Civil Liberties

SWAT Officer Killed By Non-Lethal Flashbang Grenade

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Charlotte, North Carolina, SWAT officer Fred Thornton was killed last month when a flashbang grenade exploded as he was securing his equipment in the trunk of his patrol car. This comes a few years after the federal government began a criminal investigation of a firm that manufactured faulty flashbangs, one of which prematurely detonated in 2008, causing permanent injury to three FBI agents.

I explain this in more detail in a column I wrote last year, but the thing to keep in mind is that the only malfunction with the flashbangs in these stories was the timing of their detonation. Had they not gone off prematurely, they would eventually have been used against U.S. citizens, just as they're used every day in America. Most of the time, they're used against people merely suspected of a crime, and most of the time those crimes are nonviolent, consensual drug crimes. That is, by design, when they're used exactly as intended, flashbangs cause serious, sometimes permanent injury to people who have yet to even be charged—much less convicted—of nonviolent, consensual crimes.

The people on the receiving end of a flashbang grenade are undoubtedly just as unprepared for their effects as Officer Thornton or the FBI agents injured in 2004. The grenades and the raids in which they're used are intended to take their subjects by surprise. The grenade's specific purpose is to give officers a tactical advantage in situations where they're entering a house or a room and have no way of knowing what's going on inside. Which means they're deployed blindly. Which means there's a good chance the people subjected to flashbangs—which would include both suspects and innocent bystanders—are in just as defenseless a position as Thornton or the injured FBI agents were.

According to the family of Aiyana Jones, the nine-year-old Detroit girl killed in a police raid last year, the flashbang police tossed through her family's window landed on her blanket, setting it and her on fire just before an officer mistakenly shot her. Flashbangs have set homes on fire (some resulting in fatalities), caused severe burns, and confused police officers into thinking they were coming under gunfire, causing officers to open fire themselves. The blinding, deafening effects have also induced fatal heart attacks. For all of these reasons, the NYPD, to its credit, has stopped using them.

In an interview for my column last year, Clay Conrad, a Texas criminal defense attorney who has challenged the use of flashbangs in court, offered an interesting proposition. "We were prepared to argue that if these things are as harmless as the state claims, we should be able to detonate one in the courtroom. That would have been fun."

I doubt any court would allow that. Which is precisely the point. Weapons like tear gas or Tasers also cause injury, but they're only used (or at least they're only supposed to be used) against someone who has demonstrated that they are an immediate threat to police or those around them. Flashbangs are usually deployed before the suspect has been given a chance to comply peacefully.

The devices that killed Officer Thornton and injured those FBI agents did exactly what they're supposed to do. It's just that from the officers' perspective, the devices went off at the wrong time. We should be asking why we permit the government to routinely use the same devices against U.S. citizens.

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  1. Our military are now disarmed on-post for the most part while our police carry grenades in their patrol cars.

    Yeah, our priorities are in order.

    1. Like in Egypt, the military might sympathize with anti-government protesters… the powers that be know that the corrupt police are going to do as they’re told.

      1. Maybe that explains why none of them are being brought home…

    2. There is one group of soldier who are usually still armed on post. The MPs. And a lot of them treat other soldiers like civilian police treat citizens.

  2. Let me guess – there was a spectacular funeral with 2,000 police officers from all over the country in attendance.

    1. He was a hero. What do you have against our LEO heroes? When one of our heroic defenders dies from too many Krispy Kremes chasing a suspect for 50 yards he deserves a bombastic sendoff.

    2. Quick, someone tell Westboro Baptist that Charlotte has gays on their force.

  3. He who lives by the flash bang….

    Just sayin’.

    Oh duuuuuuuuuuunphy? Please come mourn over the poor, dead bastard officer.

  4. Tell me they were on their way to serve a “high risk” warrant for a stolen 160gb PS3.

  5. Before the accident, Fred Thornton was a few months shy of retiring from the job he’d always wanted to do, his family said Saturday.

    Retirony.

    1. “I’m gettin’ too old for this shit, Riggs.”

      1. He stole that from Sgt. Hulka

      2. “It’s been revoked.”

    2. So he was only in his late 30s?

      1. Now his wife gets the six figure pension.

        1. Some people have all the luck!

        2. You forgot the life insurance.

    3. His wife will have to live with just memories….and a six-figure per year survivorship benefit compliments of the state taxpayers.

      1. His wife will have to live with just memories

        And Thorton’s swarthy, younger partner. To “comfort” her in her time of need and duress and possibly to share in that policy payout, all the while raping the taxpayers for his own.* Two birds…stone.

        *Any similarity provided by this post to any actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely and purely coincidental.

      2. Fuck. At least it looks like a beat you.

    4. “That hat only had one day left until retirement!”

  6. God Bless Radley Balko.

    How do we get this guy his own TV show?

    1. Perhaps an NPR gig first?

  7. Stick a bone up his ass and let the dogs drag him off.

    1. Is that a reply to Danny’s question of how do we get Balko a TV show?

      1. I’d watch that.

  8. Stupid poetic justice!

  9. Great article, Radley.

  10. From the story: Thornton, a munitions expert, had just returned from a SWAT operation in northwest Charlotte about 3:45 p.m. Friday. That call ended without incident, and Thornton had returned home. He was standing inside his garage about 5:30 p.m., tending to the SWAT gear in his trunk and preparing it for the next assignment when the grenade went off. Police say it was an accident, and were investigating.

    Something smells fishy here. Did he just toss everything in the trunk at his last operation? Would he not have secured his equipment, especially flash-bangs, before he drove home, or would he have just tossed them in the trunk to roll around?

    Looks like one of three things happened:
    1. He failed to secure his gear properly at the conclusion of the last operation.
    2. He accidentally set the flash-bang off while monkeying with already secured gear (that would have been secured less than 2 hours prior).
    3. He killed himself.

    1. or 4. He was fragged

      Of the options, I would guess it was 3. I suspect it was made to look like an accident so his family could get life insurance.

      1. or 5. It was a practical joke gone terribly wrong.

        Seriously, I would not be the least bit surprised if that was the case. Of course, it was determined to be an accident before they got the yellow tape out of the CSI truck and the bullhorn was set to continuously loop “Nothing to see here. Move along.”

        1. “Hahahaha, wasn’t that funny Bill….Bill?…oh, fuck. Quick, sprinkle some crack on him!”

    2. No way dude. I use them flash bang shits all the time on COD for xbox. They totally fucking rock.

  11. course its impossible to say how many lives, civilian & police, have been SAVED due to flashbangs.

    1. Therefore, the notion that they’ve saved any lives at all is mere conjecture. The costs, on the other hand, are not.

    2. its impossible to say how many lives, civilian & police, have been SAVED due to flashbangs.

      Ah, the “Saved and/or Created” meme…boy, that never gets old. Choke on it, dickweed. After you get a flashbang. In your ass.

      1. obviously uve never been w a forced entry team. but why bother?…since u know the unknown.

        1. obviously uve never been w a forced entry team

          Is that what you call it when you and yer cop buddies get all greased up and play “no knock raid”?

          Also, you were with the WHOLE TEAM, ouch!

        2. Obviously “uve” never learned how to spell or use punctuation.

          My brother was on the NJ State Police TEAMS unit (the NJ State Police version of a SWAT team) for over 10 years. He’s told me all about kicking in doors and tossing in flashbangs.

          It has nothing to do with saving lives; it is completely about “shock and awe”. The idea is to startle, scare, disorient and control.

          There might be some argument that such a tactic might save police lives, because it prevents the suspects from having time to grab their weapons and start shooting when the cops come through the door, but how do you propose to prove that hypothesis?

          1. My brother was on the NJ State Police TEAMS unit (the NJ State Police version of a SWAT team) for over 10 years. He’s told me all about kicking in doors and tossing in flashbangs.

            With you being an attorney, family get-togethers must have, ahem, been incendiary.

            1. With you being an attorney, family get-togethers must have, ahem, been incendiary

              Nah. I don’t do criminal defense work or anything. And we see each other only about once per year, when we make the pilgrimage up to dad’s house for Christmas or Thanksgiving. But I have become much more libertarian-leaning over the past several years, so I’ve learned not to bother engaging in certain lines of conversation.

              1. weak imitators rage.

                1. Lemonade sparkplug mumbo.

                  1. charlie capricorn hotdog.

                2. Someday, Orrin will be involved in a fatal txt-related auto accident. The real tragedy is, we will never know.

                  1. o we mght. omfg whtz t..

          2. u no idea barley ether police livs dog bang flash tactix

            1. wheat acid army fish dogs panix!

            2. hae burly
              ooh, ooh, eeeh, ooh, ooh, aah, aah, ooh, ooh

              1. ooo eee – ooo aah aah – ting tang walla walla bing bang

                It was a one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater…

            3. txtg s hrd!

          3. They really just give the cops a little more time to shoot the suspect’s 9-year-old daughter and/or dog.

    3. Yeah, with the death of this cop and those 4 FBI out of service we could be talking hundreds of people safe from the tender mercies of these goons.

    4. Can you imagine how many lives would be saved if people had to subject themselves to search on demand?

      1. Imagine how many lives could be saved if every single person were summarily jailed and thrown into solitary confinement!

        1. Imagine how many lives could be saved if every infant had a chip installed that zapped the pain center of their brain every time they thought about doing something illegal?

          1. Awesome! OUCHDammit!!

          2. Masochist would be in charge?

      2. Can you imagine how many lives would be saved if every cop went to the wall?

    5. Of course it’s impossible to say how many authority figures PFC Dipshit has fellated over a lifetime of fellating authority figures.

      1. However, we can state with certainty that the number is probably greater than the number of … Wait, are sheep considered authority figures?

    6. Hey OO – why don’t you get right on researching that question and get back to us with your findings?

      1. its rummy’s unknowable unknows. but it is part of the discussion.

        1. Next up, maybe you can explain to us what the fuck Donald Rumsfeld or his book has to do with any of this discussion.

          Oh, I get it – you’re implying we’re all right-wing sycophants.

          Fuck you in the ass with a syphilitic goat.

          1. like i need that shit.

          2. attribution rage.

            1. transitive indifference.

    7. Fuck, you’re a moron Orrrrrrrrrrrrrin. An absolute, fucking MORON.

      1. fm u thx!

    8. course its impossible to say how many lives, civilian & police, have been SAVED due to flashbangsUnicorns.

      1. If it’s impossible to say, why bring it up?

      2. If I’m responsible in any way for saving the life of a dipshit copper, please fucking shoot me so I can’t do it again.

  12. A few more insightful attorneys like Mr. Conrad, perhaps even arguing before SCOTUS, and we might start having a bit of common sense required of public officials.

  13. – Police SWAT teams armed like, or better than, our troops in combat
    – No-Knock warrants used freely
    – Raids on the wrong homes, people terrorized or killed
    – DHS/TSA conducting illegal searches for drugs, money … oh, and by the way terrorists
    -DHS “busted” for operating a kiddie-sex web site (Drudge Report today)
    – FBI “stings” enticing people and supplying weapons and bomb materials to make terrorism arrests

    Anybody spell “police state” (all lower case because we aren’t all the way there yet.)

    1. Might as well add this to your list:
      http://www.americanthinker.com…..etime.html

      ATF encouraged informants to take guns to Mexico, to inflate the statistics of how many American guns were being “smuggled”.

    2. “‘Anybody spell “police state” (all lower case because we aren’t all the way there yet.)””

      I agree. But understanding how we got here is key. It usually starts with some legistative body making claims that are not fully truthful but make headlines. The war on crime, war on drugs, ect make them LEOs feel like warriors fighting a good fight with little care about collateral damage.

      1. It usually starts with some legistative body making claims that are not fully truthful but make headlines.

        This method is only as effective as (a) the public demands it to be and (b) how willing the same public is to be duped. Raped…willing.

        1. Which usually translates into very effective.

    3. You forgot the the ATF “stings” which supply Mexican drug cartels with vast amounts of weaponry.

  14. According to the family of Aiyana Jones, the nine-year-old Detroit girl killed in a police raid last year, the flashbang police tossed through her family’s window landed on her blanket, setting it and her on fire just before an officer mistakenly shot her.

    Why *wouldn’t* you shoot a nine year old girl who is on fire? She was plainly a suicide terrorist.

    1. Can’t have a live girl with horrific burns in a hospital bed courtesy of the PD.

      1. Can’t have a live girl with horrific burns in a hospital bed courtesy of the PD.

        So, the only way to save her was to kill her. The cure here is truly worse than the disease. Speaking of ObamaCare…

  15. Here’s what a steady diet of Balko’s reporting does to you:

    I felt absolutely no sympathy for this man or his family that he died. And that bothers me. But, live by the flashbang, die by the flashbang.

    1. This. Or even worse, my first reaction was “good riddance”. I guess I should feel bad about that reaction, but I don’t think I do.
      -K

      1. Did you expect us to give a shit about some shitbag politician cop?

      2. It was a shame he wasn’t in an operation planning meeting. Might have taken out a couple more of the bastards then.

  16. What part of “illegal” do these people not understand? You do illegal drugs, you bring this on yourself. What do they expect? They knew the drugs were illegal before they started doing them. Of course you’re going to get the police throwing flashbangs in your window – that’s what happens to druggies. It’s ILLEGAL, people! Wise up! Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.

    1. The truly sad and outright frightening thing here is: I’m not entirely convinced you are attempting satire.

      1. I’ll take that as a compliment.

    2. If you’d bothered to actually read the article before quite successfully setting out to prove you own stupidity, you might have noticed that the people on the receiving end of these things haven’t been convicted of anything yet and are all too often completely innocent victims of a mistake on the part of the police. I guess in your view, if you live in the same town as someone who does illegal drugs then you brought that wrong door raid down on yourself and have nothing to complain about when they shoot your children by mistake. Idiot.

      1. if you live in the same town as someone who does illegal drugs then you brought that wrong door raid down on yourself and have nothing to complain about when they shoot your children by mistake

        It’s part of the price we pay for living in a civilized society.

        1. Hey! Stop spoofing me! This is my joke handle.

          1. Sorry!

        2. Civilized societies do not allow police to barge in private homes without warning and murder children.

          1. Sorry!

          2. Well if their parents weren’t doing drugs, the police wouldn’t have to barge in, now would they? It’s the parent’s behavior that puts their own children at risk. Don’t do the crime, baby. Illegal is illegal.

          3. I agree! They must knock once and give the occupants at least half a second to respond. However, after that time period has elapsed the police have the right to batter the door down. Furthermore, the fate of the children inside the house is not a police concern. The parents should have considered the consequences of creating illegal substances inside the home.

  17. Explain to me how the fucking cop was allowed to take a grenade home. In the military that would be unthinkable. But some fucking flatfoot who would do well to score better than his K9 sidekick on the aptitude tests takes grenades home in his trunk? WTF?

    1. I was pondering the same thing… Militarily, “unthinkable” is far too kind. “Myriad UCMJ violations resulting in a guaranteed brig stay” is more like it.

      Will there be an “investigation” into these storm troopers’ carrying home such inherently dangerous objects?

      Don’t hold your breath.

    2. The guys on those special police units get assigned special vehicles and carry their equipment with them at all times (see above my post re: my brother). They’re on call all the time, because you never know when there might be a hostage-taker or whatever. So they’ve got to be available to head directly over to wherever the action is at – no time to drive to the station, get your gear, switch cars, etc.

      My brother had a state-assigned Tahoe for several years – it was full of all kinds of very cool hardware. Full auto MP-5, semi-auto AR-15, riot gun, couple of Sig P229s, .308 sniper rifle, thousands of rounds of ammo, body armor, night vision goggles, flashbangs, etc.

      You’d never know when his pager would go off. One Thanksgiving, he just walked in the door when his pager went off. He had to turn around and leave to go pull a dead body out of a frozen lake.

      1. He had to […] go pull a dead body out of a frozen lake.

        Why the hell do you need a SWAT team to do that?

        1. The NJ State Police TEAMS unit is not exactly like a SWAT team – but they do perform similar functions.

          They are sort of like the elite “special forces” or Navy SEALS of the state police. Not only do they do the whole full-body-armor, flashbang, kick-in-the-door thing, they also are trained snipers for hostage situations and train for water rescue and salvage operations.

          They’re the ones called to pull bodies out of rivers and lakes because they’re the ones with the training and equipment to do it (e.g., dry suits for frozen lakes, etc.).

          1. I suppose it’s too late in American history to question whether a state police force should have a Special Forces task group attached to it.

          2. I had one of the SWAT “trained snipers” in my platoon in the National Guard. Before our annual weapons qualification we had to sit through the standard Basic Rifle Marksmanship refresher class. The “trained sniper” kept commenting on how he didn’t need this, he could teach this class.

            He said he was a designated expert marksman with the state police, and that was WAY harder than weapons qualification with the Army. When we went to the range he could only hit 24 out of 40 targets (23 is the bare minimum to qualify), and it took him two trys to do that.

            Apparently the Army and the cops have very different definitions of expert marksman.

      2. That is retarded. That would be like letting the fire department drive the fire truck home with them rather than you know having guys rotate to ensure there are people at the station ready for a call.

        I don’t doubt your story. But it just shows the kind of idiotic shit that happens with cops. And clearly he needed his MP5 to pull a body out of a lake.

      3. His special unit needed all that gear, yet they also call him to pull a body out of a lake on a holiday?

        Am I being cynical in thinking his union contract gave him the first right to take non-emergency calls on holidays due to seniority? No reason to send the rookies out with a hook when you can send out a 20-year vet to get triple-time.

        1. Nah, not so. That was several years back. And it’s not overtime – it’s part of his job. Or it was back then, anyhow.

      4. They’re on call all the time, because you never know when there might be a hostage-taker or whatever.

        This doesn’t quite make the cut. Assuming they need to be on call and might have to head straight to the scene of the biannual hostage situation,

        Why can’t their gear meet them there, after having been driven over from the station?

        1. Dunno, Dean, but that’s just how they do it. I guess doing it your way, you’d then need another person to go get the truck and drive it over.

          I really don’t know all the reasoning behind it, but that’s the way it worked. Each member of the TEAMS unit has a vehicle assigned, with gear, and they have to use it all the time and be available all the time.

          I could envision a situation where having someone drive the truck from the station to meet them at the scene could take far longer – particularly given that their territory is most of the northern half of NJ.

          1. I could envision a situation where having someone drive the truck from the station to meet them at the scene could take far longer – particularly given that their territory is most of the northern half of NJ.

            Fair point. Although I would point out that situations where SWATties need their gear tend to be pretty static – hostages, people holed up and refusing to come out, etc.

            The Tahoe was all black, with blacked-out windows.

            I see that Tahoes are among the ten most stolen cars in the US. Packing one of the cars most likely to be stolen with oodles of weaponry doesn’t seem very smart, to me.

      5. How is there no liability if his car was to get broken into? My POS Camry got broken into for all the quarters in the ashtray. I can’t imagine what a decent looking Tahoe with loads of military-grade equipment would unleash upon the community if it wound up missing.

        1. The Tahoe was all black, with blacked-out windows. It didn’t really look like much from outside, and you couldn’t see what was in there. And all the hardware was locked up in a giant steel safebox that occupied most of the space from behind the front seats all the way to the back of the truck. So even if you did look in, all you’d see would be a plain black box.

          There have been plenty of stories of cop cars and FBI vehicles getting broken into and weapons stolen, though.

        2. generic Brand|3.9.11 @ 1:56PM|#
          My POS Camry got broken into for all the quarters in the ashtray.

          My old truck got broken into for half a pack of cigarettes I left in the cupholder, and (for some reason) my passenger side headrest and a stack of paper napkins I had in the glovebox.

      6. You’d never know when his pager would go off. One Thanksgiving, he just walked in the door when his pager went off. He had to turn around and leave to go pull a dead body out of a frozen lake.

        So, your brother is essentially a paramedic with a mobile, state-funded armory? Or has the definitions of coroner and medical examiner changed?

        1. It was not his job to administer medical treatment (although they do have emergency first aid training) or to investigate the cause of death or anything.

          His job was “go find the dead body for us and bring it back up here so we can investigate.” What, you’ve never heard of “police divers” pulling bodies out of the river? It’s not anything new or revolutionary. It’s just that these were the guys the NJ State Police used for that function, among other functions.

      7. Did he ever drive that rolling armory into PA or NY? If so, he would have been committing a Federal felony without filing a 5320.20 with the BATFE. There are exceptions for military and licensed dealers/manufacturers, but not for law enforcement officers.

        1. So in your world a cop can’t chase someone across the state border?

          1. Not if he’s got a machinegun, short barreled rifle, short barreled shotgun, destructive device or AOW with him.

    3. “”Explain to me how the fucking cop was allowed to take a grenade home. “”

      My guess is that it’s considered a non-leathal weapon. If you can take your gun home, why not a little scare device.

      1. It was part of the equipment he was assigned, and he had received all kinds of special training in how to use all that equipment.

        That MP5 was a hoot to shoot, let me tell you. Not that I ever fired it or anything. Nope, not me. I mean, I’m not a NJ state trooper, so how would I have been able to fire it? Of course not.

        1. I mean, I’m not a NJ state trooper, so how would I have been able to fire it? Of course not.

          I dunno…I read yesterday that cops are now practicing law to elicit confessions from suspects. Ludicrous, I tells ya.

    4. I was wondering the same thing about weapon control methodology. We had guys in my unit get busted during health & welfare inspections for having cardboard dunnage from grenades in the barracks. The tubes grenades ship in make excellent pen/pencil cups for one’s desk but Army regs treat packing material as if it were the actual ammunition, it must be taken back to the ASP and turned over to the civilian ammo handlers for disposal.

  18. Don’t forget, this guy was the “munitions expert” for his gang.

    1. I seriously doubt the grenade just went off. I don’t buy it. They have been making grenades for a hundred years. They don’t just go off anymore than Toyota cars just magically accelerate. He was doing something stupid and they are just covering up for him so his wife gets his pension.

      1. Agreed. Having tossed a few frags in my day, they definitely don’t “just go off.” There must be at least two affirmative actions, i.e. pulling the pin and letting the spoon fly.

        While I am not overjoyed at this officer’s death, I will say he was a casualty of out wonderfully unsuccessful War on Drugs. Either way, taxpayers get screwed.

        1. Yes – this is like the “accidental” discharge of a firearm. Yeah, it could discharge when you don’t PLAN for it to….but if you’re following all the other rules (don’t point it at something you don’t want to kill), no harm should come.

          Doesn’t strike me that this guy was handling these in a particularly safe manner to avoid harm from potential “abnormal situations”.

          With all that said – I don’t buy that it “just went off”.

          1. Never “accidental,” always “negligent.”

            1. exactly

        2. “”There must be at least two affirmative actions, i.e. pulling the pin and letting the spoon fly.””

          It could be possible that the pin get caught on something and pulled. I wouldn’t call letting the spoon fly a affirmative action in that it happens without your intervention. You must try to prevent the spoon from flying when gripping it. It will do it all on it’s own if you don’t prevent it.

          Point being, the ring could have got caught on something and the pin pulled, the spoon would fly and, bang.

          1. “Point being, the ring could have got caught on something and the pin pulled, the spoon would fly and, bang.”

            True. But that would require the cop to have his head up his ass and not be paying any attention to what he was doing. Again, it didn’t just go off. This dumb shit did something or failed to do something that got him killed.

            1. I’m going with failed to do something. Something = paying attention.

              But he probably figured he doesn’t have to be as safety aware with a non-lethal weapon as a lethal one. I think that falls under your dumb shit catagory either way.

              1. They don’t have enough of a budget to train the “dumb shit” out of everyone…

                1. Hey, you expect these guys to be EXPERTS or something?

                  SHEESH…

            2. Do flashbangs have the safety clip over the spoon like frags do? If so, it would require two affirmative actions: remoing the safety clip, then pulling the pin.

              1. No, but you have to toggle through your weapon inventory and hold down your action button (whichever you have micro’d to your mouse). Then, once you get close enough to their spawn, you point that biatch at the sky and let fly.

          2. I would think the ring wouldn’t get caught on something unless it was improperly stored.

            And I was under the impression those rings are pretty damn hard to pull out. The old John Wayne pull-the-pin-with-your-teeth routine is a good way to lose teeth.

            1. “”And I was under the impression those rings are pretty damn hard to pull out.””

              They are in a regular grenade, I don’t know about flashbangs. And hey, John Wayne’s teeth were tougher than Chuck Norris.

              But if the pin got stuck and you didn’t know it, you could pull hard enough to remove the pin.

              Perhaps we don’t know the whole story yet.

      2. I don’t know about a grenade just going off, but there was one time when I tried to pull the pin on an M67 and pulled the whole damn fuse out of the grenade instead. Neither the fuse or body exploded, but it scared the hell out of me. An EOD guy told me later that can happen when the fuse is screwed in wrong and gets crossthreaded.

        1. HA!!! I had that happen once on a MOUT course. It was only a CS round but the pucker factor when I saw the grenade body drop at my feet while still holding the dangerous, exploding part was intense.

  19. HEY DUNPHY! CHEW SLOWLY WHILE YOU EAT THIS SHIT, PIG.

    1. Stay classy, “Pip.”

    2. Tough talk for a palindrome.

      1. palindromes can be quite tough, and tricky

        1. No kidding.

        2. I know, right?

        3. What he said.

          1. I’ve decided to become a palindrome. I just had the operation.

            1. A Toyota’s a Toyota.

              1. Able was I ere I saw Elba.

                1. Teddy says hey.

  20. They’re on call all the time, because you never know when there might be a hostage-taker or whatever.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA1!!

    Whew.

    1. Hey, I’m not defending it; I’m just `splainin’ what I unnerstan’ to be the reasoning they used for doing it that way.

      1. Cops explain EVERYTHING away with one mantra, specifically the continuing militarization of law enforcement: it’s better to have and not need than need and not have.

        Then SOP dictates that they drag out the 1 or 2 incidents over the last century or so which have happened which MIGHT call for some military grade weapon. I had a guy from Tulsa explain to me that they need 50 caliber rifles because someone might reinforce a tractor or bulldozer with armor. Of course they also trot out the guy who stole a tank several years ago in CA.

  21. FYI- dunphy’s down there on the “terror trainers” thread boasting about his high degree of professionalism (and calling me a troll).

    1. You are a troll. But you’re not alone. Reveling in the death of somebody you don’t know…it’s beyond contemptible. But hell, you are among friends, tough guy. “Libertarianism’s” reputation takes another hit. How low can it go?

      1. Aw, wiittle baby got butthurt… Boo-hoo, shitwhistler.

      2. He was a cop. That is all we need to know to figure out that he was a sack of shit.

  22. What, still no dunphy? That’s two days in a row, dunnnnnnnnnnnnnnphy. Where arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre you?

  23. “We were prepared to argue that if these things are as harmless as the state claims, we should be able to detonate one in the courtroom. That would have been fun.”

    Tossing one into the jury room during deliberations would be the way to go.

    1. If you did that, the same shithead DA that was a moment ago saying they were harmless, would be charging you with assault with a deadly weapon and committing a terrorist act.

      1. the same shithead DA that was a moment ago saying they were harmless, would be charging you with assault with a deadly weapon and committing a terrorist act.

        And most likely name the same jury as un-indicted co-conspirators, the standard “nuke it from orbit, just to be sure,” approach that seems to pass for jurisprudence these days.

  24. Any truth to the rumors that the flashbang was actually set off by a dog, in retribution for past “isolated incidents”?

  25. “Mr. DeGuerin said flashbangers can kill, injure, maim. Anyone who knows anything about these things knows they can’t.” -Our favorite little dude Chucky Schumer

  26. Reveling in the death of somebody you don’t know…it’s beyond contemptible.

    It’s okay if they’re greasy brown foreigners, though. Kids sent out to gather firewood, let’s say.

    Or PIRATES!!

    Right?

    1. It is okay in all of those cases P Brooks. Some people just need killing. It is Libertarians complete refusal to understand that that usually gets them into trouble.

  27. I remember seeing a video on one of those “scary videos” TV shows, in which a cop outside a house during a hostage situation accidentally set off a flashbang in his pocket. Gave himself third degree burns on his leg and blew some skin off. I’m sure that would count as “injuring” or “maiming,” Senator Schumer.

    1. I’m sure that would count as “injuring” or “maiming,” Senator Schumer.

      Now now, I said “anyone who know anything about these things.” I categorically deny ever knowing anything. Now, help me into my bro…

      1. Eventually, someone’s going to have to have an investigation as to how Harvard is permitted to turn hundreds of credentialled imbeciles out onto the streets and the unsuspecting public under the auspices of being trained lawyers.

        We could call them the “Schumer Hearings.”

  28. Of course it went off “by itself.”
    How else to get a multi-million dollar wrongful death settlement from the manufacturer?

  29. I bet you could smell bacon for miles.

    too soon?

    1. “You dick!”
      –Jeff Spicoli

    2. Flash cooked bacon might smell nice.

      1. It does smell nice. Peter Luger Steakhouse takes thick-cut bacon and cooks it in the salamander, 20-30 seconds @ 1300 degrees = GREAT bacon.

    3. I just LOL’ed a little bit right there

  30. I found out about this website through a friend who did an internship for it a few years ago. I like some of the stuff I’ve read and it has educated me on some issues. Over the past few days, however, I started reading these comments and it is ridiculous.

    We do not live in a police state, and anyone who claims that we do should buy a plane ticket, or plan a “hiking trip,” to Iran, North Korea, Libya, or any other of the hundreds of countries that are “police states.” And I’m not even a cop-lover. But you all take it to a disgusting extreme that is sad on too many levels.

    Until you’re standing outside a door, about to enter a room with suspected criminals who may be armed, you cannot comment on the need for flashbangs. I have had “bangs” used against me and I have used them myself, I consider them a wonderful invention that is better than the two alternatives, any member of my team or me getting shot or using a fragmentation grenade. It’s the middle ground, it’s the compromise. Of all political publications/organizations, I thought this would be the one where compromise was understood as the only way to have a functioning society. One group cannot always have their way, that is what the Democrats and the Republicans believe and I thought Libertarians were different and more respectable. The people posting here are proving that theory wrong.

    1. Huh?

    2. Bullshit. I can comment on the need for flashbangs in police use: You don’t need them. Period, full stop. You are not at war with the citizens, and if comes down to you taking a bullet instead of ‘accidentally’ killing someone who is guilty of no crime, guess what? You take a bullet, oinker. It’s your fucking job. You get paid to take risks that mean you may not come home at night. Don’t like it? Get a different job. Using overwhelming force against a bunch of people who have done nothing to you first doesn’t make you a hero, it makes you a thug. The po-po are responsible for initiating or escalating the vast majority of violent confrontations in this country, so claiming you need grenades to counter the problem y’all made is facially absurd.

    3. One group cannot always have their way, that is what the Democrats and the Republicans believe and I thought Libertarians were different and more respectable. The people posting here are proving that theory wrong.

      Two points, Mr. JP:

      1) The one group that always seems to get it’s way is an ever expansive and intrusive government via the use of brute force. That is, by definition, a police state.

      2) See that little search field up there to your right? Type “Radley Balko” and read the search results to your heart’s content.

    4. Drink?

    5. So in 2006, come out of Moscow through Domodedovo airport I was greeted by this thin gaunt gentleman who proceed kneed my nutsack like two eggs in a tube sock. About a month ago leaving Denver I was met by a corpulent shitball who proceeded to kneed my nutsack like two eggs in a tube sock.

      I have my plane tickets…How about you?

      By the way, your theory sucks.

      1. I believe you meant “knead”, not “kneed”. Knead, as in massaged or squished, as in making bread. Kneed means he smashed his knee into it. Which is how I read it at first.

        1. Well at least you didn’t through a flashbang at me before grammar nazing me.

          1. Well[,] at least you didn’t through [throw] a flashbang at me before grammar nazing me.

            1. You’re welcome.

    6. “I consider them a wonderful invention that is better than the two alternatives, any member of my team or me getting shot or using a fragmentation grenade. It’s the middle ground, it’s the compromise.”

      Or, I don’t know, you could make your arrests/gather your evidence without the need for dynamic entry. You’ve a lot more choices than the false dichotomy you present. As it is, the well-being of the people whose door you are about to ram in, matters less than zero to you. You have qualified immunity, that in practice is nearly absolute. As such, you have no incentive to give a shit about the subjects of your warrant, nor do you have a great deal of incentive to get the details right. Otherwise, Balko’s list of wrong-door raids would be a lot smaller.

      You’ve “had bangs used against me”? Of course, that was with warning they were going to be used, and care taken that you weren’t sitting somewhere where the fucking thing could hit you, or get trapped between a wall and you: all of which are things that don’t apply when you are lobbing them into the premises covered by one of your warrants.

      Those grenades are very loud, destructive devices. At times, the risk they present to bystanders is less than the risk that a hostage taker/criminal will kill said bystander. Or detonate a bomb. Or start shooting up the block, because he doesn’t want to go back to prison. But that isn’t what most SWAT teams are used for nowadays, is it? They’re primarily used to assist in serving narcotics warrants against “suspected criminals who may be armed”, which, considering the amount of firearms in this country, is practically everybody.

      No, we don’t live in Iran, North Korea or Libya. But it is a damn site closer to those regimes, than it was 30 years ago, and attitudes like yours—“compromise was understood as the only way to have a functioning society”— are a big reason the police are encouraged to continue this sort of thing. We should be grateful that you aren’t fragging every room as you clear the dwelling?! That’s what you’re compromising from? (Was your last LEO job with OMON?) With an attitude like that, it’s understandable reading about U.S. PD’s asking for surplus M249s. Maybe suppressive fires are now needed in contemporary law enforcement, who knew?

      Remove your qualified immunity, exposing yourself, your family, and your department to a successful lawsuit for excessive force, and tell me these raids would continue. As it is, with federal grants to kickstart it, forfeiture to continue paying for it, and immunity to cover for things go wrong, the incentives are there for these raids to continue.

      1. “”Remove your qualified immunity, exposing yourself, your family, and your department to a successful lawsuit for excessive force,””

        That sounds like good “middle ground” to me.

    7. “”We do not live in a police state, and anyone who claims that we do should buy a plane ticket, or plan a “hiking trip,” to Iran, North Korea, Libya, or any other of the hundreds of countries that are “police states.” “”

      JP do think think there is no differnece between living in a police state, and living under an authoritarian militaristic dictator?

    8. Give me a gun and a badge and i will just knock of the door. No one wants to turn an ordinary bust into a capitol offense. You just think you need a flash grenade because you don’t want to do your job.

      And yes, I hate to tell you this, but you or any cop getting shot is preferable to an innocent citizen getting shot. That is what I as a tax payer pay your for, to get shot so I don’t have to. If you don’t like that risk, pick another profession. But don’t take your aversion to risk and to doing your job as an excuse to terrorize the public.

  31. Sick fucks here at Hit & Run, just as bad as the Westboro Baptist Church vermin. Worse, even, as that human scum at least have the guts to confront their victims face to face. You’re just a sorry bunch of anonymous cowards who hide behind your internet anonymity and pretend to be tough guys. Not a single one of you would have the balls to repeat your sick observations to the friends and family of Fred Thornton.

    1. Then why are you here?

      Also, I mourn the loss of any human life, whether or not they did questionable things in the name of the state.

    2. I would. Should we meet at the circle K for a rumble? Do you want to be the Sharks or the Jets?

      Fred blew himself up with what he and his ilk have called nonlethal since invention. That is straight out of Monty Python.

    3. Anonymous tuff gai insults and chastises others for being anonymous on the internet. Does the irony escape you, Ed?

      As far as Fred Thornton goes, I know only two things. One, he worked for a system that is, at this late date, fundamentally flawed, corrupt, and unjust. This makes him, in my book, not a good guy. You don’t get to claim you’re a good guy when the system you work for is morally and ethically bankrupt.

      Two, he’s some level of incompetent dumbass. I mean, shit, he blew himself up with his own grenade. That doesn’t scream “competent” to me.

      If you feel like passing those thoughts on to Fred’s family and friends, have at. I’ll stand by them on the internet, in person, or in court. Now, fuck off.

    4. You’re just a sorry bunch of anonymous cowards

      Actually we are not the many. We are the one. We have many faces, we occupy several different spaces in time. However, we are possessed of a single will, and united in an ultimate intent:

      To troll.

    5. I have no sympathy for people who chose a profession of arms and then fuck up and get themselves killed. This guy fucked up. The grenade didn’t just “go off”. And he shouldn’t have ever been issued one in the first place. If there is a tragedy here, it is the tragic stupidity of thinking that issueing live grenades for cops to take home with them was a good idea.

    6. Funny Ed, I regularly tell government employees (including cops) what I think about them. Of course I am smart enough to do it without profanity and in public with plenty of witnesses. They don’t like it, but not much they can do about it. We do still have freedom of speech. Although I did have a code inspector want to go outside for a fistfight. He wasn’t a big fan of the First Amendment.

      1. Ask a cop how long he has had an Oedipus complex. You will probably get a blank stare and an open mouthed expression with a strand of drool leaking from the corner of his lips. Then if they ask, explain it to them.

  32. “For ’tis the sport to have the enginer
    Hoist with his own petard; and ‘t shall go hard
    But I will delve one yard below their mines
    And blow them at the moon: O, ’tis most sweet,
    When in one line two crafts directly meet.”

  33. I wonder if his life flashed before his eyes.

    1. Too funny!

    2. i thought the bacon one was good,this is pure win

    3. Is that called going out with a bang?

      1. I just LOL’ed again…

        I’m goin’ to hell, aren’t I? Ed Anonopussy seems to think so… 🙁

  34. I consider them a wonderful invention that is better than the two alternatives, any member of my team or me getting shot

    Why don’t you just call in an airstrike?

    Napalm has an extremely calming effect on the “hostiles” I’m told. As for the neighbors; well, if they didn’t rat out the badguys, they’re equally guilty. Burn ’em all.

    Better ten thousand civilians burnt to cinders than one wounded lawfighter.

    1. Best to just nuke ’em from orbit; just to be sure.

  35. Mistakes were made.

    A flash was seen.

    A bang was heard.

    1. Look it is better that we kill and terrorize a few criminals or even the odd innocent person than one cop risk his life. Don’t you get that Brooks?

      1. …it is better that we kill and terrorize than to not have known killing and terrorizing…

        1. Chunks of flesh were thrown. Tears were shed. Laughter ensued.

  36. Bloodthirsty libertarians. Is there anything more comical?

    1. I’ll take cops blowing themselves up with a nonlethal flashbang for 500 Alex?

  37. You stupid fucking cops coming on this site with your fucking insults. Fuck you.

    You have done such a thorough job of turning law abiding citizens against you through your chicken shit ticketing and harassment of motorists, breaking of the laws you ding us for, killing and maiming innocent people, etc. I could go on for hours but won’t waste my time. Nice job assholes.

    Keep up the good work Balko

    1. Balko pulls the strings and we dance.

      1. Some of us dance anyway, it’s just in us and has to escape.

        1. Show me your jazz hands!

  38. Remember during the whitewash “investigation” into Waco the Feds initially tried to claim that flash bangs weren’t lethal? Re-dic.

  39. First off, since I’m being repeatedly insulted as being a cop, I am not one. I am not even a cop-lover. Cops who sit on the side of the road and give tickets for going five miles over a speed limit that is not allowing me to get where I want to go fast enough can shove off. But to talk shit on a SWAT officer, who would take a bullet instead of an innocent bystander, is a bit much.

    With all these passionate opinions, and since the current police force is so brutal, corrupt, and dumb (i.e. drooling while unable to respond to questions about an Oedipus complex) why aren’t the educated, informed, and wise members of this comment thread entering the police academy and changing it? Giving the good citizens of this country someone to look up to, an educated person putting their talents to use, serving and protecting the public from the criminals and low-lifes while being constantly compassionate and gentle with the innocent bystanders?

    Finally, to “hmm,” I have had tickets to all over Europe, northern Africa, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The United States is not perfect, there are things we clearly need to work on, I am not blind to that, I just wish people would appreciate how easy and great we do have it and not celebrate and mock the death of someone who did volunteer to put his life in harms way.

  40. HOLY SHIT! I had no idea that there could ever be so many fucking idiots in one place. All of you people are fucking idiots and should do this country a favor and off yourselves right now. To read some of the crap postings on here doesnt really surprise me but it does make me thank god that you bunch of nut jobs are in the minority in your thinking.

    The Police are like anything else, they are not all perfect. The vast majority of Police Officers are well trained honorable people who do there out of a desire to do good. You fucking nut jobs need to learn some respect! oh and a prelim. FUCK YOU to all you crazy basturds who would even attempt to argue that.

  41. You forgot the elderly.
    It’s okay, everyone forgets the elderly.
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