Helmet cam video footage released of police raiding the WRONG home with flashbangs and military weapons
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) The disturbingly frequent use of SWAT teams by federal, state and local law enforcement has dramatically increased bad outcomes, with a case of mistaken identity stemming from a recent raid serving as a case in point as to what can happen to careless officers when they raid the wrong house.
In 2012, the Evansville, Kentucky, Police Department conducted a SWAT raid on the home of an older woman, Louise Milan, and her two daughters – the "suspects," it was later learned, had committed no crimes.
The entire raid, from the time the officers were en route until the time they departed the residence, was recorded via a helmet camera worn by one of the officers.
For years, the department resisted attempts to make the video public, but on July 31 a federal appeals court ruled that the department "committed too many mistakes" to not be held liable in the resultant lawsuit filed by Milan (that court decision can be seen here).
That video can be viewed here:
The appeals court found that the department's SWAT officers were so negligent in conducting a wrongful raid that one judge compared them to the fictional Keystone Kops of early 20th century silent film.
"That really was the whole main focus, excessive force. We think the court saw it the way we do and not as police do, and we think the jury is going to see that way too," said Kyle Biesecker, Milan's attorney, as reported by Blacklisted News.
The June 21, 2012, raid was conducted in response to anonymous Internet posts that appeared threatening to police. But rather than spend a proper amount of time and effort actually investigating the origin of the posts, or whether they constituted a legitimate threat, the department resorted to quickly securing a regular search warrant for the home where the IP address was traced. No investigation of the home's occupants was initiated.
As such, on the day of the raid, SWAT officers approached the home like it was occupied by an armed hostile force, violently smashing the front glass screen door with weapons drawn before the residents had a chance to answer the door, despite the police having a regular search warrant, not a "no-knock" warrant. After the glass was shattered, officers tossed in flash-bang grenades, kicked in some windows and proceeded to detain anything that moved.
In the end, Milan and one of her teenaged daughters were captured and escorted out of the home while police tore it apart searching for -- something.
Blacklisted News further noted that following the raid, which turned up nothing, police finally decided to launch an investigation. Come to find out, the threats had been posted online by Milan's neighbor, Derrick Murray. The following day, he was arrested and plead guilty to making the threats while piggybacking off of Milan's non-password-protected Wi-Fi.
City attorneys attempted to shield the department and the officers from liability, but U.S. District Judge Richard Posner would have none of it.
Frequency of these types of botched raids is astounding
In his ruling, he wrote for the three-judge panel:
Police are not to be criticized for taking threats against them and their families seriously. But flash bangs are destructive and dangerous and not to be used in a search of a private home occupied so far as the police knew only by an elderly woman and her two daughters.
We cannot understand the failure of the police, before flash banging the house, to conduct a more extensive investigation of the actual suspects: (Derrick) Murray, living two doors away from the Milan home and thus with ready access to Mrs. Milan's open network, and the male Milans.
The police neglect of Murray is almost incomprehensible. His past made him a prime suspect. A day of investigating him would have nailed him, as we know because a day of investigating — the day after the violent search of the home — did nail him.
Sadly, though, these kinds of incidents are all too frequent, as this interactive map maintained by the libertarian CATO Institute demonstrates.
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