Tag Archives: law enforcement training

Officers in Unwarranted No Knock Raid Terrorize Family and Murder Child

Civil Rights Violations by Unwarranted No Knock Raid a Growing Police Problem

The frequency of civil rights violations carried out daily across this nation by out of control police departments is as alarming as is their sickening and shocking natures, but unwarranted no knock raids are the worst kind.  Just over four years ago an innocent seven year old girl was shot in the head and killed by an over-zealous SWAT team officer in an out of control no-knock raid  carried out on the wrong address in Detroit, MI.

Here’s what happened on May 16, 2010 in Detroit.  A “Special Response Team”, or SRT in police lingo (don’t you love the official sounding names?)  had prepared to carry out a surprise no-knock raid on a wanted man. It had been determined he was living in one half of a duplex rental unit in a Detroit neighborhood.  Another family lived in the other half of the duplex.

The SWAT Team had obtained a warrant for the unit in which they had determined the wanted man was living.  The big mistake the team made in their midnight raid was to raid both sides of the duplex.  They did have a warrant for the address of the wanted man, but not for the innocent family who lived in the other half of the duplex.

Officers arrived in armored vehicles armed with automatic rifles and battered down the doors on both sides of the duplex.  A neighbor who was outside walking his dog when the police arrived tried to warn the cops that there were children and innocent people inside the second residence the cops were about to mistakenly raid.  The children’s toys all over the yard should have tipped them off too, but that neighbor was pinned to the ground and restrained by other officers while the unjust raid proceeded.

What they found inside the residence they had no authority to enter was a sleeping family – Mom, Dad, Grandma, and four young children.  Grandma was asleep on the couch with her 7 year old granddaughter.  The raid began and ended in tragedy in less than 30 seconds. One officer broke a window and tossed a percussion grenade inside, while others rammed the front door open. In the next 6 seconds of total confusion, the SWAT team leader, Joseph Weekley, shot and killed an innocent child.

What is worse, several hours more of mayhem and abuse ensued.  Aiyana Jones, 7, was dead.  Cops restrained her distraught grandmother  on the floor in handcuffs and forced her to lie in the child’s blood and the broken glass from the window that has been shattered.  Further abuses not only to the grandmother, but to both of the murdered child’s parents occurred over the next several hours.

Aiyana’s father was also required to lie face down in a pool of his daughter’s blood, while he pleaded for some kind of explanation for what had just happened.  He was given none.  Aiyana’s grieving and frightened mother was detained for several hours, forced to stay sitting sitting on the couch in the blood of their murdered daughter, after which she was transported to a facility where she was forced to undergo — a drug test!

Police at first claimed they had a rightful warrant.  They can apparently do no wrong.

The suspect that the police had sought was arrested and taken into custody in the raid.  He was in the other duplex unit, the side for which the police had initially obtained a signed warrant.  As soon as police realized the error they had made, the police chief took action to get a CYA warrant for the second residence – after it was broken into and Aiyana was killed.

Shouldn’t we expect some admission of error from someone on the part of the police department, and not just a massive cover up of a blunder that resulted in the death of an innocent child?  Shouldn’t we expect to see some kind of admission of error on the part of the officer who pulled the trigger and put a bullet through seven year old Aiyana’s brain?  Shouldn’t we expect remorse from the trigger man?

Apparently, every action taken by a police raid is infallible and justified.

Four years and two mistrials later, the gunman is held unaccountable

Prior to this incident, Joseph Weekley, the officer who pulled the trigger on Aiyana, had 14 years of law enforcement experience.  In 2007 he was under investigation as a member of another police raid team in which guns were pointed at children, and two family pets were shot.

Weekley also aspires to be a hero in the SWAT team raid business.  A&E’s pro-police-state reality show, “The First 48”, glorifies the aggressive use of police power.  The team of which Weekley was the leader in this particular raid was accompanied by a full TV crew from the show.  Their video illustrates just how hyped the team was when the shooting occurred.  They were in full aggression mode. Their macho police raid was, after all, going to be on TV, and they were going to be the stars!

Even more sickening is the involvement of the Chief of Police of Detroit, Warren Evans.  Evans had been positioning himself to be featured in the A&E program as the lead police officer, directing cops to take back the streets of Detroit.  Evans’ self aggrandizing plans backfired on May 16, 2010.

Weekley is Free.  Why?

Weekly was tried in June 2013 on a charge of manslaughter.  A mistrial was declared due to a hung jury.  In September 2014 ,Weekley stood trial once again.  The charge was reduced from manslaughter to reckless firing of a weapon causing death.  Conviction would have carried a possible 2 year sentence. It didn’t matter.  The jury was hung again, and another mistrial was declared.  According to the system, that’s the end of legal proceedings against Weekley for this crime.

If you’re not familiar with this case, here are several relevant links filled with greater detail to build and justify your outrage.  This case was big enough to be summarized in Wikipedia already.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Aiyana_Jones

http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2014/10/06/joseph-weekley-aiyana-stanley-jones-appeals-court/16803207/

http://new.livestream.com/wildabouttrial/events/3402923

http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2013/06/grandmother_testifies_aiyana_j.html

That’s plenty to keep your blood boiling, I’m sure.

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5 Startling Numbers Reveal the Militarization of U.S. Drug Policy

question everything

The number of Americans that die each year due to violent crime caused by the drug war

This average death toll of Americans murdered in drug-related crimes is higher than the annual fatality rate of US soldiers in either the Afghanistan or Iraq war. In fact, according to an analytical study of FBI crime statistics, the Vietnam War is the only conflict in the past half-century that has been deadlier for Americans. Disturbingly, this figure doesn’t even take into account the numerous individuals who have been killed by law enforcement in drug-related raids.

$51 billion – The amount that the U.S. government spends each year on the war on drugs

This huge figure, which is $5 billion more than the average annual expenditure on the Afghanistan War, is primarily allocated to arming and training the increasingly militarised law enforcement.  According to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), weaponry held by US counter-narcotic agencies for use against American drug suspects includes flashbang grenades, sniper rifles, and submachine guns. There is also an increased prevalence of drug-targeting SWAT teams using armoured personnel carriers – vehicles that were originally created to “transport infantry and provide protection from shrapnel and small arms fire on the battlefield.”

61 percent – The percentage of individuals targeted by drug-related SWAT raids who are people of color

The ACLU investigated the impact rates of SWAT teams in sixteen counties around the US, and in every single one, people of color were disproportionately targeted. In Allentown, PA, Latinos were 29 times more likely than white people to endure a SWAT raid, while Blacks in Burlington, NC, were 47 times more likely than whites to face this violence. This bias treatment is ongoing despite the rates of drug use and selling being comparable across racial lines.

18 months – The age of Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh, a recent American casualty of the drug war

On May 28, a team of police officers raided the Phonesavanh’s home, with the mistaken belief that the residents were involved with drugs. As they entered, they tossed a flashbang grenade that landed directly in the crib of baby Bou Bou, which exploded within point-blank range – critically injuring him. In  a harrowing article, his mother, Alecia, described seeing “a singed crib” and “a pool of blood”, and later being informed by medics of the “hole in his chest that exposes his ribs.” Alecia said that the sole silver lining to this story is that it may “make us angry enough that we stop accepting brutal SWAT raids as a normal way to fight the war on drugs.” Fortunately, Bou Bou has been making a gradual recovery, but his family is  relying on donations to support their living and medical costs.

82 percent – The number of Americans who believe that the government is losing the War on Drugs

American polling company, Rasmussen,  reported this staggering statistic, which contrasts considerably with the miniscule four percent who believe that the drug war has been successful. Despite the inordinate human and financial cost of the war on drugs, and its lack of success in quelling drug use or trafficking, Republican and Democrat leaders continue to express anti-democratic defiance as they ignore the will of the people and perpetuate the drug war’s inhumanity.

This article first appeared on the Drug Policy Alliance Blog

http://www.alternet.org/drugs/5-startling-numbers-reveal-militarization-us-drug-policy

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Judge Sends Cincinnati Police Detective to Prison for False Arrest – Widespread Problem In Law Enforcement

juliane Steele cincinatti police sentanced false arrest

A judge sentenced a Cincinnati police detective to five years in prison Wednesday for abduction and intimidation in the arrest and detention of a teenager.

Julian Steele, who has since been fired from the police force, was only repeating what he saw others on the force do during his 14-year career, Steele’s attorney said before the sentence was imposed.

“No doubt about it. There was a mistake made here,” Steele’s attorney Lindsey Gutierrez told Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Dennis Helmick. “He saw other cops do it.”

Steele, 48, of Springfield Township, falsely arrested a teen in May 2009, interrogated him, held him against his will, got a false confession from him – all so Steele could get close to the teen’s mother for sex, according to court records.

Steele insisted he had evidence – “probable cause” in legal language – to arrest the teen because he’d seen the teen’s mother’s car in the area of several street robberies in Northside. Later, though, Steele admitted to suspicious prosecutors he knew the teen committed no crimes when he arrested him.

“I’ve talked to several police officers about this case and generally they laugh at the thought that that’s probable cause,” said Daniel “Woody” Breyer, the Clermont County special prosecutor assigned to handle Steele’s case

Breyer was brought in because it was Hamilton County prosecutors who uncovered Steele’s crimes.

Steele even threatened to file a grievance against Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor Megan Shanahan after she insisted the teen be freed from juvenile jail and after Steele suggested he would lie to the grand jury to win an indictment, according to court records. Steele told prosecutors he would “work my mojo” before the grand jury.

“I would never do anything malicious to hurt anybody,” Steele told the judge Wednesday.

Not only did he hurt the innocent teen and his mother, Breyer countered, but he hurt law enforcement officials everywhere.

What he has done to the justice system almost is irrevocable,” Breyer said.

The mother testified she was so afraid for her son she would do anything to get him out of jail. She said Steele told her it was “a process” to get her son out and even after she performed oral sex on him, the detective didn’t get her son released.

“The things he said are appalling. If I was a (Hamilton County) prosecutor, I’d go back and check every case he was on,” Breyer said.

Steele’s actions needlessly damage police and prosecutors, Breyer said.

“It makes me angry,” Breyer said. “It makes everybody connected with law enforcement angry.”

The judge also placed Steele on probation for five years after he serves his five-year prison term.

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