May 16, 2010

"As is common in these types of situations, the officers deployed a distractionary device commonly known as a flash bang."

"The purpose of the device is to temporarily disorient occupants of the house to make it easier for officers to safely gain control of anyone inside and secure the premise."

62 comments:

rhhardin said...

Usually they shoot the dog.

Joe said...

It's about time cops, police chiefs, DAs and judges get thrown in jail for using SWAT tactics to execute standard warrants and searches.

Use of a flash-bang is NOT standard operating procedure when executing a search warrant.

EnigmatiCore said...

I do not mean to be rude to our law enforcement people. Tough jobs in some places.

But my experience is that many of them really are dicks. Sorry, don't mean to be rude, but the job seems to attract people who have the personalities that lead to abuse of power. They get off on it, way too often.

And the flash-bang assaults? And no-knock raids? Sorry. Don't believe in them.

We have people going nuts over what we are doing in Guantanamo and this crap is way worse.

MadisonMan said...

Agree with Joe. SWAT team usage is all too commonplace now. But I guess they have to use the seized drug money to buy something -- why not high-falutin' armor?

Scott said...

Radley Balko of Reason.com will probably be all over this on Monday. Courts issue thousands of no-knock warrants every year that are executed by police paramilitary units.

Balko wrote an informative post comparing military tactics to police paramilitary tactics. He says that the military is generally embarassed when their tactics are compared to that of the police.

What I think is happening is, police departments are funding and training these paramilitary squads; and then they're expected to, you know, use them in order to justify their budget. It's also pretty obvious that a lot of communities that have SWAT teams shouldn't have them.

Expat(ish) said...

Not too long ago in Butner the police executed a no-knock raid. But the front door was re-inforced. And when they got through that they found the homeowner at the end of a hallway behind a reinforced metal door. Before they could break that down the sheriff arrived.

Wrong house. Owner was a retired cop. Oops.

Especially as he had a M1-Garand behind the door - fully able to fire through the metal and the body armor.

Just saying.

-XC

Aridog said...

I would like to know one thing before anything else. What make and model of pistol was the officer carrying?

There is a particular make and older model that is highly prone to accidental discharge...and it was issued to the DPD.

I'll leave the SWAT tactics issue to others, because I don't know all the particulars of this instance. I do wonder why the suspect couldn't have been grabbed when he left the premises casually, but that is also a risk to innocents when dealing with a high risk armed suspect. I just don't know enough.

danielle said...

this is terrible.

any lawyer types want to explain difference between a 'high risk search warrant' and a 'murder warrant' as it relates to the level of force officers can legally use ?

David said...

Detroit--what a nightmare. Murphy's law on a very large scale.

sean said...

This is unfortunate, but please note that this was not a drug raid, nor apparently was it a raid on the wrong house. It is perfectly legitimate to use aggressive tactics to arrest murderers.

danielle said...

but sean, they only had a search warrant. they didnt have a murder warrant.

Aridog said...

It may or may not have bearing on the mindset of the officers in this raid, but within the past 2 weeks a gun man in a abandoned house, in Detroit, shot down 4 officers, killing one of them.

The killer has been captured and detained...turns out he should never have been free and on the loose to begin with due to priors and current warrants.

traditionalguy said...

Let the police investigate first. Sometimes an accident happens.

Andrea said...

danielle, is something wrong with you? There's no such thing as a "murder warrant."

James said...

Some reports say that the house consisted of two apartments and that the suspect was arrested in the flat upstairs. If those reports are true then it appears to me that the police entered the wrong home.

mesquito said...

Anarcho-tyranny.

Pogo said...

Detroit is Afghanistan with food stamps.

James said...

The CNN article clearly makes a distinction between a "high-risk search warrant" and a "murder warrant."

edutcher said...

The flash-bang was developed by the SAS and first used in breaking the hostage situation in the Iranian embassy in London. In most, cases it's use is justified if there's an armed resistance expected. It's a military grade weapon and not to be used lightly.

It's the sort of thing used going after Saddam Hussein's sons, not some drug dealer.

danielle said...

Andrea, did you read the article ? apparently not.

If you had, perhaps you wouldnt find the need to be so arrogant and so bitchy.

Pogo said...

This case may not be an example of the overuse of SWAT/paramilitary tactics, but I'm feeling more and more like citizens are superfluous, a bother, expendable; except for the generations of taxes.

It's survival of the fittest, and the fittest is the government.

EDH said...

Police in Detroit, Michigan, on Sunday expressed "profound sorrow" at the fatal shooting of a 7-year-old girl in a police raid.

We've Got to Do Something!

Be said...

What's the confluence of Utopian Socialism with Utopian Libertarianism?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URr37OUyC6I

Pow! Bam! Bop! Whiz!

goodbodynut said...

This sort of thing happens all the time. Parents realy should not let children sleep at home. Cops are only doing their duty. Its much better to shoot first when breaking into a house in the middle of the night.

Synova said...

You know what it sounds like happened?

The police announced themselves (not "no knock") and entered the home. They did the flash bang-y thing and entered the home.

The "mom" in the home assaulted the police and in the scuffle the officer's gun discharged through a wall.

They didn't have the wrong home and did find and then arrest the suspect they were after.

So... misbehavior by police? Or people who know better harboring violent criminals without regard to the safety of small children also in their care?

From the article I couldn't possibly say, but I hardly expect the sort of people who hide a murderer in their home with a six year old there to pass up the opportunity to blame it all on someone else.

Cops aren't always innocent, but they aren't always guilty either.

knox said...

I tend to be sympathetic toward police. They're out there risking their lives for the rest of us, every day. I'd be a "dick" too, if I had to deal with the people they deal with.

With that said, their ability to use "flash bangs" or similar tactics need to be severely limited ... whether or not they contributed to the accidental shooting in this case. We need police power to be as limited as possible, while maintaining their ability to do their job. And we must avoid putting them in harm's way any more than necessary.

danielle said...

wow Synova. that's a very imaginative reading of the largely inconclusive information provided in the cnn article.

That's right -- its the parents fault that they used excessive weaponry and tactics without even an arrest warrant ! Damn those parents ! And that lady probably made the trained police officer discharge his gun ... and how dare they even consider finding fault with the police for that ! And its undoubtedly the case that the murder suspect decided to broadcast what he had done. How could the parents not have known !

I wonder what *really* made you overlook the excessive tactics and weaponry and find fault with the little girls parents.

Synova said...

Wow, danielle, you really got some massively conclusive stuff from that non-conclusive article.

My "facts" fit as well as yours but at least I didn't claim that I wasn't making stuff up. I was totally making it up. But it fits.

People jump to conclusions. I like to be fair and point out that there is more than one direction to jump.

Jason said...

I have no problem with the flash-bang. The flash-bang grenade didn't hurt anyone. The weapon did. Flash-bang grenades are there to make the raid SAFER for the officers and people in the home alike. If the flash-bang grenade can disorient the suspects long enough to prevent them from organizing a coherent defense it's a win. The only time it's a loss is if it attracts gunfire from outside the room, or causes a violent resistance where no violent resistance would otherwise be contemplated.

You cannot draw more conclusions than that from the article. If the woman struggled with the officer and the pistol went off as a result of that struggle than it's probably her fault the gun went off.

There WAS a murder suspect in the house, and that's no joke. If in fact it turns out that he is the murderer, then he brought this shit on his family. No one else.

danielle said...

that's right Synova -- your creative interpretation highlighted that the excessive tactics and weaponry without an arrest warrant are fair. And you also managed to blame the parents for the death of their daughter. Way to go. Thanks for being our collective moral compass.

Methadras said...

danielle said...

Thanks for being our collective moral compass.


I'll tell you this much. You certainly aren't.

Synova said...

Okay, sure...

So if the police taking the guy into custody was legal, then no harm, no foul?

I'm pretty sure you wouldn't think so.

And I'm pretty sure that it wasn't an illegal search and it wasn't an illegal arrest. The purpose of the search warrant was to arrest a specific person who had murdered someone, not to find evidence.

And *if* the gun went off because some idiot decided to get into a physical scuffle with the cops, then yes, she is responsible for the death of the girl.

And *if* the people in the house had any idea that the person that the cops were looking for was the subject of a manhunt, then yes, that also adds responsibility for endangering the girl.

The fact that a tragedy occurs doesn't mean that suddenly guilty people are innocent.

This wasn't a stupid drug raid, no-knock, wrong address idiocy but an attempt to arrest a man who was wanted for murder and the assumption that the police would be shot at is warranted.

And all I said was "if". Nothing at all in the article suggested that the police were not legitimately and legally in the correct house after a murder suspect. The "what happened" isn't clear but "shooting for the heck of it" isn't supported while an accidental discharge of a weapon is supported and a scuffle leading to it is hinted at.

Does it sound unbearably cruel to suggest that it's *possible* that the woman's actions led directly to the child's death?

What does cruelty have to do with it?

She either did, or she didn't.

Aridog said...

Here is Today's Article on this event.

Additional details, including a summary of recent shootings on the right margin (scroll down a bit), including the one that lead to this incident....as well as the one I cited that may have effected the mindset of officers in this incident.

For those not familiar with Detroit and what a "duplex" can mean in housing, it can be two different addresses, or a single address with an upstairs flat and a downstairs flat, usually joined/separated frequently inside the main front door. This was a single address and the warrant had it right.

I can be relatively certain of the above because I live here. Wanton shootings/killings are a plague just now...one that leads to incidents like this one.

I've yet to read a lot of local anguish over the death of Jarean Blake, who was shot down in cold blood in front of witnesses, in broad daylight, allegedly by the man arrested in the raid Sunday....who is the fiancée of one of the occupants of the house raided, who is related to the "Grandmother."

There is still a lot more to be revealed or discovered. What won't be revealed, in my opinion, is the make and model of the sidearm the officer was carrying/using...even though it may very well be causal in this instance.

info said...

Got a murderer in your house with a child...hmmm...police come to get him...you fight and bad stuff happens..Rule 1: Don't harbor murderers 2: Don't expose child to murderers 3: If police come...submit to search.
After that...tough sh*t

knox said...

danielle,

As Synova pointed out, there are a lot of unanswered questions in the story. Surely you can take a step back and perceive that we don't have nearly all the facts?

##

The only time it's a loss is if it attracts gunfire from outside the room, or causes a violent resistance where no violent resistance would otherwise be contemplated.

Well, yes. If you live in a high-crime 'hood, and you've never experienced a "flash bang," you might think it's a home invasion, or the like. That might cause someone--who might not otherwise--to struggle with the cops while they are still disoriented.

With that said, if the police believe a suspect is armed and dangerous, the use of it is justified.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Danielle & Synova: in law (IIRC, neither of you are attorneys, I think- I hope I don't sound patronizing) we have something called summary judgment- A defendant can move for summary judgment by arguing that even if we take all of the plaintiff's facts as true, the defense still would win under the law (or vice versa, w/ the plaintiff moving).

That's basically what you guys are doing- if you give all benefit of doubt to the police, you have one story, and maybe it shows they did nothing wrong, and if you give all benefits to the people, you get another perspective. Summary judgment wouldn't work here; there are two many ifs that change everything about what is right and wrong. At some point, they'll have to sort out the facts, because, until we know more, no conclusions can be reached here.

- Lyssa

MarkW said...

Detroit--what a nightmare. Murphy's law on a very large scale.

---

Detroit is Afghanistan with food stamps.

First of all, there's obviously nothing special about Detroit when it comes to SWAT raids -- Radley Balko has been following these all over the country.

With respect to crime, the situation in Detroit is obviously bad -- one of the worst 10 big cities in the U.S. But it is not the WORST let alone the worst by such a margin that it stands out. Here, for 2008, are the cities with the highest murder rates in 2008. Yes, Detroit is on the list -- but it's not even close to the top two of New Orleans and St Louis:

Murder rate (per 100,000):

New Orleans 63.6
St. Louis 46.9
Baltimore 36.9
Detroit 33.8
Washington D.C. 31.4
California 28.6

Would you say, 'St Louis -- Afghanistan with food stamps'? And keep in mind that murder rate doesn't include East St Louis across the river which, in 2007, had a murder rate of over 100 -- 3 times higher than Detroit's.

St Louis has had the same degree of population loss as Detroit, too (from 850,000 and 4th largest city in the U.S. to 350,000 and 52nd). In fact, there are many U.S. cities that have struggled with population loss and violent crime -- not just Detroit, Baltimore, and St Louis, but also Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Philadelphia. Even cities we think of as doing well like Minneapolis and Chicago have far fewer people than they used to (Chicago is down almost 800,000 from its high point).

Pogo said...

"Would you say, 'St Louis -- Afghanistan with food stamps'?"

Yup.
Large parts of every city you named are fast becoming third world hell-holes. Detroit is shrinking so fast that they have to tear down mansions because the local 'citizens' destroyed all property value and 90,000 such vacant eyesores are being razed and never coming back.

One common thread to every town listed?
Government chronically left-liberal.

But that's merely a strange coincidence. Heckuva job, Karl!

Pogo said...

"there are many U.S. cities that have struggled with population loss and violent crime..."

The direct outcome of lefty policies over decades. Hell of a monument to FDR and LBJ, don'cha think?.

tim maguire said...

Police in this country have become so militarized in their weapons and tactics that it's almost a joke that we still have the Posse Comitatus Act.

What's the point?

Jason said...

Tactics are tactics.

The point of having local police is not that they are more lightly armed than the military. Their arming levels are not a function of how well armed the military is (not even close), but of how well armed the criminals are. Police in any given area have to be just well enough armed to stay ahead of the criminals. If AK-47s are common on the street, I don't begrudge police having access to AR-15s when they need them.

The point of having police, rather than military law enforcement is that the police are locally controlled by local officials accountable to the people in local elections, and that the police themselves are members of the community in which they serve. This is not true of the military, who come from all over the country, and are not controlled by anyone local.

The posse comitatus act is not meant to limit weaponry, but to maintain civilian control of the streets.

The National Guard is better armed than the police are any day of the week - but governors can, in times of crisis, call out the National Guard without falling afoul of the posse comitatus act.

But even when they do, the Guard acts in support of law enforcement, and not in lieu of it.

Andrea said...

How interesting. Danielle accuses me of being "bitchy and arrogant" and then is bitchy and arrogant all over the quite reasonable counterarguments offered by Synova and others. "Bitchy" and "arrogant" must mean different things on danielle's planet than they do on this one.

Comrade X said...

how fucking incompetent do you have to be to train constantly in weapons and tactics and then shoot a seven year girl old because grandma bumped into you?

government employee incompetent.

Hoosier Daddy said...

how fucking incompetent do you have to be to train constantly in weapons and tactics and then shoot a seven year girl old because grandma bumped into you?

Glad we had you there on the scene to provide a first hand account of the incident.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Agree with Joe. SWAT team usage is all too commonplace now.

I thought it was all because the criminal element out there is so well armed and dangerous.

Which is it now? I can't keep up with the theme du jour.

Joe said...

(The Not Particularly Libertarian One)

Police in this country have become so militarized in their weapons and tactics that it's almost a joke that we still have the Posse Comitatus Act.


Oh yeah, the Strykers in the streets are clogging up morning rush hour traffic....

The M-4 carbines and sniper teams everywhere, the M-249 and M-240G's can't walk down the street without tripping over a belt of 5.56 or 7.62 ammunition. Not to mention the ever present m203 40mm rounds flying about...
and don't even get me started on the GMLRS and Excalibur rounds!

Are you living in the same US as us, or are you writing in from Kabul?

We live in a Golden Age of Policing. The Internet, YouTube, and the omnipresence of the cheap video camera make for a very interesting time of policing….the cops are better, better trained and better-equipped than at any time in US history (and by better equipped I mean they have multiple options to subdue you which don’t involve a beat down or a fire arm).

Bradley Balk goes on and on about the “militarization” of the Police, does he ever give an adequate, testable definition of the term? What IS “militarization” of the police? And don’t get me started on his Hobby Horse of the “No Knock” Raid or Cory May.

That having been said there are too many SWAT units and there seem to be a lot of missed addresses…..and I’d favor redoing the RICO Statutes and the Asset Forfeiture Laws and the increase official liability rules.

Big Mike said...

Hmm. Nearly 50 comments and, frankly, about the only things we really know at this point are: (1) it happened in Detroit, (2) it happened during the arrest of someone considered "armed and dangerous," and (3) a 7 year old girl was accidently shot and killed.

There are a couple more things that we think we know, and which are likely to be true: (4) the police were following their standard operating procedure (SOP) when attempting to arrest a suspect who is regarded as "armed and dangerous," and (5) a weapon was discharged as a consequence of an officer's physical contact with a 46 year old woman.

We don't know how many officers were involved in the raid, and we don't really know whether the woman initiated the contact or the police officer did. If she initiated the contact then IMAO the blame for the child's death rests on her shoulders and hers alone.

My own two cents worth is that police raids where flash-bangs are used and large numbers of armor-clad officers storm the dwelling with automatic weapons have a place, and one of those places is when apprehending a suspect who might very well fight back against the arresting officers. These tactics keep both officers and suspects alive.

Pogo said...

"That having been said there are too many SWAT units and there seem to be a lot of missed addresses…..and I’d favor redoing the RICO Statutes and the Asset Forfeiture Laws and the increase official liability rules."

Well said.
Part of this is the arms race between cops and the bad guys, but if all collateral damage is okay in the execution of a warrant, even if served on the wrong house, citizens are screwed.

I grant a lot of latitude to the police, but this kind of police tactic (and adverse outcome) seems far too common.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Given the ubiquity and relative inexpense of digital recording devices these days, how difficult would it be to arm officers with helmet cams or lapel cams for warrant executions? Even if we couldn't see what happened (if the angle was wrong), even audio recording would give us a lot more information than eyewitness testimony does if something goes wrong, and the officers, knowing that they are being recorded, are likely to be more careful.
- Lyssa

danielle said...

it seems like over kill to use flash bang in a residence, without at least first figuring out if there are children and a lot of innocent bystanders present. I can see using it in a drug raid, or some other crime haven; but in someone's house where people are just doing normal day to day things ? one article said the flash bang landed near the little girl and burned her before she got shot.

there have to be better options if you think a person is hiding out in a home full of innocent people.

Joe said...

there have to be better options if you think a person is hiding out in a home full of innocent people.

Like what, rolling up and announcing your presence, so now we have a “hostage situation?” Or how about this, roll up and pump CS gas into the house, that only causes lung damage in small children. Or you roll up, toss a non-lethal flash-bang into the house to disorient the occupants and rush on in? The latter assumes the suspect IS there and that we have the right address.

I’d agree to tougher liability rules vis-à-vis the militsia . IF the suspect isn’t there or if you get the wrong address you get a down check in your 201 File and the jurisdiction is on the hook for any damages. That might make the Millicents be more cautious in their raiding, mayhap force greater surveillance on the target to actually confirm a presence, that I’m willing to grant.

But the flash-bang is a better alternative to CS or Fragmentation grenades.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I can see using it in a drug raid, or some other crime haven; but in someone's house where people are just doing normal day to day things ?

Those normal day to day things like harboring a murderer?

Hoosier Daddy said...

But the flash-bang is a better alternative to CS or Fragmentation grenades.

Obviously the best option is for SWAT to check with Danielle to suggest the best way to go about apprehending violent criminals.

Joe said...

Extending what Lyssa said, I propose that the police video record ALL interactions with the public including ALL interrogations. I'd also be tempted to force them to record requests for warrants, though this might be more embarrassing for judges.

DA: We're going to go in and shoot everything
Judge: How about one flash-bang and you can shoot the dogs
DA: Okay

c3 said...

Late random comments:
-let the limited facts stand on their own without the imposed narrative
-I'm not clear what relevance the flash bang was to the shooting
-If things had gone "well" it would have been a "nice" episode on the "First 48 hours", instead it will be played over and over and commented on over and over on CNN, MSNBC, FOX etc. Reality TV meets reality meets "hyperreality"
-I hope Mr.Scott of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality had quick public comments the prior week regarding the shooting death of Jarean Blake, 17, a student at Southeastern High School in Detroit.
- "The Rev. Charles Williams II said the incident should be a wake-up call for the city.". Not that the prior weeks shooting should wake up anyone.

Big Mike said...

@danielle, it may seem like overkill, but the point is to try to prevent a shoot-out, which likely to lead to real killing.

Aridog said...

Well, in less than 24 hours this case has taken on a life of it's own (never waste a crisis). The Detroit Common Council wants to investigate on its own.

Celebrity (gadfly?) attorney Geoffrey Fieger has taken over the case from a another attoreny representing the family, hired the day of the shooting apparently.

The Wayne Counmty Prosecutor has requested the Michigan State Police investigate independently.

Meanwhile the Friday murder of Jarean Blake, whihc set off the Jones home raid, is mostly ignored. The killer of Officer Huff, shot down with 4 other police officers NOT conducting a swat type raid but simply repsonding to a "shoots fired" complaint to a vacant house....well, his killer is being arraigned today...made the news in a small tidbit.

Welcome to Detroit y'all.

Aridog said...

Oh, and mean while, the attorney who won his case against the Mayor of Detroit for firing 3 officers (all black) for investigating issues connected to him...well the powers that be are still trying mightily to disbar Michael Stefani for uncovering evidence that the Mayor committed perjury...which brought the Mayor down and brought him to trial again...where he was again convicted.

Doing the right thing is not a virtue here.

Shanna said...

And *if* the gun went off because some idiot decided to get into a physical scuffle with the cops, then yes, she is responsible for the death of the girl.

I would have to have more facts. I think it’s possible that that flash bang thing would make people more likely to fight then less than if they weren’t disoriented. I think that would make me more likely to react than a cop calmly walking into the room at any rate.

And *if* the people in the house had any idea that the person that the cops were looking for was the subject of a manhunt, then yes, that also adds responsibility for endangering the girl.

And it’s possible that they didn’t too. Sounds like it was the aunt’s fiancé who was the suspect. Either way, the cops have gotten WAY too far on the forceful side and this isn’t the first time someone has been killed who shouldn’t have been (and yes, that includes the dogs). So, even if harboring a murderer is bringing stuff on you, the cops are the ones who should try to ensure that innocent 7 year olds aren’t hurt. Saying that the parents of the child are in some way culpable does not absolve the police of guilt.

Then again, if the grandmother “got into a tussle with the first officer in, causing his gun to go off” then it may be a lot her fault depending on the details, I guess.

Kirk Parker said...

knox,

We've been through this before, but law enforcement is far from the most dangerous occupation out there. General building contractors suffer about the same rate of on-the-job fatalities, but somehow nobody ever talks about "our framing carpenters risking their lives for us".

Joe said...

(Not the very Libertarian one)
We've been through this before, but law enforcement is far from the most dangerous occupation out there. General building contractors suffer about the same rate of on-the-job fatalities, but somehow nobody ever talks about "our framing carpenters risking their lives for us".

And GENERALLY, Framing Carpenters, die from accidents or die accidentally from preventable mishaps, very seldom does an angry consumer SHOOT the Framing Carpenter. And that makes quite a bit of difference. Nor does the Framing Carpenter, have to deal with the unpleasantness and cruelty of human nature on a daily basis. But other than that, yes I see your point. Framing Carpenter=Peace Officer

Joe said...

(Not A very Libertarian One)
In fact I remember, one day when I was packing bricks......

So this electrician murders a guy, in cold blood. So he's hiding out in this duplex.

Well the Mayor hires our Contracting Company to serve an arrest warrant on the fellow.

What a day that was...had to mix a lot of mortar and then rush into a house looking for this murderous electrician.

It was me, the other labourer and the framing carpenter...it was a non-union job so we didn't even have a union steward for back up.

Thankfully no one was hurt...all just another day in the life of the Construction Crew.


So yes I say "Feh!" To all Peace Officers and their whiny complaints about death or injury!

"Feh" let them build a Columbarium, THEN they'll know danger and heart ache!