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N.C. Mom Says SWAT Team 'Terrorized' Her 6-Year-Old Autistic Son

"My son with autism was forced out of the home with military-style rifles aimed at him and made to sit on the cold, wet ground for over an hour."

Nikola Fific/Dreamstime.comNikola Fific/Dreamstime.comThis week a North Carolina mom told the Raleigh City Council that police "terrorized" her parents and her 6-year-old special-needs son.

A Selective Enforcement Unit (SEU) team—Raleigh's version of SWAT—had a warrant to search Michael and Wanda Clark's home last November. Michael's nephew, Brian Clark, was a suspect in a recent armed robbery. Police found a box Brian had left at the scene of the crime with his uncle's name and address on it, Indy Week reports. So they paid a visit to the Clark home, where Michael and Wanda's daughter LaDonna had dropped off her son, who has autism and cerebral palsy, before going to work.

Brian Clark did not live at his uncle's house and was not there at the time. Nonetheless, police forced Michael, Wanda, and their grandson to walk out of the house and sit on the ground. "On a 35-degree and rainy night, my son with autism was forced out of the home with military-style rifles aimed at him and made to sit on the cold, wet ground for over an hour by RPD SWAT," LaDonna told the city council Tuesday:

"You can sit down there, or I will handcuff you," an officer told her father, according to a complaint Michael Clark later filed with the department.

"Having guns pointed at a six-year-old was extremely frightening and completely unnecessary," Wanda Clark wrote in a complaint of her own. "Even now, I still have nightmares about those guns being pointed at me and my grandson."

"Not only was I not allowed to see the footage of my son being terrorized," LaDonna told the city council, but the police wouldn't give her an internal affairs complaint number unless she specifically stated which department policies had been broken and agreed to an in-person interview. At this point, the police already had three written complaints describing the incident.

Clark says that in December, police finally let her see a single picture captured from body-camera footage of her father walking out of the house. She told the city council that police eventually offered to give her an internal affairs case number—after she signed up to tell her story to the council.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is looking into both the incident itself and thepolice's alleged attempts to quell an internal investigation. Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown tells WTVD that the incident is "being reviewed by the Raleigh Police Department Office of Professional Standards."

Complicating matters are North Carolina laws that prevent the specific results of internal investigations from being made public. "The internal affairs process remains completely opaque and unavailable to average community members who have a complaint," ACLU attorney Susanna Birdsong tells Indy Week. Moreover, North Carolina generally exempts police recordings from public records laws. So even if there is full body-camera footage of the incident in question, the Clarks might never get to see it.

Photo Credit: Nikola Fific/Dreamstime.com

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  • Don't look at me!||

    What good are the cameras if nobody gets to see what was recorded?

  • 0x1000||

    Something Was Done and that should be good enough.

  • D-Pizzle||

    All policies and procedures were followed...

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Masturbation material for the after shift circle jerk?

    Here is a song that seems eerily appropriate for the situation......

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PScmRiaZhwk

  • Doug1031||

    The police see it. That way they can control the narrative. Cameras are for their defense..not your safety.

  • ||

    unless she specifically stated which department policies had been broken

    Either you've got a policy that forbids the pointing of guns at innocent six year olds or you don't.

  • Ben of Houston||

    How about serving a simple search warrant with either beat cops or detectives instead of an army? This is a completely unreasonable use of force for the situation.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Fake News. According to the latest medical research performed by noted physician Dajjal, autism does not exist.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    You know who else made people sit on the cold, wet ground?

  • Imperator||

    Frank Stallone

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    SEAL instructors?

  • gah87||

    Shakelton?

  • Johnimo||

    Shakelton?, Shakelton??? Really? The boat wasn't big enough to take them with him when he sailed out to S. Georgia Island. So ... taking cover under the overturned boats might have been a cake-walk compared with the arduous journey and navigational "shot in the dark."

  • Still Curmudgeoned (Nunya)||

    Please say porn directors. Then say the name of the movie.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Chris Hansen?

  • Johnimo||

    General Eisenhower?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "Not only was I not allowed to see the footage of my son being terrorized," LaDonna told the city council...

    You're only one vote, while police leadership pays for occasional lunches. Advantage: police.

  • Sigivald||

    "Military-style". OH, NO. NOT STYLE!

    Jesus. Christ. Reason.

    (Look, opposing SWAT stupidity is good and right and proper; kudos!

    But can we maybe not just uncritically repeat the Scary Black Rifle crap?

    An old Mini-14 or a Remington shotgun isn't "military style", and old SWATters with those can kill you just as dead.

    We all ought to know that by now, right?)

  • ||

    Jesus. Christ. Reason.

    Take it easy;
    1. Reason is quoting the victim's family.
    2. Not everyone who gets a gun pointed at a family member can be a gun expert.
    3. She could be entirely ambivalent about the 2A and mean 'military style' without any policy intent.
    4. She's right, "wielded by government agents against targets hostile or not, civilian or not" constitutes the fullest definition of 'military-style' or even 'assault-style' in my book.

  • ||

    4. She's right, "wielded by government agents against targets hostile or not, civilian or not" constitutes the fullest definition of 'military-style' or even 'assault-style' in my book.

    I'm not familiar enough with SWAT operations to know if she isn't, in fact, technically correct. Is Raleigh's SEU equipped with select fire M-4s? I know other SWAT-type units are.

  • darkflame||

    I know Charleston SC's beat cops have M-4s in their cars, with a few unlucky ones still getting shotguns. I wouldn't be surprised if Raleigh has M-4s, they're a fairly prosperous area

  • ||

    I know Charleston SC's beat cops have M-4s in their cars

    Actual M-4s? I know officers who have AR-15s and that lots of PDs don't like the overhead or liability of issuing M-4s to masses of officers, reserving them for tactical response units.

  • Azathoth!!||

    What is the issue here?

    They got a warrant, no one got shot and no one got wrongly arrested.

    Oops! The kid was at grandma's house! Is that the problem?

    Because I'm not seeing any of the usual stuff--no knock raid, dog shot, people shot. None of it. Just the standard getting people out of the house while it's being searched.

    Seems like a lot of nothing.

  • ||

    There's still an issue with getting a warrant for a house that isn't the residence of the person of interest. And then the usual pragmatics of no-knocking the place where the persons of interest and evidence *aren't*.

    If crazy person X shoots up a mall and has a package labeled "c/o Azathoth! @ " does that mean police get to kick in your door? You might say that there's a reasonable sense that an uncle and nephew were more than just random unacquainted individuals but, even then, is familial relation an implication of guilt? Does it warrant a no-knock raid when the homeowner is absent? It would seem the usual knock-at-the-door questioning followed by a search warrant would be more warranted. Otherwise, leaving a box with the name and address around and generating a scene sounds like a decent way to SWAT someone.

  • ||

    "c/o Azathoth! @ [whatever your address is]"

  • Azathoth!!||

    They didn't "kick in the door". This wasn't a no knock raid.

    This WAS a "usual knock-at-the-door questioning followed by a search warrant would be more warranted."

    What is it they say? RTFA.

  • ||

    They didn't "kick in the door". This wasn't a no knock raid.

    They sent in a tactical unit is the claim. If you've got proof otherwise, address the fact.

    This WAS a "usual knock-at-the-door questioning followed by a search warrant would be more warranted."

    Bullshit. The facts above don't line up with your imagined scenario. If you aren't a threat, you normally get to stay inside while a non-tactical police unit searches your house. If you pose a threat or are otherwise non-compliant, you get to wait in the back of a squad car and/or answer questions downtown. A tactical unit setting occupants on the lawn in the rain a 3 a.m. is not consistent with a friendly/peaceful search of the house. It's an unequivocal raid tactic.

    Even from a purely empirical standpoint; the tactical unit tossed a family out of a house to, apparently, find no evidence and make no arrests. Warrant or no warrant, it constitutes an absolute, grade-F failure of police action. Lemme ask you this would you feel better if Tuttle and Nicholas were shot dead after police issued a warrant to search the wrong premises? Better if they were arrested and charged with the revolver and drugs they did have rather than the ones informants say they had?

  • Ben of Houston||

    That's the problem. Even if it was a properly warranted search where they properly knocked, there were two problems.

    1: The level of force involved was excessive. A Swat team should not be performing routine searches
    2: They forced a family including children to sit outside in near-freezing weather with no good reason.

  • Doug1031||

    Bet you would not be so dismissive if it was you Grandson or you and your wife whose only crime was being related to a person who committed a crime.

  • majil||

    Cheer when cops are shot in the face

  • majil||

    Cheer when cops are shot in the face

  • gah87||

    Write the Raleigh police chief a letter. Or y'all can keep on mandraking each other online. It's a free country.

  • gah87||

    Better yet, do both!

  • Longtobefree||

    What this country needs is a law protecting the helpless disabled citizens.
    Maybe title it 'the Americans with disabilities act'?
    Too lazy to check; is there an exemption for government officials?

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  • Doug1031||

    Sounds reasonable. Cops creating a new generation of people who fear and dislike Cops. Great job..totally necessary. They brought the tank right? Hopefully they definitely brought the tank.

  • pro bonobo||

    Military "style" rifles my ass.

    I'd fully expect the Raleigh swat team to have real military assault rifles. Selective fire machine guns.

  • pro bonobo||

    Military "style" rifles my ass.

    I'd fully expect the Raleigh swat team to have real military assault rifles. Selective fire machine guns.

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  • LEAPGuyAZ||

    When I was working narcotics and did search warrants we din't dress in black, wear hoods, or carry automatic weapons. I still see the faces of terrified children at night. I don't care how you dress, if you're good guys or bad guys, when you assault someones home and put parents on the ground at gun point in front of children, it damages them....

  • Doug1031||

    LEAPGuyAZ..

    Thanks for demonstrating and voicing humanity. That's what the public wants to hear when something goes bad..and what they want the professionals to be cognizant of in the planning stage to determine if the demonstration of force being considered is justified and necessary.

    A basic rule..think if it was me or my family...works every time.

  • Doug1031||

    LEAPGuyAZ..

    Thanks for demonstrating and voicing humanity. That's what the public wants to hear when something goes bad..and what they want the professionals to be cognizant of in the planning stage to determine if the demonstration of force being considered is justified and necessary.

    A basic rule..think if it was me or my family...works every time.

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