Militarization of Police

Detroit Girl, 7, Killed in SWAT Raid


Seven-year-old Aiyana Jones was killed during a SWAT raid in Detroit over the weekend (more here and here). Police raided a duplex looking for a suspect in a murder investigation. According to Jones' family, the suspect was arrested in the apartment opposite where the little girl was shot. Police thus far are only saying that they had a warrant for the entire building, and that the suspect was arrested in that building.

The family says when police tossed a flashbang grenade through the window of the apartment where Jones was sleeping, the device ignited the blanket on her bed and set Jones on fire. The police initially claimed Jones was shot after her grandmother had an altercation with one of the officers. They now say the contact with the grandmother was incidental and the gun discharged accidentally. According to the family, neighbors warned the officers that there were children in the home, and pointed officers to toys in the front yard.

If police in this case had intelligence that their suspect posed an immediate threat to others, there might be some justification for using a SWAT team to apprehend him. Clearly a homicide suspect presents more of a threat than someone suspected of drug crimes. But it doesn't appear that the suspect was holding anyone hostage or on some sort of killing spree. And unless we learn that's the case, it's hard to understand why you'd send a SWAT team and deploy incendiary flash grenades into both units of a duplex, especially if it's clear there are children and bystanders inside.

If nothing else, Aiyana Jones' death illustrates just how volatile and violent these raids can be, as well as their low margin for error. It shows why they should be used only when such force is necessary to defuse an already violent situation—that is, unless police intervene, there is an immediate threat of further loss of life. That's really the only scenario under which you can justify using tactics that have proven over the years to themselves carry a not insignificant risk of taking innocent lives.

More as we learn more details.

MORE: Sigh.

Film crews with A&E's "The First 48" reality show, which follows police departments nationwide during the crucial 48 hours after a homicide is committed, were taping the [SWAT] team for a documentary.

NEXT: Paul Krugman's Koans

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  1. Compared to being set on fire by a flash grenade then getting shot to death, getting kicked in the nuts by Balko is, admittedly, a better way to wake up.

  2. Later, he [Assistant Chief Ralph Godbee] told the Free Press: “We have executed countless high-risk warrants where children have been present.

    1. The fact that this man uttered this incredibly stupid statement seemingly without truly realizing what he was saying is an indictment of the entire mindset and culture of idiotic police across this entire country.

      It’s not the first time that this statement has been said. I’ve heard basically the same thing from police here on the news. It may however be the most blunt saying.

      I really hope the public wakes up to what’s actually being said here.

      1. I’ve been trumpeting that statement in the comments section of the local rag. As Radley has so thorougly documented, the root problem is the cavalier attitude pooice departments take about employing SWAT teams.

      2. I would compare that to saying, “I’ve driven home drunk countless times, never had a problem before.”

    2. And Transocean Drilling will tell you that have executed countless deep ocean wells without incident. I guess that means we should let them off to hook to.

    3. “We have executed countless high-risk warrants where children have been present.

      Your honor, I drive drunk on countless occasions and it is only rarely that I am involved in a fatal accident.

      1. Guess I should read all the comments before posting – well said!

    4. Countless? These guys can’t even keep track of how many of these crimes they’ve pulled off, not even with counting by 1s.

    5. Countless? These guys can’t even keep track of how many of these crimes they’ve pulled off, not even with counting by 1s.

    6. Countless? These guys can’t even keep track of how many of these crimes they’ve pulled off, not even with counting by 1s.

      1. I count three, so far.

  3. Speaking on behalf of Police Chief Warren Evans, who is on vacation, [Detroit Police Assistant Chief Ralph] Godbee said, “This is every parent’s worst nightmare.”

    See, LEOs can be compassionate.

    1. “This is every parent’s worst nightmare.”

      You don’t say.

  4. Wow. There were some hard-to-read sentences in that.

    This is a Ryu-level dragon uppercut to my testicles. Ironically, I bet it made the testicles of the police swell with glowing pride.

    1. Ha-DOU-ken


      1. Tiger! Tiger uppercut!

  5. If this does not cause massive outrage, then I have no hope for change that is not violent.

    I can understand the use of SWAT here, but if this does not hammer home why it should be greatly reigned in, I… I can’t even finish this statement. This just seems like such a waste.

    “The police initially claimed Jones was shot after her grandmother had an altercation with one of the officers. They now say the contact with the grandmother was incidental and the gun discharged accidentally.”

    This just seems far too suspicious.

    1. You won’t get massive outrage about this kind of crap until the cops kill a pretty blonde girl – you know, the kind that gets wall-to-wall coverage when kidnapped. Or maybe if cops shoot another dog. But nobody really gives a fuck about black kids, which is why cops get away with conducting no-knock raids on their houses in the first place.

      1. I was actually going to post something similar but I thought it would be too cynical too quickly.

        I have to say though, I’m semi-secretly in agreement with you.

      2. It doesn’t have a damn thing to do with the race of the kid. The media does everything it can to protect our government. They don’t want people to know how fucked up it is.

        1. It’s about money, privilege, and power, not necessarily in that order, but some factor of the three. Usually you would be right. They know who butters their bread most of the time. But a SWAT raid that results in a pretty blond girl catching a bullet. They would make $ hand over fist with that type of coverage.

          1. They know who butters their bread most of the time. But a SWAT raid that results in a pretty blond girl catching a bullet. They would make $ hand over fist with that type of coverage.

            Yeah, but I still don’t know if they’d do it for the sake of the long-term. Too many expose pieces and corrupt government figures are liable to lock them out of exclusive interviews.

        2. Chris Dunlap!! If you don’t think this has a DAMN thing to do with race then you need to wake the hell up! I don’t care what people like you think when people mention race. SURE some idiots have pulled the race card when TOTALLY unnecessary like over black Barbie and white Barbie prices or false cases like Tawana Brawley, etc but there ARE and always WILL be double standards in the media when things like this happen to children of another race. For fux sake look at the little retard who allegedly flew away in an air balloon! The entire world was interrupted for that BS and it was a damn hoax! Every white child that goes missing or that is killed has better media attention and concern from the public than any black child since I’ve been watching the news and just because YOU say race hasn’t anything to do with this does not mean it doesn’t and your opinion doesn’t mean A damn thing to ME! Sit down!!

      3. Well well well, I wondered when the good old race card would come into play. It’s a broken record, people are tired of it being used and it has lost its effectiveness. So go cry a river about the poor blacks some where else.

      4. wrong! wrong! wrong! Im sorry you feel that way, but YOU are perpetuating racism.

    2. This just seems far too suspicious.

      The original plan to blame the grandmother wasn’t going over to well, so they had to back off.

      1. The original plan to blame the grandmother wasn’t going over to well, so they had to back off.

        This, in strategic circles, is called a contingency plan.

    3. they reviewed the tapes perhaps and the officers report did not match the A&E tapes?

  6. Thanks for clarifying the duplex part. CNN only reported yesterday that the father claimed the LEOs had the wrong address, while the LEOs countered that they arrested the suspect “at the residence.”

    Clearly a case of LEOs manipulating the truth.

    1. Clearly a case of LEOs manipulating the truth.

      Well, when you raid both units in a duplex, you’re guaranteed to get one address wrong.

      1. Well, when you raid both units in a duplex, you’re guaranteed to get one address wrong.

        We have to be thorough. You know what they say about omelettes…

  7. Goddammit, Balko…why Monday morning of all times? Couldn’t you wait until at least, like 3pm?

    1. Evil and stupidity don’t take time off.

  8. I suppose this means there will be no restraint medal for the swat team

    1. I’m sure there will be medals.

      Minneapolis gave medals to our SWAT team despite the fact that they were unable to kill a single dog.

      All they did was get shot at by an innocent armed homeowner (yay) who’s house they had stormed into.

  9. So basically they threw a grenade in a window setting a seven year old on fire and then shot her as she burned. If you or I did that, we would rightly face the death penalty.

  10. Murder “suspect”, not hostage holder or crazed gunman. “Suspect”!!!

    Take away all police “SWAT” gear, melt it down and make a memorial to all the people and animals killed and maimed by the machorific disaster ridden system.

    Or at the very least make SWAT a seperate division subject to state or federal oversight.

    1. State or Federal oversight just takes the JBT’s even more out of the reach of the citizens they are policing. Local citizens might be able to vote in a mayor and council to disband the SWAT.

      1. Except there are valid uses for SWAT in most cities. The problem is they’re being used for regular policing, something they definitely should NOT be used for.

        1. Really? How often?

          Maybe the rare hostage situation going bad would be a better result.

        2. So, perfect world, what are the legitimate uses for SWAT? My list:

          Securing possible WMDs (including explosive caches);
          Arresting high-threat criminals. E.g. escaped convicts; hot pursuit of murder suspects, heavily armed criminals, etc…
          Barricade/hostage situations…

          Any others?

          Note, that just because an above situation exists, doesn’t mean dynamic entry is the best choice. And it certainly shouldn’t be the default. I think John’s idea of removing the QI for police, magistrates, and DAs would go a long way towards restoring some prudence and caution to law enforcement.

          With that shortened tasking list, I don’t see why you couldn’t get by with 10-15 SWAT teams nationwide, tops. Make ’em federal if you absolutely have to.

          A problem, as Radley keeps pointing out, is that the Feds keep giving away money and hardware to any podunk municipality that wants to set up a SWAT team, and there just isn’t enough work for those guys to do, absent sending them on dope warrants. I’d like to see most of them disbanded and take the hit on the odd hostage situation that goes bad in the four hours or less it’d take a federal SWAT team to show up.

          1. Gunman in a tower?

            That was, after all, one of the highly visible incidents that got the whole balling rolling…

    2. Take away all police “SWAT” gear, melt it down and make a memorial to all the people and animals killed and maimed by the machorific disaster ridden system.

      That sounds like an ugly memorial, I think they deserve better.

  11. Just think how much safer all the living children are now that the police have acted.

    1. Moreover, think of the medical treatment and psychological counseling the survivors get that they wouldn’t have had the raid not taken place.

  12. I had a conversation with a law enforcement colleague about why police departments do these things for drug raids. And he made an interesting point. Since the people associated with dealers are usually criminals, it is very difficult to make a case against a dealer by testimony alone (which is true, I once successfully defended a dealer in a case without a controlled but with the theme of “no cops, no drugs, no conviction”). So to make a case you either need a controlled buy or to catch the dealer with enough drugs to infer intent to distribute. Controlled buys are hard. It is hard to go undercover. It is dangerous. And dealers are whiley. Also, you have to rotate different people into undercover roles so they are not discovered. And very few cops really have the wherewithal to be a good under cover agent. But any monkey can kick down a door with an assault rifle. So most police departments have given up on doing undercover work and controlled buys. That is just in the movies. What they do instead is get tips from users and kick down doors.

    In short, we have these things because cops are lazy and don’t want to do their jobs.

    1. unless their job is job is to kill 7 year old girls…didn’t think about that didja…

      1. Just think of it as an post-birth abortion. Think of the pain she could have been spared if she was aborted while still in the womb like a proper abortion should be done!

        1. Unsuccessful troll is unsuccessful.

        2. That wasn’t even close to funny or incendiary. Better luck next time.

    2. Combine that with the fact that SWAT gets big attention and grabs headlines. Making it look like they’re doing something.

      Whereas undercover by its nature is secretive and non-glamorous.

      Accolades, phony prestige, and funding. It’s almost all about the ego trip and the money grab. Not law enforcement. Not serving the community. Not protecting the public.

      1. Plus you don’t get the same adrenaline rush from careful evidence gathering. Dressing up like a ninja and kicking down doors with guns drawn is much more exciting.

      2. You’d think Waco would have given some people pause. Then again, you’d be wrong.

    3. Like hookers and johns, dealers and users rarely turn each other in and busting them sans entrapment is hard.

      Consenual “crimes” have historically been difficult to prosecute. Of course they shouldn’t even be crimes, but that is another whole kettle of fish.

      1. That is why they have to have minimum mandatory sentencing. The cops never touched the Mafia until the Rockefeller laws and minimum mandatory sentencing. People are willing to do a few years in prison to avoid the risk of being killed as a snitch. But they are not willing to do life. That is how they got people to turn.

        You can’t prosecute syndicates without huge sentences. So we end up hugely unjust sentences for little guys who have nothing to offer and big fish who turn state’s evidence walking free. It sucks. And it shows why consensual crimes ought not to be crimes.

        1. …or they could make drugs and prostitution legal… but I digress…

          1. Prostituition is legal if your a politician pimping yourself out to the lobbyists. I guess since they are not engaging in sex and it’s only a third party getting screwed (taxpayer), it’s ok.

            1. Hey, the real thing is effectively legal. As long as your connected, like me.

    4. Sounds like part of a good argument for ending the drug war.

    5. Just reinforces the idea that the drug commerce should be legal. If stopping drug distribution means putting undercover cops, children, and dogs at such huge risk, it’s not worth it.

    6. I’d been pondering it and concluded that the big advantage to a swat raid is convenience, not safety. They get to pick the time and place and they’re all cranked up. If you use survelliance then you have to have a bunch of cops sitting around, bored and doing nothing until the suspect decides to leave.

    1. I hate those damn shows.

    2. You have to be fuckin’ kidding me.

    3. I wonder if A&E will have the guts to air this show?

      1. If they can apply the appropriate spin, they will definitely do it. It’s guaranteed ratings.

      2. What are the chances a competing network airs a documentary on police brutality?

      3. Have the guts? The audience will go thru the roof, of course they’ll wire (not air, cable) it.

    4. I hope the producers at least kept a copy of the tapes. If the cops have it, there WILL be “unfortunate technical difficulties” which erase the video.

    5. If these guys were decent filmmakers (and who knows?) then they should have enough evidence on tape to fry at least some of the SWAT team.

      1. No other LEO agency would work with them after doing something like that. They’d be out of a job essentially, so I doubt the idea would even cross their minds.

    6. I was going to say that these raids have become their own rationale, but this one seems to have been literally staged for the cameras. Someone needs to fry.

  13. Good to know that the Detroit PD is tough on crime!

    Jesus fuck.

  14. Is a murder suspect impervious to arrest as long as he keeps a child present and refuses to open the door?

    1. If the murder suspect was holed up in a convenience store with kids in it, would the police hit the building with flash grenades and then start firing randomly inside the store, or would they try to negotiate the guy out first?

      1. Yes.

        1. I resent that insinuation! I was the enlightened one, the real talent! I am so glad I went solo!

      2. If they’re like me, they’ll shoot the hostages first.

    2. I don’t think that’s the point.

      A.) This kid was apparently in a different apartment and the cops chose the wrong one to assault,


      B.) Considering your hypothetical, it’s not so much the arrest as it is the aggressive means of getting that arrest. Once you know the guy is inside and isn’t going to get away, you can wait him out. Maybe it becomes a hostage situation and you eventually do have to go in with guns blazing anyway, but there’s still a chance that it won’t and then you aren’t putting innocent lives at risk from the start.

      1. A.) That is a very bad thing, indeed. Given that we are dealing with humans, there are always going to be transposed numbers or fat-fingered apartments numbers/letters on addresses. That said, I don’t think we’re anywhere near the point where the number of mistakes cannot be lowered.

        B.) If the suspect won’t come out, your options which don’t include aggression are substantially limited.

        If there’s a kid present and the suspect refuses to open the door or come out you have the equivalent of hostage situation from the get go. Of course some of those hostage situations can be defused without harm to anyone. And, of course, some of those hostage situations will turn into murder-suicide while the cops are sitting outside.

        Look, some/most/all (choose whichever suits you) cops are power-tripping scumbags. No question. However, some/most/all murder suspects are also scumbags and are dangerous whether they are currently killing someone or not. I understand the position of most of the posters here. I agree with it for the most part. So when the cops eschew an aggressive arrest because a child is present and the child ends up as part of a murder-suicide is everyone here going be be “well, good for the cops, at least they didn’t bust in”? Probably not.

        Even if you had perfectly trained cops with impeccable character and libertarian bona fides there’s going to be tension between the safety of the suspect, bystanders, kids, and the cops themselves in situations where suspects have previously demonstrated their capacity for violence. I don’t think the situations are always as black and white as people want to make them out to be.

        All such raids related to drugs — with the exception of situations which pose danger to to others such as, say, a meth lab in an aparment building — are ipso facto retarded.

        1. So when the cops eschew an aggressive arrest because a child is present and the child ends up as part of a murder-suicide is everyone here going be be “well, good for the cops, at least they didn’t bust in”? Probably not.

          I have never, and I mean never, read a single objection here – or anywhere else, really – that cops failed to act aggressively enough in hostage situations.

          And basically we’re talking here [and in just about every other story of this kind] about situations where no other arrest option was even explored.

          Flash grenade in dead of night / run in guns blazing is the DEFAULT METHOD of executing arrests now.

          So instead of 1 in X arrests resulting in a violent confrontation, we now have 1 in 1 arrests resulting in a violent confrontation. Because if the arrest involves a SWAT team and flash grenades, that’s a violent confrontation.

          I’m therefore very unimpressed with arguments that say, “We have to do this way, or we’ll be involved in occasional unsafe confrontational situations.” Doing it this way you’re ALWAYS involved in an unsafe confrontational situation.

          1. I have never, and I mean never, read a single objection here – or anywhere else, really – that cops failed to act aggressively enough in hostage situations.


        2. So you’re saying the cops should kill the kid before the bad guy does?

          1. I’m saying that’s a risk in an imperfect world in which imperfect actors act on imperfect information.

            The idea that not acting presents no risk is false. There are times when waiting is better and there are times when not waiting is better. It’s not always clear cut which is which without the benefit of hindsight and comfy chairs from which to fire off indignant missives.

          2. I would kill the kid first. That’s what’s known as the element of surprise — nobody expects you to do that!

            1. So you’re Kaiser Soze!

              1. Yes. Robert from The Internet is Keyser Soze.

        3. Here’s a good way to handle this sort of situation.

          They’re pretty certain the suspect is in this duplex. They’re also pretty certain which unit it is. So they should send a plainclothes cop quietly to the other unit, who should calmly and quietly inform the innocents residing there of what’s happening and escort them out of the place. Once that side is clear, they should then go after the suspect.

          Send the SWAT unit to the suspect’s residence and knock on the door. Try to deal with the situation calmly. He’s only a suspect at this point, so maybe he’ll come out without any fuss. If he won’t come out, well, escalate from there as needed.

          But I guess it’s a lot easier to just go nuts on the whole place and kill everyone.

          1. That sounds like a reasonable way to handle it. Now, let’s say that there is a kid in the suspect’s part of the duplex and the suspect (a) specifically says he isn’t coming out or (b) makes no response at all.

            1. Wait?
              Turn off the utilities and wait some more?
              Pump tear gas in through a vent?

              All kinds of things you can do without setting small children on fire.

              1. If you think it is realistic always to wait for some indeterminate time, which could well mean relocating families and redirecting traffic for that indeterminate time, while starving/freezing/melting/tear gassing the child and hoping that that the situation doesn’t wig out the accused to the point of murder-suicide then that is a flawless solution.

            2. In this case, that’s immaterial, because there wasn’t a child (or apparnently anyone else at all) in the suspect’s residence.

            3. The police can always go in and arrest him. It is possible to do this safely without flashbangs and discharging automatic weapons – police have arrested people that way for centuries. You could always wait for the guy to come out, too. You dont just shot a suspect in the back because he is running away and your fat ass had too many bearclaws for breakfast, and you dont go in guns blazing, just because someone might have a weapon.

  15. So I’m looking to start a new writing project, and I want to take a break from the historical stuff to do something set in the present day.

    One of the rough ideas I’m kicking around right now is a story where a serial killer is taking out corrupt police that he reads about at an investigative reporter’s online magazine. And the cops, of course, assume that it’s the reporter who’s doing it, so he has to catch the killer himself.

    I think this has definite commercial prospects.

    No, I will not share any of the proceeds with Balko, no matter how much material I steal from The Agitator. Information wants to be free.

    1. Nice twist (or two) on Dexter, really.

      1. I’ll proofread for you, Fluffy-gratis.

    2. If memory serves, bits of that plot were in an episode of Criminal Minds. Not that that necessarily matters.

    3. Isn’t that sort of the plot of Unintended Consequences?

      Examining the justice system’s reaction and countermeasures to the killer’s violence would be one of the more interesting parts of your project.

    4. But the twist is when it turns out the “corrupt police” were banging the reporter’s editor’s wife. The editor was uncredited online because the reporter, who ran the Web site hosting the magazine, wanted all the credit as an investigator and writer. So nobody knew the editor had been sending him on assignments to “investigate” those cops who he told they were corrupt.

      Meanwhile the murders were carried out by an actual cop who really was part of a corrupt ring who, because of the cell nature of their corrupt activities, thought the reporter was on to them — because he didn’t know which cops on the force were actually part of their criminal enterprise, and one of the victims coincidentally was!

      1. Maybe there could be a scene where it turns out that the call is coming from inside the police station!

    5. Interesting. I would have taken the approach of retired SWAT officer who spends his nights not sleeping as he relives a botched raid killed a 7 year old child. A sniper starts taking out his former colleagues and he must track down the sniper. Turns out to be the child’s father who takes out the entire team one by one, with the final scene being the father blowing himself and the officer up after the sniper tells the officer, “I’m already dead, and now you are too.”

  16. wow, all this judgment when not all the facts are in. Do you really think the news people bother to get all the facts? Nor do you notice the spin that is put on these articles. This IS a tragedy, yet consider most people have no clue as to how potentially violent people can be at any given time, especially when wanted for a crime. The police do not have crystal balls to know how suspects will respond. They do the best they can with the info they have. Nobody is perfect, bet non of you had to face the dangers these police face just to attempt to curb what little they can with the out of control public.

    1. If only I could tell you facts …

    2. If areas are so violent that you need SWAT units to arrest people, perhaps its time for the military to take control. If not, well…

    3. here is a fact that IS in; they shot and killed a 7 year old girl. fuck you and fuck the cops.

    4. They were arguing with a 47-year-old woman about why they burned her granddaughter when the gun went off. Hardly in much danger. By the way, I’m a high steel walker, so I probably experience a good bit more danger than most cops.

    5. An out of control public? What are you, an asshole?

    6. Jesus Christ. Suck the collective cock of the cops a little harder.

      They raided the wrong side of a duplex known to have kids around and not only shot and killed a 7-year-old, but set her on fucking fire first with one of their fancy toys.

      Not only that, it turns out they were gonna be TV stars.

    7. It’s not a tragedy. It’s an entirely predictable consequence, having happened more times than you can shake a stick at.

    8. A seven year old is dead. Jesus Christ, under what possible circumstances could her death be justified? No matter what the facts are, the cops fucked up a raid and a seven year old is dead. That is a problem.

      1. I think I see why the gun was fired. A cop saw this thing on fire approaching him, like a fireboat as a weapon, and had to kill it to stop it.

        1. And she was almost certainly failing to comply with their commands since she on fire and probably deafened from the blast.

    9. Not even worth responding to.

    10. The police do not have crystal balls to know how suspects will respond. They do the best they can with the info they have. Nobody is perfect, bet non of you had to face the dangers these police face just to attempt to curb what little they can with the out of control public.

      We had this discussion on Friday. It seems that the military is less cavalier about kicking down doors in Afghanistan and Iraq than the police are here. Which makes sense, because, you know, there might be dangerous people inside. If there’s an actual threat involved, the LAST thing you want to do is charge in blindly.

    11. Tell us about how the Third Reich was such a PR debacle too.

      1. It was!

    12. I used to be a taxi driver in a major city. We were specifically prohibited against carrying guns. I personally knew four people killed on the job over ten years, many shot, hundreds robbed.

      Cops facing danger? Please….

      1. It’s pretty well documented that police officer isn’t even in the 10 most dangerous professions. Taxi drivers like you; deep sea fishermen; loggers; garbage men; construction workers–those are the people who take real risks every day they go to work.

      2. In 1974, after the army and before college, I drove a cab in Chicago. We had the same rules, and the same results.

    13. The police do not have crystal balls.
      There ya go.

  17. Shock and awe, baby. It’s all about theater. Well, now the police SWAT are getting some bad reviews, and rightly so. Hopefully, it’s enough to shut down this show, permanently. No off-Broadway productions for you, mister SWAT.

  18. stunning incompetence. that’s their story. the gun discharged accidentally. the the officer is too incompetent for his job and needs to be fired immediately.

    1. “the gun discharged accidentally”


      Guns just don’t discharge all by themselves – you pull the trigger, it goes bang. Its a pretty simple concept. The jackass holding the gun accidently discharged the gun…into a child…which they just set on fire.

      1. and for that he gets a vacation with pay..

        err i mean an administrative, job protected, leave of absence with pay..

        just like anyone else who kills a 7 year old.

      2. I have attended FrontSight several times now. Their training says there is no such thing as an accidental discharge of a firearm, there are only intentional and negligent discharges. I agree with this view point.

        1. “Why do we call it a collision, and not an accident?”

          “Because that implies that there’s no one at fault.”

    2. “Accidental gun discharge” is cause for manslaughter when the gun is in the hands of a civilian. Since the cops were in no immediate danger, they should be subject to the same criminal penalties regardless of why they were there or what their position is.

  19. What they do instead is get tips from users competitors and kick down doors.

    I have a feeling the “First 48” footage is going to be a gold mine for the civil rights suit.

    1. Already working to subpoena the footage, counselor!

    2. Provided the footage isn’t “lost” or “damaged”.

      1. “Footage inadvertendly fell into a vat of acid during physical contact with the grandmother of the cameraman.”

        1. Your LEO Fellator privileges have been suspended Abdul, pending an investigation.

          1. The classic Hit N Run counterargument: accuse them of passive homosexuality.

            For some reason, it’s not brought up on gay marriage threads.

            1. I think it’s more of a prison bitch thing.

  20. SWAT was looking to give The First 48 an exciting segment. Unfortunately, the extras didn’t perform according to script.

    1. the SWAT teams don’t want to get The First 48 cancelled for being boring.

      Where else can they get a propaganda machine that is so effective?

    2. Casting really does seem like a tough job.

  21. Here’s an idea, SWAT-idiots. Send one friendly looking soul to the door of the innocents’ home and evacuate them. Invite them for ice cream at the Dairy Queen, whatever. Just quietly and calmly evacuate them.

    Then, if you must, storm the suspect.

    There is NO justification whatever for essentially firebombing a home in which children are present. Anyone who tries to justify it can go to hell.

    1. Hell, there’s not much justification for fire bombing a home when a murder suspect is present, let alone kids and old ladies. Innocent until proven guilty should come with some reasonable expectation of controlled apprehension of suspects, not setting off incendiary devices on private property.

      I want to see a warrant that includes permission to destroy a duplex, which inherently contains more than just the suspect’s residence or hiding place.

      1. Also, under what logic can they have a warrant for both units in a duplex, without some preexisting reasoning that the criminal would be in the other duplex? Does the SWAT team bust down doors, launch incendiary devices and assault/kill the residence for every apartment in an apartment complex because a suspect is in one room? What difference does the structural type make? In fact, they should have quietly alerted the grandmother and child in the other unit to leave the house because they were raiding the next door unit and bullets could be fired that could pierce the walls. Instead, they did the absolute opposite of what they logically should have done.

        1. “Does the SWAT team bust down doors, launch incendiary devices and assault/kill the residence for every apartment in an apartment complex because a suspect is in one room?”

          Ask Cory Maye:

  22. The shooting happened at 12:40 a.m.,. . . .

    This one goes back to what our friendly, anonymous armed forces officer said last week. The police were looking for a murder suspect. There were no drugs to worrry about flushing down the toilet. The police could have surrounded the house and waited for dawn, then negotiated the surrender of the suspect. But instead they conducted an armed invasion in the middle of the night. What a waste.

    1. Well what if they waited around like you said and the Rapture happened? And the victim of this suspect was resurrected and sitting on the right hand of the Lord? Where would your murder case be then?!!??!

      Not so smart now are you?

    2. kinnath, that is the smart way to handle a raid like this, but many of these cowboy cops need that RUSH to get them thru the day.

      I bet a large fraction of SWAT team members are addicted to Adrenaline.

      they need that Adrenaline fix or they crash and get depressed.

      ask Barry Kooper about the Adrenaline Rush cops feel.

    3. Yeah, but then they would have lost the “48 Hours” schicht.

    4. Even better, they could have waited and watched cautiously until the suspect leaves the house, even if it takes a few days, and caught him off guard. But that would have required zenlike patience and hours of boredom, which they could have spent kicking down doors and arresting non-violent drug users (or non-violent non-drug users).

  23. If A&E aired this footage, it would change everything. It would force people to confront the reality that SWAT tactics are idiotic and dangerous and in, most situations, complete overkill. It would force people to understand that authorities who have the power of life and death over every citizen are nowhere near as careful with that power as they should be. It might even light a few anti-authoritarian fires in folks.

    But A&E will never show it, because that would be the end of the cop-reality genre, which is way too lucrative to risk.

    1. That is why God created Youtube.

      1. Which is why we created Net Neutrality.

    2. A&E will never offend there LEO masters.

      That would end every DEA, prison, cop and court reality show.

      if the cops thought the video could be used AGAINST them they would arrest the A&E camera crew for obstructing justice.

    3. COPS has been on the air for 20 years. How’s that worked out?

    4. Are you out of your mind? If it kills the genre, they’ll have the last specimen of it, ever. What a coup! It’ll be like the Zapruder film — or rather, like the Zapruder film would’ve been if all presidents from then on were forbidden to appear on screen!

    5. It stands for Arts and Entertainment. We should not expect anything else.

  24. If a cop killed my child, I’d get his badge number. He would be my white whale for the rest of his life. I’d devote all of my free time to hunting that fucker down and make his life a living hell. I’d break into his house and throw away all his socks. I’d shortsheet his bed. I’d put ketchup in his shampoo. I’d wipe his toothbrush on my ass. Then I’d cut off his arms and beat him to death with them.

    1. “Ah, no…but that’s very creative!”

    2. I’d make him put the lotion in the basket.

  25. This is a tragedy of unspeakable magnitude,” Godbee said, calling Sunday “probably the worst day of my career.”

    From The Detroit News:…..z0oCCAgx5q

    You’ve had a worse day?

    1. “Well, there was that one day when the vending machine took my dollar but didn’t give me a Snickers. That really sucked.”

  26. I love the use of the passive tense in the reporting on this: “A child was shot”, “a gun accidentally discharged”.

    Much more accurate to say “A SWAT team member shot a child in the neck, killing her. The police department claims the shooting was accidental, and has taken no steps yet to suspend, discipline, or terminate the officer who shot the child.”

    If I shot a kid, I would be fired before the casing hit the ground.

    1. In contradiction to standard training, one of our officers apparently had his finger on the trigger when he was confronted by a middle-aged woman screaming that we had set her grand-daughter on fire. Before the officer had a chance to say “Oops, our bad”, he sneezed and the weapon discharged. It is unfortunate that the young girl chose that exact moment to stand in front of a loaded weapon. The investigation continues, and we are working with the District Attorney’s office to determine what charges, if any, should be levied against the dead girl’s parents.

      1. Of course the family is negligent. The child’s inability to use “Stop, Drop, and Roll” proves it! We should have intervened sooner!

    2. As Ive said before, there is no such thing as accidental shootings with modern firearms and proper training. Everyone who has had 5 minutes of training knows that you only put your finger on the trigger in order to pull it. Also, modern weapons dont fire without a trigger pull.

      He is either murder or negligent homicide. There are no other possibilities, as described.

  27. Stuff like this is nothing more than the inevitable result of a society saturated with guns. The police use SWAT team raids to apprehend dangerous suspects because they have to assume that criminals are going to be armed. They use raids because they contain the element of surprise.

    It sucks, but you can’t have it both ways.

    1. Yet another swing and miss from the incomparable Dan T.

    2. Yes, because Iraq and Afghanistan have no weapons. Which is why the forces there don’t have to use these tactics.

    3. Fucking stupid ass troll douchenozzle. Listen closely. Surprising gun carriers, in the dark, is monumentally retarded, even for your small brain. Read Pope Jimbo’s 9:21am.

      1. All I know is that if I’m going to confront somebody who is likely to be armed I am not going to want to give him time to prepare…

        1. Then you might as well just shoot him from 300 yards away as he visits his mailbox during daylight hours. If you fully intend to shoot him, why put everyone else at risk? You don’t care about collateral damage or due process.

          1. Not sure what you’re talking about…arresting the suspect instead of shooting him is part of the due process. But force is sometimes needed to make an arrest.

            1. FUCK YOU DAN T. Holy shit I can’t believe you actually and honestly believe the inane, ridiculous and puerile drivel that oozes out of your festering cake hole. Un-fucking believable. They let you out in public without supervision? Holy hell.

    4. True. Much better if we disarm the citizens and leave guns in the hands of more responsible and accountable parties, like SWAT teams. If we didn’t let trained professionals carry the weapons, little kids might get lit on fire and shot, or something.

  28. I bet in a few weeks when the police investigation clears all the cops of wrong doing that the cops in the raid will be given medals of bravery.

    how else do you keep the cops consciences from bugging them?

    they need to have there consciences beaten down with medals and rewards and praise so they can convince themselves that they were the good guys in all this.

    and so they can do it again tomorrow.

  29. If this wasn’t a big enough kick in the nuts, check this out.

    RIP Holy Diver.

      1. Oops, my link was about the earlier rumor, looks like your article may be post. So, he may have actually died. I will wait for a reliable source, not some rag like the NYT.

        1. I had no idea he was so old. He was 67. He started his music career in the 50s.

          1. I just found out the other day that the lead singer of King’s X is 60 (well, will be in Sept). Pinnick was born in 1950. Then I realized Ive been listening to them for more than 20 years, that they had been around since the early 80s in some form and he wasnt exactly young when they got together. Gaskill and Tabor are a good bit younger, Ty isnt even 50 yet!

            1. In 1982, what odds would you have given me on a bet that Ozzy would outlive Dio?

              1. Even odds. I would have assumed a coin toss.

                I guess Ozzy made a better deal with the devil.

                1. I would have taken that bet. I never thought of Dio being a huge druggie the way Ozzy was. I was really surprised Ozzy lived through the 80s. Dio always struck me as one of those pretty normal guys who figured out that having a weird image sells records (sort of like Alice Cooper).

                  1. Like with Keith Richards, lots of competing drugs will keep Ozzy alive forever.

                2. I guess Ozzy made a better deal with the devil.

                  Yeah, but Ozzy got his! Have you seen this gelded gibbering idiot lately?

              2. In any year of the 1970’s, what odds would you have given that Keith Richards would last out the next 12 months?

                God, what a crappy, crappy thread. (Through no fault of the original writer or posters). Just terrible news.

                RIP Aiyana Jones.
                RIP Ronnie Dio.

                1. Keith Richards

                  Doctor: Mr. Burns, I’m afraid you are the sickest man in the United States. You have everything.
                  Mr. Burns: You mean I have pneumonia?
                  Doctor: Yes.
                  Mr. Burns: Juvenile diabetes?
                  Doctor: Yes.
                  Mr. Burns: Hysterical pregnancy?
                  Doctor: Uh, a little bit, yes. You also have several diseases that have just been discovered – in you.
                  Mr. Burns: I see. You sure you haven’t just made thousands of mistakes?
                  Doctor: Uh, no, no, I’m afraid not.
                  Mr. Burns: This sounds like bad news.
                  Doctor: Well, you’d think so, but all of your diseases are in perfect balance. Uh, if you have a moment, I can explain.
                  Mr. Burns: Well… [looks at his watch]

                  Doctor: Here’s the door to your body, see? [bring up some small fuzz balls with goofy faces and limbs from under the desk] And these are oversized novelty germs. [points to a different one up as he names each disease] That’s influenza, that’s bronchitis, [holds up one] and this cute little cuddle-bug is pancreatic cancer. Here’s what happens when they all try to get through the door at once. [tries to cram a bunch through the model door. The “germs” get stuck] [Stooge-like] Woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo. Move it, chowderhead. [normal voice] We call it, “Three Stooges Syndrome”.
                  Mr. Burns: So what you’re saying is, I’m indestructible.
                  Doctor: Oh, no, no, in fact, even slight breeze could…
                  Mr. Burns: Indestructible.

  30. To err is human; to get paid for it is divine, isn’t it Balko, you cherry picker of evidence to support your simplistic cult? Fuck you.

    1. You can’t pick cherries unless there are cherries to pick, Max.

      1. RC, don’t lower yourself by addressing scum. Just wipe it off your shoe and walk on.

        1. I’m limiting myself to one dismissive cocked snook. I can stop anytime I want to. Honest.

    2. Wassa matta, Max, Radley hit a little too close to home for you?

      Or are you truly that willing to accept this event as a simple “err” and that we should give these fuckers a pass?

  31. What I want to know is WHY has the father not dealt with the punk cop personally? If some trigger happy punk cop did that to my kid, there would not be a spot on this planet he would be safe from me!


    1. This may be be the only relevant bot post to date.

    2. Best bot post ever.

  32. Quothe me:

    The less you know about something, the easier it looks.

  33. The less you know about everything, the more likely you are to spew mindless adages.

  34. This is the saddest thing, I can’t even satire this one. Pray for this girl.

    1. +1 for Juanita for once.

    2. If the neighbor they were apprehending were a drug dealer or user you would call this collateral damage in a righteous assault on the scourge of drugs in America. You would say drugs killed the child indirectly. What really happened here is a result of the prohibition of drugs. If not for the war on drugs, these tactics would not be prevalent in our society. Such raids wouldn’t exist to be used in non-drug scenarios. They use these to prevent some coke from getting flushed. You are to blame for championing this culture of LEO surprise tactics. Go fuck yourself.

      1. You know what Juanita is just trolling with the drug stuff, right?

  35. Stuff like this is nothing more than the inevitable result of a society saturated with guns

    A. No firearm in my house has gotten sufficiently uppity to kill a kid.

    2. In your little land of Rainbows and Unicorns, the benevolent Government has all the guns. You know, the same ASSHOLES that just ‘accidentally’ shot the kid they set on fire.

  36. …the kid they set on fire.
    The inevitable result of a society saturated with matches.

    1. What we need to do is ban the personal possession of flashbang grenades. Yes, that’s the ticket.

  37. I bet these pigs don’t even feel bad about what happened. Probably didn’t lose an ounce of sleep. Probably went out, had a beer,and bragged that they’ll be getting away with a homocide.

    1. Nope. I’m sure they feel bad, but are telling themselves it’s just a cost of doing business and keeping the public “safe.”
      Which is much, much worse in many ways.

  38. We’ll see if any of them feel bad enough to retire from policing, or even the SWAT team.

    Bet not.

    1. Let’s hope they retire from this world. Soon.

  39. Yeah, but in “libertopia” you might have unintended consequences, someone said. Can’t take the risk that you might have unintended consequences if you have something like actual liberty.

  40. Oh, and, I almost forgot. It’s worth it to protect our freedom. Which “they” hate us so much for.

    1. Oh, I’m sorry – did you say something?

  41. People are always so quick to point fingers at what the police are doing wrong. True, this is a horrible tragedy that probably could have been prevented in many ways. However, remember that detroit’s crime rate is way out of the norm. Police are tired of dealing with the maddness that has become detroit, and who knows what you may encounter in some of these homes that they raid. They don’t know what to expect. The fact that this man had the nerve to hang around in a home when he knew they were looking for him is sick. If anyone is to blame it’s the man, he knew, and he didn’t think twice that his loved ones could possibly be in danger at all, and that goes for anyone else who knew that he was a wanted murderer. Real Talk, people need to stop thinking of themselves, and think about the danger they could be putting others in. We forgot that this man just murdered a 17 year old boy…is his life less important then hers…no..two deaths caused by one idiot…

    1. First of all, nobody here is defending the sick bastard who shot a 17 year old kid. Despicable.

      Also, if you read Radley’s work regularly, you’ll notice that he has little interest in “bashing” individual cops. He’s said many times that the majority of these problems occur because well-intentioned police officers get caught up in a hyper-militarized culture chock full of perverse incentives and a terrible political mentality.

      This has never been about a bad cop here and there — the “bad apples” argument isn’t relevant. This is systemic, not random, and can be attributed almost exclusively to our war on drugs.

    2. In addition to what Rhayader said, I don’t believe that the suspect had any relation whatsoever to do with the girl who was killed, since the suspect and the girl were at different addresses in the same building and the raid was admittedly a wrong-address clusterfuck.

      And excusing this with “Detroit cops are sick of dealing with Detroit crime” is pretty fucking craven. Asshole.

    3. Yes. Criminals suck and are often dangerous. But cops are supposed to be better. We pay them to protect the public. They are 100% responsible for conducting themselves in a manner that doesn’t endanger the public.

      Your entire posts is an example of the “better you than me” mentality police have. The police job is to risk their lives to protect the public. That is what they get paid for. They have no right to put innocent people’s lives in danger to lower the risks of them doing their job. That is what happened here. They threw in a flash grenade to ensure their safety and in complete disregard for the safety of the innocent people that were in the house. And a seven year old is now dead because of it. There is no defending that or justifying the police here. That girl is dead because the cops were cowards and relied on a flash grenade rather than doing their jobs.

      1. John, that’s easy for you to say from the safety and comfort of your keyboard but by its nature law enforcement is going to result in some amount of collateral damage. You can fantisize about a world of cooperative criminals and police with no sense of self-preservation but that does not mesh with reality…

        1. Fuck you Dan. I went to war. I know full well about risks. And I would point you to the letter that Radley published from the Army Officer last week pointing to how the Army in Afghanistan and Iraq are more concerned about civilian casualties in these cases that the police are.

          Further, there is no reason to bust down the door. The safest thing to do is seal off the area and give the guy a chance to give up. That is what the military would do because they are dealing with really armed and dangerous people rather than terrorizing the civilians.

          And as far as “safety” goes. I am sorry but if you are a soldier or a cop, your job is to sometimes die so that civilians may live. That is the nature of the duty. And that is why it is a noble calling. Take that aspect away and you are just a thug with a gun.

          1. +Infinity

          2. “”That is the nature of the duty. And that is why it is a noble calling. Take that aspect away and you are just a thug with a gun.””


            Call them a thug with a gun to their face, and watch them prove you right.

        2. The cops were supposed to apprehend a murder suspect. Instead, they set a girl on fire, got in an argument with the girl’s grandmother, and then shot the girl. That’s so far removed from what was supposed to happen that you cannot rationally dismiss it as “collateral damage”.

          Possibly acceptable collateral damage: murder suspect fights back, his roommate gets shot in the arm on accident.

          Completely unacceptable non-collateral damage: seven-year-old next door neighbor is set on fire, shot, and killed.

        3. Dan, I cannot say fuck you enough times. Fuck you with a splintered 2×4. You must be well and truly depraved if you can characterize this horrific and completely preventable tragedy as “collateral damage.” Either that or you really are just a pathetic sock puppet troll. Either way, get a freaking life and try to grow a reasoning brain. You apparently lack both at this point.

    4. True, this is a horrible tragedy

      No, it’s not a tragedy. It’s an atrocity.

      Radley has posted more than enough of these stories that we know innocent children, old ladies, and dogs are going to get killed in SWAT raids. It’s a predictable consequence of the military tactics.

      You did see the Reason article from last week about the Columbia, MO, SWAT raid, right?

      1. Oh yeah, the thread where everyone was asking “How long till the SWATs shoot a kid?”

        Was it even a week?

  42. Question #21 What would you really do if the shit hit the fan?

    A. Call my loved ones for one last good bye.
    B. Hold up in the bunker I have thoroughly prepared for several months.
    C. Make sweet love to the teen age chick across the street and nut just as the bomb hits.
    D. Shoot cops until I run out of ammo.
    E. Road trip! Mad Max style!

    1. All of the above.

  43. Those SWAT officers should go on the no-fly list.

  44. Chris Dunlap!! If you don’t think this has a DAMN thing to do with race then you need to wake the hell up! I don’t care what people like you think when people mention race. SURE some idiots have pulled the race card when TOTALLY unnecessary like over black Barbie and white Barbie prices or false cases like Tawana Brawley, etc but there ARE and always WILL be double standards in the media when things like this happen to children of another race. For fux sake look at the little retard who allegedly flew away in an air balloon! The entire world was interrupted for that BS and it was a damn hoax! Every white child that goes missing or that is killed has better media attention and concern from the public than any black child since I’ve been watching the news and just because YOU say race hasn’t anything to do with this does not mean it doesn’t and your opinion doesn’t mean A damn thing to ME! Sit down!!

    1. I recommend a chill pill my friend, but I have to agree that if this were a little blond girl in the suburbs killed in a raid, there would have been much more intense media coverage. Hey, it’s early though, maybe this will get some play in wake of the recent Columbia puppycide story that went big.

      1. I dunno, the Fairfax SWAT shot an unarmed optometrist on his suburban front lawn and nobody gave a shit.

        1. They also staged an asset forfeiture robbery some years ago against an old, wealthy white guy who lived in Malibu. He was startled and got his gun and they killed him. A few days of “wrong address” hand-wringing and then they shrugged their shoulders and it was back to asset forfeiture robberies.

          1. Yeah but little blond girls are more sympathetic than optometrists and old rich white guys. It’s all about the tearjerk factor.

            1. True enough, but “this country is run by dour, racist old white men” so if the “RACIST” claims are to hold water then that ought to count for a lot.

              1. I get what you’re saying, but there’s still a kernel of truth that tragedy in the suburbs rates higher on the evening news than tragedy in the ghetto.

          2. Wayne, that was the Don Scott case. I was just thinking about it earlier today. It happened almost 20 years ago, so many of the cops involved are probably now retired on their fat pensions, sitting around the pool and drinking pina coladas. I’m sure their consciences smite them daily.

            1. The poolguy fucks their ugly-ass wives, so that’s something.

  45. As TJ once said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever”.

    1. Jefferson? Sounds like it could have been Lincoln to.

    2. I was just having the strangest dream.

  46. Here’s an update.…..irl_killed

    “Geoffrey Fieger (FI-ger) said Monday that footage shot by the A&E crime-reality show “The First 48″ shows that police fired into the home at least once after lobbing a flash grenade through a window.

    He says that contradicts the police department’s explanation that an officer’s gun fired during a confrontation with a resident inside the home.”

    Cops lying on about what happened? Where are the good cops condeming the lie?

    1. The police department says it is trying to acquire the video.

      Along with all the copies. It’ll speed up the investigation.

    2. Interesting quote from the article, “The police department says it is trying to acquire the video.” Gotta get their stories straight! I’m glad this was, at least partially, caught on tape. Perhaps it will help with the disturbing problem of lack of accountability in these types of incidents.

    3. actually Fieger said that the cop threw the grenade then immediately shot into the house based on the video he saw which may not be from the A&E film crew. if the guy who did this didn’t have a badge it would be murder. go Fieger go.

      fuck the police and fuck the police state.

  47. At a minimum, this cop committed negligent homicide. Somebody was killed. It wasn’t self-defense. Pretty open and closed.

    I’m giving 50-1 odds against any charges being brought.

  48. Remind me again why I shouldn’t wish bad things happen to people that do these things? I am really struggling to understand how it is a person that shoots INTO a house and kills a kid and is empowered to do these things by the LAW and usually without any repercussions or consequences is not to be held accountable or should be showered with well wishes as some sort of hero.

    Danziger Bridge in New Orleans after Katrina cops shot FOUR unarmed people trying to cross the bridge. Tell me anyone that would do such a thing does not deserve to be hunted down like a rabid dog and killed? Maybe the public needs to start cracking a few eggs of their own.

    1. It lowers you to their level. Though I’m not sure myself if that principal is worth holding onto anymore.

  49. Does the majority of people on this blog really believe that all SWAT teams are unwarranted, corrupt, crazy, stupid and/or unethical?

    Is it not just possible that during the service of a high risk search warrant for a murder suspect, who by definition of the crime is a violent criminal, the SWAT team members’ firearm trigger was accidentally pulled, either by his own hand because of bad practice (not indexing) or because of a incidental contact with another person or object?

    Why are you villifying the entire use of SWAT teams and the pointed allegations of cover-up/unethical/improper use of a SWAT team based on limited information about a tragedy that will probably emotionally ruin the operator who’s gun discharged?

    Just curious.

    1. Wow, a whole day and you couldn’t manged to actually read any of this thread? If you’re curious enough about your questions, you could try scrolling up and reading the EXTENSIVE discussion recorded there.

      OH! You got me! Damn trollbait man, whew, gets me everytime.

  50. I have just one question for all you LEO bashers, who do you call when someone breaks into your house? or when you or one of your family members are beat up or robbed or any other part of your life you can’t control and need help. Thats right its the POLICE. IF YOU DON”T LIKE THEM THEN DON”T CALL THEM WHEN YOU NEED HELP.

    1. You fail to adress the actual issue that is being discussed. It’s not that people don’t like the police, they simply don’t like these military tactics being employed so facilely.

      It seems like “pro-police people” (as if anyone here is really anti-police) often regress into asserting that police should have carte blanche because:
      a.) THEY SAVE LIVES!

      Which is all arguably true to some extent. The only problem is that it has no bearing on whether they should be held accountable for their actions or not.

  51. interesting thank you for sharing this

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