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Paramilitary drug raids have been growing in number for 25 years. As they’ve become more frequent, so too have incidents in which these raids have gone wrong. Criminologist Peter Kraska says his research shows that between 1989 and 2001, at least 780 cases of flawed paramilitary raids reached the appellate level, a dramatic increase over the 1980s, where such cases were rare, or earlier, when they were practically nonexistent.280 Yet despite the ongoing reporting of botched raids in media outlets, the phenomenon is still consistently dismissed by supporters of paramilitary policing as a series of “isolated incidents.” The truth is, mistaken raids continue to happen with disturbing regularity. They can’t all be isolated incidents. This section will catalogue an extensive list of botched raids between 1995 and April 2006 found over the course of several months of research. It is by no means comprehensive. The Cato Institute has also plotted an expanded list of cases on an interactive map, which can be found at http://www.cato.org /raidmap. The aim of this section is to demonstrate that botched paramilitary drug raids—and the death, injury, and terrorizing of innocents that come with them—aren’t merely a regrettable, infrequent consequence of an otherwise effective police tactic. Rather, they’re the inevitable consequence of a flawed, overbearing, and unnecessary form of drug policing. Wrong Address The botched drug raids that seem to generate the most public outrage are those in which police force entry into a home that turns out to be the wrong address. It’s bad enough to have a system in place that is needlessly violent and provocative for known or suspected drug offenders. But it’s particularly frustrating to see wholly innocent people terrorized, injured, and killed because police, policymakers, and judges cling to a flawed policy.281 No case better illustrates the preventable, tragic consequences of this flawed system than the death of Alberta Spruill. Alberta Spruill.On May 16, 2003, a dozen New York City police officers stormed an apartment building in Harlem on a no-knock warrant. They were acting on a tip from a confidential informant who told them a convicted felon was dealing drugs and guns from the sixth floor. There was no felon. The only resi-dent in the building was Alberta Spruill, described by friends as a “devout churchgoer.”282 Before entering, police deployed a flashbang grenade. The blinding, deafening explosion stunned the 57-year-old city worker. As the officers realized their mistake and helped Spruill to her feet, the woman slipped into cardiac arrest. She died two hours later. A police investigation would later find that the drug dealer the raid team was looking for had been arrested days earlier and was still in police custody. He couldn’t possibly have been at Spruill’s apartment. The officers who conducted the raid did no investigation whatsoever to corroborate the informant’s tip.283 Worse, a police source later told the New York Daily News that the informant had offered police tips on several occasions, none of which had led to an arrest. His record was so poor, in fact, that he was due to be dropped from the city’s informant list.284 Nevertheless, police took his tip on the excon in Spruill’s building to the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which approved the application for a no-knock entry. A judge then issued the warrant resulting in Spruill’s death. The entire process took only a matter of hours. After the Spruill case, the media began to take notice of other victims of botched noknocks, including the following three cases in the fall of 2002, about six months before the raid that killed Spruill.

• Williemae Mack. On September 3, 2002, police broke down the door of Brooklyn resident Williemae Mack in a pre-dawn drug raid. Her twin 13-yearold sons were asleep at the time. One, frightened by the noise and the explosive device police used to gain entry, hid under the bed. Police pulled him out and put a gun to his head. Police then handcuffed both boys at gunpoint. They found no drugs. They had raided the wrong address.285

• Robert and Marie Rogers.On October 15, 2002, about 20 police armed with pistols and shotguns served a no-knock warrant on the home of retired police officer Robert Rogers and his wife Marie. The two were watching television when the officers stormed their home in Queens. Mr. Rogers initially grabbed his handgun, believing the police to be intruders. Once he recognized they were law enforcement, he dropped his weapon and covered it with his body. Rogers later told Newsday that had the raiding officers seen his gun, “I’d be dead.” Again, the police had the wrong address.286Marie Rogers would take the news of Alberta Spruill’s death especially hard. “When I heard about what happened to this woman, I broke down and cried,” Rogers later told the New York Post, “You would have thought that I knew her. Then I was angry.”287

• Michael Thompson. A day before the raid on the Rogerses, police also burst into the home of Michael Thompson, also of Queens. That raid left the man’s large mahogany front door broken into pieces. The police then trained their guns on Thompson’s chest while they searched his home and the upstairs apartment of a tenant for drugs. Once again, they had raided the wrong address.288 The victims of the above three raids were represented in civil suits filed by Norman Siegel, former director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. Mr. Siegel told the New York Times in the fall of 2003 that according to police data, police were conducting about 460 such searches of private residences each month, with the vast majority of those served under no-knock warrants.289 In fact, just days after the raid on the Rogerses’ home, Siegel held a press conference and pled with police to end the practice of no-knock raids. Nearly predicting the Spruill raid that would happen a year later, Siegel warned: “We must do a better job of no-knock search warrants. Otherwise, someone might wind up dead as a result of how we implement this procedure.”290

• Timothy Brockman.Just two days before the Spruill raid, police from NYPD and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms displayed extraordinary ineptitude in executing another botched no-knock raid, this time on the home of former Marine Timothy Brockman. Acting on a tip from a confused anonymous informant, police stormed the public housing apartment of the 61-year-old Brockman, who used a walker to get around. Police deployed a flashbang grenade, setting Brockman’s carpet on fire, then handcuffed the man and threw him to the floor while they searched his home for drugs. They had the wrong address. Brockman would later be cleared of all charges.291 The Brockman case is another illustration of how the mishmash of court precedents governing the use of no-knock raids can lead to errors. In Brockman’s case, New York police wanted to raid the apartment on the basis of the testimony of a single informant who had visited the targeted residence on just one occasion. State law required more evidence for a no-knock warrant. Federal law, however, is more deferential to police and, in this case, allowed for a no-knock entry. New York investigators merely called the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, who sent an agent from Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms along for the raid. The Brockman raid was now a federal case, governed by federal guidelines. Miscommunication between local and federal police led to series of errors that caused the police to mistakenly break down Brockman’s door. Though a potentially grave and inexcusable error on the part of federal and local police, the Brockman case was ignored by the media and treated with indifference by the police. As the Times writes, “At the time, the incident received no publicity and no serious attention from the police leadership.”292 In a follow-up piece published months after Spruill’s death, the Village Voicereported that complaints about police abuses with respect to no-knocks had been pouring in for years. “Until Spruill’s death, the NYPD had done nothing to stem the number of incidents,” the Voice wrote, “despite receiving a memo from the Citizen Complaint Review Board in January noting the high number of raid complaints. Last March, the NAACP also approached NYPD commissioner Raymond W. Kelly about the raids.”293 Indeed, the New York Times ran a story back in 1998, a full five years before Spruill’s death, headlined, “As Number of Police Raids Increase, So Do Questions.”294 The paper noted that the number of narcotics search warrants issued in New York City doubled from 1,447 in 1994 to 2,977 in 1998. Most of these, according to the Times, were no-knock warrants.295 The Times also profiled several cases of botched no knocks from the late 1990s. Among them were the following:

• Mary and Cornelius Jefferson. The article began with a description of a botched no-knock on the home of Cornelius and Mary Jefferson, a couple in their 60s, in which police used a battering ram to obliterate the front door of an apartment “where plastic slipcovers protect the sofas and diplomas and awards line the walls.” Cornelius told the Times, “I thought they were coming to rob us, coming to kill us.” They had the wrong address.296

• Ellis Elliott. On February 27, 1998, police conducted a no-knock raid on the Bronx home of Elliott, on the basis of information they later determined to be “miscommunication with an informant.” As police attempted to break down his door, Elliott feared he was being attacked and fired a shot through the door. Police responded with a barrage of 26 bullets, all of which miraculously missed Elliott. Elliott was then dragged out of his home, naked, allegedly peppered with racial epithets, then arrested on charges of possessing an unlicensed weapon. Police later admitted their error and paid $1,000 to have Elliott’s door repaired.297Elliott pled guilty to disorderly conduct for firing at the officers and was given a conditional discharge. No police officers were charged or disciplined for the error.298

• The Crown Heights Raid. On May 1, 1998, police broke down the door to a home in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood in a no-knock raid that was based on the word of a single confidential informant. They expected to find a drug den. Instead, according to the Times, police found “a retired banker, a home health attendant, and their two daughters.” One of the daughters was mentally disabled, and was showering at the time of the raid. Police pulled her from the shower, handcuffed her, and despite her pleas to the officers that she was menstruating, refused to give her a sanitary pad until she began visibly bleeding.299

• Sandra Soto. On June 5, 1997, police carried out a no-knock warrant based on information from an anonymous informant in the East New York area of Brooklyn. The warrant instructed them to raid a gray door marked “2M.” Finding no such door, they simply broke down the nearest door, which was red and marked “2L.” They found a woman, Sandra Soto, and her two children—but no drugs.300

•Shaunsia Patterson. New York Times columnist Bob Herbert later reported that on the same dayas the raid on Ellis Elliott’s home, New York City police raided the Bronx apartment of Shaunsia Patterson and her two children, ages three and two. Patterson was eight months pregnant. Police first grabbed Patterson’s sister Misty, 15, who was also in the room, and threw her to the floor. They then confronted Patterson, who was sitting on her bed. One officer pushed Patterson onto her back. Another jumped on top of her. Patterson was eventually pushed to the floor and handcuffed while, in Patterson’s words, “one of the cops stepped on the side of my face and pressed my face into the floor.” When Patterson asked what the police wanted, she says, she was told to “shut the fuck up.” Police handcuffed Patterson while she wore only her underwear. Officers then screamed expletives at the two women while they scoured the apartment for drugs—demolishing the furniture, kitchen, and floor in the process. The raid so frightened Patterson, she urinated on herself. The police refused to allow her to change. Police also refused to show her a warrant. Hours later, an officer told her, “We got the wrong apartment,” and released her from her handcuffs. One confidential police source told New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, referring to the Patterson and Elliott raids, “Two in one day—that’s bad. But I’ll tell you what I honestly believe—I don’t think this happens that often.”301 Those kinds of assurances from police officials are common in New York and elsewhere. Despite repeated media reports of “wrong door” raids throughout the late 1990s, city officials continued to insist such incidents were uncommon—and nothing to be alarmed about. But in February 1998, the New York Police Department circulated a memo among the city’s police officers instructing them how to contact locksmiths and door repair services should they break down the door to the wrong address, suggesting that mistakes were in fact fairly common. 302 As discussed earlier, the review procedures New York City had in place to deal with police brutality failed as well. The Civilian Complaint Review Board, hamstrung by bureaucracy, limited jurisdiction, and squabbles with the police union, was helpless to effect any real change to stem the tide of “wrong door” warrants. New York had plenty of warnings that a case like Spruill’s might happen. The city’s public officials did little to heed them.

Just after Spruill’s death and ensuing media coverage, Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields set up a hotline for victims of erroneous no-knock raids. For the first time, city officials encouraged victims of mistaken raids to come forward. The hotline received more than 100 calls in its first week of operation.303Fields’s staff followed up with many of those calls, and her office published a report detailing its findings. Among the cases included in that report are the following:

• Lewis Caldwell. On March 6, 2003, six police officers in riot gear broke down the door to the home of Lewis Caldwell. Police handcuffed Caldwell, a lung cancer patient, and forced him to the floor. Caldwell’s wife returned home from work to find her home filled with police officers and dogs. She pled with the officers to release her husband from the handcuffs. They kept him restrained for more than an hour. Caldwell says police were “laughing and joking” while searching his apartment. When the Caldwells filed a complaint, a lieutenant called to tell them the raid was justified, and “there’s nothing you can do about it.” No drugs were found, and no criminal charges were ever filed against either of the Caldwells.304

• Kim Stevenson. On April 9, 2003, about 20 police officers broke down the door of the West Harlem home of Kim Stevenson, asking “where the drugs were.” They handcuffed Stevenson and took her to another room, while other officers kept their weapons fixed on her 12-year-old daughter. Stevenson pled with police to explain why they were in her home, but they refused to answer her. A female officer took Stevenson into a bathroom to do a body search. After finding no drugs on her, the officers again handcuffed her while other officers finished searching her apartment. According to Stevenson, officers “made jokes and ridiculed” her during the search. When they left, they told her to “have management fix her door.” Her landlord refused. At the time the Fields report was published, Stevenson’s door had yet to be repaired. She was never charged with a crime.305

• Kim Yarbrough.On May 2, 2003, police broke into the Staten Island home of Kim Yarbrough, an employee at the city’s Department of Corrections. No one was home at the time, but Yarbrough’s son was told by his brother-in-law that “20 to 30” police had raided his mother’s home. When her son came to the house to investigate, he was handcuffed and thrown on the couch. Yarbrough came home from work with a supervisor to see that her door had been broken down and her home trashed. She and her son say police laughed and made jokes when she asked for names and badge numbers. Neither Yarbrough nor her son was ever charged with a crime.306

• Margarita Ortiz.On February 29, 2003, police broke into the home of Margarita Ortiz. Police handcuffed the woman and her 12-year-old son for two and a half hours while searching the apartment. After five hours of searching, police left without explanation. Ortiz says that the police knew “within 15 minutes” that her apartment had no drugs and that they never showed her their badges or provided a search warrant. At the time of the Fields report, Ortiz had been unable to get any information from the city regarding the raid on her home.307

• Sara Perez. On November 27, 2001, police broke into the Harlem home of. Sara Perez and put a shotgun to her head. They held her children and grandchildren at gunpoint, including onemonth-old twins. Police never showed Perez a search warrant, nor did they explain why they were in her home. Perez later learned that the raid was based on faulty information supplied by a 15-year old informant. After five months, the police department paid to repair her door.308

• Jeanine Jean. On May 7, 1998, police broke down the door and deployed a flashbang grenade in the home of Jeanine Jean. Frightened, Jean ran into a closet with her six-year-old son and called 911. Police pulled Jean from the closet, handcuffed her, then questioned her at gunpoint in front of her son. Jean, who had had surgery the day before, began bleeding when her surgical wound ruptured during the raid. After 90 minutes, police realized they had the wrong apartment and left without explanation. They left Jean’s door hanging from its hinges.309

• Atlee Swanson.On July 9, 1997, police conducted a 6 a.m. no-knock raid at the East Harlem home of Atlee Swanson. Police broke into Swanson’s home and demanded to know where “Joey, Jason, and Sean” were. Swanson said she knew no one by those names. The officers refused to show Swanson a search warrant, handcuffed her, and told her she faced 7 to 15 years in prison for selling drugs from her home. Police then put her in a holding cell for 31 hours. She returned home to find her apartment “trashed and vandalized.” Swanson got a copy of the search warrant in the mail three years later. Police had mistakenly entered the wrong apartment building.310 The following raids weren’t mentioned in the Fields report, but they also occurred at about the same time as the Spruill raid.

• Cynthia Chapman. Chapman was in the shower at about 6 a.m. on April 2, 2003, when police broke open her door and deployed a flashbang grenade. The grenade struck Chapman’s son Bobby, 15, in the foot. Police found Chapman in the bathroom, forced her to the ground, and put a gun to her head. According to Chapman, one officer asked, “Where is it,” and when Chapman responded that she didn’t know what he was talking about, he replied, “Don’t get smart with me or I’ll kill you.” Chapman and her son were handcuffed, taken to a police station, and released hours later when police discovered they’d raided the wrong home. In 2004, Chapman settled with the city of New York for $100,000.311

• Ana Roman.In 2004, the family of Ana Roman filed an $11 million lawsuit against the city of New York. The suit stemed from a September 12, 1996, noknock raid on the home Roman, then 70, shared with her husband and adult son. Police were acting on a faulty tip from a confidential informant that drugs were being dealt from Roman’s home. Roman emerged from her bedroom to find police pointing assault weapons at her, her husband, and her son. Roman had a heart attack and spent the following two weeks in a cardiac unit. Her family maintains that Roman never fully recovered and died of congestive heart failure six years later as a direct result of the attack she suffered during the raid.312

• Mary Bardy. Bardy went to the city council hearings to give her account of a January 2002 botched raid on her home. Police mistakenly believed her son was dealing drugs. The raiding officers broke down her door and, at gunpoint, ordered everyone inside—including her 2-year-old granddaughter—to lie down.313 “I saw what happened to that poor woman [Spruill] and I said, this is crazy. This can’t keep happening,” Bardy told the New York Daily News. 314 Bardy, who had recently retired after an administrative career with the NYPD, said she wrote “dozens of letters” and “made lots of phone calls” after the raid on her home but found no one who could give her answers about the circumstances of the investigation leading to the night police broke into her home. Her son was never charged.315 A day after the Spruill city council hear-ings, Manhattan Borough President Fields held hearings of her own. According to the Village Voice: Dozens of black and Latino victims— nurses, secretaries, and former officers— packed her chambers airing tales, one more horrifying than the next. Most were unable to hold back tears as they described police ransacking their homes, handcuffing children and grandparents, putting guns to their heads, and being verbally (and often physically) abusive. In many cases, victims had received no follow-up from the NYPD, even to fix busted doors or other physical damage. The Voicethen echoed the Newsday report: Some complainants reported that they had filed grievances with the [Citizen Complaint Review Board] and were told there was no police misconduct. Unless there is proven abuse, the CCRB disregards complaints about warrants that hold a correct address but are faulty because of bad evidence from a [confidential informant].316 The key recommendation from the Fields report was that NYPD produce an annual report detailing “all statistics regarding the execution of warrants.” Fields believed such a report would provide some transparency and accountability in the issuance and execution of drug warrants, particularly those authorizing no-knock raids. NYPD issued no such report in 2005. Less than a year after Spruill’s death, NYPD was back in the headlines with the mistaken raid on Martin and Leona Goldberg, mentioned earlier.317 Another high-profile wrong-door raid that provoked local media and public officials to take a harder look at the use of paramilitary drug raids was the Denver, Colorado, case of Ismael Mena. Ismael Mena. On September 29, 1999, a Denver SWAT team executed a no-knock drug raid on Mena’s home. Mena, a Mexican immigrant, believed he was being robbed and confronted the SWAT team with a gun. Police said they fired the eight shots that killed Mena only after Mena ignored repeated warnings to drop his weapon and first fired at them. Mena’s family says police never announced themselves, and that it was the police who fired first.318 Police later discovered they had raided the wrong home, on the basis of bad information from a confidential informant.319They found no drugs in Mena’s house, nor were any found in his system.320 Subsequent investigations by the city police department’s internal affairs division and by a special prosecutor found no wrongdoing on the part of the SWAT team. But weeks later, new details began to emerge about the Mena case. An aide to the special prosecutor, for example, said that Mena’s body had been moved at least 18 inches after he was shot. A lab report then found that the gunshot residue found on Mena’s hand didn’t match Mena’s gun but was instead only consistent with the residue given off by the submachine guns the SWAT team uses. Police found no fingerprints on Mena’s gun, or on the ammunition inside it, raising speculation that the gun was tampered with or planted.321 An internal affairs investigation cleared the SWAT team of wrongdoing but did find that the officer who prepared the search warrant for Mena’s home falsified information.322As the shooting gained traction in the media, Denver city officials began to portray Mena as a Mexican criminal refugee wanted for murder (Mena had shot a man in Mexico in self-defense but had been cleared of any wrongdoing), a “blame the victim” strategy unfortunately common in police brutality cases. 323 Members of the police department also later started what local media would call a “spy file” on a citizens’ organization agitating for a more thorough investigation of Mena’s death. Worse, the head of the police intelligence unit that kept a “spy file” on Mena’s supporters was also the head of the SWAT team that conducted the raid on Mena’s home.324

Mena’s family eventually hired former FBI agent James Kearney to conduct a private investigation. Over the course of that investigation, Kearney became convinced that Denver police murdered Mena, then planted the gun to cover up the botched raid. Kearney found evidence not uncovered by previous investigations, including two slugs in the floor of Mena’s apartment that suggest the raid didn’t happen as SWAT officials said it did. Kearney made his accusations on a local radio station, leading to a lawsuit against the station and Kearney by members of the SWAT team. The radio station settled. Kearney in turn filed suit against the SWAT team and sought to prove his allegations of a cover-up in court.325 The suit was thrown out in federal court, but as of November 2005 Kearney was still waiting on word of his appeal.326 Mena’s family ultimately settled with the city of Denver for $400,000.327 To its credit, the city of Denver instituted some strong reforms in response to Mena’s death. The reforms drastically cut down on the number of no-knock warrants carried out in the city, though reforms stopped short of an outright prohibition on no-knock warrants for drug raids.328 Denver is the exception, however. Most high-profile SWAT tragedies temporarily put reporters on the scent for similar abuses, light a fire under activists, and put policymakers on the defensive. But that public scrutiny is usually followed by a return to business as usual. The case that spurred the Capital Times indepth investigation of SWAT team proliferation to small-town Wisconsin stemmed from an incident in tiny Dalton, a rural town 50 miles north of Madison. Wendy and Jesus Olveda. Wendy Olveda, who was five months pregnant, her husband Jesus, and their three-year-old daughter Zena were at home one evening in October 2000 when a black-clad SWAT team broke down their front door and threw the couple facefirst to the floor. Zena Olveda looked on from the couch. Jesus Olveda told the paper that as he lifted his head to tell police they had the wrong address, “one of them put a knee on my head and ground it into the floor.”329 Police had the wrong address. When they realized their error, they rushed through the Olveda’s garage door to the home next door. The Times reported that one officer went back to the Olveda’s home minutes later to retrieve the search warrant. The Olvedas filed a claim for compensation against the police departments in charge of carrying out the raid. The claim was rejected.330 Two years before the Olveda raid, police in another small Wisconsin town mistakenly raided the home of Daniel and Cythia Cuervo, holding the couple at gunpoint while the officers ransacked their home. The Cuervos eventually accepted a settlement in their lawsuit against the responsible local police agencies. The mistaken raid on their home inspired a significant reorganization of the Multi-jurisdictional Enforcement Group narcotics unit in the Lake Winnebago area of Wisconsin.331 But the rash of media reports of botched raids in Wisconsin in the year 2000 came a full five years after the state had already done some introspection on paramilitary police tactics when such tactics had ended with a man’s death. Scott Bryant. On April 17, 1995, police in Dodge County, Wisconsin, forcefully entered the mobile home of Scott Bryant after finding traces of marijuana in his garbage. The officers would later say they knocked and announced before entering, but neighbors who witnessed the raid say police entered without doing either. Moments later, Detective Robert Neuman shot an unarmed Bryant in the chest, killing him. Bryant’s eight-yearold son was asleep in the next room. Neuman told investigators he “can’t remember” pulling the trigger.332 Dodge County sheriff Stephen Fitzgerald compared the shooting to a hunting accident.333 Two years later, Bryant’s family was awarded a $950,000 settlement by Dodge County.334 After the Bryant case made headlines, three victims of a similar raid by the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department also filed suit. According to that lawsuit, police raided a home in Juneau, Wisconsin, after finding traces of marijuana and material “suspected of packing cocaine” in garbage bags outside the house. Police entered the home “suddenly and violently” at 2:45 a.m., threw the three occupants to the floor, and handcuffed them. Police then searched the house for more than three hours. No charges were filed.335 After the settlement in the Bryant case, and a year after the shooting, Sheriff Fitzgerald seemed remorseful. He told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that his own department would make substantial changes to the way it conducts searches. “It’s safe to say any time there’s a tragic accident like this that people would want to do things differently,” he said.336 Unfortunately, that message didn’t make it to other small towns in Wisconsin. According to the Capital Times, 18 new SWAT teams have been formed across the state since the Bryant shooting.337 Although the case studies listed here cut off in the mid-1990s, the epidemic of botched military-style drug raids goes back to the early 1980s.338 As far back as 1990, an article in Playboy magazine took note of a curious rise in media accounts of botched drug raids and published a list of more than a dozen documented “wrong door” raids from the 1980s.339 In 2004, USA Today ran an editorial citing the Spruill and Goldberg raids and calling for reform in the execution of drug warrants. But the same paper ran a similar story more than a decade earlier, in 1993 (and even earlier, in 1989), ticking off a list of botched raids and a critique of noknock and paramilitary raids in general, including the problems with confidential informants, asset forfeiture, lack of oversight, and the militarization of civilian policing described in this study.340 The editorial also included responses from law enforcement officials dismissing botched raids as “isolated incidents.”341 So not only is the problem of mistaken raids not new, neither is the cycle of media and public officials temporarily taking notice of them, then neglecting to enact any real reforms. Here, in reverse chronological order, is a partial list of other documented wrongdoor raids dating back to 1995:

• H. Victor Buerosse. On December 30, 2005, police in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, broke into the home of 68-year-old H. Victor Buerosse in a predawn raid. Buerosse was thrown into a closet door, then to the ground, and hit in the head with a police shield. Despite his protests that police had the wrong address, they didn’t concede their mistake until a sergeant arrived later. They left without an apology. The SWAT team eventually raided the correct residence, where they found a small amount of marijuana. Buerosse, a retired attorney, told a local reporter: “SWAT teams are not meant for simple pot possession cases. The purpose of SWAT teams it to give police departments a specially trained unit to react to a violent situation, not to create one. This should not happen in America. To me you can’t justify carrying out simple, routine police work this way.”342

• Michelle Clancy. At 5:30 a.m. on December 21, 2005, police in Paterson, New Jersey, stormed the home of Michelle Clancy on a drug warrant, breaking off her doorknob. Clancy, her 65-year-old father, and her 13-year-old daughter were home at the time. Police later confirmed they had raided the wrong apartment. Police spokesman Lt. Anthony Traina told one reporter, “These things do happen.”343

• The Baker Family. Early in the morning on September 30, 2005, police in Stockbridge, Georgia, conducted a noknock raid on the home of Roy and Belinda Baker. Officers broke down the couple’s front door with a battering ram and tossed in flashbang grenades. The police held the couple at gunpoint, handcuffed them, and then sent them out onto their porch, only partially clothed. Police ruined a family Bible and antique coffee table during the raid. The raiding officers eventually realized the intended target of their raid lived next door. Police Chief Russ Abernathy called the raid “inexcusable” and “not acceptable” and blamed poor street lighting for the mistaken address. But Abernathy added that no one would be fired and that the raids would go on, albeit after “reviewing procedures.” The Bakers are considering a lawsuit.344

• Harold and Carolyn Smith. In September 2005, police in Bel Aire, Kansas, raided the home of Harold Smith, the town’s former mayor, after mistaking sunflowers in the man’s backyard for marijuana plants. Police had taken pictures of the plants and showed them to a judge, who then approved the search warrant. Police rifled through the mayor and his wife’s belongings and took videotape of their home before realizing their mistake.345

• David Scheper. On August 18, 2005, police in Baltimore, Maryland, forced their way into the home of David Scheper and Sascha Wagner. Thinking they were being robbed, Wagner called 911, telling the operator, “There’s someone breaking into my house.” Scheper had already slammed the door on the officer, who never announced they were police. The police then shattered the glass on the home’s front door. Scheper stood just inside, holding his 12-gauge shotgun. He didn’t have ammunition but hoped that racking the gun within earshot of the door would scare off the intruders. When they wouldn’t leave, Scheper retreated to his basement and grabbed the only functioning weapon in his house, a CZ- 52 semiautomatic. As Scheper struggled to load the weapon, it accidentally discharged, sending a round into the floor of his basement. Police took $1,440 in cash Scheper says he had recently withdrawn to buy a used truck. According to the Baltimore City Paper, police also “hit a 70-year-old art-deco-style metal desk with an ax. They took 18 of Scheper’s guns—mostly inoperable antiques, he says. ‘They threatened to blow up my safe,’ Scheper says, so he opened it for them.” The police were mistaken. They were looking for a tenant Scheper had evicted weeks earlier. Nevertheless, police still put Scheper’s antique gun collection on display for the local news as part of a “roundup” of illegal weapons they’d found in two raids. Police charged Scheper for firing the weapon in his basement, a charge that carried a possible $1,000 fine and a year in prison. Prosecutors eventually dropped that charge, but only after Scheper’s lawyer successfully fought to get Wagner’s 911 call admitted as evidence.346

• Cedelie Pompee.In August 2005, police in Newark, New Jersey, raided a home owned by 59-year-old Cedelie Pompee while looking for drugs and guns. Pompee, her family, and the family to whom she rents an apartment said police cursed them while ravaging through their belongings. Officials from the state police SWAT team and the DEA later realized they had raided the wrong address. The Associated Press reports that state police had made a similar mistake four months earlier.347

• John Simpson. On June 15, 2005, Nampa, Idaho, police serving a search warrant tossed a flashbang grenade into the home of Vietnam veteran John Simpson. The frightened Simpson first took cover and attempted to protect his wife. He then composed himself, assumed he was being attacked by intruders, and ventured out with the only weapon he could find, the hose from his vacuum cleaner. The police had targeted the wrong side of Simpson’s duplex. “I guess we’re going to have to seek psychological help, I hate to say that,” Simpson told the Associated Press. “I’m not nuts or anything, but I’m still shaking. Put a shotgun next to your ear and pull the trigger to get an idea of the noise.” Police later picked up Simpson’s neighbor with four ounces of marijuana.348

• The Chidester Family.In May 2005 in Utah County, Utah, Larry Chidester awoke to hear explosions at the home next to his. He went outside and saw members of a local SWAT team preparing to raid his neighbor’s home. According to a lawsuit filed by the Chidester family, one of the SWAT officers spotted Larry Chidester, pointed at him, and exclaimed, “There’s one!” Chidester threw his hands in the air and repeatedly said, “I’m not resisting.” The officer tackled Chidester and, according to Chidester, “shoved his face into the ground and rocks.” Larry Chidester was later taken to the emergency room for treatment. Police then kicked open a side door to the Chidester home and swarmed the bedroom where Lawrence Chidester—Larry’s father—was dressing. They threw him to the floor and trained a gun to the back of his head. SWAT officers later conceded they had raided the wrong home. Utah County sheriff Jim Tracy later admitted the Chidester home wasn’t the original target of the raid, but that police decided to raid their home as “an ancillary issue.” He said police disputed the accuracy of the Chidesters’ account of the raid, but wouldn’t give details.349

• Queen Moore. On October 10, 2004, police in Omaha, Nebraska, conducted a narcotics raid on the home of Queen Moore, an elderly woman. When Moore filed suit for the damage officers did to her home, the police initially refused to be interviewed, on advice from the police union. Worse, the police department told Moore her complaint wasn’t valid because union rules required it to be handwritten, not typewritten. Moore’s lawyer responded that requiring her to personally write out her complaint “is not only illegal, but unduly burdensome and harassing,” as Moore could barely sign her own name. Police found no contraband in Moore’s home. She was never charged or arrested.350

• Teresa Guiler and James Elliott. In September 2004, a SWAT team in Clarksville, Tennessee, erroneously raided the home of Teresa Guiler, 55, and James Elliott, 54. Elliot, who is deaf, was recovering from a liver transplant at the time of the raid. The warrant had identified the wrong home. Police Chief Mark Smith said he would investigate to make sure the same mistake didn’t happen again.351

• Blair Davis. On July 27, 2004, police in Houston, Texas, broke open the door of Blair Davis, a landscape contractor. Police screamed “Down on the Floor! Down on the Floor!” while pointing an assault weapon at Davis’s head. Davis’s first thought was that the invaders were criminals dressed as police, a continuing problem in the Houston area. A team of 8–10 police officers pushed Davis to the ground and handcuffed him while they searched his home. They were acting on a tip from a confidential informant who said Davis was growing marijuana in his home. The plants in question turned out to be hibiscus plants. Police never apologized to Davis. Dan Webb, operations commander for the police team that conducted the raid, later said it was “unfortunate” that Davis “got caught up in this situation,” but that “if the situation came up today, we would’ve probably done the same thing.” Webb added, “It’s not a mistaken search warrant . . . if we believe it’s marijuana, until we go look at it, we’re not really going to know for sure,” overlooking the fact that an innocent person was needlessly terrorized due to his unit “not knowing for sure.”352

• Donald and Amber Mundy. In February 2004, police in San Bernardino, California, looking for cocaine broke open the door to an apartment occupied by Donald Mundy and his twin sister, Amber. When officers realized they had raided apartment “204” instead of apartment “214” as specified in the warrant, they conducted a search anyway and arrested Amber Mundy on charges of misdemeanor marijuana possession.353

• Marion Waltman. In September 2003, an informant’s tip led police in Gulfport, Mississippi, to raid land leased by Marion Waltman. Waltman was growing kenaf plants, which are commonly used for deer food. Police raided the property and mistakenly destroyed more than 500 plants, believing they were marijuana. A judge later ruled that the city wasn’t obligated to compensate Waltman for the destruction of his property because the sheriff’s department made an “honest mistake.”354

• Earline Jackson.At 3 a.m. on September 5, 2003, a dozen Chicago police officers used a battering ram to break down the door of 73-year-old widow Earline Jackson’s apartment. “I asked them, ‘What did I do?’ And they told me to get out of the way because they were looking for drugs,” Jackson told the Chicago Tribune. A warrant for Jackson’s address said police believed a man was using her apartment to sell drugs. Police had mistaken Jackson’s apartment for an apartment one block south.355

• Francisca Perez. On August 2, 2003, police from the Bexar County, Texas, sheriff’s department raided the home of Francisca Perez and her children. The raid was based on a tip from an informant that a woman named Rosalinda Mendez was selling cocaine from the house. Police handcuffed Perez and her 13-year-old daughter, while her 11-yearold daughter and three-year-old son watched in horror as police destroyed her house looking for drugs. They found nothing incriminating. Four weeks later, police still hadn’t told Perez whether or not she was under investigation. According to the latest media reports available, Perez, the widow of a Gulf War veteran, was still attempting to get the police to clear her name. She told a local newspaper that she was reluctant to take legal action because her children were terrified that if she did, the police would come back to raid their home again.356

• Gabrielle Wescott. On July 29, 2003, police in Montana raided the home of Gabrielle Wescott and her daughter Annabelle Heasley. According to a 2005 lawsuit, agents from the Northwest Drug Task Force donned black hoods and SWAT gear and raided their home at 7:30 a.m. on a marijuana warrant. Police forced the two to the ground, handcuffed them, and according to the lawsuit, “mistreated, threatened, cursed at, and terrorized” them, while police “ransacked the house” and “cut pieces of drywall out of the basement.” The complaint alleges that the police affidavit leading to the search warrant “contains half-truths and inaccuracies and clearly was not completed in good faith,” and that police never identified themselves. The women were never charged.357

• The Phoenix Hell’s Angels.In July 2003, police in Phoenix, Arizona, conducted a pre-dawn drug raid on a Hell’s Angels club. Police knocked, then waited just six seconds before deploying a flashbang grenade and forcing their way into the clubhouse. Michael Wayne Coffelt, who was asleep at the time, awoke to the grenade and quickly armed himself with a pistol. When Coffelt, who thought the clubhouse was being robbed, approached the door, Officer Laura Beeler shot and wounded him. Beeler claims Coffelt fired at her, though a ballistics test later confirmed that Coffelt never discharged his gun. Police did not find any drugs in the clubhouse. Prosecutors later brought charges against Coffelt for assaulting a police officer. In dismissing the charges, Maricopa Superior Court judge Michael Wilkinson described the raid as an “attack” in violation of the Fourth Amendment, and said Coffelt’s actions were “reasonable behavior, given the hour and the fact that the house was under attack.” Wilkinson also determined that Beeler’s mistaken belief that Coffelt had fired at her was also understandable, given the volatility of such a raid and that the officer may have misinterpreted the flashbang grenade for a gunshot.358

• The Holguin Family.According to court documents filed in conjunction with a lawsuit, the Holguin family of Albuquerque, New Mexico, say police blew their door off its hinges, deployed flashbang grenades, then stormed their home on June 5, 2003. Carmen Holguin, 80, required medical treatment for injuries she sustained during the raid. The lawsuit also alleges that Julia Holguin, 55, was injured when an officer stepped on her back, and that police kicked an unnamed 14-year-old girl while executing the warrant. None of the four were charged, and police seized nothing from the home. A paralegal for the family’s lawyer told the Associated Press that police had made a controlled cocaine buy on the street where the Holguins lived and indicated they may have mistaken the family’s home for the place they had bought the drugs.359

• Sandy Cohen. In 2002, police in Philadelphia raided the home of 85- year-old Sandy Cohen as she was taking a shower. Cohen got to her door just as police were blowing it off its hinges. When she protested to police that they had raided the wrong home, one replied, “That’s what they all say.” Police later conceded they’d made a mistake. Cohen’s neighbors had told the raiding officers they were making a mistake while they were planting the explosives outside her door.360

• The Huerta Family. On November 20, 2002, a San Antonio, Texas, SWAT team deployed tear gas canisters, shattered a glass door with bullets, then stormed an apartment occupied by three Hispanic men. “We were kicked and punched at least 20 times. I couldn’t talk. I was good and scared,” Salvador Huerta told the San Antonio News-Express. His cousin Marcos Huerta was taken to the hospital with a cut face and bruised head. Vincent Huerta added, “The way they entered, I never thought it could be police.” All three thought the raid was a robbery. Police had the wrong address.361 Police later blamed the mistake on darkness, and “a cluster of look-alike buildings,” despite the fact that officers stated on the warrant that they had conducted surveillance on the suspected residence for two days.362

• Irene Gilliam Hensley. On August 14, 2002, police in La Porte, Texas, stormed the home of 88-year-old Irene Gilliam Hensley on a paramilitary raid after a tip that her grandson Charles Gilliam was growing marijuana in her backyard. The tip came from an aunt who had had an argument with Gilliam, and police decided to raid after an officer peeked over Hensley’s fence and confirmed the presence of marijuana. According to the Houston Chronicle, the warrant specifically stated that the officer who peeked over the fence had experience identifying marijuana plants. The plants turned out to be okra. Police found no drugs in the home.363

• The Gilbertson Family. In February 2002, a SWAT team in Denver’s Highland neighborhood shattered a window in anticipation of a raid. Upon looking inside, they discovered they had broken into the wrong townhouse. They were preparing to deploy a flashbang grenade in the home, occupied by Erik Gilbertson and his pregnant wife. The couple was at the opera at the time of the raid. A police spokesman called the raid an “understandable mistake.”364

• Maria Flores. In May 2001, police in Austin, Texas, raided the home of Maria Flores, a grandmother. A flashbang grenade shattered her window, and the SWAT team entered behind by kicking in her door. Police shoved Flores to the ground, bound her, and held her at gunpoint while they tore apart her home in a search for cocaine. They had mistaken her house for the house next door. Flores was taken to the hospital with internal bruising. “For about 20 minutes, I was on the floor crying, wondering ‘What’s going on?’” Flores told the Austin American Statesman. “I’m just glad my grandkids weren’t here.” Six months after the raid, police acknowledged the raid was a “terrible mistake.” Assistant Police Chief Jim Fealy said, “We violated that woman’s privacy and needlessly [sic] by mistake.” He attributed the error to “sloppy police work.”365

• Estelle Newcomb. In October 2001, a drug task force in Middlesex, Virginia, broke down the door of 50-year-old Estelle Newcomb and her 80-year-old aunt. Police had targeted the wrong home after miscommunicating with an informant. The investigating officer told the Associated Press: “I knew this was not right. To be honest with you, it was sloppy police work—not being thorough enough.” The previous July, the same task force, along with the National Guard and state police, conducted a raid on a suspect they thought was growing marijuana. The plants turned out to be tomatoes.366

• Charles and Debora Alexander. On August 17, 2001, police in Waco, Texas, served a drug warrant on the home of Debora and Charles Alexander. According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, police charged the residence with guns drawn, yelling “Police, search warrant!” before realizing they had entered the wrong apartment. The Alexanders’ visiting nine-year-old grandson, who has Down’s Syndrome, went into a seizure. Debora Alexander fainted. Charles Alexander says that upon realizing their mistake, police left without apologizing, or offering to help either Debora or the grandson. Just seconds before the raid, Debora had been unpacking boxes, one of which contained her husband’s gun. Charles told the TribuneHerald, “God only knows what would have happened if they would have walked down that hall with her holding that gun.” Remarkably, on August 20—three days after the raid—Lieutenant Gary McCully told the paper he wasn’t aware that his own officers had entered the wrong apartment until a reporter had called and told him.367

• Sandra Smith. In May 2001, a Travis County, Texas, SWAT team conducted a raid on the home of Sandra Smith for suspicion of growing marijuana. After departing from a helicopter, storming Smith’s home, kicking her dog, ransacking her belongings, and holding her and three visitors at gunpoint, police discovered the plants were ragweed. “This is the most terrifying thing that’s ever happened to me in my life,” Smith said. “I’ve never been in trouble with the law.” Smith filed a lawsuit against the city for damage to her home. At the time the suit was filed in 2002, her name was in the department’s database as a narcotics offender. Travis County settled with Smith and her visitors for $40,000. The Travis County SWAT team was later dissolved after a series of questionable raids.368

• Henry and Denise McKnight. On February 27, 2001, at about 10:30 p.m., police in Topeka, Kansas, kicked open the front door, detonated a flashbang grenade, and held Henry and Denise McKnight and their seven children at gunpoint on a drug warrant. They had mistaken the McKnight’s home for the home next door. The McKnights’ subsequent lawsuit alleged that police questioned them at gunpoint and continued to search the home even after realizing they’d made a mistake. Police Chief Ed Klumpp acknowledged the mistake and said that the police department would make “minor adjustments” to its procedures, though he wouldn’t say what those adjustments would be “because it would jeopardize the safety of our officers.” The Topeka City Council eventually settled with the family for $95,000.369

• Susan Wilson. On February 15, 2001, a SWAT team dressed in full-assault attire stormed the home of Muskego, Wisconsin, resident Susan Wilson, 49. Wilson was standing in her driveway with her dog when the Waukesha County Metro Drug Enforcement Group apprehended her. Police forced her face down on her snowcovered drive, handcuffed her, and held her at gunpoint while police searched her home. They had the wrong address.370

• Sandra Hillman.On January 19, 2001, police from Russellville and Franklin County, Alabama, raided the home of Sandra Hillman and her daughter Marquita. Agents with a no-knock warrant kicked down the door to Hillman’s apartment and held the two women handcuffed and at gunpoint while conducting their search. Police never identified themselves. Hillman made two subsequent trips to an emergency room for heart problems related to the raid. Police had the wrong address.371

• John Adams. On October 4, 2000, at about 10 p.m., police in Lebanon, Tennessee, raided the home of 64-year-old John Adams on a drug warrant. In what Lebanon police chief Billy Weeks would later say was a “severe, costly mistake,” police had identified the wrong house. According to Adams’s wife, police would not identify themselves after knocking on the couple’s door. After she refused to let them in, they broke down the door and handcuffed her. Adams met the police in another room with a sawed-off shotgun. Police opened fire and shot Adams dead. One officer was fired after the incident, and several others were suspended, but no criminal charges were filed.372 Adams’s widow eventually won a $400,000 settlement from the city.373

• Daniel and Rosa Unis.In 2000, federal agents in Pueblo, Colorado, stormed the home of Daniel and Rosa Unis after suspecting their sons of cocaine distribution. With no warrant, police in black ski masks broke into the Unis home at gunpoint and arrested Marcos and David Unis. The two were kept in custody for two days but were never charged. When the Unis family filed a federal lawsuit in 2005, the lawyer for the agent in charge of the raid conceded that the raid was illegal. One officer described the incident as “unfortunate” and said “miscommunication” led to the wrongful raid, arrests, and detainments.374

• William and Geneva Summers. On May 22, 2000, police in Pulaski, Virginia, conducted a 4 a.m. raid on the home of William and Geneva Summers. The SWAT team broke through the couple’s back door, woke them, and held them at gunpoint. Police had the wrong address. They had raided the home on the basis of a tip from a “reliable” informant that there was a methamphetamine lab inside. Magistrate Judge Jill Long concluded that police assertions that the informant was “reliable” were sufficient to establish probable cause for a pre-dawn, forced-entry search. The informant later admitted he had lied.375

• Brandon and Richelle Savage.On April 6, 2000, police in Chicago raided the apartment of Brandon and Richelle Savage on bad information from an informant. Police broke down the door and ordered the couple out of bed at gunpoint before realizing their mistake. Police officials then ignored the Savages’ request to pay for damage done to their apartment until a columnist reported the incident in the Chicago Sun-Times. 376

• Dovie Walker. On December 4, 1999, police in El Dorado, Arkansas, conducted a drug raid on the home of Dovie Walker. Officers tore the woman’s front door from its hinges with a battering ram, damaged another door to her bed-room, broke a latch on a third door, overturned and broke Walker’s furniture, and generally “demolished” her house. Police officers had handcuffed Walker’s three children at gunpoint before realizing they had mistaken her house for the one next door. Walker was also babysitting children of ages one, two, and three at the time of the raid. When a police department spokesman told a local newspaper police had no intention of paying for the damage they did to Walker’s home, El Dorado’s mayor promised four days later to begin work on the damage to Walker’s house “as soon as possible.”377

• The Tyson Family. On October 20, 1999, police from the DEA, the FBI, and Connecticut Department of Public Safety conducted 30 drug raids at locations around the Hartford area. One of those raids was on the home of 59-yearold Emma Tyson, her daughter-in-law, and her 13-year-old grandson. Twelve police officers broke into Tyson’s home, causing her to have an asthma attack. Police were looking for a suspected drug dealer who had moved out of the home four months earlier, when Tyson bought it. Tyson filed a lawsuit two years later, when federal and local police authorities had yet to apologize or make an effort to clear her name.378

• Mario Paz. On August 9, 1999, 20 police officers from the El Monte, California, SWAT team conducted a late-night raid on the home of 65-yearold Mario Paz. By the end of the raid, Paz had been fatally shot in the back by police. The police version of events changed several times from the night of the raid. Police first said Paz was armed. They next said he wasn’t armed but was reaching for a gun. Their final account was that Paz was reaching not for a gun but to open a drawer where a gun was located. Paz was unarmed when he was shot. Police later revealed that they had conducted the raid after finding the Paz address on the driver’s license, vehicle registration, and an old cell phone bill of suspected drug dealer Marcos Beltran Lizarraga (charges against Lizarraga were subsequently dropped, in part because the videotape that was supposed to contain a recording of the search of his home turned up blank).379 As mentioned earlier, one El Monte police official would later say that anticipated “proceeds” from the Paz family in asset forfeiture also played a part in the raid. The Paz family explained that Lizarraga had lived next to them in the 1980s and had convinced Mario Paz to let him receive mail at their residence after he moved. Three weeks after the raid, the El Monte Police Department announced that they had no evidence that anyone in the Paz family was involved in any illicit drug activity, nor did the SWAT team have any reason to think so on the night Paz was shot.380 During the raid, police seized more than $10,000 in cash and announced plans to claim the money for themselves via asset forfeiture laws. Police backed off those plans when the Paz family proved the money to be their life savings. Shortly after the Paz shooting made headlines, El Monte police conducted another raid on the home of an immigrant family. Police confronted Rosa Felix on September 22, 1999, after breaking into her home. According to a lawsuit Felix would later file, the officers told her that they knew her family was trafficking drugs, that they had information that she knew Paz, and that unless she gave them incriminating information about Paz, they would handcuff her, arrest her, and take away her children. Felix refused, insisting that her only interaction with Paz was from buying used cars from him. Charges were never filed against Felix.381 In October 2001, the officer who shot Paz was exonerated in investigations by both the Department of Justice and the LAPD. A county prosecutor insisted that Officer George Hopkins “acted lawfully in self-defense” during the raid.382 El Monte’s police department was known to be highly militaristic—but also effective. The town’s police department boasted an assault vehicle with gun turret dubbed the “peacekeeper,” as well as a helicopter. In 1992—five years before the Paz shooting—a federal appeals court had found “Chief Wayne Clayton, as a policymaker, acquiesced in a custom of complacency, if not hostility, toward allegations of misconduct by the department’s officers.” One mayor who tried to clean up the police department was voted out of office with help from the town’s police union. “They run city hall. Nobody has control over the police,” former El Monte mayor Pat Wallach told the Los Angeles Times. “They can do as they damn well please. They have a helicopter, a tank. They have carte blanche.”383 In 2002, the city of El Monte settled with the Paz family for $3 million. The city also agreed to 13 conditions put forth by the family, mostly reforms in the way it carries out search warrants and deploys its SWAT team. Even in agreeing to the settlement, however, many city officials insisted the police did nothing wrong. “We don’t view it as whether we were liable for his death,” said city attorney Clarke Moseley. “We believe the family was involved [in narcotics trafficking] to some extent.” No member of the Paz family was ever charged with a crime.384

• Ralph Garrison. On December 16, 1996, a SWAT team wearing black balaclavas raided a rental property owned by 69-yearold Ralph Garrison. Police were acting on a tip that the property contained equipment being used by methamphetamine addicts to print counterfeit checks and currency. Police conducted the 6 a.m. raid with the aid of a helicopter from U.S. Customs and two K-9 units. As the raid commenced, Garrison confronted the police and asked why they were on his property. Raiding officers claim they told Garrison they were police executing a warrant. Just how clear they were is in dispute. Garrison immediately returned to his home to call 911. He asked the dispatcher to send police, because vandals with “axes and all kinds of stuff” were breaking into his rental property. Garrison later told the dispatcher, “I’ve got my gun. I’ll shoot the son of a bitch.” According to raiding officers, Garrison then emerged from his house with a gun, whereupon three officers opened fire on him with AR-15 assault rifles, killing him. Police handcuffed Garrison after shooting him, then searched his home. They also shot his dog, a 14-year-old chow, and handcuffed his wife, 69-year-old Molly Garrison, who said police didn’t remove their hoods or identify themselves until after the raid. Police made no arrests. One of the officers involved in the Garrison raid, Howard Neal Terry, had been subject to three federal excessiveforce lawsuits in the previous six years, causing the city of Albuquerque to pay a total of $375,000 in settlements. In 1999, a federal court dismissed the Garrison estate’s lawsuit against the police department, holding that the officers had “qualified immunity,” which protects them from civil damages in any lawsuit where it is determined that police did not clearly violate any established constitutional protections.385

• Catherine Capps and James Cates. In May 1999, police stormed the Durham, North Carolina, home of 73-year-old Catherine Capps. Also in the house at the time was Capps’s friend, 71-year-old James Cates. Police say they obtained a warrant for the home after a confidential informant bought crack cocaine there. Capps had poor vision, was deaf, and according to her family, “could not even cook an egg without being extremely out of breath.” When police raided the home, they ordered Cates to stand. Hobbled by a war wound and frightened, Cates stumbled at the order and fell into a police officer. Sgt. L. C. Smith apparently mistook Cates’s stumble as a lunge for the officer’s pistol. Smith responded by punching the elderly man twice in the face. Cates, 79, wasn’t permitted to use the bathroom during the search, causing him to urinate on himself. Both Cates and Capps were also strip-searched. No drugs were found in the home or on Capps’s or Cates’s person.386 Capps later died from health maladies her family says she incurred during the raid. She was never charged with selling crack cocaine to the informant because, according to prosecutors, trying her would have required them to release the informant’s name.387Subsequent investigations conducted by the Durham Police Department, the FBI, and the local district attorney found no wrongdoing on the part of police.388 About six months prior to the CappsCates raid, the city of Durham had set up a citizens’ review board, in part due to community complaints about other allegations of excessive force on the part of police. But like similar review boards in other parts of the country, proceedings were often conducted in secret, complainants weren’t given access to witnesses or evidence, and laws regarding search warrants kept vital information sealed. When Capps’s family attempted to file a complaint with the review board, the board instituted a new rule denying a hearing to any complainant who had previously sought financial compensation from the city, and applied the rule retroactively. Though neither Capps nor her family had asked for compensation, Cates had, giving the review board cause to refuse to even listen to a complaint about the raid.389

• Tina and Margie Peterson.On April 4, 1999, police conducted a drug raid on a home in Kaysville, Utah, four days after obtaining the warrant and three weeks after obtaining the information to get the warrant. Despite the fact that a moving van sat in front of the apartment the officers carried on with the raid. They burst in on Tina and Margie Peterson, two sisters who were just moving into the apartment. Police charged in with guns drawn, and ordered the sisters and their two guests to the floor. According to the Petersons, officers continued to detain and question them even after they showed identification and proof that they were new tenants. The sisters filed suit against the police department in 2004.390

• Edwin and Catherine Bernhardt. On February 9, 1999, police in Hallandale, Florida, conducted a late-night raid on the home of Catherine and Edwin Bernhardt. Edwin, whose job requires him to get up at 4 a.m., was asleep. Catherine was on the couch. Police busted open the Bernhardt’s window and jammed an assault rifle inside. Edwin Bernhardt woke up and ran downstairs in the nude. Police pushed Catherine to the floor and handcuffed her at gunpoint. They then subdued, handcuffed, and forced Edwin Bernhardt down into a chair, while a police officer outfitted him with a pair of his wife’s underwear. He was arrested and spent several hours in jail, still clad only in the underwear, until police realized their mistake and drove him home. When the couple later filed suit, the city of Hallandale fought back. City attorney Richard Kane told the Miami Herald that citizens should expect such tactics as the price of the drug war. “They made a mistake. There’s no one to blame for a mistake,” Kane said. “The way these people were treated has to be judged in the context of a war.” When asked to comment on the suit, Fort Lauderdale police captain Tom Tiderington said: ‘‘There’s no perfect formula for success. It could happen at any time.’’ The Herald reported recent similar “wrong door” raids in Seminole County (twice), Largo, and Tampa.391 A year later, police in Hallandale made another botched raid, storming the home of a pregnant woman and her three young children. Police insisted they had the correct house, based on a tip from an informant who said he’d bought drugs there. They didn’t find any drugs. The woman whose home was raided, Tracy Bell, had complained to police about drug activity in the neighborhood and says police had confused her home with the one next door. Bell’s neighbor, who had a criminal record, admitted to having friends involved in drug distribution. Bell had no record. Hallandale police insisted that this time, unlike with the Bernhardt raid, they had the correct address. Bell’s attorney noted that police seem to have made the same mistakes, and offered the same excuse, for this raid as they had with the Bernhardt raid. Attorney Gary Kollin told the Miami Herald, “It appears that they continue to use informants as their scapegoats when they mess up and then they hide behind the confidentiality of the informants to avoid a proper investigation into who is telling the truth.”392

• Earl Richardson. In June 1998, police in Raleigh, North Carolina, broke down the door of 66-year-old Earl Richardson in a mistaken drug raid. Police ordered Richardson to the floor while they rummaged through his belongings. They had meant to raid an unmarked apartment to the rear of Richardson’s home. After an apology from Raleigh mayor Tom Fetzer, Richardson said: “I don’t have anything against the city. I’m just glad I didn’t get shot.”393 Five months later, Raleigh police would conduct another botched raid at the home of Priscilla Clark. “I looked out my bedroom door and saw this big gun coming down the hall and a man dressed in black,” said Clark, who was pregnant at the time. Police locked Clark and her two children in a bedroom for more than hour before realizing they’d raided the wrong home.394

• LaDana Ford. In March 1998, state troopers and local police in Harvey, Illinois, deployed a flashbang grenade then initiated a no-knock raid on the home of LaDana Ford. Police handcuffed Ford’s 13-year-old and questioned her 7-year-old, while keeping the entire family at gunpoint. They later realized they’d raided the wrong address. Harvey police chief Phil Hardiman was unapologetic. “We make out search warrants when we get information from drug informants,” he told the Chicago SunTimes. “Sometimes they give us incorrect information, and warrants are made out for one house when we’re really looking for the house next door. I think that’s what happened here. That happens from time to time in any police department.” When asked if the department would apologize, Hardiman replied: “I don’t know if we’d apologize. It’s not unusual for that to happen sometimes, but I will say it doesn’t happen that often.”395

• The Fulton Family.On March 18, 1998, police raided the Bronx apartment of a grandmother, her daughter, and her sixyear-old grandson. The Fulton family was watching television when police pounded on the door, then broke it open and began tearing through the apartment looking for drugs. They had the wrong apartment.396

• Jennifer Switalski and Tenants. On February 2, 1998, police in Milwaukee conducted a 6:30 a.m. raid on a building owned by Jennifer Switalski. Switalski wasn’t home at the time, but her two tenants were. After breaking down the door, police handcuffed the two tenants while a terrified two-year-old girl looked on. Police had the wrong address. Switalksi later tried to sue the city for emotional distress and loss of income after her frightened tenants moved out. City officials balked. “If it happened to me, I would be upset, too,” said city attorney Louis Elder. “But the taxpayer should not have to pay for hurt feelings because those deputies inadvertently entered the wrong home.” Elder also said Switalski was filled with “grandiose ideas” for attempting to sue the city, though she herself hadn’t witnessed the raid.397

• The Baines Family. On November 8, 1997, police in Suffolk County, New York, received a tip from a drug suspect that residents of a home in Wyandanch were stashing “ a black automatic pistol, two machine guns, a stainless steel sawed-off shotgun, ammunition, bulletproof vests, crack cocaine, proceeds from drugs sales and drug paraphernalia.” Within hours of the tip, and with no corroborating investigation, a judge issued a no-knock warrant and police executed a raid on the address given by the informant. The address turned out to be the home of Denise Baines and her two sons. Baines’s 10-year-old son’s bedroom was trashed in the raid. Police apologized to the Baineses upon realizing they’d raided the wrong home but defended the practice of executing quick, no-knock raids based on the tip of a single informant, even one who himself was a drug suspect.398

• June Nixon. On August 19, 1997, police in Kaufman County, Texas, kicked down the door to the home of June Nixon, her daughter Melissa Cheek, and her granddaughter. Police handcuffed the women and strip-searched them at gunpoint before realizing they’d raided the wrong house. The same sheriff’s department was forced to apologize to two families in 1989 for mistaken drug raids that, according to the Dallas Morning News, “turned up no drugs, but left houses damaged and family members shaken.”399

• Salt Lake Tortilla Factory Raid. In 1997, police in Salt Lake City, Utah, raided a tortilla factory and restaurant owned by Rafael Gomez, a naturalized citizen. Seventy-five heavily armed police officers stormed the business on a tip from a confidential informant. Expecting to find heroin and cocaine, they found only two 24-pill packs of the painkiller Darvon and two bottles of penicillin. Gomez says he was struck in the face and knocked to the floor, and that police trained a gun on his six-yearold son. One secretary says she was dragged to the floor by her hair. Police handcuffed 80 people, mostly Hispanic, in the raid and forced them to lie down for up to three hours as police searched the premises. Gomez spent a large sum of money fighting charges resulting from the raid, which were later dismissed. Bad publicity from the raid and the length of time it took to clear his name killed Gomez’s business and dashed his hopes of opening a large shopping center in the area. He settled with the city of Salt Lake in 2004 for $290,000.400

• The Tarkus Dillard Family. In June 1996, police raided the Pontoon Beach, Illinois, home of Tarkus Dillard, Vickie Blakely, and the couple’s two young children. According to Dillard and Blakely, one officer pointed a gun directly in the face of their three-year-old daughter. Police had mistakenly raided their home instead of the home next door. Police Chief Michael Crouch apologized to Dillard and Blakely but insisted police had done nothing wrong. A federal judge threw out a $1 million lawsuit against the police department in 1998. A lawyer for the police officers called the suit’s dismissal a “tremendous vindication” of the officers’ actions and said he was contemplating suing Dillard and Blakely, to recoup the city’s legal costs.401

• Jeffrey and Phyllis Hampton. In May 1995, police in Concord, North Carolina, mistakenly stormed the home of Jeffrey and Phyllis Hampton. The Hamptons were relaxing at around 9:30 p.m. when police broke down the Hamptons’ door, came into the house with assault weapons, and ordered the couple to the floor. Police realized their mistake after about a half hour of interrogation.402 Three years later, Concord police would wrongly raid another home, that of Leonard Mackin, Charlene Howie, and their four children. Police burst into that home with guns drawn on the night of May 22, 1998, and ordered the family to the floor. After repeated pleas by Mackin to police that they had the wrong house, Detective Larry Welch recognized Mackin as a co-worker with the city and asked, “Leonard, is that you?” A confidential informant had given police the wrong address.403 In 1999, police in the same town shot 15-year-old Thomas Edwards Jr. in the back while he was on his hands and knees under orders from another police paramilitary unit on a drug raid. Edwards and five other children, all aged 13–17, were at the house playing video games when police conducted the raid. Officer Lennie Rivera shot Edwards just below the hip when, according to an internal police investigation, “a sudden movement jolted his gun, causing him to tighten his grip on it and pull the trigger.” Police found a small amount of marijuana and cocaine at the home. Police Chief Robert E. Cansler said that his officers had done surveillance on the home an hour or two prior to the raid and that “at that time there were no indications of a group of children present.” Officer Rivera was found to have improperly held his finger on the gun’s trigger and was assigned to more training.404

• Richard Brown.On March 12, 1996, acting on a tip from an informant, a Miami SWAT team fired 122 rounds into the home of 73-year-old Richard Brown, while his 14 year-old great-granddaughter feared for her life in the bathroom. Brown was killed in the gunfire.405 Police found no drugs in Brown’s home. The city has since paid a $2.5 million settlement to Brown’s survivors, and police on the SWAT team that raided Brown’s home were later indicted for lying about the details of the raid. Internal Affairs supervisor and 25-year police veteran John Dalton, now retired, told the Herald that the head of internal affairs at the time, a former SWAT team member, discouraged a thorough investigation of the Brown case. “They were very defensive about this shooting from the beginning,” Dalton said, adding that he’d been “chewed out” for asking difficult questions.

• Charles Inscor.In March 1995, police in Oldsmar, Florida, smashed through a glass door, deployed flashbang grenades, and stormed what they thought was the apartment of a drug dealer. Instead, they found 31-year-old Charles Inscor, a wheelchair-bound man with a respiratory problem. The SWAT team soon realized it had raided the wrong home. Inscor was hospitalized for a week as a result of the raid. An ensuing investigation found that though deputies made many mistakes during the investigation and raid, no disciplinary action would be taken because no rules were broken. According to the St. Petersburg Times, police couldn’t be disciplined because “the Sheriff’s office had no policies concerning how the SWAT team should serve search warrants.”406 Caught in the Crossfire Even when police have the correct address and have identified the correct suspect, and even if the suspect is correctly considered dangerous, too often they don’t take note of innocent relatives, acquaintances, neighbors, or children who may be present during the raid and unnecessarily put in harm’s way. Perhaps the most notable example of an innocent caught in drug raid crossfire is the case of 11-year-old Alberto Sepulveda. Alberto Sepulveda.Early in the morning on September 13, 2000, agents from the DEA, the FBI, and the Stanislaus County, California, drug enforcement agency conducted raids on 14 homes in and around Modesto, California after a 19-month investigation. According to the Los Angeles Times, the DEA and FBI asked that local SWAT teams enter each home unannounced to secure the area ahead of federal agents, who would then come to serve the warrants and search for evidence. Federal agents warned the SWAT teams that the targets of the warrants, including Alberto Sepulveda’s father Moises, should be considered armed and dangerous.407 After police forcibly entered the Sepulveda home, Alberto, his father, his mother, his sister, and his brother were ordered to lie face down on the floor with arms outstretched. Half a minute after the raid began, the shotgun that officer David Hawn had trained on Alberto accidentally discharged, instantly killing the 11-year-old. No drugs or weapons were found in the home.408 The Los Angeles Times reports that when Modesto police asked federal investigators if there were any children present in the Sepulveda home, they replied, “Not aware of any.”409There were three. A subsequent internal investigation by the Modesto Police Department found that the DEA’s evidence against Moises Sepulveda—who had no previous criminal record—was “minimal.” In 2002 he pled guilty to the last charge remaining against him as a result of the investigation—using a telephone to distribute marijuana.410The city of Modesto and the federal government settled a lawsuit brought by the Sepulvedas for the death of their son for $3 million.411 At first, Modesto police chief Roy Wasden seemed to be moved by Sepulveda’s death toward genuine reform. “What are we gaining by serving these drug warrants?” Wasden is quoted as asking in the Modesto Bee. “We ought to be saying, ‘It’s not worth the risk. We’re not going to put our officers and community at risk anymore.’”412 Unfortunately, as part of the settlement with the Sepulvedas, while Modesto announced several reforms in the way its SWAT team would carry out drug raids, there was no mention of discontinuing the use of paramilitary units to conduct no-knock or knock-and-announce warrants on nonviolent drug offenders.413 Here are some other cases of people caught in drug-raid crossfire who weren’t suspects:

• Michael Meluzzi. On July 8, 2005, a Sarasota, Florida, SWAT team conducted a drug raid on a home where several children were playing in the front yard. The SWAT team descended from a van, deployed flashbang grenades in front of and inside the house, then swarmed the home. Forty-four-year-old Michael Meluzzi, who had a criminal record, fled when he saw the armed agents exit the van. Police chased Meluzzi down and fired a Taser gun at him, only partially hitting him. According to Officer Alan Devaney, Meluzzi then reached into his waistband, leading Devaney to believe Meluzzi was armed. Devaney opened fire, killing Meluzzi. Police found no weapon on or near Meluzzi’s body.414

• Ronnie Goodwin. On May 26, 2005, a SWAT team conducted a drug raid on the Syracuse, New York, home of Sonya Goodwin while looking for drug suspect Angelo Jenkins. Police had Ronnie Goodwin, 13, on the living room floor at gunpoint when a deputy on the SWAT team fired off several shots at the Goodwin’s dog. One of those bullets ricocheted, striking the boy in the leg. Goodwin’s mother later filed a lawsuit, claiming the boy suffered “severe and debilitating” injuries as a result of the bullet.415

• Cheryl Lynn Noel. On January 21, 2005, Baltimore County, Maryland, police raided the Dundalk neighborhood home of Charles and Cheryl Noel at around 5 a.m. on a narcotics warrant. They’d obtained the warrant after finding marijuana seeds and stems in the Noels’ trash. They deployed a flashbang grenade, then quickly subdued the firstfloor occupants—a man and two young adults. When officers entered the second-floor bedroom of Cheryl Lynn Noel, they broke open her door to find the middle-aged woman in her bed, frightened, pointing a handgun at them. One officer fired three times. Noel died at the scene.416 Friends and acquaintances described Noel as “a wonderful person.” One man collected 200 signatures from friends, neighbors, and coworkers vouching for her character.417 One possible reason Noel brandished a gun to defend herself: Nine years earlier, her stepdaughter had been murdered.418 Police charged Noel’s husband and two children with misdemeanor possession of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia.419 A subsequent investigation found no wrongdoing on the part of the police.420

•Rhiannon Kephart. In January 2005, 18-year-old Rhiannon Kephart was hospitalized in serious condition after she received severe burns during a pre-dawn paramilitary raid on a Niagara Falls apartment. Kephart—who wasn’t the target of the raid—suffered second- and third-degree burns on her chest and stomach after the flashbang grenade tossed through a window by the raiding officers landed on the bed where she was sleeping. The grenade ignited the bed sheets, setting off a fire in the apartment.421

•James Hoskins. On February 6, 2004, Middletown, Pennsylvania, police stormed the home of James Hoskins on a drug warrant. They were looking for Hoskin’s brother Jim, whom they eventually arrested for possessing “a small amount of marijuana, a glass pipe, and about $622,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. 422 When Hoskins heard the loud thud of police breaking into his home, he got up from his bed to investigate, naked and unarmed. As he approached the bedroom door, a Middletown detective pushed his way into Hoskins’ bedroom. Hoskins and his girlfriend say the detective never identified himself. Later explaining that he mistook the T-shirt Hoskins was using to cover his genitalia for a gun, the detective fired. The bullet entered Hoskins’ abdomen, then ripped through his stomach, small intestine, and colon. It eventually lodged in his leg, which later had to be amputated. It wasn’t until weeks later, after he emerged from a coma, that Hoskins learned the man who shot him was a police officer, not a criminal intruder.423 Remarkably, the Middletown Township police department saw no need to conduct an internal investigation of the shooting until prodded by the district attorney.424 The district attorney’s own investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the shooting officer. 425 Hoskins settled a lawsuit with the city of Middletown in 2005 for an undisclosed amount of money. He settled with the local township for $250,000.426

• Desmond Ray.On December 11, 2002, police in Prince George’s County, Maryland, were preparing for a SWAT raid on a suspected drug dealer. Just as the raid commenced, Desmond Ray—who wasn’t the target of the raid—got out of a parked car. Cpl. Charles Ramseur says Ray reached for his waistband when exiting the car. Ray says he put his hands in the air. Ramseur fired his weapon at Ray, striking him in the spine and paralyzing him. Ray wasn’t armed and was never charged with a crime. In April 2004, an “Executive Review Panel” found that Ramseur had no justification for shooting Ray and recommended administrative charges against him for using excessive force. But that recommendation was overruled when the internal police review board later found no wrongdoing. Ramseur was reinstated. The county police settled a civil suit with Ray for an undisclosed sum of money.427

• Meredith “Buddy” Sutherland. On October 4, 2002, police raided a home in Windsor, Pennsylvania, on suspicion of drug activity. According to news reports, the raid was doomed from the start—the SWAT team was aware that someone inside the home had spotted them, meaning they’d lost the element of surprise SWAT proponents say is the main reason for conducting paramilitary drug raids in the first place. Police raided anyway. Once inside, police went from room to room in the dark home. Trooper Gregory Broaddus entered a bedroom where Meredith “Buddy” Sutherland Jr. was sleeping. Sutherland didn’t live in the house, but was visiting a friend. Officer Broaddus mistakenly thought Sutherland was clutching a weapon when he entered the room, and fired, striking Sutherland. Sutherland had no weapon and was never charged with a crime. Other occupants were eventually charged with drug crimes. Sutherland sued in June 2004 for compensation for his injuries. The state attorney general asked that the suit be dismissed, arguing that the officer in question had immunity and that Sutherland was ultimately responsible for his own injuries.428

• Julius Powell. On August 22, 2001, police conducted a paramilitary marijuana raid on the Powell family in North Minneapolis, Minnesota. As they were approaching the house to conduct the raid, police shot and killed a pit bull a man was walking just outside the house. One of the bullets ricocheted and struck the forearm of 11-year-old Julius Powell, who at the time was taking out the family trash. Police did find some marijuana in the home. The incident—the latest in a series of police shootings in the city— sparked riots and protests.429 • Tony Martinez. On December 20, 2001, police in Travis County, Texas, stormed a mobile home on a no-knock drug warrant. Nineteen-year-old Tony Martinez, nephew of the man named in the warrant, was asleep on the couch. When Martinez rose from the couch as police broke into the home, deputy Derek Hill shot him in the chest, killing him.430 Martinez was unarmed and never suspected of a crime. A grand jury later declined to indict Hill in the shooting.431 The shooting occurred less than a mile from the spot of a botched drug raid that cost Deputy Keith Ruiz his life a year earlier. Hill was also on the raid that ended with the death of Ruiz.432The same Travis County paramilitary unit would later erroneously raid a woman’s home after mistaking ragweed for marijuana plants.

• Lynette Gayle Jackson. On September 22, 2000, police in Riverdale, Georgia, shot and killed Lynette Gayle Jackson in an early morning, no-knock drug raid. A few weeks earlier, Jackson had been at home alone when burglars broke into her house. She escaped out a window and called the police while the intruders ransacked her home. When police arrived to answer the burglary call, they found a small amount of cocaine in the bedroom, which belonged to Jackson’s boyfriend. While the quantity of cocaine wasn’t sufficient to press charges, police began a subsequent investigation of Jackson’s boyfriend. That investigation led to the September no-knock raid. Jackson, believing she was again being robbed, was holding a gun in her bedroom when the SWAT team entered. Her maintenance man said Jackson had been frightened by the previous burglary, telling the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, “I think she was scared and she probably thought it was another break-in.”433

• Willie and Charles Alford.On February 27, 2002, police raided the home of 77- year-old Willie Alford on a narcotics warrant issued for his daughter and two grandchildren. Police from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency; the Cumberland County, North Carolina, Sheriff’s Office; and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation broke into the home at 8 p.m. and, according to Alford, “came in shooting.” Two children were also present in the home. Police shot Alford’s son Charles, a truck driver visiting from out of town who wasn’t a suspect, in the arm, legs, and side. Police found no weapons in the home. Two suspects named in the warrant were arrested at the site of the raid, and one was arrested the following day.434

• Jose Colon. On April 19, 2002, police were preparing to conduct a heavily armed late-night drug raid (it included a helicopter) on a home in Bellport, New York. As four paramilitary unit officers rushed across the front lawn, 19-year-old Jose Colon emerged from the targeted house. According to the police account of the raid, as officers approached, one officer tripped over a tree root, then fell forward and into the lead officer, causing his gun to accidentally discharge three times.435 One of the three bullets hit Colon in the side of the head, killing him. Police say they screamed at Colon to “get down” as they approached, though two witnesses told a local newscast that (a) their screams were inaudible over the sound of the helicopter. The witnesses also stated that (b) the officers appeared to be frozen before the shooting—no one tripped.436 Though he was visiting the house at the time, Colon was never suspected of buying or selling drugs. Police proceeded with the raid and seized eight ounces of marijuana. A subsequent investigation found no criminal wrongdoing on the part of police.437 Colon had no criminal record and was months away from becoming the first member of his family to earn a bachelor’s degree. His family is pursuing a lawsuit.438

• Christie Green. In December 1998, police in Richmond, Virginia, conducted a paramilitary drug raid on an apartment whose occupant was suspected of drug activity. During the raid, Sgt. George Ingram fired “breaching round” shotgun shells—intended to blow the locks off doors—into the door leading to the apartment’s kitchen. Ingram fired five rounds, one of which went through the door, striking 18-year-old Christie Green in the chest. Green later died from the wound. Green didn’t live at the apartment, and police concede they had no reason to believe she was involved in any drug activity or that she knew any was going on in the apartment. Green’s family sued both the city of Richmond and the manufacturer of the round, which is designed to dissolve on impact. In 2002, a circuit court jury found that the manufacturer of the round wasn’t liable for Green’s death. Then, in 2004, a judge in Richmond found that the officer who fired the round wasn’t liable either.439 In March 2005, the Virginia State Supreme Court reinstated the case against the city and the officer, ruling that a jury, not a judge, should make the determination of liability. In January 2006, a jury found Officer Ingram grossly negligent in the raid and awarded the Green family $1.5 million in damages.440

• Delbert Bonar. On October 15, 1998, deputies in Washington County, Ohio, made an unannounced nighttime entry into the home of 57-year-old Delbert Bonar, a retired school janitor. Police had a search warrant to look for stolen weapons and marijuana in the possession of Albert Bonar, Delbert’s son. Police claim that upon their entering the home, the elder Bonar grabbed a shotgun and ignored orders to release it. Albert Bonar’s wife disputes this account of the raid. Police shot Delbert Bonar eight times, killing him. Police found a small amount of marijuana in the house. Though the Washington County sheriff insisted his men acted properly, the county paid the Bonar family a $450,000 settlement in 2003.441 The Threat to Law Enforcement Because SWAT raids escalate the violence associated with executing a search warrant, they not only increase the odds of unintended civilian casualties, but they can lead—and have led—to tragic consequences for police officers, too. The volatility of these raids means that the slightest of errors—not just in ensuring that the information on the warrants is correct but in the actual execution of the raids—can be catastrophic for everyone involved. The following is a partial list of raids in which police officers were killed or injured:

• The Jillian King Raid. On January 14, 2003, Jillian D. King shot and wounded a Muncie, Indiana, police officer as a SWAT team in black masks and camouflage conducted a raid on her boyfriend’s home. Officers were serving a no-knock warrant after finding cocaine inside the car of another resident of the house. King, who had been previously robbed at gunpoint, fired at what she thought were intruders.442 “I saw what appeared to be a burglar jerking at the door,” she told the court. “I ran down and got a gun and shot out a window.” King was never charged with drug possession but was charged with felony criminal recklessness. During her trial, King said if she had known the intruders were police, “I would have opened the door.” The prosecutor described her as having “an itchy trigger finger.” Though individual Muncie SWAT team members testified they “always” announce themselves and wait before entering a residence, they also said they typically wait just five seconds between knocking and forcing entry, clearly not enough time for a suspect in another room or asleep to answer. Video of the raid in question showed officers prying open doors before knocking or announcing.443 King originally pled guilty to the charge, but a judge refused to accept her plea. The jury deadlocked in her trial.444

• The Lewis Cauthorne Raid.On January 7, 2003, prosecutors in Baltimore, Maryland, announced they would not seek charges against Lewis S. Cauthorne for firing a .45-caliber handgun at police who broke down his door during a no-knock raid in November 2002. Cauthorne, at home with his mother, girlfriend, and three-year-old daughter, heard screaming when police broke open the door to his home and began searching for drugs without identifying themselves. Prosecutors determined that Cauthorne, who had no arrest record and whose father had been robbed and killed as a cab driver, had reason to believe his life was in danger when he fired and wounded four of the raiding police officers. Police fired back, but fortunately, no one in the family was hurt. Police were acting on a tip from a confidential informant and claim to have found six bags with traces of marijuana, empty vials, a razor with cocaine residue, and two scales in Cauthorne’s home. But the ensuing investigation found peculiarities with the evidence that precluded Cauthorne from being charged with even a misdemeanor. There was no record of where exactly in the home the drugs had been found, for example, and police told crime lab technicians not to photograph the evidence. The officers who conducted the raid were also unavailable for interviews with investigators until days or weeks after the raid took place. Though never charged, Cauthorne served more than six weeks in jail before the charges against him were dismissed.445

• Officer Ron Jones. On December 26, 2001, police in Prentiss, Mississippi, served search warrants on two apartments in a duplex. One apartment was occupied by Jamie Smith, named in the warrant as a “known drug dealer.” The other was occupied by Cory Maye, who had no criminal record and wasn’t named in the warrants. At the time of the raid, Maye was asleep with his 18- month-old daughter. After attempting to enter through the front door, police moved to the back and broke down the door to Maye’s bedroom. Officer Ron Jones was the first police officer to enter. Maye, who says he feared for his life, fired three times, striking Jones once. Maye’s bullet hit Jones in the abdomen, just below his bulletproof vest. Jones died a short time later. Police found only traces of marijuana in Maye’s apartment, after first telling reporters they’d found no drugs at all. Officer Jones was the only officer who conducted the investigation leading up to the raid and apparently kept no notes of his investigation. According to the district attorney and prosecutor in the Maye case, all evidence of the investigation leading to the raid on Maye’s home “died with Officer Jones.”446 In January 2004, Maye was convicted of capital murder for the death of Jones and sentenced to die by lethal injection.447

• Deputy Keith Ruiz. On February 15, 2001, police raided the Del Valle, Texas, mobile home of Edwin Delamora, where he lived with his wife and two children. As two deputies beat down his door with a battering ram, Delamora fired, fearing he was under attack. One bullet from his gun struck and killed sheriff’s deputy Keith Ruiz. Delamora had no previous criminal record and his defense attorney says the raid on his home was influenced by an anonymous informant who turned out to be the brother of two sheriff’s deputies. Information about the informant’s relationship with the police was suppressed at trial. Delamora was eventually convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison. Police found less than an ounce of methamphetamine and one ounce of marijuana in his home. Prosecutors declined to seek the death penalty because of substantial doubt over whether Delamora knew the officers were police or whether he genuinely believed them to be intruders.448

• Deputies James Moulson and Philip Anderson; George Timothy Williams. On January 3, 2001, Jerome County, Idaho, sheriff’s deputies James Moulson and Phillip Anderson conducted a raid on the home of George Timothy Williams. The warrant for the raid contained information from a confidential informant asserting that Williams was one of the leading suppliers of marijuana in the county. Moulson and Anderson conducted the raid at night, wearing camouflage. It’s unclear whether they announced themselves before entering. Williams fired when the deputies entered, and the deputies returned fire. All three died in the shootout. A subsequent search turned up less than four grams of marijuana. Lawsuits brought by the families of both slain deputies and by Williams’s family revealed that the informant was a woman who lived with Williams. One suit alleges that the sheriff’s department threatened to take away the woman’s child if she didn’t give them the information they needed to get the warrant. The county settled with the family of one deputy.449 A federal court dismissed the lawsuit brought by Williams’s family. An Idaho state police investigation found no wrongdoing on the part of the sheriff’s department or the deputies who conducted the raid.450

•Officer David Eales.On September 24, 1999, police in Sallisaw, Oklahoma, procured a no-knock warrant on the home of Eugene Barrett, suspected of trafficking methamphetamine. As the police vehicles descended upon his home, Barrett opened fire. One bullet struck and killed Oklahoma Highway Patrol Officer David Eales. Barrett claims he was acting in self defense. After a state jury declined to give Barrett the death penalty, he was tried again in federal court, convicted, and sentenced to death.451

• The Mary Lou Coonfield Raid. In August 1996, Tulsa police raided the home of 70-year-old Mary Lou Coonfield on a drug warrant. Coonfield awoke to find a man in black standing in her bedroom, holding a gun. She grabbed a .22- caliber pistol and fired, wounding Tulsa County Deputy Sheriff Newt Ellenbarger. The warrant for Coonfield was later thrown out, ruled in both 1996 and 1997 to be illegal. In 1999, a jury acquitted Coonfield of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and feloniously pointing a weapon. Coonfield was acquitted because of Oklahoma’s “Make My Day” law, which states that “an occupant of a house is justified in using physical force, including deadly force, against another person who has unlawfully entered the house if the occupant reasonably believes that the other person might use any physical force, no matter how slight, against any occupant of the house.” Coonfield, who’s both hard of hearing and has poor eyesight, says she didn’t hear police announce themselves before entering, and thought she was being robbed.452

• Officer James Jensen. On March 13, 1996, the Oxnard, California, SWAT team conducted an early morning drug raid on a home that turned out to be unoccupied. In the maze of smoke and light that followed the deployment of a flashbang grenade, a fellow SWAT team member, who would later reveal that his judgment was clouded by Vicodin, mistook Officer James Jensen for a hostile occupant of the house and shot him dead. Jensen’s family won a $3.5 million settlement from the city of Oxnard in 1999.453

• The Andre Madison Raid.On November 7, 1995, police in North Minneapolis, Minnesota, raided the home of Andre Madison. After local media merely recounted the police version of events, Minneapolis City Pages conducted an indepth investigation. According to the paper’s account, police obtained a noknock warrant on Madison’s home after a confidential informant allegedly purchased some marijuana at the residence.454 At about 8 p.m., the Minneapolis paramilitary unit, called ERU, deployed flashbang grenades at the front of Madison’s home. At the same time, police from the city’s housing unit were entering the home from the rear. Reports at the time say police began firing when Madison fired his shotgun at them. But a forensics team later determined that Madison’s gun was never fired the night of the raid. Instead, an investigation conducted by a police chief from a nearby county speculated that the housing unit officers mistook the flashbang grenades deployed by the ERU unit for gunfire from the suspect and opened fire themselves. The two police units then mistook one another for assailants and began to fire upon one another. When Officer Mark Lanasa went down, shot in the neck by a colleague, the commanding officer called for “suppressive fire,” giving officers carte blanche to shoot at will. Upon hearing that a fellow officer had gone down, more police soon arrived at the scene. They too joined in the shooting. Hundreds of rounds were fired into the building. There were bullet holes found in neighboring buildings, as well. Madison, the suspect, was shot in the neck and the arm. Miraculously, no one was killed.455 Police found only a small amount of marijuana in Madison’s home. He was never charged with a drug crime. He was charged with four felony counts of second-degree assault with a firearm—not for shooting, but for pointing his shotgun at police. He could have been sentenced to 12 years in prison. Madison insists he thought the police were intruders. Prosecutors then offered to let Madison plead to a misdemeanor count of reckless use of a firearm, which carries a sentence of just 90 days. The hitch was that a guilty plea to the lesser charge would have prevented Madison from suing the city. The subsequent investigation and report from the outside police chief concluded that Minneapolis’s ERU unit “executes too many warrants and relies too heavily on dynamic (door-ramming) raids,” explaining that “there are other alternative tactics that ERU is aware of. However when so many raids are conducted using dynamic entry, other tactics may be forgotten.”456 Confronting Nonviolent Offenders with Violent Tactics Drug war supporters and casual observers often find it difficult to criticize paramilitary raids ending in the death or injury of nonviolent drug users or dealers, noting that those people are, after all, breaking the law. If drugs are found at the scene, even raids ending in a suspect’s death are somehow deemed less troubling than raids ending in the deaths of innocents. The case against the suspect and in favor of the decision to raid with a paramilitary unit seems to grow stronger if the suspect also possesses weapons, or worse, points them at or attempts to use them against the raiding police officers. Perhaps it’s true that such scenarios shouldn’t trouble us as much as raids on the homes of innocents. But they’re still troubling, for two reasons. First, by some estimates, more than 96 million Americans have consumed marijuana at some point in their lives.457 The overwhelming majority of them have done so peacefully and at the expense of no one else. Legalizing marijuana is a debate for another time. But it would be absurd to suggest that the 96 million Americans who have tried or continue to smoke marijuana have effectively given up their Fourth Amendment rights. Smoking marijuana, or even selling it to someone else, isn’t a violent crime and, consequently, doesn’t merit a home invasion by police armed with the weaponry and mindset of soldiers. It certainly doesn’t merit death. Yet a troublingly high number of these raids are aimed at marijuana offenders. Second, as discussed earlier, given the tactics associated with no-knock warrants, it isn’t difficult to see why people might grab weapons to defend themselves and their families when police violently storm a home late at night or just before dawn. That a suspect pointed a weapon at police serving a noknock warrant doesn’t prove that the suspect was violent or a threat to the public. It only proves that someone in the privacy of his own home was understandably threatened by the presence of armed intruders. The fact that police find weapons or marijuana at the scene of a raid, then, still doesn’t mean paramilitary tactics and forced entry were justified. It’s possible—likely, even—that millions of Americans are both harmless recreational marijuana users and legal gun owners. The presence of both doesn’t make them a threat to the community. And the only legitimate use of paramilitary units like SWAT teams, indeed the reason they were originally implemented, is to deal with real, immediate, and obvious threats to the public safety. Perhaps the best example of how such violent tactics unleashed on nonviolent drug users invite tragedy is the case of Clayton Helriggle. Clayton Helriggle. Helriggle, 23, lived in a house with four roommates in West Alexandria, Ohio. In September 2002, a local SWAT team conducted a no-knock raid on the house. Local police had only recently put the SWAT team together—the most experienced members of the team had less than four hours of tactical training. Others had never trained with the SWAT team before. A postraid report would later find that “wrong dates were used in an affidavit, and investigators questioned why so little time was provided for surveillance of the house and why there were no controlled narcotic purchases from the house.”458According to the Dayton Daily News, the search warrant was “largely based on overheard conversations, a few hours of surveillance, and the word of a convicted felon who had recently lied to a court to remain free on bond.” Informant Kevin Leitch insisted there were “pounds and pounds” of marijuana at the residence and specifically identified Helriggle as a dealer. Leitch later told investigators he was mistaken. Helriggle’s family says he was a recreational marijuana smoker, though not a dealer.459 On September 27, 2002, 25–30 police officers emerged from nearby woods and swarmed the farmhouse. SWAT officers detonated several flashbang grenades on the first floor, then used a battering ram to force their way into the rented farmhouse. As police in shields and body armor subdued three of the house’s occupants, Helriggle, asleep in an upstairs bedroom, was awakened by the commotion and descended the stairs. Police at the scene say he was carrying a handgun at the time. Helriggle’s roommates insist that while Helriggle did own a licensed handgun, he’d left it in the bedroom and was holding a blue cup of water. Whatever Helriggle was holding, his last words—“What’s going on?”—indicate he wasn’t aware that the armed intruders in his home were police. A SWAT team member interpreted the item in his hand to be a gun and put a single shotgun blast into Helriggle’s chest. He died at the scene, in the arms of one of his roommates.460 Immediately after the raid, police told local reporters that they’d found marijuana, pills, weapons, drug paraphernalia, and drug “packaging materials” at the home. The pills proved to be a bottle of prescribed codeine. The weapons were Helriggle’s legal handgun, an old shotgun, and a .22-caliber rifle, not particularly unusual for an Ohio farmhouse. The “packaging materials” turned out to be a box of sandwich bags. And police found less than an ounce of marijuana. No charges were filed against any of the house’s occupants.461 In addition to the tip from an unreliable informant, police raided the farmhouse on the basis of evidence they say they collected while conducting surveillance. As it turns out, that evidence too was questionable. Officer George Petitt, who both conducted the surveillance and planned the raid, told investigators he concluded the farmhouse was a “dope house, just by the activity” of cars pulling in and out of the driveway. But when pressed, he conceded that he had no firsthand knowledge of a single marijuana deal that took place at the farmhouse.462 The absurdity of using a highly armed, poorly trained SWAT team to carry out a violent, volatile raid on a house rented by recreational marijuana users was captured by Ian Albert, a resident of the farmhouse who also happened to have just completed Navy SEAL training. It was Albert who held Helriggle in his arms as he bled to death. According to the Dayton Daily News Albert’s first thought at the time was “Wow, they took down a farm of unarmed hippies.” “If they would have come to the door and said, ‘Give us your dope, hippies,’” he added, “we’d have gotten about a $100 ticket.”463 A grand jury and internal investigation later found no criminal wrongdoing on the part of police officers but did find the SWAT team “ill prepared” and “lack[ing] experience in dangerous searches.”464 The grand jury report also noted that the officers who conducted the raid had refused to cooperate with investigators.465 In January 2004, Greene County, Ohio, prosecutor Bill Schenk suggested the possibility of reopening the Helriggle case, saying that he was concerned that Helriggle had been publicly portrayed as a drug dealer. “I think it’s fair to say that there was no drug dealing by Mr. Helriggle,” he told the Dayton Daily News. 466 Despite the fact that he was at the time awaiting sentencing for more than a dozen crimes, including forgery, theft, burglary, breaking and entering, and safecracking, informant Kevin Leitch was never charged for lying to police officers, nor was he charged for lying under oath to the grand jury investigating the raid.467 These kinds of cases are increasingly common. It’s now routine for police to deploy SWAT teams to serve search warrants on nonviolent marijuana suspects for crimes that in many cases barely qualify as misdemeanors. These unnecessari-ly violent and confrontational tactics are, also, increasingly bearing tragic results. Some examples:

• Leesburg, Virginia. In January 2006, police in Leesburg used flashbang grenades while raiding the home of a marijuana suspect. Police obtained the warrant after sifting through trash bags outside the house. They found one small bag of marijuana.468

• Decatur, Alabama. In October 2005, police in Decatur raided a family home on a marijuana warrant. Police shot and killed two of the family’s dogs and, according to the targets of the raid, made jokes about the dead pets while the suspects were in custody. Police seized eight grams of marijuana, or about enough to fill a ketchup packet.469

• Shannon Hills, Arkansas. In February 2005, police in Shannon Hills stormed a home with their guns drawn during a toddler’s birthday party. The target was a pregnant woman attending the party. Police arrested her on suspicion of distributing marijuana. Police Chief Richard Friend told one reporter, referencing the birthday, “We got them something they wish they could return.”470

• Angela King. On May 17, 2004, Perry County, Kentucky, police raided the home of Dennis Ray and Angela King on suspicion of marijuana distribution. Deputy Sheriff John Couch shot Angela King twice, once in the head, in the course of the raid. Police say King fired a weapon at them first, though the couple’s 14-year-old-son—also in the home at the time of the raid and who was subdued with a policeman’s foot on his shoulder—says he heard only two shots. The police were cleared of all wrongdoing in the shooting. Dennis Ray was arrested on charges of distributing marijuana.471

• Linda Florek.On December 7, 2004, at 10 p.m., police in Mundelein, Illinois, broke down the door to the home of 48- year-old Linda Florek. They then ordered Florek and her son to the floor and handcuffed them. Shortly into the raid, Florek—who has a cardiac condition—told police she was having chest pains, possibly a heart attack. According to a lawsuit later filed by Florek, police refused to let her take an aspirin or to call an ambulance. Ninety minutes later, the officers finally believed her and called an ambulance. Florek was eventually admitted to a hospital, where doctors determined she’d had a heart attack and needed immediate surgery. Police issued Florek a ticket and fine for the misdemeanor possession of less than 2.5 grams of marijuana.472

• Shay Neace. On March 22, 2003, police in SWAT attire raided a home in Canton, Ohio, on a marijuana warrant, looking for a man with a history of marijuana distribution. There was a party at the home that night. As the raid commenced, Officer William Watson of the Perry Township Police Department made his way to the home’s second floor, and pulled open the door to a bathroom. Inside, 24-year-old Shay Neace and his brother Seth were smoking marijuana. Watson pushed a gun through the door and ordered everyone in the bathroom to the floor. Neace and his brother say Watson never announced himself. They thought they were being robbed. Shay Neace grabbed Watson’s gun and pushed it away. He then pushed the gunman— Watson—out into the hall. At that point, Watson fired, hitting Neace in the shoulder and in the back. The second shot left Neace paralyzed. Officer Watson was cleared of all charges by a grand jury. Neace was indicted by a separate grand jury, then acquitted in a criminal trial of obstructing an investigation and resisting arrest. Neace’s civil suit against Watson is still pending.473

• Robert Filgo. On September 2, 2003, police in Fremont, California, forced open the door of 41-year-old marijuana patient Robert Filgo, who had both a doctor’s prescription and a certificate from the city of Oakland permitting him to possess the drug. Police entered, forced Filgo to the floor at gunpoint, then shot his pet Akita nine times, killing it. The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office later declined to press charges against Filgo.474

• Marcella Monroe and Tam Davage.In October 2002, police in Eugene, Oregon, assembled a massive show of force—52 police officers from four agencies in full SWAT attire, assault weapons, shotguns, and an armored vehicle borrowed from the Oregon National Guard—to conduct a raid on three homes in the Whitaker neighborhood they suspected of growing marijuana. All three homes were owned by one couple, Marcella Monroe and Tam Davage. Davage and Monroe lived in one of the homes, with two tenants. They were renovating the other two houses, which had been destroyed in a windstorm. Police officers were aware that there were likely to be only three or four people at most in the three homes, despite the force of 52 officers they brought for the raid.475 The massive SWAT team was dressed in black or in camouflage and wore ski masks. They deployed flashbang grenades, then forced entry into the home occupied by Davage, Monroe, and their tenants without announcing themselves. They pulled the two couples out of bed and wrestled them to the ground. They put assault weapons to residents’ heads, tightly handcuffed them, and refused to let the two women, who were partially nude, cover themselves (they also took photos of the women before allowing them to dress).476 When Monroe asked if she could put on some clothing, one officer put a black bag over her head and tightened it around her neck. Because police at that point had still failed to identify themselves, Monroe says she believed she was about to be executed (as for the black bag tactic, the Eugene Police Department had been warned to discontinue the practice by the National Tactical Officers Association, who cautioned that “this practice is not acceptable in the law enforcement community,” that it “has no lawful purpose,” and though it is commonly used in military operations, “it has no place in civilian operations”).477 Monroe also sustained a cut on her head after one officer pushed her to the ground and put a boot on the back of her neck.478 Police found no plants, no weapons, and only “residue” of marijuana in a couple of plastic bags, for which the couple’s tenant was issued a misdemeanor citation. Neither Monroe nor Davage had a criminal record, and none of the occupants had any history of violent crime.479 Nevertheless, police still charged Davage and Monroe with felony manufacture of a controlled substance. They cited the evidence they’d found: fans, fluorescent lights, plastic sheeting, timers, potting equipment, sandwich bags, a scale, 24 electrical outlets, and a shop vacuum. Of course, none of those items is illegal, and in the case of Davage and Monroe, all were perfectly sensible to have around: Davage was a work-athome jeweler, explaining the lights and the outlets. Monroe owned a landscaping business, explaining the potting supplies and vacuum. Of course, as noted, the two were also renovating all three houses, as police could have easily ascertained, both during the raid and during the undercover visit one officer paid to the couple (posing as a potential tenant) before securing a warrant for the raid.480 Monroe had come to the attention of police when they’d busted a marijuana growing operation in Portland, where they found cashier’s checks made payable to her. What the officer failed to mention in the affidavit, however, was that the checks were clearly identified as payment for landscaping services and were made in the name of Monroe’s business. The most recent check was dated 1997, five years before the raid.481 In a subsequent lawsuit, Monroe and Davage outlined a host of other misleading assertions and questionable omissions in the affidavit that led to the raid on their home. The officer, for example, cites unusually the high use of electricity, the presence of potting soil, an electrical cord, and a “humming noise,” as grounds to suspect cultivation of marijuana. The affidavit never mentioned Monroe’s landscaping business, Davage’s jewelry business, or the fact that the couple was repairing their home from storm damage, though the officer was aware of all three. The affidavit also makes no mention of the possibility of weapons, disposability of evidence, or violent tendencies of any of the home’s occupants, all of which would have been required to justify a no-knock raid.482 Police defended the raid as entirely necessary and appropriate, given the well-known danger posed by people who grow marijuana. The spokesman for one of the task forces involved in the raid added that “the community at large” approved of such tactics. The Whitaker Community Council later condemned the raid at a public neighborhood meeting, as well as in a press release.483

• Jeffery Robinson. On July 30, 2002, police stormed the home of Jeffery Robinson, a 41-year-old gravedigger in South Memphis, Tennessee. Robinson lived in a small building on the site of the cemetery that employed him. Police conducted the raid on the basis of an anonymous tip that someone was selling marijuana on the cemetery grounds. Raiding officers kicked in Robinson’s bedroom door and immediately shot Robinson in the neck. Robinson died three weeks later. Police say Robinson charged them with a box cutter. They also found a small amount of marijuana near a camper in Robinson’s backyard and charged him with possession, even as he lay in a hospital fighting for his life. A review by the Memphis police department’s internal affairs unit and the Attorney General’s Office found no wrongdoing on the part of the police. For two and a half years, the officers who participated in that raid remained on the Memphis police force. But in October of 2004, the jury in a federal civil suit brought by Robinson’s family made some striking findings: The jury concluded that the box cutter police say Robinson charged them with—which was never fingerprinted— was planted on Robinson after the raid. During the trial, a medical examiner and blood spatter expert also testified that the shooting couldn’t possibly have happened the way the officers say it did. Further, the shirt Robinson wore, as well as the shirt of the officer who shot him, vanished after the raid. Trial testimony revealed that police bought a new polo shirt, still in its wrapper, and tagged it as the shirt Robinson wore the night he was shot. The federal jury concluded that the officers shot Robinson without justification, then tampered with the evidence to cover up their mistakes. The jury also cast doubt on the ensuing investigation by the police department’s internal affairs division.484 In February 2005, the eight officers involved in the raid were finally suspended, more than two years after the raid.485 Robinson’s family won a $2.85 million verdict against the officers and negotiated a $1 million settlement from the city of Memphis.486

• Vernard Davis.In January 2001, police in Rochester, New York, conducted a late-night drug raid at the home of Vernard Davis. During the raid, Officer David Gebhardt’s shotgun accidentally discharged as he stumbled through a dark room. The blast hit Davis in the chest, killing him. Davis left behind two toddlers and one six-year-old. Police did find a significant amount of drugs in the room, but no weapons. In 2004, the city of Rochester awarded Davis’s children a $300,000 settlement. The presiding judge called the shooting “a tragic, unintended accident.”487

• Jacqueline Paasch. In early 2000, a SWAT team from the Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, sheriff’s department broke into the home of Jacqueline Paasch and her two brothers on a no-knock drug warrant for suspicion of marijuana possession. Paasch says she heard footsteps rumbling up the stairs, but before she could figure out what was happening, her door was kicked in, a gun went off, and she was on the floor, bleeding. Paasch was hit in the leg, incurred $19,000 in medical expenses, endured a year of rehabilitation, and was told she’ll always walk with a limp. Police found a “very small amount of marijuana and a pipe” in the house, according to local news reports, though not enough to press charges against anyone in the house. In 2000, Paasch settled with the Village of West Milwaukee for $700,000. “The fact that this can happen to me and my family has made me realize that it can happen to anyone,” Paasch told one media outlet. “And that’s really frightening because the police are the ones you’re supposed to count on to protect you.”488

• Troy Davis. On December 15, 1999, police in North Richland Hills, Texas, raided the home of Troy Davis, the son of a well-known “true crime” writer. The raid was based on the word of a single, anonymous informant that Davis was growing marijuana in one of the house’s closets. That informant turned out to be Davis’s uncle, who had tipped off police after a long-running dispute with Davis’s mother. A local municipal judge had originally denied Sgt. Andy Wallace’s initial attempt to obtain the no-knock warrant, citing insufficient evidence. So Wallace merely went to a second judge in Fort Worth and got his approval. On the night of the raid one team pried open (with some difficulty) Davis’s back door, while another team went around to the front. According to police, Davis came to investigate the noises outside his home while carrying a gun (his family denies he was holding a weapon). Upon seeing the gun, raiding officers shot Davis in the chest, killing him. According to officers at the scene, Davis’s last words were, “I didn’t know. I didn’t know.” Though police did find three marijuana plants, GHB, and a few small bags of marijuana in Davis’s home, ensuing investigations revealed significant problems in the way Richland Hills police executed the search warrant. In fact, further investigation found flaws in the way the same police department conducted nearly all of its drug raids. First, attorneys for the Davis family found that the police department had a policy of conducting no-knock raids for every narcotics search warrant issued, a clear violation of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Richards. Second, according to the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, “A year before the [Davis raid], two of the team’s members told superiors they were concerned that lax standards for the unit could leave it vulnerable to lawsuits.” Team leader Joe Walley later told a court that he was “very uncomfortable” about the Davis raid and that he felt the team was “doing a tactical operation without anything to go on.” Another officer came back from sniper school and told superiors that nearly everything the North Richland Hills SWAT team was doing was wrong. Yet another later said in a deposition of the Davis raid, “We should never have been there.” According to court records reviewed by the StarTelegram, Sergeant Wallace did little corroborating investigation after getting the tip from Davis’s uncle. There were no controlled buys or surveillance.489 After the Davis raid, the two officers who had warned superiors about inadequacies with the SWAT team were suspended. Another officer who told the media and the Davis family attorneys about his concerns quit five months after the raid, citing harassment by superiors. Two other officers who were forthcoming with criticism of the police department also quit.490 In 2004, a state appeals court ruled the warrant for the raid that killed Davis was invalid. The court found that the warrant failed to show that the informant for the raid was reliable, and that Sgt. Wallace failed to do any independent investigation to corroborate the informant’s tips.491 Even after the raid and ensuing revelations about poor training and preparation, North Richland Hills officials couldn’t or wouldn’t say what changes police had implemented to be sure a similar mistake wouldn’t occur again. The Forth Worth Star-Telegram reported that in 2005, during depositions for the civil suit brought by Davis’s family, responses from city officials indicated that raid procedures were never examined after the raid. Attorney Mark Haney, representing the Davis family, expressed frustration that no one from the city would claim responsibility for overseeing police procedures. “Is there anybody? . . . Who is it? Who can talk about this topic?” he asked of North Richland Hills city attorney Greg Staples. Staples replied, “That’s not my problem. That’s your problem.”492 The mayor of North Richland Hills testified that neither he nor the city council were responsible for oversight of the city’s police department. The city manager testified that he oversaw hiring and firing but that police procedures were determined by the police chief. The police chief said he answered to the city manager. When Haney asked the city manger if he had ordered any investigation into the death of Davis, he replied, “No I did not.” When asked if he had knowledge of any subsequent city investigation, he answered, “I’m not aware of any.”493

•Linda Elsea.Elsea smoked marijuana to treat her fibromylagia after the successful campaign for Initiative 692, a Washington State measure authorizing the use of cannabis for medical purposes. In 1999, she came out of the bathroom to find a team of SWAT soldiers armed with assault weapons barreling up her driveway. She was handcuffed, subject to a body cavity search, and taken to the police station.494

• Rusty Windle.In early 1999 in Wimberly, Texas, a paid police informant and former felon befriended electrician’s assistant Alexander “Rusty” Windle after meeting him at a bar frequented by tradesmen. The informant had been working the area for more than four months, winning friends by throwing parties stocked with beer and food. The informant convinced Windle to get him two half-ounce bags of marijuana, the Texas minimum for a felony charge. When Windle delivered, police obtained an arrest warrant. One witness said of the informant, “He asked everybody to get him pot, he practically begged you for it.”495 On May 17, 1999, nine police officers conducted a pre-dawn raid on Windle’s home. Officer accounts differ on whether or not they announced they were police, though the other targets of raids that night (based on information gathered from the same informant) say police never announced themselves before executing the warrants. The police who raided Windle’s home were dressed entirely in black. Windle awoke, and came to the door with a gun. Police say that when they heard the slide action of a rifle bolt, Officer Chase Strapp backed away from the door. As he did, he tripped over a potted plant. Seeing armed men in black approaching his house, and watching one retreat from his porch, Windle pointed his weapon at Strapp. Strapp fired four rounds, hitting Windle three times, killing him. Police found less than an ounce of marijuana in Windle’s home.496

•Lisa Swartz and the Medical Marijuana Raids.In August 2004, 38 medical marijuana patients filed simultaneous lawsuits against state law enforcement agencies in California for seizing marijuana from their homes in violation of state law. One of them was Lisa Swartz, who described a raid on her home to the online publication AlterNet: During the conference call, she told of being raided at gunpoint in 1999. “They came with a narc SWAT team, pointing semi-automatic weapons at my grandkids’ heads,” she said before breaking into tears. “It was a terrible experience and totally changed my view of everything. I used to believe the police were there to protect and defend us. It is just so bizarre that they do this to people,” said Swartz. “Even if we get our property back, this still takes a terrible toll on our families.” Swartz spent 18 months and $50,000 on her defense before authorities dropped the charges. “They never apologized and they never gave me my medicine back,” she said.497

• Willie Heard. On February 13, 1999, police in Osawatomie, Kansas, conducted a 1:30 a.m. raid on the home of 46- year-old Willie Heard. Police say they announced themselves, though Heard’s daughter, who was home at the time, told the Topeka Capital-Journal, “[A]ll I heard them say was ‘Get Down! Freeze!’” Heard awoke, and met officers in his bedroom with a .22-caliber rifle. Seeing the gun, a raiding officer opened fire and shot Heard dead. Though the search warrant was for crack cocaine and related paraphernalia, police found only the burnt remnants of an herb that couldn’t be tested. If it had been marijuana, it would have barely been enough for two cigarettes.498 Prosecutors declined to press charges against the police who conducted the raid.499 In 2001, Heard’s family won a $3.5 million settlement from Miami County and the cities of Osawatomie and Paola. The lawsuit contended that police had targeted the wrong home. At least one member of the SWAT team later apologized to Heard’s family for their mistakes.500

• David Doran.In August 1998, police in Kansas City, Missouri, conducted a noknock raid on the home of David Doran on suspicion that he was dealing methamphetamine. Doran says he was asleep when police entered and that because he thought he was being robbed, he came out of his bedroom holding a gun. Police say Doran didn’t comply with orders to get down. Doran says he tried to surrender. Raiding officers shot Doran, inflicting injuries that required a two-week hospital stay and the loss of his only functioning kidney. A jury subsequently awarded Doran $2 million, but in June 2005 the Eighth Circuit Federal Appeals Court overturned the award, concluding that police were justified in conducting a no-knock raid on Doran’s home. Police found no methamphetamine, nor did they find any evidence that Doran had ever operated a methamphetamine lab. They did find a small amount of marijuana.501

• Michael Swimmer. In the summer of 1998, police in Orange County, Florida, shot and killed 27-year-old Michael Swimmer in a 2:30 a.m. drug raid. Police shot Swimmer six times after he confronted the raiding SWAT team with a handgun. Police conducted the raid after a tip from a confidential informant that Swimmer, an amateur bodybuilder, was selling ecstasy.502

• Chinue Tao Hashim. On February 21, 1998, a deputy in Greenville County, South Carolina, shot and killed unarmed drug suspect Chinue Tao Hashim during a SWAT raid. While negotiating a drug deal with Hashim, one undercover officer said over the radio that “a gun is on the table,” meaning that a gun was part of the bargain. When the SWAT team raided, Master Deputy John Eldridge interpreted the radio remark about the gun to mean that Hashim was armed. As the raid commenced, Eldridge thought he saw Hashim reaching for a gun and opened fire. A subsequent investigation revealed that what Eldridge thought was a gun was actually the glint from a wristwatch.503 Prosecutors declined to press charges against Eldridge.504

• Barry Hodge. On August 4, 1997, police in Selmer, Tennessee, broke down the door to the home of Barry and Sheila Hodge on a no-knock drug raid. According to a $25 million lawsuit filed by Hodge’s widow in 1998, police never announced themselves before entering. By the time the raid was over police had shot Barry Hodge in the arm and chest, killing him. Sheila Hodge claims she was thrown to the floor and handcuffed, and the Hodge’s daughter was locked in her bedroom. Press accounts don’t say if police found marijuana in the home.505

• Richard Paey. In March 1997, police in Pasco County, Florida, arrested Richard Paey on charges of prescription fraud. Paey, a multiple sclerosis patient suffering from the effects of a car accident and subsequent botched back surgery, is wheelchair-bound and paraplegic. His various ailments required him to take significant quantities of painkillers to lead a normal life. Unfortunately, Florida law made it difficult for him to get the medication he needed. Prosecutors accused Paey of forging prescriptions, though they conceded that there’s no evidence he was selling or distributing. Despite Paey’s condition, and the fact that he obviously posed no threat to anyone, prosecutors sent a SWAT team to arrest him. Officers in ski masks and body armor, armed with assault weapons, broke down the door to Paey’s home, needlessly terrorizing him, his wife, and their children.506

• Doug Carpenter and Carlos LeBron. On January 11, 1996, a SWAT team in Maitland, Florida, used a 60-pound steel ram to break down the door to the apartment of Doug Carpenter and his roommate, Carlos LeBron. Police conducted the raid after a member of Maitland’s police “New Resident Visitation Team” came to their apartment shortly after the two had moved in and noticed “a strong odor of what he believed to be cannabis.” The two men were handcuffed at gunpoint for three hours while police searched their apartment. The search turned up 3.5 grams of marijuana, and earned each a $150 fine. Police didn’t suspect either man of dealing marijuana, nor were there any complaints from neighbors. Maitland police chief Ed Doyle said the warrant was executed because the two men were new to the area and were renters, which together present “a potential problem to be nipped in the bud.” Doyle added that the raid wasn’t “one we’re going to put on the mantle.”507 Other Incidents of Paramilitary Excess Finally, there are several examples from the past decade in which SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics have been used unnecessarily and recklessly, but that defy easy categorization. Here are a few of those incidents:

• The Utah Rave Raid. In August 2005, more than 90 police officers from sever-al state and local SWAT teams raided a peaceful outdoor dance party in Utah attended by 1,500 people. Police were armed with assault weapons, full-SWAT attire, police dogs, and tear gas. Many in attendance say police beat, abused, and swore at partygoers. Police deny the allegations, though amateur video audio clearly captures police issuing orders laced with profanity. Police also arrested security guards on drug possession charges, though the guards possessed the drugs because they’d confiscated them from partygoers.508

• The Easton, Pennsylvania, SWAT Team. The small town of Easton, Pennsylvania, chose to disband its SWAT team in 2005 after a series of incidents, including the shooting death of one SWAT team member. An editorial in the Allentown Morning Call praised the decision, noting that the SWAT team had become “rude, arrogant, and disrespectful,” and had “lost the confidence of the civilians who supervise them and sign their paychecks.”509

• The Ahwatukee Raid.In 2004, police in Ahwatukee, Arizona, conducted a massively armed, thoroughly bumbling raid on a home they suspected contained illegal assault weapons and ammunition. In a densely populated, upscale neighborhood, a SWAT team from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department, complete with an armored personnel carrier, used grenade launchers to fire at least four rounds of tear gas into the windows of the home. The home then caught fire. As the owners of the home evacuated, police officers actually chased the family’s dog back into the burning house with a fire extinguisher, where it perished in the flames. Andrea Baker, the dog’s owner, says police laughed as she cried at their cruelty. Later, the brakes would fail on the SWAT team’s armored personnel carrier, causing it to lurch down the street and smash into a parked car. The car was owned by Julie Madrigal, who had fled the car just moments earlier with her nine-year-old daughter after the two grew frightened at the sight of the SWAT team as it fired canisters of tear gas. The fire completely destroyed the home, putting homes nearby in the dense neighborhood at risk, too. For all of this, police found no assault weapons. They found only an antique shotgun and a 9-millimeter pistol, both of which were legally owned. They still arrested 26-yearold Erik Kush, on outstanding traffic violations.510 CBS News reported in 1997 that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department’s SWAT team was doing an average of one callout per week. In an on-camera interview, one member of the team told reporter Jim Stewart the best part of being on the SWAT team was that, “you get to play with a lot of guns. That’s what’s fun. You know, everybody on this teams is— you know, loves guns.” Another added, “Hey, the bottom line is it’s friggin’ fun, man. That’s the deal. Nobody wants to take burglary reports.”511

• The Racine Rave Raid. In 2002, police in Racine, Wisconsin, conducted an early-morning raid on a rave dance party, kicking in doors, dragging young people from bathroom stalls, throwing others to the floor, and holding them all at gunpoint. Police issued more than 450 citations to partygoers for merely attending a party where some drugs were present, but made only 3 arrests. The city of Racine later dismissed nearly all of the charges but still faces a civil lawsuit from attendees who claim police violated their civil rights.512

• The Farmerville Raids. In 2002, 40 police offices from more than 10 different agencies conducted a pre-dawn raid on a suspected drug hub in Farmerville, Louisiana, in what one local sheriff called “a dream come true.” The raid did yield ten arrests, but the violent tactics enraged the local community. Around 100 people marched through the small town the next day to protest the operation, in which police forced entry into several homes. “They could have arrested them any time and any day,” protest organizer Sheila Lewis told the Associated Press. “They are not violent, they are just normal people. . . . It was like a war zone. People were scared to death.”513

• The Colorado–Colorado State Football Game.In 1999, a SWAT team took the field when rowdy fans attempted to bring down the goalposts—a tradition in college football—after a Colorado State– Colorado football game. Armed with weapons and mace, police roughed up dozens of fans for 30 minutes after the game, including Colorado State student Britney Michalski, who nearly died after an allergic reaction to the mace. When one of Michalski’s friends attempted to get aid for her from one of the police, she too was maced.514

• “Operation Jump Start.” In 1997, a multitude of police officers from three separate SWAT teams conducted a massive raid on multiple low-income neighborhoods in New Britain, Connecticut. The New Haven Advocatereported: They wore navy blue camouflage fatigues over their body armor. Kevlar helmets covered their heads; black masks covered all but the noses and eyes of their faces. A state trooper flew above the scene in a small Cessna aircraft, keeping in radio contact with commanders on the ground. The state troops swept onto city streets inside “Peacekeepers,” trucks with battering rams in the front.515 “Operation Jump Start” netted 49 arrests.516

• Ramon Gallardo.In 1997, a SWAT team from Dinuba, California, a town with just 12 regular police officers and 15,000 people and which hadn’t a single reported homicide in its history, shot and killed 64- year-old farm worker Ramon Gallardo.517 Officers in black masks broke down Gallardo’s bedroom door while he and his wife were sleeping. Carmen Gallardo told the Los Angeles Timesshe thought the police “were robbers” when they entered. According to police, Gallardo reached for a folding knife to defend himself, though his family says Gallardo didn’t own the knife. Gallardo was shot 12 times. Gallardo had no criminal history. Police were looking for a stolen gun they say was in the possession of Gallardo’s son. The gun was never found. A subsequent investigation by the Tulare County district attorney found no improper behavior on the part of police. A federal jury later ordered the town of Dinuba to pay the Gallardo family $12.5 million in compensation. Dinuba later dissolved its SWAT team.518

• The Heflin Family. In 1996, a SWAT team in La Plata County, Colorado, descended on a ranch owned by Samuel Heflin. They were looking for evidence related to a bar brawl—a cowboy hat, shirt, and a pack of cigarettes. On the way in to Heflin’s home, police forced two children to the ground at gunpoint. They then trained a laser-sighted assault weapon on Heflin’s four-year-old daughter as she ran screaming into the house. Upon asking to see a search warrant, Heflin was told by SWAT officers to “shut the fuck up.”519

• The Fitchburg SWAT Incidents. In 1996, the Fitchburg, Massachusetts, SWAT team burned down an apartment complex after deploying flashbang grenades in a no-knock raid. The fire left six police officers injured and 24 people homeless.520 In an article on the raid and fire, the Boston Globe noted the that the Fitchberg SWAT team was formed in 1990 with the charge, “To establish an organized response to unusual high-risk situations, barricaded suspects, hostage situations, and other similar life-threatening events where citizen safety or officer safety is at risk.”521 But the 1996 raid wasn’t the first time the unit had come under criticism. The team had a history of botched raids and faced at least one suit for violating the civil rights of a group of loiterers the SWAT team was called to break up.522

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