Here at the The Watch, we strive to keep you updated on the latest in drug-raid terribleness. So here’s your roundup. First stop — Oakland, Calif.:
Two East Oakland residents are suing the Oakland Police Department saying that officers serving a search warrant threw them each down the stairs to their apartment, injuring the woman who was recovering from knee surgery.
The suit also alleges that the officers had the wrong apartment, looking for a drug dealer that didn’t live there and who neither of the residents knows …
[One resident] was sleeping on the couch at 2:30 p.m. when she heard aggressive knocks at her front door and windows.
When she got to the door, she asked, “Who is it?” and looked out the window, seeing the nine officers with their guns drawn and holding a battering ram.
They said if she didn’t open the door they would enter by force. She opened the door and the officers grabbed her. She lifted her pant leg and told them she had recently had a knee replacement, but they pulled her out of the apartment and threw her down the steps, injuring her knee, according to the complaint …
They told the officers they had the wrong apartment, but one sergeant told them, “so what?” and “take it up with the people up front,” according to the complaint.
On we go, to Buffalo:
Working off a tip from ‘snitch’, Buffalo Police Lieutenant Sean O’Brien and Detective Shawn Adams went before the Chief Judge of Buffalo City Courts, the Hon. Judge Thomas Amodeo, and swore they had probable cause to raid a house in Buffalo where a man – whose name they did not know – was selling heroin and marijuana.
Neither could police tell the judge the age, height or weight of the man, or whether he was white, brown, yellow, black or red, but they knew his address was 85 Ullman; a green house, with white trim.
On the early morning of December 21, in the final hours of darkness of what was the longest night of the year, a SWAT of Buffalo Police Narcotics Officers, in paramilitary gear, stormed the Ullman St. home.
Inside, they encountered a grey haired, white man and a [German shepherd].
Within seconds, police ordered the man to lie on the floor face down and shot his dog in the head.
They found a small bag with white residue that the police say is cocaine. The article points out the man’s attorney is currently “pursuing lawsuits in a dozen wrong house raids and dog killings.”
A South Florida family is asking why their apartment was raided by police. They say they have done nothing wrong, and police found nothing. Now they’re left with a mess and a lot of questions.
“All I know is I woke up at 11 in the morning at the sound of banging at my door.”
The damage to that door still visible.
Michael Valdes still shaken up after coming face to face with Miami-Dade Police. “I saw a bunch of agents with hazmat suits and rifles aiming at me.”
Valdes didn’t know what was going on. He says police searched his house, cut through mattresses, threw down lamp shades and looked in the walls. The search was thorough and messy.
“They said I was a heroin dealer and I had a heroin lab, which is why they came in with hazmat suits.”
The police found no drugs.
In Louisiana, the family of Eric Senegal has just filed a lawsuit against the Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Department for a no-knock drug raid last year. Deputies said they shot and killed Senegal during the raid when he confronted them with a gun. The family’s lawsuit claims the warrant for the raid was based on “false and uncorroborated” statements from an informant and an anonymous phone call. The deputies deployed two flash-bang grenades and shot Senegal’s dog before killing Senegal. From what I can tell, there are no reports that the officers found any drugs, although they did claim that Senegal had cocaine and marijuana in his system. According to the Associated Press, Beauregard Parish deputies serve most of their drug-related search warrants with no-knock raids. A grand jury has cleared the deputies of any criminal wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, the Drug War Chronicle reports that 49 people were killed in police drug war operations in 2016, about half of them during raids.
Our final stop is Augusta, Ga., where the editorial board at the Augusta Chronicle points out that drug raids terrorize innocent people, cause unnecessary death and destruction, and are often conducted in an unprofessional manner. The same editorial board then explains why they must continue.
While we’d like to end drug raids on homes, and the danger and trauma they can cause, we’re not sure that can be done. Drug dealers work primarily out of their homes; they can’t be given carte blanche to do so.
We just hope law enforcement agencies are chastened by the above incidents and work all the harder to avoid them.
Sure. Let’s try that. I mean, the trail of terror, violence, dead dogs and dead bodies caused by aggressive drug raids goes back 35 years. But maybe these latest incidents will inspire police to use a more “chastened” approach. Cross your fingers. And hide your dog.