Militarization of Police

Wrong Door Raid and Flash-Bang Grenade Heart Attack Provoke Lawsuits


A few victims of the drug war's "standard procedure" are fighting back in court. First, a Colorado Springs woman who suffered a heart attack during a raid has brought a lawsuit: 

Rose Ann Santistevan, 71, is suing for medical expenses and noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering.

An emphysema sufferer, Santistevan was alone in bed receiving oxygen on Oct. 6, 2009, when a multijurisdictional SWAT task force with a search warrant surrounded her home in the 200 block of South Prospect Street. They threw in a flash-bang grenade before rushing in with guns drawn, authorities have confirmed.

Stricken by a heart attack, Santistevan was admitted in critical condition at Memorial Hospital Central, where she remained for several days. A search of her home yielded no arrests and turned up no drugs, the family said.

And a New Jersey family who received the nightmarish black-clad gunmen treatment from SWAT is suing the police department for unlawful entry and false arrest. They specifically target one Police Detective William Palomino in the civil suit:

About 40 narcotics and emergency response team officers executed search warrants at numerous locations during a major drug raid following four months of undercover surveillance. The Colons' apartment was not among the approved targets in the "no-knock" search warrants obtained by authorities, who mistook a door leading to the family's apartment for what they thought was a door to the building's basement.

Palomino admits what happened to the Colons was a mistake, but his attorney says he wasn't there after he pointed out the door to the rest of the team. So it was his kind of his fault, but it wasn't. After all, he did not personally do the following:

[Now 18-year-old] Miguel Colon testified that he, his little brother and a friend were in one room of the apartment, and that his mother was in the kitchen, talking on the phone, when "more than five" men dressed all in black and not bearing any police identification burst in.

"I asked: "Who are you?' The response I got was: 'Shut up and get on the floor," Colon testified.

They then ordered everyone to the floor at gunpoint and ransacked the apartment, overturning beds and going through the laundry as his brother cried and his mother started having a "panic attack," Colon said.

"She couldn't breathe," he testified. "I told them, 'My mom needs to breathe. She needs medication.' They told me to shut up."

When she started choking, he said, he defied them and got up to get the medicine anyway, but they pushed him back down. Eventually, they went with his mother to get the medicine but had their guns drawn the whole time, he said. The family was held for about two hours before being freed.

Months of surveillance, and they can't tell which door is which. Warrant or no, they couldn't bother to check whether a disabled grandmother was lying in bed before they tossed a potentially lethal device in her general direction. But don't worry, we're gonna win this drug war soon.

(Hat tip: BakedPenguin for that last link.)  

Reason on militarized police, and the nastiness of flash-bang grenades.

NEXT: Government the Job Killer

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  1. About 28 hours too early for a nutpunch.

  2. militerized police

    Come on, Lucy. You’re better than this. You know that minor spelling errors are worse than Hitler.

    1. Hyperbole is literally worse than the Holocaust.

      1. I like that you both Godwinned and improperly used “literally” in that comment.

        It’s like a masterpiece.

        1. “Literally” has a not-commonly known alternative meaning: in the state of being full of liters.

          1. I’m fully of liters of beer right now. Literally.

            1. It’s a pub term, originally. Barkeep, I’d like to feel good and literally. Can ye help?

              1. “I literally died” makes more sense now.

                1. It’s a commonly misunderstood word.

                  The related “figuratively” means a woman with a large chest. Because of the close relationship between beer and sex, these words are often confused.

            2. I’m literally stunned.

            3. Geez, dude, you must be urinating frequently.

              1. Literally daily.

            4. I wanna hear how “virtually” fits into all this.

              1. Virtually: Full of virtual reality porn. It will be more common as full-immersion virtual reality with haptic interfaces becomes more widespread.

    2. I’m going to start fixing my typos and then denying they were ever there.

      You and your constant hallucinations, sheesh.

      1. Im just glad to have authors who read the comments.

        1. Ohh, make no mistake (with the exception of Chapman I believe) I would bet the ALL read some comments…but most are savvy enough to reply only guardedly.

          1. I feel like I have to reply to this comment, to make a point. Secretly I would rather +1 Warty’s.

            No one has every accused me of being savvy. And I was reading this comments before I was writing for this here Reason, so there’s that.

            1. Wait, you knew what you were getting into, and then you got into it anyway? What were you thinking?

            2. I think I have a new favorite editor. Sorry Matt. I like Lucy and all her delicious misspellings.

              1. My legacy is cemented, hurrah.

                But seriously, you people are easy. The problem is you’re also entertaining.

                1. Yup, you are my favorite. In all serousness though, are you taking the Balko mantle? Or is it still a team effort? Cause that beat need constant reporting…I just keep forwarding them to my law and order friends with no title…I know it pisses them off and for that I thank you.

                  1. Dammit. This thread was not supposed to be about me responding.

                    I am a big Balko fan, but Riggs has part of that mantle well-covered. So I am trying to get my nut-punch fix while not treading on him. Sadly, there’s plenty to round.

                2. You say that now, but just wait till I get you sued. Then you’ll be all like, “Fuck Warty. I’m gonna let trolls overrun his favorite way to waste time, ‘cuz fuck him.”

                  1. They already say that.

            3. No one has every accused me of being savvy


              1. And they can’t edit comments. Wonderful! That’ll teach her.

            4. What were you thinking!? The commenters here are fucking insane!

          2. They all read the comments, of course. It’s human nature. They want to know what we think of their writing. Some will never respond (Katherine, I’m looking at you), but I guarantee they check the comments.

            1. Balko so rarely responded that I either he did read them or doesnt have a sense of humor.

                1. No offense to Radley, who does amazing work, but he has a very limited sense of humor. He’s a pretty serious guy, and seeing his line of work, that is probably not a coincidence.

                2. You mean:


                  1. lurker, you don’t need the global flag to replace a single instance. Sheesh.

              1. even after my correction that is a mess.

                1. Should be a “suppose” or an “assume” after “I”.

            2. Radley banters with the commenters on his blog occasionally, I think. But he generally keeps that place buttoned up way too tight to be any fun. I don’t think this place is his speed. (Or was, when it was good. Now it’s nobody’s speed.)

              1. Yeah, you’ve got a point, Warty. This place was better with Radley/Weigel/Lonewacko, et al.

                Radley was actually good, even.

            3. People say they read Hit & Run for the articles, but actually they all come here for commenterer porn.

              1. And commenter porn. Not sure about the stutter.

                1. This thread is becoming an EPIC RC’s LAW (or was it Joe’s)

                  1. Mine.

                    Joe’s was the one about the inevitability of typos when accusing someone of idiocy.

                    1. Yeah, that was what I was sayin’. Joe’s Law…everywhere.

                      I wonder if we say his name three times he will come back.

                2. Commenterer porn is porn about people who make porn about commenters, obvi.

                  1. Sort of a metacommenter? So if I comment on you commenting on my comment, I’m a commentererer?

            4. Some do, I’m not sure.

              I think we can all agree that Tim Cavanaugh is the best because he’s the only one who comments on OTHER people’s posts.

              But seriously, get back to being depressed about the drug war. I’m busy.

      2. Don’t you need to erase my post for total denial? Why am I suggesting this to you?

        1. You’d appear to be psychotic if there was nothing to support your apparent delusion. They rewrite everything a few weeks later to make us all look insane. It’s a Koch plot.

          1. Why was Pro Lib talking about space exploration in this thread on orphans being bombed in Detroit?

            1. That’s more monomania than psychosis, but yes.

      3. Lucy,

        Are you related to the Pittsburgh Steigerwalds?

        1. Not sure if you’ll see this by now, but yep.

    3. What am I, choped liver?

      1. You did have a pretty cool HQ, Benny. But when i think of the way you died, I see why Hitler committed suicide.

      2. Yes, choped – into leetell, small, beets.

    4. Wrong again, Episiarch. The “mili” in “militerized” refers to the Mili Atoll, which was long used as a pirate base. So “militerized” means turning cops into pirates.

      1. No, you idiot, it refers to Milli Vanilli. So it’s talking about cops turning into Milli Vanilli.

        1. Now talk about/now talk about/baby
          don’t forget my number

          I actually miss those guys. What a retarded scandal.

        2. What? Where did you learn your English–Google Translate? “Milli” has two Ls. “Militerized” has one. Completely different.

          1. Everyone knows that Jamaicans can’t spell. The proper rendering of their name is Miley Vaniley.

            1. Is that like the uncanny vaniley AI researchers talk about?

              1. Miley Cyrus falls into that, yes.

                1. For once, I completely understand you.

            2. Jamaicans? Weren’t they German?

  3. I watched part II of the Ken Burns Prohibition documentary last night and I’m a complete loss as to why Burns is so in denial about the similarities between prohibition and the drug war.

    The documentary does an incredible job of detailing the miserable failure of prohibition and even spends a decent amount of time revealing how many innocent people were gunned down in the crossfire of Federal Prohibition agent activities, not to mention the way in which said federal agents treated the constitution like toilet paper during their wfforts at enforcement.

    There are incredible amounts of similarities in the drug war and prohibition that this documentary shows, and for the life of me I can’t understand why Burns is so in denial of this.

    1. He doesn’t want to piss off his government benefactors.

      Imagine if he had to dirty his hands by producing material for commercial television. The horror!

      1. “He doesn’t want to piss off his government benefactors.”

        in other words, if you want to understand a situation, ….follow the money.

    2. I watched a good portion of that as well, and can not for the life of me see how anyone can miss the similarities. Even my conservative mother (life-long Catholic, farm wife, retired teacher) has come around to the point of view that trying to enforce drug laws is a useless effort. You could remake most of that documentary about the drug war, and it would change very little at all. Found it fascinating.

      1. It is an excellent documentary, and what I didn’t realize is how much influence women had on both sides of argument. Mabel Walker Willebrandt -Hoover’s Assistant Attorney General- is despite her efforts to enforce Prohibition a fascinating individual, and I could watch a show about her life alone. Or Pauline Sabin, who resigned in disgust from the Republican National Committee and helped found a new group that soon became the Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform, whose sole goal was Repeal.

        Just a fascinating story. But again, the parallels between prohibition and the drug war are inescapable.

  4. [Hat tip to vile commenter BakedPenguin for that last link.]

    You forgot his adjective.

    1. Dude, you should no longer be jealous. For crying out loud YOU WERE THE LEAD DEFENDANT!!! It doesnt get any better than that. You mark has been made and long shall it stand.

      p.s. I did note however beloved Dagny still holds the appreciation title.

      1. Well, Commenter Warty did pretty well for himself, but I still think Commenter Latter Day Taint stole that show.

    2. [Hat tip to lazy-eyed bumtickler BakedPenguin for that last link.]

      1. “hat tip to extremely chafed NutraSweet”

        1. flopsweat wrangler Episiarch

          1. “hat tip to autoasphyxiated masturbator JW”

            1. “hit tip to Pro Libertate, the only man I ever loved”

              1. I get that a lot. Good thing, too, come probate time.

                1. Why won’t you love us back, ProL? Are we so hideous to you?

                  1. Compared to my hot, Colombian wife, why yes, yes you are.

                    1. Is there in truth no beauty?

                    2. No. You missed the whole point of that episode, which is about the pure objective nature of hotness. If it isn’t attractive, it’s worth nothing. Nothing!

      2. Well, “beloved” is reserved for Canadian commenters. Is bemounted taken?

      3. vile commenter

        Vile commenterer. I’m getting sick of pointing out your failings as a human being.

        lazy-eyed bumtickler

        Yeah, well… at least I’m not a punk-ass book jockey.

        1. I think the Reason editors–and interns–should create an elite class of commenters. People who’ve been here for a while and who are generally recognized by the staff as having made a significant contribution to the field of commenting.

          Those happy few commenters would receive the title, “Commenterer” and would have access to full scripting capabilities in the comments and the right to collectively blackball commenters for any reason or no reason.

          1. Agreed. My first act as commenterer would be to blackball Pro Lib for suggesting this.

            1. Sorry, but you’re too late. I was named to the commentererer class and am immune.

              1. ahh, but if you look closely, it actually reads:

                “collectively blackball commenter(er)s for any reason or no reason.”

                1. Well, then, I’m going to seek commentererer status.

              2. I like this. It would be enormously entertaining to watch you labor under the illusion that you’d been given power.

                If you can figure out where to send the request, I’ll take it under consideration.

                1. I like this. It would be enormously entertaining to watch you labor under the illusion that you’d been given power.

                  If you can figure out where to send the request, I’ll take it under consideration.

                  1. FUCK!

                    1. Even the very servers mock your mockery. Making them mockerers.

                    2. A poxerer on you.

                    3. I pleasured myself with an extremely erotic potato last night.

                    4. You spuderered.

          2. Does my years-long alt-text crusade count as a significant contribution to the field?

            1. I don’t see why not.

              1. Because, sadly, I have as of yet had zero effect on Etkins.

                1. Sullum is a rock as well.

                  1. Suderman came around though.

          3. I see your time surfing Gawker sites hasn’t had any effect…

            Registration wouldn’t be a bad thing though.

  5. The New Professionalism at work!

  6. these annoying lawsuitz could be avoided if SWAT followed the Ranger cred to kill em all & let god sort em out.

    1. I’m almost certain that’s not the Ranger Creed.

      1. He’s talking about The Power Rangers. His mom let’s him watch them every afternoon as long as he doesn’t piss himself during his nap-time.

        He has only seen 6 episodes in the last 10 years.

        1. Thank you, SugarFree. I was laughing under my breath like a cretin at this, and now I am concerned what my coworkers must think.

          1. I find a well-timed “WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT, MOTHERFUCKER?!?” clears up almost all co-worker concerns.

            1. Pulling out your gun also helps.

              1. Your “gun”, sure.

                1. I’m playing “dick out” at work right now.

            2. +9,9,9.


      2. cred not creed

  7. The attorneys need to introduce the Youtube video of the Columbia MO raid as evidence, so the jurors can see what “standard procedure” actually looks like. The state attorneys will then have to either (a) not object, or (b) claim that standard procedure is so awful that it will prejudice the jury. Win-win.

  8. I would like to see an update to Radley’s map. Perhaps even in Chart form. I really would like to send it to a few L&O types to point out the corruption of LEOs and the uselessness of the Drug War.

    1. And then we would have to lay off police officers as there would be less work for them. How’s that for stimulus?

  9. They are not accoutable so why should they care?

    I’m sure it’s a joke somewhere that if it goes wrong, the taxpayer foots the bill.

  10. Is there any way to hold the Judges who authorize these types of warrants responsible for the tactics they let the police use? There does not seem to be any accountibility for anyone in the law enforcement or the judiciary to be held responsible for when these things go badly. If there were, maybe they would not be tempted to use such naked agression.

    1. legally or actually?

      1. Legally or administratively.

  11. Random thought.
    Is there any way to see the insurance premium per police officer, that cities pay to cover these types of law suits?

    1. Try filing a FOIA. It’s a line item in the Municipal Budget. If privatley insured, the cost is generally per officer; balanced over the number of active police officers (not calculated individually). If the Municipality is Self-Insured, then the cost would most likley be represented as a lump sum.

      FYI, yes, the premium does go up based on the number of lawsuits, cost of defense and payment to claimants and also how many “high risk” teams and deployments take place over a specified time.

      For some Police Departments, it’a a rather tidy sum.

  12. commentererpendous

  13. Best comments page in months!

    1. Agreed!

    2. This one is neat and tidy.

  14. Don’t read the comments on the article, don’t read the comments on the article, don’t read the comments…

    ::reads newspaper site comments to first article::


  15. Here’s a winner.…..hon=501,ny

  16. Much of the havoc wreaked by “SWAT” and similar I’m-a-Tough-Guy law enforcement elements is attributable to a fondness for the equipment and accoutrements of the military. However, there appears to be a significant lack of understanding the how and why of the tactics, techniques, and procedures they are attempting to emulate. They make fundamental mistakes, over and over again. Chief among these mistakes is the affinity for conducting raids on residential properties, quite apparently without much in the way of intelligence regarding the location that they plan to search.
    On the other side of that coin, it seems that when immediate, decisive action is required to protect life, the very same types who are so eager to knock doors down suddenly lose much of their enthusiasm for closing with the threat.

  17. God bless Amerika, land that I love. Stand beside her and guide her through the night with the light from above. I think all people, generally, have to face the reality that the truth of things counts for almost nothing in the affairs of men. As a society we persist in this insanity and idiocy (and so much other insanity and idiocy) in spite of the realities of the cost and harm it has done. How do you take such a society seriously?

    This completely aside from the fact that it is utterly contrary to any notion of liberty as a principle. You would think that the costs and harm alone would cause those in charge to seriously consider the error of their ways, but, no, even this is not enough to sway them. It’s like being gambler who continually makes bad bets but simply can not resist going all in. When something is not working, the only thought is to do more of it and to do it harder.

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