Free Markets, Free People

Eggs, Omelets, etc.

Here is a police video.  It’s a warrant service on a chap who was believed to have an excessive amount of marijuana in his home.

Alas, the house wasn’t chock full of the sweet hemp of happiness.  Fortunately, however, the family owned a couple of dogs, so the raid wasn’t a total loss.

Megan McArdle says it very well:

This is our nation’s drug enforcement in a nutshell.  We started out by banning the things.  And people kept taking them.  So we made the punishments more draconian.  But people kept selling them.  So we pushed the markets deep into black market territory, and got the predictable violence . . . and then we upped our game, turning drug squads into quasi-paramilitary raiders.  Somewhere along the way, we got so focused on enforcing the law that we lost sight of the purpose of the law, which is to make life in America better.

I don’t know how anyone can watch that video, and think to themselves, “Yes, this is definitely worth it to rid the world of the scourge of excess pizza consumption and dopey, giggly conversations about cartoons.”

And, frankly, I wouldn’t care if the guy had a room full of China White stacked up to the ceiling like he was Authualpa stockpiling gold for Pizarro.  Absent a compelling physical threat from the “dealer”, there’s simply no reason for the police to launch this style of paramilitary raid on a home, especially with children present. Yet, this has become practically the standard method of warrant service.  It’ll probably come as a shock to you, but I can remember a time when nightime raids on private homes were considered the hallmark of police states.

Now, it’s just called “policing”.

And if the 7 year-old kid in the video had been clipped by a stray round or richochet, I’m sure the officers involved would regret it, personally. But, they would undoubtedly say, “I was just doing my job,” a phrase that runs a close second only to “I was only following orders” in the Banality of Evil Hall of Fame.

And the idea that their choice of these tactics will eventually make such an outcome inevitable would probably never even occur to them at all.

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38 Responses to Eggs, Omelets, etc.

  • You can be as snarky about it as you want, Mr. Franks… but drug trafficking is still illegal, and accompanied by a plethora of other social pathologies.  Until the laws are changed, this was a legal warrant.  You can argue about the WAY it was served, and that’s certainly a fair debate to have (that very debate has been ongoing in the professional tactical community for several years now), but let’s at least be honest about what went on here.
    Dan Riehl went very much against the grain of the blogosphere when he penned this post:
    There’s more information in the comments.
    SWAT tactics are constantly evolving, both as societal attitudes change, criminals change, capability and armament changes, and as policing itself changes.  Every warrant is different, and there’s no perfect or cookie-cutter tactical answer to every warrant service… and blanket solutions are virtually always ill-advised.  Check out this link:
    Note the article on page 18.   Note also the related commentary on page 106.  The LE tactical community has been having this very discussion for some time, and plenty of teams have come to the conclusion that it’s not worth an officer/suspect’s life going hostage-rescue-speed for a bag of dope.   The flip side of that coin is that communities still expect LE to arrest such people, and get convictions.  Due process requires evidence to get convictions, and therein lies the conflict.  Until such time as our laws are changed, the what’s-worth-the-risk dilemma will continue to exist.

    • well now let’s be honest and clear and not snarky shall we?
      Furthermore it s nobodies goddamn business what the hell we do with our own bodies in our own homes. Get a clue!

    • The “War on Drugs” is nothing more than a sham, devised to enrich those who have the means to pass laws that benefit them and thier friends. It’s all about the money. The money never lies.

  • I… I… I don’t quite know what to say.  I appreciate that a policeman’s job is hard.  He faces danger on a regular basis.  Drug dealers often use vicious dogs to guard their property and stashes.  But to shoot a family pet… And is it just me, or did I not hear a lot of barking, growling, and attempts by the officers to get the dog to stay back?  This seems like gratuitous, malicious, and frankly thuggish violence.  Did they REALLY think that a man with his children in the house was going to let loose with a hoarde of angry pitbulls???

    If there is any justice in the world, the officers who did this thing and the idiot who got the no-knock warrant will join the ranks of the unemployed, hopefully after a thorough beating.

    I am also tempted to make comments about what I would do if somebody shot my dogs, but I will refrain.

    • This just shows why these types of raids are a bad idea.  The cops are working under the assumption that they may be dealing with individuals who are armed and dangerous, and I expect that their adrenaline levels are elevated and they are on a hair-trigger.  Combine that with a family at home that has no idea what it is about to be forced to deal with, and it’s a recipe for disaster, regardless of how well-meaning and dedicated the police are.  I think it’s an awful position to put them in, and often it’s just for the hopes of catching some small time operator.  This probably doesn’t do much more than put a mild dent in the operations of drug runners even in the best situations.

    • Hard to watch, wasn’t it?  It’s even harder to look past that part of the incident and consider the facts of the entire thing… but we must.
      Read these two links:
      I’m a dog lover, and keep large, guard-breed dogs (Rottweilers).  If one of mine started gnawing on a police officer, they’d probably have to shoot him/her… I wouldn’t expect anybody to simply smile, and suck up a mauling from 100lbs of angry Rott.
      The only time anything like that ever came close to happening was one Sunday when the panic button on my home alarm was inadvertently tripped.  This brought a VERY focused and businesslike police officer screeching up to my home.  He entered my home to check it out, and one of my dogs (fortunately crated) did her Cujo transformation.  The officer tensed, and I hurriedly assured him she was secured… because she could have hurt him badly… and he would have rightly killed her.
      And as much as it would have killed me to see it, he’d have been right to shoot her… and it would have been MY FAULT for inviting “the man” into that situation.

      In the case of the linked video, the dog was an innocent victim in this.  The sad part is that she was only doing what dogs do… she simply had the bad fortune to have a convicted marijuana/cocaine dealer and multiple-time-loser for a master.

      • If you want to consider all the facts, how about the fact that the police chief has changed the procedures for serving such warrants:
        The SWAT Commander and Narcotics Sergeant are no longer authorized to determine the entry procedure, and if children are present, dynamic entry is not to be used except in the most extreme circumstances. Apparently, the police chief thought this was a little “off”, too. Didn’t see this in your recitation of  “all the facts”.

        • The change-in-procedure is mentioned on the very first page I linked.  I’m not trying to hide anything about this incident.
          And I’m quite sure that decision was made due to political pressure… and I don’t agree with it.  Top-down micromanagement of SWAT tactics by administrative types, who may or may not be familiar with the relevant issues, is fraught with peril.   The SWAT commander or Team Leader is usually the most senior and most qualified member of the team.  He knows his team’s strengths and weaknesses, understands their capabilities, and has the tactical experience to arrive at the best decision as to entry technique and approach.  Do you want HIM making that decision, or would you have that decision made by a political appointee, who may or may not know a ram from a Halligan tool?
          And I think it’s unwise to openly publish a “children present” prohibition.  Drug dealers may be criminals, but they’re not stupid.  That kind of policy runs the risk of children being turned into human shields.

  • Let us not forget the judge who gave the police that warrant. Hopefully he or she realizes that the information given by the police to get the warrant, and their execution of the warrant, was not quite good enough and will not issue another.

    • Having a judge issue a warrant is supposed to be a “safeguard,’ but honestly, what recourse does this homeowner now have ?
      I doubt he could sue the cops or the judge (or anybody else) for what is an obvious misuse of the criminal justice system.

  • This scenario is one of my worst nightmares.  This is the kind of “home invasion” that I most fear.
    I own three dogs – including a large Dane with an intimidating bark, yet lacking the courage of a field mouse – and the only threat they might pose is to lick you to death.  If my house were raided by mistake and any of my dogs were killed in the process, I don’t know what I’d do.
    Most unfortunately, this happens all the timeBalko chronicles them well.
    It’s a sad state when one fears the police more than one fears the criminals.

      You should take note of Balko’s… shall we say… rather loose reading of the facts.  He claimed (and continues to claim) that the dog was shot in front of the seven-year old.  According to the police, that’s not true.  It’s also visibly not true if you simply watch the video.  Unfortunately, most of the blogosphere has simply run with Balko’s claim.  It was apparently “too good to check.”
      Personally, I don’t like being manipulated with that kind of BS.

      • Oh good lord – the dog is shot and yelping in mortal agony and the 7 year old is hearing it all as it happens. What the hell difference does it make if he actually saw the dog shot? He knows what is going on, what happened and who killed his dog for no apparent reason other than “procedure”. Yeah, no trauma whatsoever in that, huh?

        • Are you serious, Mr, Mcquain?  So dishonestly spinning the incident to increase its emotional impact is OK with you?  Omitting facts that undermine the narrative is A-OK?
          Are we really going to use a “fake but accurate” defense, and claim the child hearing a few shots (and probably not even realizing what they were) is the same at witnessing his dog’s killing?
          Did the child seem upset in that video?  I doubt he even realized anything had happened to the dog at first, since not even the father knew his dog has been shot until later in the video.  Yes, it’s terrible that he lost his pet… my seven-year-old was upset when we lost our dog to cancer… but he bounced back.  Kids do that.
          And the way this has been sold only makes a difference if you care about accuracy… or about telling the whole story.   The truth is the truth… and while the caricature of the officers gleefully murdering the family pet in front of the child might be fantastic red meat for some  in the blogosphere, it’s fundamentally dishonest to make that claim.
          Don’t do this.

          • Very serious – the effect on the kid is no less, and that’s the sum of the point. The action taken by police was stupid, dangerous and served absolutely no purpose in terms of safety of the officers while putting the lives of the house’s occupants at risk. It was almost a gratuitous killing. Picking nits about whether the kid saw it or heard it is irrelevant to that very important point. Trying to change the subject because you disagree with the portrayal doesn’t at change the gravity of the what police did. And trying to portray it as somehow a ground-shifting “fake but accurate” denunciation of the whole of the blogosphere carrying the story is completely overwrought.

            Finally – having a dog die from cancer (something you can prepare a 7 year old for) and having his dog shot by armed intruders who’ve already scared him half to death are so similar I can’t imagine why I didn’t see that for myself.


          • …it’s fundamentally dishonest to make that claim.
            How do you know?
            Because… the police say so!?  Riiight, because the police never lie, do they.
            Also, the video does NOT make clear what exactly the child saw.  However, we’re sure that the child saw his beloved dog dead in a pool of blood while giant black-clad men are standing everywhere holding assault weapons.  Yeah – no trauma there.
            Plus, Radley’s language “as a child looks on” could be interpreted as just the child being there in the home – witnessing with any and all of his senses, the carnage that took place.
            One more thing.  Radley has been corresponding with the child’s mother about the event.
            Have you?
            So I’ll ask you once again…
            How the hell do you know what exactly took place there?
            We’re talking about a seven year old boy!!!

          • We need more media manipulation, we need more visceral response, we need more people shocked out of their complacency.
            Our rights are going strait down the crap hole while people like you make excuses for the government thugs.
            Even if these people had smoked or grown some weed, How in the hell can you condone such a response in a free society?

          • Did you read all of Balko’s entry on the details.  The police lied many times about the circumstances.  And this is more than Balko spinning it.  It is the reporters, the neighbors, etc.
            The the need to execute immediately because of a huge buy.  Well, the time between the urgent tip and the raid was a week.  I can bs on the police action.  I am usually pro police but not this time.

  • “It’s a sad state when one fears the police more than one fears the criminals.”

    That depends on where you live in that state. Unwarranted (heh) police home invasions are a lot less common than muggings, robberies, murders, rapes, etc. At least in my ‘hood.

    • Agreed.
      When I lived in urban settings, I feared the street thugs more than I feared the police.  I even respected and appreciated the police.
      But in my current sub-rural setting, I see them as trigger happy cowboys who feel that they have unrestrained power.  And this view is from personal experiences.
      Anyone who reads Balko’s site with any regularity would know just how often these botched raids/firearms missuses happen.

  • Just so we’re clear… everyone is willing to take the word of the mother as gospel?  Surely she has no axe to grind against the police department.  No financial motive should they decide to sue the city.   And because he’s traded emails with the mother, people are willing to give Balko a pass on his “as a child looks on” language?
    You don’t have to take the department’s word for it, you only have to watch the video.  I know it’s hard to watch… hearing that dog yelp turns my stomach too… but do it.  The dog isn’t killed until about 1:03 seconds.  Just prior to that (0:58 seconds), the camera was focused on the hallway to the right… no child or wife anywhere in view.  The dog was killed in the kitchen, at the other end of the house, in a dark room (note the officers using weapon-mounted lights in that area), and the view was obstructed by the hallway corner, the divider between the kitchen and family room, and the bodies of no fewer than six officers and the prone father.  The officers were controlling the hallway and the doorways to it… and there’s no way a child would get his head around the corner to “peek” in that situation.  Now add the fact that the officers in the hallway were illuminating the rooms with flashlights, further obscuring anybody’s vision, as well as providing a “wall of light” that’s very difficult to see past.
    You think the child actually witnessed the killing with his own eyes?  Maybe I’m stupid… maybe I missed it… but I don’t see how that’s possible.  You can say “OMG!  It’s the same thing if he heard it!!11” but that’s spin.
    That said, I’m sure it was a traumatic night for the child… but whose fault is that?  The police?  Or the criminal father?  Dad had already done time for trafficking, resisting, DUI, etc… and it looks like he may have still been on probation at the time of this raid.  He damned well should have known better.  The police, on the other hand, were serving a legal warrant… and felt the uncaged pit bull was a threat.
    Sooner or later we’re going to be treated to baby pictures, pictures of the child with his dog… everything to keep this discussion focused on the emotional nature of this video, rather than the facts of the case.  Nobody will discuss the impact of the FATHER on his child… including being incarcerated during the child’s formative years, doing drugs in the home, driving drunk and going BACK to jail, etc.  I wonder if the mother brought the child to court as an emotional appeal to the judge/jury?
    It’s dad who invited “the man” into this situation.  Let’s not forget that.

    • This isn’t about the Dad – this is about what the police did. The Dad deserves to go to jail, and everyone here understands that. But the entire use of force in this arrest was completely wrong and an abuse of power. And all of your attempts to change the subject don’t alter that simple fact.

      • Dammit McQ –
        You keep beating me to the punch with the same point as I’m writing my response by just a few minutes.  Heh.

    • It’s dad who invited “the man” into this situation.  Let’s not forget that.
      See, I don’t think anyone here is making excuses for the father.
      This case is clearly about excessive use of force.  This man may be a scumbag, and he is certainly at fault for bringing illegal – although consensual – activities inside his home where his child resides.  But none of that gives cause for a SWAT team to bust in military-style, fire assault weapons in a confined space, put the child at risk, destroy the family pet… And for what?  Having weed!?!?
      Let’s not forget that!

  • I can’t believe some of you are quibbling over whether or not the dog was shot in front of the child or not. The police killed this family’s pet when it was not necessary. I don’t know about you, but our pets are members of our family. We would be absolutely devastated by such an event, whether I saw it happen or learned of it afterwards. Seriously? How can you defend such a thing? this isn’t a , matter of the dog being taken away for a few days or locked in a closet or restrained. That poor animal was shot – twice. This is someone’s home they were breaking into – the one place a person and family should feel safe. For what? Marijuana? Seriously? How can any of you defend such actions? If that is what type of protection the police provide, leave my family alone. We will defend ourselves because it has come to the point where the “Cure (police)” are sickeningly worse than the “Disease (crime)”

    • “I can’t believe some of you are quibbling over whether or not the dog was shot in front of the child.”
      It sure make a difference in how people perceive the incident if the cops shot a harmless, caged dog right in front of the child.  It makes them look all the more callous, reckless, and heartless.  I can’t believe some one would SAY such a thing if it wasn’t the case.  I mean… it’s just a lie.  We WANT to state our case honestly and forthrightly, don’t we?  Relying on the strength, seriousness, and weight of our arguments to carry the day?
      Wait… we don’t?  We want to weep and wail and rend our garments?  The more despicable members of the anti-war Left argue that way… because they have nothing else.  Sarah Brady argues that way… because what she proposes is a serious infringement on the constitution, and she can’t argue anything but the emotions.  The media-manipulating terrorists in Hamas argue that way… while cynically using their children as human shields.
      Those people are all propagandists.  We shouldn’t have to resort to that.  (yes, I said “we,” since I’m a civil libertarian myself… and everyone is going to call me a liar for saying that.  Go ahead… you know you want to)
      There’s a serious debate underneath all of this hyperventilation, and it’s not well-served by omitting critical facts, and spinning what actually happened.

      • Can you see those forest, New guy? It’s hard with all of those trees in your way. Do details matter, yes? Does being accurate matter, yes? If a reporter writes that a man was beaten while eating turkey and it was actually beef, do you think we should spend the majority of the time debating that instead of what led to and was the cause of the beating? The issue here is the use of force and the senseless murder of a family pet. Whether it happened in front of the child or not maters little. It just raises the tragedy and outrage level from a 10 to a 10+ . You are counting the deck chairs on the Titanic complaining that there aren’t enough places to sit.

        • Whether it happened in front of the child or not maters[sic] little.

          If it doesn’t matter, why not get it right in the first place? If it’s such a minor, irrelevant detail, why react with defensive anger when the discrepancy is pointed out? Why not just correct it and move on with your argument instead of quibbling about it?
          Note, I love dogs and think what happened in the video is horrible. It doesn’t need that extra little fillip of drama to be heart-rending.

  • I also want to point out that these raids are almost always carried out by SWAT, not your ordinary officers. Most SWAT are specifically trained for violence and dealing with violent situations. Many are ex-military. I think they ought not be used except in extreme situations. They are not trained to police the citizenry, but rather to act in a military “kill or disable” type of way. I do believe most police officers would not ever wish to be part of such a thing.

  • The raid in that video was a reckless use of armed force. The judge who issued the warrant and the D.A. or police division head who ordered the raid should face serious charges. The cops don’t do that on their own. Whoever shot the dog should be suspended for a month and maybe fired. A dog is personal property and destroying it should come with consequences. There’s no indication that the dog posed any threat. Simply approaching someone dynamically entering a house and barking is not a threat.

    The whole thing was disgusting, and the greatest worry is that this sort of raid becomes a norm and then serves as camo for all sorts of police-state-like abuses.

    It’s also something like this that’s going to wind up getting met with serious armed resistance from someone with politics instead of drugs, and then we go through that cycle from the 90s again.

    It should be the cops themselves who understand this abuse better than anyone and start to demand that any raids like this be conducted only in cases of urgent and exigent need and not as the new norm. Cop unions should not be supporting just because it keeps SWAT teams busy. It will lead to major credibility problems for police all over.

    Also, if you need to grab a guy like this and serve a search warrant, then wait until he leaves the premises and march him back inside and execute the warrant. Do it in broad daylight. If there are drugs, they’ll be there in the morning. And really start exercising discretion.

    A raid like this could be needed when taking down a terrorist cell that’s armed to the teeth, but even there, there is more tactical strength in waiting the situation out and not resorting to this sort of domestic siege craft. It’s not necessary and if it goes on no one will want to have anything to do with cops.

    • Maybe they were worried that if they waited, the cash they got from the forfeiture of the house and property wouldn’t be processed in time to pad their quarterly budget and they might have to wait to get that margherita machine for the clubhouse.

  • Yeah, I would have held a serious grudge over that.


  • Why not a tank next time, you know one of those door bashing APCs.  Oh, darn, this department probably didn’t have the budget available, someone check and see if they can get funding through DHS.
    Ya just never know when we might need one of those for the next no knock warrant.
    /sarc off
    What ever happened to waiting for the perp to leave his freaking house – they do that you know, on occasion.    Much more exciting to use SWAT though, justifies the budget expenditure on the training and the equipment and probably ensures next year maybe we CAN afford to get that APC (damn, just can’t keep that sarc off).

  • There has long been little excuse left to keep weed illegal; the powers that be must be profiting so much from the ban i.e. kickbacks and asset seizures, that a few deadly friendly fire incidents are deemed well-worth it.
    At this point I’m ready to go in with both feet: Legalize it all, the really bad cases will OD right-off, the rest will learn or slowly perish. I’m a true believer in Darwinism.

  • Judge Napalitano is on the case. He reamed the officers and demanded to know when they would be thrown in jail for violating the constitution from the new mayor.
    I heart the Judge