Over at Cato’s Police Misconduct web site, we have selected the worst case for May. It was the Georgia police officers who threw a flashbang grenade into an infant’s crib after ramming the door open to look for a drug dealer. The officers were executing a no-knock warrant when they threw the flashbang grenade through the cracked door without looking or knowing who was inside the room. The grenade (sometimes the government uses the euphemism “distraction device”) landed on the 19-month-old’s pillow and exploded, causing severe burns to his face and chest. The child and his relatives, who were also sleeping in the converted garage room, were temporary visitors in the home because theirs had recently burned down. The person the police were looking for was not there.
The officers involved expressed regret, and said that they had no idea there was a child present and that if they had, they would have done things differently. The police chief said the incident is going to make them “double question” next time. Hmm. First, why would anyone not already “double question” before blindly tossing a grenade into a room? Second, is the indication that a child is present really the only reason not to go full-Rambo on a house where human beings live? Think about it. Even if the police had solid proof that an adult was selling marijuana, meth, or cocaine from his home, is a flash bang grenade on his pillow a legit police tactic? A legit risk?
Cases like this one not only underscore the brutal collateral damage of the drug war, but also the lack of adequate oversight over police raids like this one. Yes, there will be a lawsuit, but that’s an insufficient response.
Check out the Cato raid map for more police raids that went awry.