Yet another SWAT raid death and no charges filed

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?

Obviously not.

Come the Revolution, SWAT members will be hunted down and dealt with like every other group of thugs that operate under the blanket of “State Security.”

I watched the video, and heard at least five iterationsof “Police! Search warrant!” prior to the shots bieng fired.

It’s not clear to me why you feel that the police were not justified. The man heard, “Police, search warrant,” repeated multiple times, but instead of standing with his hands up he adopted an aggressive stance. In the dark, with seconds to decide, there’s no good way of knowing if the man was armed with something more deadly than a golf club.

So why did the police go with with such force? Because based on many examples, people that store large quantities of illicit narcotics also keep means to defend their contraband.

Hey, here’s a thought - go in during the day.

Has anyone compliled statistics on the actual value of no-knock warrants? Are criminals highly adept at flushing evidence? Are they inclined to barricade the place and start a standoff? What’s the rate of officer and citizen injury on no-knocks vs. knocks?

Here’s another thought: after blocking all exits, knock on the door and wait for them to answer, if nothing happens then break in.

At worst they might begin shooting, or start swallowing all the evidence, but 99% of the time people just answer the door when someone knocks. I suspect people drawn to SWAT teams have an appetite for dramatics.

They shot him less than 3 seconds after they opened the door. You think someone can break into your house in the middle of the night, dressed in black, shining a bright light in your face, and you can figure out if it’s really a cop, react to that and put down a weapon in less than three seconds?

These raids create conditions where the natural actions of most people are considered enough to justify shooting. People tend to arm themselves when somebody is banging their door down in the middle of the night. Cops barge in, someone presents a weapon and they shoot them. Dogs tend to bark and act aggressive towards intruders. Cops barge in, the dogs bark and maybe run at them, so they shoot them.

Oh, and the search warrant wasn’t on him, it was on his roommate. And the “large quantities of illicit narcotics” was an empty meth vial and some paraphernalia.

The yelling starts at roughly 23.5 seconds in the video. Shots are fired at about 28.5. Then there’s the fact that the shouts were by multiple people and sound somewhat mumbled even to the cameraman right there.

I don’t see how this can be seen as anything other than a huge fuckup.

That’s totally insane. There’s no way a police officer over here (including the equivalent of SWAT teams, and probably moreso, in fact) pulling such a stunt wouldn’t end up in front of a court, and given the visual evidence, I can’t see him being acquited.

Sorry to play the comparison game, but what I saw is so insane that I can’t help.

Good Christ, that would be a bad idea. I hate “no-knock warrants”, but all that is going to do is set up a standoff. Somebody almost ALWAYS dies in a standoff.

“Block all exits” and yell at him? Is that your plan?
That said, I do think the cops use excessive force in this instance. To put it lightly.

My take is that the the cops should have gone in with better training. (if they even needed to go in at all - I’m not absolutely sure just taking the house was a good tactic to begin with) If they must use military tactics they need better fire control. The cop should have taken an extra second to think about it before he pulled the damn trigger.

The video clearly shows that the officer who fired his weapon is guilty of manslaughter. In any other first-world country, this wouldn’t be in dispute. It’s pitch black (the guy possibly has just awaken, depending on what time it is). There’s less than five seconds between the police coming through the door and the shooting. The guy was stood with a golf club far outside striking range of any officer. There couldn’t possibly be a more cut-and-dried case.

It ain’t cut and dried, and you’re smart enough to know that. The officer fired very, VERY, prematurely, but he was in the process of serving a legal warrant. Probably should be punished for that.

And don’t give me the shit about “any other first world country”. Anybody who says that is too American-centric, and has an erroneous belief that America is somehow an exception to the the other nations on the planet. The U.S. is no better and no worse.

You mean it wasnt a hit squad in a war zone? Its hard to tell from that video.

You know, it does look like a clusterfuck in a war zone. That was my point about the bad training and tactics. Proper training would have ended up with the roomate in cuffs - and alive

Bad training makes it sound as if shooting the guy is what any untrained person would have done in the same situation. Which is horseshit. If a first year traffic cop had went into the house with gun drawn he would have ordered the guy to drop the “weapon”. The Swat guy just dropped him like he was playing Rainbow Six.

Thats not training, thats murder.

That’s more bullshit that the manslaughter accusation that Ridley’s party of armed goons said a few posts ago.

I disagreed with him about it being “cut and dried”, though I might bend on the manslaughter. But c’mon buddy. It ain’t murder. It was an ill conceived and poorly executed execution of a warrant. If you want to talk about how “no knock” warrants are unconstitutional, I’ll back you up. I don’t like that shit at all. But what we have his is an unfortunately legal warrant executed very, VERY badly. It ain’t murder.

Wonder what would happen if they ran into a house built like a panic room that they couldn’t just pop the doors or windows.

I have a friend that moved to Arizona and lives about 40 miles outside Tucson in essentially a cold war defense bunker. He bought it from a doomsday-woo guy that apparently decided living in the US was dangerous and moved to Mexico [of all places, I would think that Mexico would be a bit more dangerous, but WTF, it is his life not mine] so he has the nice cozy bunker, and a pantry big enough for a years worth of dried food, and an [empty] armory that has a shooting range in it. [He uses it for practicing his air-soft gunnery]

The whole problem here is that judges allow these sorts of warrants. They approve them with full knowledge that a heavily armed SWAT team is going to blast into a home that may or may not be defended by men with guns. It’s a highly volatile situation, constructed in its entirety by allowing a no knock warrant.

The police need to be more creative in how they gain entry into the home, not more heavily armed. Set up a camera, observe who goes in and out of the home, wait for the home to be empty, wait for someone to come out and have them let you in. It feels to me like the police get an address, and walk in there without any knowledge of who is or isn’t in the home, relying on firepower to keep themselves safe. The problem with that is the use of firepower often results in a corpse, a corpse that may not have had any involvement in illegal activity.

Stop approving the warrants, and situations like this one will stop.

Lets see: 1) Cops lied to get warrant (knew the subject no longer lived there but said they needed a no-knock so that person could not flush/destroy evidence) Legal?
2) cops failed to pull over in a traffic stop the proper car, and knew it
3)Knew beforehand there was not a warrant. Even went so far as to have their voice recorded saying “don’t tell me that” and other words that leave no doubt as to how hurried it was planned
4)ADMITTED THE DEAD MAN MADE NO MOVE TOWARDS HIM
5) said nothing to dead man as far as any commands to do anything (shot a man for standing still as most people have heard to do
6)trained to quickly shoot as fast as possible. Shooter made statements how they trained especially to do just as he did
7)appears that there is no remorse at all for shooting a man that received no commands whatsoever.

There is no doubt in my mind that this was premeditated murder with the deceit in getting warrant, ensuring dead man was in the house by having another unit pull over a separate non-related person to appear something ws being done for safety.

Premeditated murder, how the fuck can it be anyting else whhen actions guarantee that trouble is wanted (lies and refusal to give command for anything since it was how they fucking trained!)

I have ZERO respect for police nowadays, and unfortunately, I will not ever help out a police officer since I have yet to meet one that wants to help me or anyone I have known in last five years. Yeah, there are a few good ones out there, but they rarely if ever admit their partners lie or otherwise break the laws they mist adhere to. Fuck 'em in the ass, and maybe a start bullet will catch the murderer in Ogden and the attorney that made the choice of non-prosecution, a real legal hero, 'eh?

I helped out training many ‘assault cops’ guys around 25yrs ago, and there was a target that was a man with arms over head with a baseball bat in hands. If any trainee shot at that target without challenging it, it was an automatic fail as it was a ‘good guy’ that was surprised in the raid. Nowadays,* they train to shoot at that target without giving any commands at all* and lie to obtain warrants in order to play military (lie to ensure use of no-knock when unneeded). Disgusting to the Nth, and definitely not anything I hear about in other first-world countries. Oh wait, yeah I do hear about it, but the cops doing the shit get in serious trouble.

America needs to make its police realize laws apply to them as well.

Why was the use of a gun necessary to disable the victim?

Tazers would have done the job just fine, there should have been a protocol where making entry a tazer was ready and aimed, and firearm backup only if there was a life threatening situation.