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Death by SWAT

Collateral raid damage

In January 2007, a SWAT team in Lima, Ohio, shot and killed Tarika Wilson, a 26-year-old mother, during a drug raid at the home of her boyfriend, Anthony Terry. When the unarmed Wilson was shot, she was kneeling on the ground, complying with police orders. She was holding her 1-year-old son, Sincere, who was also shot, losing his left hand. A subsequent investigation revealed that Officer Joseph Chavalia heard another officer shooting Terry’s two dogs, mistook the noise for hostile gunfire, panicked, and fired blindly into the room where Wilson was kneeling. Chavalia was charged with involuntary manslaughter, but acquitted.

As reckless and violent as the raid was, the police did at least find a substantial supply of illegal drugs inside the house, and Anthony Terry later pleaded guilty to felony drug distribution. A subsequent investigation by the Lima News showed that despite the inherent danger and small margin for error, SWAT raids conducted by the Lima Police Department frequently turned up no drugs or weapons at all. The paper found that in one-third of the 198 raids the SWAT team conducted from 2001 to 2008, no contraband was found.

Similar reviews in other cities have produced similar results: A surprisingly high percentage of raids produce neither drugs nor weapons. And the weapons that are found tend to be small, concealable handguns, with few raids resulting in felony convictions.

A Denver Post investigation found that in 80 percent of no-knock raids conducted in Denver in 1999, police assertions that there would be weapons in the targeted home turned out to be wrong. A separate investigation by the Rocky Mountain News found that of the 146 no-knock warrants served in Denver in 1999, just 49 resulted in criminal charges, and only two resulted in prison time. Media investigations produced similar results after high-profile mistaken raids in New York City in 2003, in Atlanta in 2007, and in Orlando and Palm Beach, Florida, in 1998. When the results of the Denver investigation were revealed, former prosecutor Craig Silverman said, “When you have that violent intrusion on people’s homes with so little results, you have to ask why.”

Lima police apparently aren’t as concerned. When told of the Lima News investigation, police spokesman Kevin Martin said, “That means 68 percent of the time, we’re getting guns or drugs off the street. We’re not looking at it as a win-loss record like a football team does.”

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  • ||

    "That means 68 percent of the time, we're getting guns or drugs off the street."

    If a student scores a 68% on an exam in my class, they have pretty much failed. Good to see that the police are held to those same high standards.....

  • ||

    Big Bolzhevik blue bellied bullies.

  • ||

    Ice Cube said it best.

  • ||

    Does is say somewhere that these weapons are illeagally possesed? I have leagally owned weapons in my home. Would a raid turn up weapons in my home? Yes. I think we need more details on the weapons.

  • ||

    need more details on the weapons

    Not Police Department property. Next question.

  • ||

    That is, weren't Police Department property. But we fixed that.

  • ||

    Loupeznik,

    I was thinking the same thing. In fact, raids on most american's homes would turn up weapons. Incidentally, this is why we are supposed to be able to have them - to repel tyranny. No knock warrents on residences should be uniformely illegal - there is really no good justification for them.

  • ||

    That means 68 percent of the time

    How the hell do you get 68% out of?:

    A Denver Post investigation found that in 80 percent of no-knock raids conducted in Denver in 1999, police assertions that there would be weapons in the targeted home turned out to be wrong. A separate investigation by the Rocky Mountain News found that of the 146 no-knock warrants served in Denver in 1999, just 49 resulted in criminal charges, and only two resulted in prison time.

    Seems like I'm seeing 49/146=34% at best, despite the 80% not having weapons or drugs. New math?

  • ||

    Isn't collateral raid damage what Mages do in Warcraft? Arcane Burst?

    Oh shit....I wasted my life.

  • ||

    Both the Dems and the GOP support this effronery against liberty in the name of the War on Drugs Minorities.

    Cops wonder why nobody in the inner city will cooperate with them anymore.

    After relating the truth about the War on Drugs Liberty people still ask why I think all recreational drugs should be treated like alcohol.

    People are fuckin' stupid.

  • deannagraham||

    It all comes down to money. If the war on drugs goes away, the money goes away. Black people are a convenient boogey man. It makes me sick that the US does this. Man, we are better than this! Change has to happen.

  • ||

    They have to start sending via UPS drugs to the brothers/sisters/relatives of these police chiefs homes. This way, they can learn how it feels...Like that Mayor that had both of his dogs killed.

  • ||

    Alice, thought about it, seems like a waste of perfectly good drugs.

  • ||

    Alice, I think that's an awesome idea. But to really get it right, you have to target high ranking police officials or politicians who don't live where they work. For instance, the cops in suburban New York may not immediately recognize the name of the wife of a chief of police from New York City, but most likely his own guys would. Oh, that's the other part, don't send it to the official, send it to his/her wife/husband. Less likely to be filtered out that way (that's what happened to the mayor, the package was for his wife).

  • ||

    "Seems like I'm seeing 49/146=34% at best, despite the 80% not having weapons or drugs. New math?"

    I think the 68% was the Lima, OH police, not Denver....

  • ||

    What percent of no-knock SWAT raids are conducted in search of drugs (which should be legalized anyway)? What is the percentage for illegal weapon warrants (which for me is a bit of a gray area in terms of what the law should be)? And how often are such raids conducted to combat those crimes which clearly have victims?

    Also what is the standard for having a no-knock warrant instead of a regular warrant? Do they need to have some reasonable expectation that there would be armed resistance if they knock and announce themselves as police?

  • ||

    I've said this previously, and the point was probably made before I thought of it: I doubt cops charge into meth or LSD labs with guns a blazin', because the chemicals used could explode, burn or diffuse in the air, causing serious health problems to the cops and everyone else in the general vicinity. Yet they still manage to arrest meth & LSD cooks. But if cops can arrest them without the stormtrooper raids, why are they necessary at all?

    Standard WoD disclaimer, blah, blah.

  • ||

    A Denver Post investigation found that in 80 percent of no-knock raids conducted in Denver in 1999, police assertions that there would be weapons in the targeted home turned out to be wrong.

    I don't know how many raids that is, and if the numbers are accurate, but it is nauseating. Are the judges who sign these warrants literate? Is there something that prevents them from understanding that 4 out of 5 of the warrants that they sign are defective? Aren't they supposed to be part of the checks and balances equation? Why do they apparently show such incredible indifference to the destruction they so actively participate in bringing?

  • Paul||

    "That means 68 percent of the time, we're getting guns or drugs off the street. We're not looking at it as a win-loss record like a football team does."



    This is a tough call. If we start demanding that guns or drugs are "taken off the street" in every SWAT raid, the pressure to start planting evidence will go through the roof.

  • ||

    "swillfredo pareto" If I agreed with you any more, I would pop. Judges "I just sits here and signs things"
    As with the example of the medical examinar in ?Alabama?, apparently any member of the goobermint can say the most illogical, inconsistent, incredible thing, and the judge will be non-plussed.

  • ||

    non·plussed [ nòn plúst ]

    adjective
    Definition:

    1. confused: surprised, confused, and uncertain what to do or say

  • ||

    Not to diminish the suffering of those having their homes invaded by paramilitary forces, or the lives those forces have taken on our own soil, but is it REALLY necessary to shoot the dogs??? How is this standard operating procedure? It blows my mind how far we've regressed. The Founding Fathers are rolling over in their graves.

  • ||

    No knock warrents on residences should be uniformely illegal - there is really no good justification for them.



    They make sense if you know there's going to be a fight. But the police have no motivation to answer that question carefully or thruthfully---they are good either way.

    I have this theory. It probably sucks somehow, but I'll tell y'all anyway. For what is is worth:

    1. You do no knock so the people inside won't have time to understand the situation and react until their capture is a fait acompli

    2. The police have a "new professionalism"

    3. So we take them at their word: people on the receiving end of a no knock raid are assumed for legal purposes to be unaware that their attackers are police, and are therefor entitled to claim self defense.

    The expected (or possibly hoped-for) result: police avoid doing these things unless they actually make tactical sense.

  • ||

    EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy: I like it, however:

    (1) So far ignorance of exactly which armed thugs have busted into your house has not yet proven to be a defense and

    (2) My opinions tend to be a little out of the mainstream, and so are to be taken with a grain of salt.

  • ||

    They make sense if you know there's going to be a fight. But the police have no motivation to answer that question carefully or thruthfully---they are good either way.

    Just wait around outside until they come out. Just like a lot of places won't engage cars in high speed chases (because of the danger) the right answer is that you let them come out on their own. No-Knocks only purpose is to keep them from flushing drugs.

  • deannagraham||

    I believe no-knocks exist so the people inside with guns can't set up a defensive position in the house. In theory. I personally believe the police are becoming over militarized. All the sociopaths who want to act like Special Forces...just sayin'.

  • ||

    @domoarrigato

    Just wait around outside until they come out. Just like a lot of places won't engage cars in high speed chases (because of the danger) the right answer is that you let them come out on their own.



    For damn near every case, this is the answer. The exceptions are what Bruce Schneier calls "Movie Plot" threats.


    No-Knocks only purpose is to keep them from flushing drugs.



    Or shooting the hostages. Or trying to shoot your officers through the door. But the first case doesn't call for a warrant, and the second mostly calls for good equipment.


    @James Butler

    So far ignorance of exactly which armed thugs have busted into your house has not yet proven to be a defense



    I am proposing to put the burden of proof explicitly on the prosecution to demonstrate explicitly that the "suspect" knew who was coming for them. Video of the bust might be a good start.

    That is not currently the case.

  • ||

    Now I'll have to have twice as much repeal-day liquor to calm myself back down.

    I'm totally in favor of the "mail drugs" plan, who should we start with, the chiefs of polie? the judges who issue these toxic warrants? the politicians who persist in such obviously failed and massively destructive policies?

  • ||

    Bruce Schneier - wow, haven't heard that name in a long time. Nearly 10 years ago, when I was in the military and was working for NSA, everybody read the Crypto-gram like it was gospel. They even had his site mirrored on the secret-squirrel computers that everyone used.

  • ||

    @ Eamon "but is it REALLY necessary to shoot the dogs??? How is this standard operating procedure?"

    they were talking of this on free talk live the other day. apparently if there is a dog, the cops just shoot with the justification that they were threatened. just go to their site and find the episode, its worth listening to if your interested in the answer.

  • ||

    When innocent people or unarmed criminals are killed by trigger-happy cops there are almost never convictions for murder, manslaughter, or use of unnecessary force. There seems to be a commonly held belief that this sort of behavior is justified because "they lay their lives on the line for us every day," that their work is so dangerous and stressful that they can't be held to the same standards as everybody else. Well, let's put that old saw to bed right now. Being a cop is one of the safest trades in the world. Of over a million sworn officers in this country (the highest number of any nation in the world), about fifty die annually in altercations of some sort. About another 70-80 die "in the line of duty," which can mean anything from a traffic accident, a heart attack, choking on a donut, or falling down the stairs.

    Police work doesn't make it anywhere near the upper range among dangerous professions. Practically any job with any clear and tangible risk is more dangerous than being a cop.

    Too many of them are both thugs and craven cowards. If you ever want to have some fun (I don't recommend this) call 911 and report "shots fired." The response time will be very long indeed, certainly long enough for any perpetrator to escape and long enough to assemble at least a rifle company's worth of SWAT members.

  • Alan||

    RE: Just wait around outside until they come out.

    But if you did that, you would have to return all of your DHS grant money! Where would you get the funds for the macho outfits and cool equipement?

  • ||

    If they raid a house and seize (possibly perfectly lawful and rightfully owned) guns, they aren't getting any guns off the streets. They aren't on the street--they are in a private citizens home where they belong--and apparently safer than in the hands of police.

  • ||

    Hmm, yep, in a quick survey of sites listing the 10 most dangerous jobs in America, law enforcement isn't even on it. Roofers and garbage collectors are. Strangely enough, if they busted into your house accidentally and shot you and your dog, they'd go to prison.

    The next time you pass a Waste Management truck, salute the brave men and women who lay their lives on the line every day for you.

  • ||

    [I]n a quick survey of sites listing the 10 most dangerous jobs in America, law enforcement isn't even on it.

    This is extremely useful in the ongoing debate on this topic. Officers' safety seems to be the trump card used by proponents of NKRs, and I had always conceded/accepted the above-average danger of being an LEO.

  • ||

    The sooner all of us acknowlegde the fact that we are no longer living in a Constitutional Republic, the sooner the revolution comes . . .

  • ||

    Fuck these pigs. Was getting the drugs worth killing a woman and permanently disabling her child? This drug war is the worst policy decision in American history. Not to mention one of the greatest human rights abuses that goes unnoticed.

  • ||

    The answer: Jury nullification in all drug cases.

  • ||

    "they lay their our lives on the line for us every day,"

    fixed that for you

  • M. Simon||

    A Federal Marshall says: We Ain't Bustin No White People

  • ||

    Radley has left a couple of very important bits of information out, and to my mind missed an obvious question too.

    1). A local news report actually describes the young boy as losing a finger, not an entire hand.
    2). The police officer that fired was climbing stairs at the time his weapon was discharged (http://www.thecourier.com/Issues/2008/Jul/31/ar_news_073108_story7.asp?d=073108_story7,2008,Jul,31&c=n)

    My question is- has he tripped on the stairs, whilst his finger was on the trigger? And if it was on the trigger, what drills have they been teaching this officer? He has claimed afterwards that he fired when he heard the other shots, but this could be an excuse after the event.

    Lima is a small town of only 40,000 with a 14 man SWAT team. That's a small team in a small town, and I'd be curious to know what training they actually have. No trained unit should be firing without identifying its targets.

    The Toldeo Blade has a lot more stuff including some info on what the officer claimed he could see when he fired;
    http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080731/NEWS02/807310413

  • ||

    Let's quit having police in the US and then see what happens.

  • ||

    jp - One thing that would happen is that when somebody breaks down my door and shoots my dog, I'll know the home invaders are fair game when I kill them. Not a gun-ho cop who wishes he had what it takes to be a Marine or Paratrooper.

    If you want to play soldier, go enlist. If you want to be a cop, act like one.

  • ||

    Or a gun-ho Marine who wishes he had what it takes to be a cop.

    Bram, it's easier to be a marine than a cop. The Marines accepted 350 felons in 07. You couldn't be a cop with a felon record.

    Anyway, we're you trying to say we shouldn't have cops? It wasn't entirely clear in your post.

  • ||

    I see a lot of cops that couldn't make it a week in boot camp, so don't give me that bs that it's easier to be a marine because there are waivers for past fuck-ups.

    If not for the blue wall, the police would require felony waivers to stay staffed- at least with the bunch of thugs employed as cops now.

  • ||

    Duh. I see lots of ex-Marines who couldn't make it a week in boot camp now, dude.

    Wow, I wish I knew as much as you did-many cops are felons! Didn't know that!!!

  • Larry McElhinney||

    The US Government is the biggest baddest criminal enterprise in the history of mankind. This story is just a blip on their radar screens.

  • nfl jerseys||

    khdh

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