Here’s a quick roundup of recent police raids in the news:

Imagine being asleep in your home only to wake up to the barrel of a gun.
Now imagine if that happened to your grandmother!
When Contact 5 Investigator Katie LaGrone learned about it, she started asking questions.
At 89 years young, Vera Thompson has lived through her share of close calls.
“I’ve gone through two heart pacemakers and breast cancer,” she recently told the Contact 5 Investigators.
But her latest near-miss, was nothing short of shattering. “Oh, it was a show honey!  There was glass everywhere!”
Back in December, Riviera Beach police raided her home.
“I said ‘Oh my god this is real!'”
It was a Thursday afternoon, and Thompson was taking her afternoon nap when suddenly, “I woke up the guy is standing over me with a gun telling me where are the drugs and where is the money?  I said what drugs and what money you talking about?”
In the search warrant, which describes Thompson’s home down to the “brown” shingle roof, Riviera Beach Police list what they believe was inside: cocaine, heroin, just to name a few.
When asked if she sold drugs, Thompson replied, “No! All my drugs come from the doctor.  No ma’am, never!  I’m 89 years old and I’m going to sell drugs?  I can’t even get out of my way,” she said. Thompson says the police got the wrong house . . .
According to the chief, investigators conducted surveillance of Thompson’s home days before the raid.
“I don’t have any reason to believe that they didn’t get it right or that they got the wrong house,” Williams said.
According to reports, on December 10 and 12, Riviera Beach agents made drug buys using a confidential source but neither report lists an address, “to protect the integrity of the investigation,” he said . . .
A closer looks shows those incident reports were filed January 23, six weeks after the raid and just two days after the Contact 5 Investigators started asking questions about the incident.
And then there’s the search warrant.  State law requires a search warrant be filed with the Clerk of Court 10 days after its executed, but police never filed Thompson’s search warrant  with the clerk’s office.
“It’s my understanding the search warrant was filed and filed properly,” the chief told the Contact 5 Investigators. When we informed him that the clerk’s office had no record of the search warrant he responded, “Um, you know I don’t know.  If the officers made a mistake and haven’t filed it timely, I’m not aware of it and we’ll make certain it gets done.”
Two months later, Vera Thompson is still waiting for new windows, a new front door and new carpet that was burned from the flash bang.

The police chief is insisting that his officers did nothing wrong, even though he concedes that Thompson isn’t a drug dealer. He posits that drug dealers may have been selling near or on her property without her knowledge. Let’s put aside the troubling questions about the warrant itself. Even assuming this was all done by the book, the chief is essentially saying here that in order to fight the drug war, the police will sometimes need to terrify an innocent elderly woman by breaking into her home, detonating a flash grenade and subjecting her to the other elements of a violent, volatile raid. This is an argument police officials in other parts of the country have made numerous times after raiding innocent people’s homes. Sure, the people subjected to the raid may have done nothing wrong. But drugs were sold near their homes, or from their homes without their permission. Therefore, the police did nothing wrong. And Vera Thompson is collateral damage.

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Detectives finally had a chance to search a Churchill Drive home where three Corpus Christi PD SWAT members were shot trying to execute a narcotics warrant on Thursday.
Small amounts of cocaine, crack cocaine, prescription medications used for anxiety and pain, and some marijuana were found inside. Officers also seized $600 in cash . . .
The original subject of the warrant, 30-year-old Santiago Garcia, is facing drug possession charges.
46-year-old Ray Rosas remains in the Nueces County Jail on three counts of attempted capital murder of a peace officer. During a hearing on Friday, Gabi Canales was assigned as his court-appointed attorney.
The three CCPD team members were shot before the team even got into the home around 8:45 am.
Senior Officer Steven Reubelmann, who has been with the department for six years, was shot twice in the wrist and hand. Officer Andrew Jordan, a four-year veteran, was shot in the upper leg and forearm. A bullet also grazed Officer Steven Brown’s leg.

So three cops shot, all over a quantity of drugs small enough to merit only a possession charge. I don’t know anything about Ray Rosas. But it seems unlikely that he decided to kill a team of raiding cops in order to protect $600 and a small quantity of illicit drugs apparently owned by his roommate. The more probable scenario is that Rosas thought the house was being attacked by criminals.

• Speaking of which, here’s another incident from Florida, this time in North Miami Beach:

Elton Bandoo told police he was startled awake by a loud bang and screams from his mother that the family was being robbed in their North Miami Beach home.
Seconds later, Bandoo grabbed his .40-caliber handgun and fired, wounding North Miami Beach police officer Lino Diaz. Bandoo told police the split-second decision that will forever change his life was made out of fear to protect his family.
Bandoo said he was sleeping when he suddenly “heard a lot of noise, then heard his mother screaming ‘I think we’re getting robbed. I think we’re getting robbed,’ ” according to his arrest affidavit.
Police say they launched a flash grenade into the home, but only after “announcing in a loud and clear voice” that they were there to serve a federal search warrant. Police said they wore clearly marked Special Response Team outfits and that the armored vehicle out front was marked with police decals on both sides.
The raid at the home at 16033 NE Eighth Ave. happened at 6:10 a.m. Friday, about 50 minutes before sunrise.
“SRT did throw distraction devices moments before Diaz was shot,” North Miami Beach police Maj. Kathy Katerman said Monday.
Katerman said police did not return gunfire. The arrest affidavit says when an officer asked Bandoo if he was “hurt or shot,” he replied he was “all right.”
About 10 minutes after Diaz, 47, was shot, a police negotiator persuaded Bandoo and his mother to leave the house and turn themselves over to police.

So what crime had been committed that was so serious that the police had to conduct a violent predawn raid, complete with a flash grenade?

Friday’s shooting was related to a federal investigation by North Miami Beach and Aventura police, who are part of a joint task force into unemployment fraud. Police wouldn’t go into detail about the investigation and refused to publicly release the contents of the search warrant or say what was found as a result of the search.

Unemployment fraud. The day after the raid, the police pointed the press to a rap video that apparently “shows two men with dreadlocks and wearing baseball caps pointing large and small firearms at the camera.” As it turns out, Bandoo is better known as hip hop artist EB Da Iceman. The police and local media are making a big deal of the fact that Bandoo projects a “gangsta” image in his videos and lyrics. Of course, none of that means he’s lying about why he shot at the police that morning. Bandoo has no prior criminal record. 

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This case illustrates the fundamental fallacy of charging people such as Bandoo for shooting at raiding cops: The police claim that the nighttime and predawn raids, the flash grenades and the quick, forced entry are all necessary to take suspects by surprise. In other words, the tactics are designed to confuse and disorient everyone inside the building that the police are raiding. At the same time, the police argue that the same people they’re deliberately confusing, disorienting and taking by surprise should have known that the armed men breaking into their homes were police officers. You can’t have it both ways.

Well, actually you can. And the police do. There have been a very few cases where someone who mistakenly shot at the cops was excused, but it’s rare. The double standard is only compounded by the fact that when a police officer makes a mistake and kills or injures an innocent person during a raid, he is generally given the benefit of the doubt because of the volatile circumstances.

• Finally, a story from Wichita:

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This past Friday, February 6th, Wichita residents Taylor Tymony, 22, and Michael Kostelecky, 21, were surprised by Wichita police officers breaking their unlocked door down with a battering ram. The officers charged into the the home the men rent with a third man, Jake Houston, 20, with rifles drawn to serve a search warrant.
The officers ordered the men to the floor, and stomped on their necks to “keep them quiet”.
The officers had been conducting surveillance on the home, which is near Reflection Ridge, at 21st and Ridge in northwest Wichita. The officers repeatedly asked the men how they were able to pay the rent on such an expensive home.

According to the watchdog site Kansas Exposed, Kostelecky’s parents own the home and rent it to their son and his friends. The house also includes a music studio, which might explain why the police observed lots of people coming and going. The police found no drugs and no weapons. They did apparently find a piece of a broken marijuana pipe.

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