Police in Utah served a no-knock warrant looking for drugs. The roommate of the guy they were looking for was there. As the police broke down the door and yelled “search warrant,” he was standing some distance away from the door, in the dark, with a golf club raised in the air. The police shined a flashlight in his face, shot him to death, and then yelled “Get on the ground!”
News story with embedded Youtube video of the shooting: http://gawker.com/5737240/police-strike-force-shoots-man-armed-with-golf-club-over-his-roommates-drugs
Video, link broken for graphic violence: http://www.live leak.com/view?i=39d_1295474876
The police are using paramilitary SWAT teams to conduct routine arrests and searches. The inevitable result is that people are killed. These SWAT teams have a license to kill without fearing prosecution; the worst that happens is a civil lawsuit. In Fairfax County VA, a SWAT team arrested optometrist Sal Culosi who was acting as a bookie and had been goaded into increasing his bets by an undercover cop. He had no criminal background or history of violence. One of the officers arresting him shot and killed him, claiming his car door bumped him and caused him to pull the trigger. No charges were filed. The cop was suspended for 3 weeks and the police union complained that that was too harsh a punishment! The family just won a settlement of $2 million to be paid by the taxpayers rather than anyone involved in killing him.
The man in this Utah case was holding a golf club, which I don’t believe any right-thinking individual would regard as a deadly weapon when it is wielded somebody wearing body armor, backed up by a whole team of people. The man was some distance from the cops, made no moves toward them, was in the dark, and probably thought his home was being broken into. He was given no opportunity to surrender.
Radley Balko of Reason Magazine has been writing a number of articles on police misconduct, the growing prevalance of SWAT raids and resulting deaths, and prosecutorial misconduct. This is his latest (possibly the last) on Sal Culosi: http://reason.com/archives/2011/01/17/justice-for-sal and he wrote a column on paramiltary policing: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/apr/15/paramilitary-police-dont-make-us-safer/
If there are any police here, or if any police have ever explained this anywhere before, what exactly is the reason for breaking into homes and terrorizing people in the middle of the night? Why not search a place sometime during the day when nobody’s home? Why not arrest somebody when they leave a house instead of breaking in, terrorizing the family and shooting the dog? Is it just not as much fun?
Is there anything an officer on a SWAT team can do that would result in charges?