raid, nor was the judge out of bounds in signing the warrent.

      We the People have elected ToughOnDrugs politicians who have passed laws and implemented procedures for raiding drug suspects. This raid was not outside the standard operating procedures that SWAT follows nationwide.

      Pogo time, folks. The enemy is us.

      1. Procedures for enforcing laws are usually enacted by the enforcing authority (“the cops”) and, if I’m not mistaken, rarely open to public scrutiny even in court. The simple statement, “They followed procedure”, is usually all you get.

        It should be increasingly obvious to the informed observer that if events of horrific nature are covered by “procedure” and therefore unchallengable, many of these procedures would be found to be illegal on their face if actually examined in court by competent attorneys.


        1. In court, all that would be necessary for the police, judge authorizing the warrant, prosecutor, etc to be vindicated would be evidence (the video clearly shows this) of A CHILD’S PRESENCE in the home in which illegal drugs are discovered. Quantity/quality/other particulars of these illegal drugs & circumstances fade into insignificance.

  18. You’re a good man, Radley Balko. Keep fighting the good fight.

    1. +1

  19. Judge Napolitano discussed it on his show yesterday. He had Mayor Bob McDavid on and asked him, point blank, “When are you going to arrest these cops and throw them in jail?” The mayor looked stunned, and didn’t have an immediate answer. Check it out – http://tinyurl.com/2wrg7sx

    1. God bless that Napolitano sometimes.

      1. He’s doing Gods work.

    2. I can’t describe how much I want to see that man either in the white house or on the supreme court. I wish he’d run for the senate at least.


    3. He’s great. Plus, what weasely, soft-spined politician would ever challenge him on the Hill, looking like the hit man for the Corleone family

  20. I’ve always said, cops are just doing their jobs they way they are trained. I don’t have a problem with police. I have a problem with what is considered good police work.
    And I agree the war on drugs is a waste.
    Gary Johnson in 2012!

  21. “In many other cases, such raids transpire based on little more than a tip from an anonymous or confidential informant.”

    I’d be interested to see where the cops in this raid got their information.

    Is it typical in some places for cops to pressure people busted for impaired driving to tell where they got it?

    I’m sure, in that situation, a lot of people would finger any random stoner they happen to know, and it would be interesting to see how the cops got their information here.

    1. The fault, if there is one, lies with the judge who granted the prosecutor the warrent based on the evidence presented. The judge evidently deduced the information was pertinate and the threat credible.

  22. My brother-in-law is a detective in suburban CT. I posted the video to Facebook and after he watched it he called the Columbia, Missouri police department and got in touch with one of the detectives that originally investigated the case to let them know that he saw the video and that what they did was absolutely wrong. The Columbia cop told him that when they first approached the homeowner, days before they got the knock and announce warrant, the homeowner did not let them into the house and the dog was protecting the door. Apparently that’s why they went with the SWAT team.

    Anyway, I was really proud of my brother-in-law for calling them up and giving them a piece of his mind.

    1. I see, ask for a warrant and the Columbia PD will give you one good and hard.

  23. Americans, like all people, get the government they deserve. Regardless of the responses to the video, if there were a vote tomorrow across the whole country and the choice was either legalize drugs or continue perpetually with this kind of insanity, overwhelmingly people would vote for the insanity.

    Most of us in here know we live in a rigged system set up to massively benefit a relative handful of people as the expense of the rest of us. Most of us in here know that we are not remotely a free people by any rational standard.

    Virtually all of us know that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are utter insanity that will contribute in a major way to the collapse of the economy and society – those and the incomprehensible national debt and the exponentially expanding cost of entitlements. And yet tomorrow, if there were a vote against changing fundamentally or continuing on our course toward collapse, people would overwhelming vote to continue things as they are.

    Collectively Americans, like all other people, are imbeciles. The difference is that we have expressed a set of principle which we profess to believe in, but simply choose to ignore.

    1. I agree with you, but it is because Joe Sixpack is too busy earning a living & complying with infinite regulations to make waves with his govt that you are correct. As for the drug war, many people would vote to continue it (as oppposed to continuing all of the other unconstitutional stuff) because illegal drug use is NOT A VICTIMLESS ACTIVITY! People are killed & maimed daily, due to impaireds operating motor vehicles & machinery…many such impaireds are collecting entitlements from us, as direct result of drug-use “disability”.

      1. People are killed & maimed daily…just ask Kathryn Johnston.

  24. Radley’s assessment of the generational attitudinal effect is spot on. IIRC there was reporting out of Iraq during the early days, when things were getting messy, that indicated problems with US Military folk interacting with the Iraqis had some problems – basically, soldiers acting like total jerkwads, for no good reason, when conducting searches for insurgents and weapons caches. Interviews with a variety of soldiers indicated that the majority of such unprofessional and unnecessary behavior was instigated almost exclusively by Guardsmen and Reservists who were cops ‘back in the world’. Remember also, who the instigators of the idiocy at Abu Ghraib were – civilian cops pulling military service.

    If the things they’re doing are inappropriate for a truly hostile War Zone such as Iraq, how in the world can such actions and attitudes be appropriate within the United States, directed at our own citizenry?

    Here’s where I’d depart from Radley’s assessment – when he compares domestic LEO SWAT activities to that of soldiers. Our full time military professionals are a bit classier than these bozos will ever dream of being.

    1. Wow, now I feel even worse for those soldiers in hostile areas who have to deal with such people on their own side. Imagine how frustrating and embarrassing it is.


  26. Damn it Pingback. Can anybody do anything about it?

  27. It should be mandatory that all SWAT raids be videotaped, and that all video be made available.

    Any politician that opposes this should be considered an enemy. They should be asked why they are against videos that would prevent frivolous lawsuits against the police, since obviously they have nothing to hide, right?

    1. I agree.

      1. I agree. Most definitely.

        1. I think that ALL cop interactions with people should be videod as much as possible.

  28. “Nearly everything else about the raid, including the violence, is similar to the 100-plus drug raids carried out each day in America.”

    So is the YouTube item captioned with, “this kind of thing happens over 100 times a day”? If not, it should be. Do not elect or re-elect anyone who supports the drug war. As litmus tests go, support for the drug war is the gold standard for determining who is “part of the problem.”

  29. I wonder how many times LA cops beat the hell out of someone before the Rodney King video hit the air?


    1. What do you mean? That never happened before.

      1. One off?

    2. If you don’t shut up, I will beat you so bad…

  30. “…,our police officers begin to see drug suspects not as American citizens with constitutional rights, but as enemy combatants.”

    Why are so many Americans turning enemies of America? Look to the War on Drugs. We arrest several million a year and destroy their lives. Of those arrested many are treated as if they are enemy combatants on a military battlefield. To treat Americans as enemies in a war? And that isn’t going to make those Americans, as well as many of their families and friends, respond in like by viewing America as an enemy?

    We seldom wish enemies live long and live prosperous. Of all the dumb mistakes made here this is one of the very worst. And it’s not enough our glorious leaders do it to our people they export the mistake around the globe using bribes, force, and coercion to push it on every nation.

    It adds difficulty for those of us who realize America is not the enemy and are trying to fix what’s wrong. How do you channel peoples efforts toward positive change when more people everyday just want to see the country fall as payback for how they or someone they know, or are related to, or have just heard about and sympathize with, was literally assaulted by official powers and it was done “within the law.”

    Americans have forgotten many things and possibly never fully understood others. One we didn’t start as a nation of teetotalers, nor were we ever as we are not now predominantly such. Furthermore, many of the most dangerous, addictive, and intoxicating drugs aren’t tangible or substances at all. They are drugs like power, the most dangerous drug, and those addicts who abuse power have shown time and time again the horrific harm they are capable of.

    Of course, we had a war on power in this country, it was called The Constitution of the United States. Seems that war has been abandoned by those we have chosen as our representatives for their new one that guarantees our destruction from within.

    Seems a steep price for all just so a few addicts can make sure their “stashes” don’t run out.

  31. unleashing anger, resentment and even, regrettably, calls for violence against the police officers who conducted the raid

    Why? I’d like to see those fat fucks killed and tortured and lying in a pool of their own shit and blood.

    1. I’d like to see those fat fucks killed and tortured and lying in a pool of their own shit and blood.

      You can only dream. You don’t have the balls to do it yourself.

    2. I agree why should we care if they take one in the forehead? Lets see which would I prefer this cop to kick in my door and shoot my dogs over a joint or two. Or perhaps I may opt for him being shot since he was so empowered to think that he was in the right to kick in peoples doors and shoot their dogs. Always in a me or them situation it is always going to be them sorry to say. You reap what you sow when you kick in the doe!

    3. Whenever anyone comes banging down the door, shot first, ask questions later. The 2nd amendment exists so we can protect ourselves from terrorist police.

  32. “Soon enough, our police officers begin to see drug suspects not as American citizens with constitutional rights, but as enemy combatants.”

    lol What in your own article makes you think they don’t ALREADY see people that way. 🙁

  33. I must have sent that video to 100 people last week, and all of other verdicts were the same. “That’s bullshit!” Even my wife sent the video around where ever she could on forums and whatnot which garnered threads 10 or more pages long.

    I’m glad that this got out and went viral, though I have one pullback in my optimism. It seems to me that the majority of the outrage was over the shooting of Fido, and the rest of it, the utter terrorizing of a family in the middle of the night with paramilitary forces, went over many people’s heads.


    1. Whatever it takes to get people to wake up.

      1. Usually it to happen to them, and sometimes not even then.

  34. More than thirty years in emergency medical services (EMS) has put me in close contacts with police officers, and when they are in company with folks who wear similar uniforms (as emergency medical technicians do), they unload as they will not before “civilians.”

    And – guess what? – they really DO think of themselves as an occupying army, and the general public as a large, disorganized, utterly criminal “enemy” they are empowered to punish pretty much as they see fit.

    This is a perversion of the purpose of civil government. These people need to become unemployed, and goddam right away.

    1. And the fault for that attitude you describe lies directly at the feet of the politicians; they passed the laws that made that attitude not only probable but inevitable.

    2. Ya who heard of Tucker Max should read the story of when he met an FBI agent on an airplane and the guy basically bragged to him about shooting at unarmed immigrants crossing over the border. Its pretty sickening.

  35. Question: a few seconds after the cops go in the house there is one, loud, clear gunshot while the camera is outside the house. Then you hear the dog whimpering in pain. But then, I hear what sounds like three bursts from a fire extinguisher (they didn’t sound like gunshots. Extremely fast auto fire maybe) and the dog is dead. What were those three noises? Maybe it had something to do with the camera being inside the house? Someone with more info than me could help out here.

    1. Maybe those sick fucks held the barrel up to the dog thereby muffling the sound.

      1. Only works in the movies.

    2. Semi-automatic pistol caliber weapons fire. It’s possible one of the HKs had a suppressor, they’re commonly used in structure raids since firing an unsuppressed firearm indoors is deafening requiring heavy hearing protection which effectively makes the operator deaf to what is going on around him. Unlike in the movies a suppressed auto-loader firing sub-sonic pistol caliber ammunition produces a sound very similar to a pneumatic nail gun of the type building framers use. The configuration also eliminates muzzle flash, another tactical advantage for the operator. There was no obvious reflected light as one would expect to see from a muzzle flash indoors in low light, which also suggests use of a suppressor.

      It could have been a .22 caliber hold out, or throw down pistol, it didn’t sound like one. But that could be a result of the low quality type of microphone used with most consumer video cameras.

    3. I think this may answer your question, fast forward 2:10 to hear a suppressed firearm being fired indoors.


      Compare it to the SWAT raid video see what you think.

      It was likely a suppressor.

  36. F’ing awesome piece Mr. Balko. Good stuff.

  37. Beyond writing up a ticket for rolling through a stop sign cops are pretty fucking useless.

    Police = a Federal bailout of the donut industry.

  38. No matter how many times I hear about this, or read Balko’s articles or see the video, this pisses me off to no end. I suppose the fact I can’t sleep from the rage means this is an issue of upmost importance.

    Relevant to our interests:

  39. still never seen the video…I can’t take it.

    1. you can take it. it’ll break you heart for that family, but you can do it.

  40. Thank goodness the marijuana residue was stopped by the brave SWAT team. Being around marijuana could really screw up that little boy’s head.

    1. Amen brother Tim. Amen.

    2. Amen brother Tim. Amen.

  41. The police department has since conceded it was unaware that there were pets or a child in the home at the time of the raid.

    I doubt that the police department would have acted any differently had they known there were pets or children in the home. In fact, if they know there were pets, they would salivate at the prospect, as it is obvious that these sort of people absolutely love shooting dogs: they always shoot the dogs. I’m sincerely surprised that they didn’t put the corgi (a truly vicious dog breed!) out of its misery after it was struck by a ricochet.

  42. The SWAT team should be saved for truly violent events, like tea party protests: http://biggovernment.com/jhoft…..-patriots/

  43. As a former fed narc, I am appalled. That’s not the way it was done when I was in the biz (over 15 yrs ago). Sounds like they depended on the information volunteered by the informant (who cannot be trusted, and lie a lot). They didn’t conduct their own investigation and surveillance to verify the accuracy of the information, and they went way over the line in terms of use-of-force. Come on! Marijuana? That calls for a knock-and-talk, not a knock-and-shoot-the-dog. Poor police work. The informant needs to be prosecuted for filing a false report.

    1. I’m appalled at your life

  44. Just curious, are any police at all out there pet owners?

    Because if I were in a situation like that, after the fuss was over I’d make a point of shooting their pets in front of their children.

  45. When the U.S. military did this in Iraq, it contributed to the insurgency. The counterinsurgency doctrine (COIN) emphasizes doing things in ways that DO NOT alienate the people, whom you need on your side in any conflict against non-state actors…….like those who deal drugs. Time for the police to learn from the military again.

    1. You are right, and this is how we almost lost the war in Iraq. I hope this is how the drug warriors lose their war on the American people, too.

    2. Note to all SWAT team members and Police…if you insist on acting like an occupying Army, don’t act suprised when we start treating you like one…..

  46. It’s strange that no one has yet posted a comment on the real reason for violent SWAT attacks on civilian homes. The fact is that police departments have spent all this money on military hardware and they hardly ever get to use it. Tearing up a pot user’s home is a way to get to use all that “fun” military gear with minimal chances of having to risk return fire. On most issues, I support our police but they have to remember, they are cops charged with protecting and serving the public, not Navy Seals or Army Speciual Forces charged with destroying the enemy.

  47. By the Geneva Convention, police depts are occupying armies. 1: Uniform or other id identifiable at a distance? check. 2:Readily recognisable chain if command? check. 3: Carry arms openly among the people? check. Now most p.d.s are armed equivlaent to the military even though they’re supposed to not have any exemptions to the laws they’re changed to enforce.( as in how do they get ‘law enforcement exemptions’ on firearms ). Something I didn’t see in the video is the swat team presenting the warrant to the residents BEFORE entry, let alone at any time after entry. They’re supposed to let you read the warrant before taking any action, unless unusual circumstances exist.(Didn’t in this case). P.D.s need to realise that one bad search will destroy all of the goodwill they’ve had prior. Shooting the family pets in front of the kids is not a good p.r. move. Trashing someone’s house for less the an ounce of smoke is overkill. Search could have been handled with a drug dog for a lot less fuss. Wonder how much this stupidity by the p.d. will cost the taxpayers? Some lawyer should be filing a tort by now.

  48. What our government is saying is gunfire and death is preferable to reading books with mommy.

  49. The only reason people reacted negatively to this video is because they shot the dog. I know I will get reamed for this, but I support the cops here, I support the war on drugs and I am annoyed that a rational people like libertarians would support something so irrational, the legalization of drugs.

    1. Go back to your mom’s basement, fool.

    2. Obvious troll is obvious.

    3. I’m ambivalent about the WoD. Look at the problems in Mexico and throughout Latin America; the violence is funded by US drug users. Look at how drugs destroy people’s lives. No, marijuana is not equivalent to crack, but it is a gateway drug and it also affects its users.

      My ambivalence is caused by my repugnance at drug users and their deleterious effects on their own lives, the lives of others, and on society, and how that conflicts with my belief that individuals have the right to live as they please as long as they don’t affect others. If you want to grow marijuana for your own use in your own home, fine. Don’t sell it or give it away, and don’t do it in the presence of minors even if they’re your own children. And certainly don’t ruin my experience at a concert. I really don’t believe that individual drug use can be isolated from harming others in the real world (as opposed to a hypothetical discussion).

      Having said all that, the problem I have with this raid is the way it was carried out. The police have a professional responsibility to exercise their power appropriately. I don’t think any reasonable person would see this video as demonstrating the appropriate use of force.

      I think the defendent should sue the bejeezus out of the police department, and the individual officers who shot his dogs… and I think a jury would award a large verdict. Unfortunately, losing large amounts of money seems to be the only way to affect policy changes in law enforcement.

      And finally, surely this police department and its municipality have more pressing problems than some loser who smokes a bowl or two in his house on occasion. I’m sure that the massive amounts of drug money that are often found during these raids, and the fact that confiscated money is a significant source of funding for law enforcement at every level of government, was the real motivation behind this incident.

    4. I react negatively to videos like this because assholes like you support the “War on Drugs”. Go fuck yourself, Chris. Better yet, move to North Korea, where people like you belong.

  50. “But despite all the anger the raid has inspired, the only thing unusual thing here is that the raid was captured on video, and that the video was subsequently released to the press. Everything else was routine. Save for the outrage coming from Columbia residents themselves, therefore, the mass anger directed at the Columbia Police Department over the last week is misdirected. Raids just like the one captured in the video happen 100-150 times every day in America. Those angered by that video should probably look to their own communities. Odds are pretty good that your local police department is doing the same thing.”

    Do you have any information or links to support this claim?

    My brother has worked SWAT and narcotics in recent years and they do not conduct raids like that. I have talked to him about these types of raids and this is not standard practice.

    1. Something like this.

      Citations in the back.

      1. Good post Mr.C. Cato.org says ‘Jeffs’ brother is a liar…and probably a killer.

        1. Cato.org says no such thing. I looked at the linked article and there were no incidents in our immediate area which says you are wrong.

          My brother has never pulled the trigger on his sidearm while on duty. Our town is too small for something like this to happen and no one know about it.

          1. No, he probably just steals other peoples’ private property through asset forfeiture

            1. You can call it stealing if you want, but if people don’t want their property “stolen”, then they shouldn’t be involved in the manufacture/delivery of drugs.

              The department he worked for at the time didn’t really mess with people for marijuana unless it was huge amounts. Their main interest is meth (which is especially prevalent in our area).

              Also, that 100-150 raids per day number is based on the total number of raids, no the total number of bad or botched raids. It is not correct to say that all 100-150 raids are “just like the one in the video”.

              1. You can call it stealing if you want, but if people don’t want their property “stolen”, then they shouldn’t be involved in the manufacture/delivery of drugs.

                uhuh http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T…..es_scandal

            2. Also, that 40,000 raids per year is “based on one estimate”. What are other estimates?

              Don’t get me wrong on this. One botched raid is one too many, but how many of that 40,000 are “botched”? How many are served on wrong addresses? How many involve an innocent person being killed?

              Those are the statistics I’d like to see.

    2. Yea, pat your brother on the back and remember to tell him what a great job he is doing holding a jack boot to the throat of America’s citizenry.

  51. US police have basically become state-sponsored terrorist organizations. There is no negotiating with terrorists.

    Every citizen should be armed and ready for any such emergency situation. The 2nd amendment exists so we can protect ourselves from precisely these sorts of attacks from government.

    1. I don’t know, being armed gives them an excuse to kill you. Scary shit.

      1. They’ll kill you anyway. And without a second thought.

        1. And they’ll be rewarded for the murder with a paid vacation.

  52. The author says it is “unfortunate” that there have been threats of violence against these officers. It’s not unfortunate at all. Violence is the only thing these sort of people understand.

    A great reckoning is coming. And while my plan is to be as FAR from people like this as possible, I will not mourn them when someone else gives them what they deserve.

  53. This is a problem that has been building for awhile. The swat teams are a probblam with in theirselves. When police dress as swat they develop a mindset that is dangerous and intimminating to the public. The war on drugs is a complete failure with the cops looking for drug money to feed city and state coffers. Review and change the drug laws. Many in prison should be walking as free people and the cost is unbelievable. We could change the laws if politicians had a back bone and addressed this problem.

  54. I would venture a guess that many of these SWAT guys are returned military. And more will be coming home soon, looking for a job.What will they be best qualified to do? Kick down doors! Balko is right. We had better stop this militarization of police now. Or is it already too late?

    1. Veterans get priority for any federal jobs–so, they are more qualified to work than everyone else, in an economy completely usurped by government. Its already too late, tho’, to stop the militarization–for other reasons. (Think about WHY the Greeks have been rioting & about how governments’ first priority is always taking care of corrupt govt).

  55. “I have the right to know your name”

    No you fucking don’t you fucking retarded cop. The notion that reading Miranda rights grants those rights is utter bullshit. Your rights already exist. You never have to answer ANY questions asked by law enforcement. Not one. (Generally it’s a good idea to answer questions, but you ALWAYS have the right to remain silent. You also have the right to call the cops “fucking pig assholes” and I wish the man had done so.)

    1. I disagree, since any demonstrated lack of respect harms one’s position in the courtroom & other venues of public opinion. If such atrocities are to be prevented, ever, defendants have to conduct themselves in such manner as to be taken seriously.

  56. I don’t see from the article whether or not the family owns the home, but if they do it would go a long way towards explaining the frenzied raid-forfeiture money.

    1. Perhaps I overestimate forfeiture power, but wouldn’t their ownership or lack thereof actually be immaterial?

    2. Does civil forfeiture really apply to a home where they only found a small amount of drugs? I know it would apply to a large amount of cash but a home? I dont think thats the way it works otherwise anyone busted for a small amount of drugs could have their home seized. I know its bad but I dont think its that extreme yet.

  57. And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling in terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand? […] The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!”

    -The Gulag Archipelago, A. Solzhenitsyn. Chapter 1 “Arrest”, fn. 5.

  58. These cops are rogue even if all of the other SWAT teams behave the same way. In that case, all SWAT teams are rogue and need to be relieved of duty. Furthermore, the Police Department of that town is rogue. They lied to neighbors and removed portions of the tape. With Police like this (and I agree that they are representative of the whole country), who needs criminals? Everything is turned upside down when it is accepted that most police officers are actually criminals and tyrants as well as murderers and animal abusers (well recognized as a sign of pathology, a lack of conscience).

    1. Human nature is basicly evil…and without enforcement via the US Constitution/Bill of Rights, there are no checks & balances. (Fascism/Marxism/World Govt are no substitute).

  59. Over a million views, now. I’m surprised that it hasn’t been taken down.

    Love the high-visibility name and badge numbers. 😉

    There are several ways that this can eventually end, none of which are going to be good.

  60. I thought you might have missed this one from Feb. 25, 2010:


    “A Fresno County sheriff’s deputy was fatally shot and two other officers were wounded Thursday in an all-day confrontation with a barricaded arson suspect in the tiny unincorporated community of Minkler, 20 miles east of Fresno…. Reedley City Manager Rocky Rogers told the Associated Press that one of the wounded officers was Javier Bejar, of the Reedley Police Department. Rogers said that he was on life support and not expected to recover…

    The standoff started about 9:40 a.m., when two deputies and an agent from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection tried to serve a search warrant on the man. They were greeted with gunfire, authorities said.”

    Context for your story.

  61. What is going to stop this sort of abuse of power is that we start holding *all* of those involved responsible.

    This means holding the judge who signed the warrant responsible for giving the authorization. This means holding the City Manager who ultimately is in charge of that police department responsible. This means holding the city council, board, or alderman responsible for having a police chief and city manager that allows such raids. This means holding the police chief responsible for the misrepresentations by his detective on the warrant as well as the training lapses by his SWAT team shooting when they shouldn’t have been shooting.

    Only when every level of authority is held responsible either in court or at the ballot box will this sort of nonsense stop. Just holding individual cops responsible isn’t going to stop it.

  62. Great post as usual, Balko.

  63. Not only do the police see citizens as enemy combatants, but eventually, after the police have adopted their militaristic stance in a community, the community begins to see the police as an occupying force to be resented and even, at times, resisted. Turning our communities into war zones is no way to make the streets safe.

  64. It’s one thing to read some sanitized account of a swat raid in the paper, where the story is at best neutral and at worst in favor of the cops’ brutality. It’s quite another to actually see the act in progress and watch the reactions of everyone, especially the kids getting the living crap scared out of them. Watching this video may finally wake up a large number of sheeple to what is really happening.

  65. “In 2002
    we spent 46%(4.916 billion) on “demand reduction”, ie treatment and prevention
    and spent 54%(5.865 billion) on “supply reduction”, ie law enforcement

    in 2010
    35%(5.259 billion) on demand reduction…a 7% increase from 2002
    65%(9.771 billion) on supply reduction…a 66% increase from 2002!


    When we adjust for inflation we find…

    in 2002 we spent
    5.829 billion on demand reduction
    6.954 billion on supply reduction

    meaning we actually saw a 9.7% DECREASE in spending on treatment and prevention
    and still a 40% increase in supply reduction.

    What we see in the overall drug control budget is a 40% from 2002 – 2010.
    When adjusted for inflation we find a 18% increase from 2002 – 2010″

    “Not surprisingly in 2008…

    The most frequent arrests made were for drug abuse violations, 1,702,537 arrests, or 12.2 percent of the total number of all arrests.

    82.3% of all drug arrests were for possession
    49.8% of all drug arrests were for marijuana(847,863)
    44.3% of all drug arrests were for marijuana possession(754,224)

    So 6% of ALL arrests made in 2008 were for marijuana.


    In short the war on drugs is getting larger both in budget size and arrests made. That war is increasingly moving from preventing and treating drug abuse and toward more criminalization. Roughly 50% of all drug activity and arrsts are for marijuana.

    Keep up the good work Feds!”

  66. Work like this is precisely why I donated money to the Reason Foundation. You’re a true patriot, Mr. Balko.

  67. It is a critical moment for US citizens to pick some principles to live by.

    Are you just going to keep sitting there while hired thugs destroy your house and possible injure your family?

    I dread that US pussification has reached 100%.

  68. solution…don’t sell drugs. you sell drugs you put yourself and your family in a position to be raided and in harms way. not only by the police but by other criminals…its just a stupid thing to do…especially if you have kids. grow up, get off your lazy ass, get a job, and stop trying to make “easy money” because most times that way of life comes with a price!!

  69. I think you are wrong.

    Getting angry, and demanding that the Columbia police officers be brought to justice is the right thing to do.

    I understand your point about militarization of police, and bad drug policy, but we have to start somewhere. This looks as good a place as any.

    We need for these cops to be brought to justice in the court system because it is a high profile case and they need to be held up to the public scorn they deserve.


  70. F&ck; cops. Time to shoot back.

  71. …the video had garnered 950,000 views on YouTube.

    The video needs 300 million views.

  72. When it comes to marijuana legalization and ending prohibition people in general just do not understand the issue. If prohibition ended, legalizing marijuana, it would make it harder for young people to obtain then it is now being illegal. Polls of high school students regularly show it is easier for them to get pot then beer. Why? Because alcohol is regulated and requires that adults be 21 or older to purchase, marijuana is sold on the black market and illegal dealers don’t ID! Marijuana has been called a “gateway” drug. Well if true, why? Because it is illegal. Being illegal it is sold on the black market by drug dealers. Drug dealers sell things other then marijuana. So when someone goes to buy some pot on the black market the dealer may offer some meth or cocaine. How often does a clerk at 7-11 offer you some “crack” with that six-pack of beer? Never? Well that is because alcohol is no longer under prohibition as marijuana still is.
    Another issue is crime. The reason there is crime associated with Cannabis is because it is illegal, plain and simple. Make it legal and the organized crime cartels, the gangs, the drive by shootings, the murders, robberies, etc. disappear.
    The steadfast economic reality of marijuana shows the plant to be a major cash crop in the United States, as it has been for decades now. This cash crop is generating hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue annually to producers in Mexico and South America. This money is all being remitted to Mexico and their organized crime syndicates. Why? This money could be going to American farmers and boosting our own economy instead of Mexico’s. In addition to the economic gains and tax revenue that would be generated by ending prohibition, we would also save hundreds of billions more by not prosecuting and incarcerating these American citizens who simply ingest an unmodified plant that grows naturally in the ground like an apple tree or a carrot. We would generate billions in sales tax revenue each year. We would create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the Unites States.
    A free adult is free to do what they like with their own body. You have no right to tell someone else what is “moral” or “good” for him or her. Every reason against legalizing marijuana is made from false logic, outright lies, and plays on emotional people who are clueless to the facts. I tried pot when I was sixteen and hated it, never did it again. However if you want to smoke pot all day that is your choice, I have no right to tell you how to live your life. When I have children they will absolutely not use marijuana. That is for parents NOT THE GOVERNMENT TO DECIDE! The issue in not “the children” for god’s sake, it is about adults and how they should be treated like adults and not wards of the nanny state. Let freedom ring on every issue in America, restore the republic, and eliminate every function of the Federal government not expressly granted by our Constitution. Start a new American revolution?
    As an adult, how do you feel knowing that you live in a society where men with automatic machine guns and police badges can kick in your door at 5 am, shoot your dog dead, slam your head into the ground, maybe shock you with 50,000 volts, arrest you, frighten your children to wits end, wake the entire neighborhood and proclaim you a criminal; all for a crime in which you have harmed no one, you have not robbed or murdered or rapped, no?but all because you chose to ingest a plant or substance that someone else believed to be “wrong”? Or maybe you sold this plant to others. Oh you don’t use drugs, or marijuana? Neither do I, so what? Does that make it ok for the government to do this to others? This madness must end.

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  73. Sissy cops dressing up as GI Joe and getting tough against children and the family pets. I know there are good cops, but most of police seem to be either lazy and useless or wacked-out zealots looking to overcome an anatomical deficiency of scale.

  74. Wow, who would have thought it. Prohibition leads to corrupt law enforcement and murder. I guess no one was paying attention in the 1920s…

  75. It is the cross contamination between the British Home Office and United States Department of Justice due to the “Special Relationship” that is the problem. Read “22 Hamline L. Rev. 399-465 (1999).”

  76. I think that the govt is seeing that the political system is in crisis. Fewer people support it everyday. The militarization of the police is preparation to put down an insurrection. It won’t be long before they’ll be as bad as Pinochet’s death squads.

  77. Yes the anger should be directed at the drug war as a whole, but I wouldn’t shed a tear if these pigs met with some violence.

    I still get pissed when I think of that video. I am from Missouri and the cops all across the state are getting more and more violent.

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  80. “The officers in that video aren’t rogue cops. They’re no different than other SWAT teams across the country. The raid itself is no different from the tens of thousands of drug raids carried out each year in the U.S.”
    And that ladies and gentlemen is the most frightening thing of all! Our police are being trained to disregard our rights and our humanity. How long before they start murdering anyone/everyone, just to cover their own asses (especially when they have the wrong house)? It takes no stretch of the imagination to see where the militarizing of our police forces are taking us. Soon there will be absolutely no difference between the military and the police as they will become one and the same. Then the slaughter will begin. Our government will authorize the indiscriminate murder of men, women, and children all in the name of “keeping us safe…national security you know”. The only thing really that remains is what segment of our population will they target? You, me, religious, non-religious, or some other poor sods?

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  82. How long before they start murdering anyone/everyone, just to cover their own asses (especially when they have the wrong house)? It takes no stretch of the imagination to see where the militarizing of our police forces are taking us. Soon there will be absolutely no difference between the military and the police as they will become one and the same. Then the slaughter will begin. Our government will authorize the indiscriminate murder of men, women, and children all in the name of “keeping us safe…national security you know”.

  83. Here’s what’s really messed up. On that video, somebody keeps going in every few hours and flagging EVERY comment as spam. Looks like the cops aren’t out to protect our constitutional rights after all… well, that and they’re a bunch of small-minded asshats.

    Can YouTube un-spam all those comments and ban that clown that keeps flagging them?

  84. Snowball fight with a cop car!

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  91. My friend lives in Missouri. He said the cops all across the state are getting more and more violent. Do some thing to change!!!

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  96. I think that the govt is seeing that the political system is in crisis. Fewer people support it everyday. The militarization of the police is preparation to put down an insurrection. It won’t be long before they’ll be as bad as Pinochet’s death squads.

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  99. America, the coffin of freedom and Democracy, the burial of our Past Republic. Replaced by a Fascist Police/Military State.

  100. it is good to talk about this mishap, but the fact of the matter is that as citizens of the United Stateswe need to address this and many more issues. read the Constitution understand the power in us. We are America, not the government We elect the individuals who runs this country. Only the citizens of this country can bring this country aroundIf we do not raise our voice then the Government assumes its aright. So I look to every American to raise up and place the goverment responcible for their actions.

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