Police State Amerika II: No-Knock Raids

“Police violently broke in on a couple of men watching television, exploded concussion grenades, and shot one man roughly a second after entry. The fatal, under-investigated raid yielded no arrests and led to the shooter being named “Officer of the Year.” All because someone was suspected of getting high without government permission.”

– Police State USA


During the April 2013 Boston Bombings and the hunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Boston suburbia was effectively in lock-down with thousands of National Guard troops, FBI and other federal agents, state and local police, all creating virtual martial law in a matter of hours. Units conducted house to house searches, often heavily armed whilst residents were told to stay inside with their doors locked and not open them to anyone but identified police officers. This was part of an official order called “shelter in place” enacted by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and which was gradually extended over 100 square miles of the Boston metropolitan area, housing over 1 million people. Local reporters compared the scene to videos of US-occupied Baghdad.  [1]

It seems this was a taste of what was to come. With an operation such as this, following hot on the heels of a so-called terrorist attacks with a tragic loss of life, one might say that such martial law was justified in order to catch the perpetrators. Yet, even if we were to discard evidence that the Tasarnaev brothers were set up, the same patterns of deception found similar to every false flag operation, we would surely have to arrive at the conclusion that this was an utterly over-the-top response. What this military deployment did achieve, was to stoke the fear of authority and its capabilities. There has never been a more dangerous time to be poor, elderly or the recipient of SWAT teams’ persistent encroachment into civilian life. For every one of these examples – whether black, white, Army veteran, elderly man or woman, babies, children or the mentally disabled – there are hundreds of similar cases.

SWAT raids are truly terrifying for those unfortunate enough to experiences them. Arriving in armoured personnel carriers, usually in the dead of night or early morning, a team of 8-10 heavily armed, andrenalin-pumped young men break down your door, and/or smash your windows, hurl incendiary devices into the interior regardless of the presence of children or elderly folk and frequently move to kill your pets.  Whilst securing the house and if you are not dead already, you are made to lie face down in blood and glass with your arms tied behind your back. Armour-clad soldiers carrying sub-machine guns shout at you to remain where you are, often during the aftermath of a violent physical assault. It is not uncommon for SWAT members to brutalise homeowners in their search for suspects.

But what of the individual cases? How far has this phenomena encroached into everyday American lives?

swat1

SWAT team smashes into a grandmother’s home Image credit: offthegridnews.com

“Not having proper security on your Wi-Fi router can lead to a SWAT team raid on your house, as one family in Evansville, Indiana, discovered. Louise Milan learned this the hard way when SWAT officers smashed through her door and threw flash-bang grenades into her house in a case that is getting attention again because of court action this month in a lawsuit.” – David Jennings, Off the Grid News, August 2014.

We will start off this brief survey with a tragedy that occurred in 2008, when homeowner Ronald Terebesi was relaxing in his living room with friend, 33-year-old Gonzalo Guizan. The peace was shattered by a nine man SWAT team with a “no-knock search warrant for narcotics”. After police had tossed in three flash-bang grenades through the windows the team battered down the door and after almost 2 seconds inside Mr. Guizan had been shot six times and Terebesi hit with a rifle butt and pinned to the floor. The rest of the team trashed the house looking for concealed drugs.

It became apparent that the SWAT team had burst in so quickly that a grenade denoted in close proximity to the officers causing its fragments to hit Officer Sweeney who claimied he’d been hit, therey firing a volley of bullets into Guizan. According to later testimonies by Sweeny, Terebesi and Guizan had tried to attack him despite the absence of any corroborating evidence. Since the whole event lasted less around 2 seconds it seems like a feeble allegation to cover up incompetence. The Connecticut Post reported attorney for Terebesi Gary Mastronardi stating: “There is undisputed evidence Guizan and Terebesi were huddled in a corner when police shot,” which makes Sweeney’s claims even more unlikely.

Neither man had criminal records. Their only “crime” was to enjoy a small quantity of drugs for personal use, but it was enough to cause a SWAT team to burst into their own home, murder one man and assault another. Terebesi is still seeking compensation for “emotional suffering” while Guizan’s family received a $3.5 million pay out in February 2013.  [2]


“It looked like the Russian army had approached,” … “This was overkill.”

neighbor of Terebsi, Drew Clark


If a police team is out and about and your house has been targeted – prepare to pray.

In 2013, an 80 year-old retiree barely had time to do that before being shot six times as he lay in his bed. The reason? Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department deputies thought they could smell a meth lab. In fact, when no meth operation was found they decided to clutch at the fact that a small quantity of marijuana was discovered in another part of the property. A $50 million civil lawsuit was served by the widow Tonya Pate and her attorney James Bergener. County sheriffs say that the deceased, Eugene Mallory had raised a gun at deputies whilst his wife is adamant that her husband, a former engineer at Lockheed Martin would never have taken such action. “He was shot in his bed before there was any warning given,” Bergener said. [3]

From an old age pensioner to a mentally disabled youth found dead after strong-arm tactics by police officers.

Robert Ethan Saylor was found to have suffered a fractured throat cartilage after being suffocated to death by police officers who sought to remove him from a cinema. Saylor, who had Downs Syndrome and a low IQ had thoroughly enjoyed the film he had been watching and wanted a repeat performance. Saylor and his caretaker did not have enough money and since he did not understand the concept of tickets, he became upset and refused to leave. Though the caretaker pleaded for patience and warned that he was very sensitive to being touched, in the end police moved in. As he was wrestled to the ground not understanding what was going on, there were reports from witnesses that officers told Saylor that he was going to jail, as he struggled in obvious pain. He last words were: “Mommy! It hurt!” as he died of asphyxiation.  [4]

Although the death was ruled a homicide, the 3 police deputies in question received no criminal charges and remained on active duty. They were however, enrolled on a training class to learn how to interact with people with low intelligence. Somehow such a move won’t be much consolation for Saylor’s mother nor will it make the slightest difference to the police in question.

Iraq veterans are also at risk.

We go back a few years to May 5, 2011 and the case of Jose Guerena. The former marine was shot and killed by SWAT team members when they raided his house.

After working the night shift at the local copper mine he and his wife were awakened by voices and loud noises. Assuming that there were intruders he retrieved his rifle and hid his wife Vanessa and his 4-year old son in the closet. He then checked the house. As he stood in the hallway the SWAT team fired off 71 rounds and hit Guerena 22 times. His wife and child were unharmed. No drugs were found.

dreamstime_m_40957630© Zabelin | Dreamstime.com – SWAT Team Photo

Fancy meeting these guys in your living room? Your friendly neighbourhood SWAT team on a street or home near you.

By all accounts, Guerena had no idea that this was the police, nor did he realise that the detonation of concussion grenades in their back yard were the cause of his awakening. Seconds before an armoured truck had arrived in their front yard and a SWAT team was already preparing to break down his door. To compound the tragedy, as he lay  bleeding in the hallway, it appears the police did everything they could to prevent ambulance services from reaching Guerena. According to an ABC News report his wife claimed she called 9-1-1 for an ambulance yet it was over one hour 14 minutes before any paramedics could get to Guerena. This was due to the evacuation of neighbouring houses and the deployment of two robotic drones to check the house interior. One wasn’t enough it seems. The clock ticked by. After that, the bomb squad was called in and the deployment of robotic scouts was set in motion. Only then did the SWAT team re-enter the house to sweep the rooms. By this time, Jose Guerena had bled to death. Deputy Tracy Suitt on behalf of the The Pima County Sheriff’s Department strongly believed: “… the events of May 5, 2011, were unfortunate and tragic, but the officers performed that day in accordance with their training and nationally recognized standards…”.  [5]

These “Nationally recognised standards” were employed with the shooting of two members of Vanessa Guerena’s sister-in-law’s family, Cynthia and Manny Orozco, last year. A small bag of pot was discovered along with $94,000. Though members of the family were allegedly involved with the smuggling of marijuana, such a case requires due diligence and extreme caution which was clearly not the case here. Raids with trigger-happy teams of paramilitary men storming suburbia is common place. Once again, no reprimands or arrests were forthcoming. The Guerena family proceeded with a civil lawsuit and settled at $3.4 million dollars. It seems one can survive two tours in Iraq but not your own law enforcement.

Next in line for raid treatment were two grand-parents shot by DEA agents in their own homes, one fatally and within one month of each other.

In August 2014, New Hampshire Grandmother Lilian Alonzo was looking after her grandchildren aged, 1, 4 and 10 years old. At around 7.00pm the door was opened by a family member and the DEA raided the third story apartment looking for drugs. Alonzo was fired at twice by an agent and was hit in the torso by one of the bullets. The Grandmother’s son later told reporters that all she had been attempting to do was to pick up the baby, a natural reaction one might think when a group of strangers barge into your home. Ms. Alonso had no criminal or previous arrest record and was not arrested or charged following the raid.

Why was this grandmother put in hospital?

It was apparently part of a series of 13 raids carried out: “… to investigate several people allegedly selling prescription painkillers without government authorization.” [6]

Painkillers.

Nor is this an isolated incident. From one of many incidences, Three people were killed and four wounded in October 2013 when yet another no-knock raid turned to tragedy. Reason? The illegal distribution of prescription pills.

From tracking those dastardly crimes of painkiller users, to taking the word of a meth addict and thief in order to raid a Grandfathers home, unannounced.

In September 2014, David Hooks, 59, was awakened by his wife who said the thieves who had earlier stolen their SUV were back. Hooks picked up his gun in order to protect his wife and his home from further intruders. Little did he know that Rodney Garrett had stolen their vehicle, the same man who had tipped off the police that he had seen illegal drugs on the Hooks’ property. Meanwhile, a SWAT team of sheriff deputies broke down the door, firing sixteen shots leaving David Hooks dead. No drugs were found. According to the widow’s lawyer, the Sheriff’s Department then “mislead the public” about the shooting and raid. [7]

Finally, the killing of a 7 year-old girl in a raid by the Detroit Police Department in May, 2010.

Looking for a wanted man on the evening of May 16, 2010, the Detroit Police Department’s Special Response Team (SRT) were preparing for a dawn no-knock raid on a duplex where the man was said to live. The house having been under close surveillance throughout the day, the police nonetheless disregarded any safety measures for the likelihood of children being present at the address, even though children’s toys were littered around the front of the residence. With a warrant to arrest Chauncey Owens and armed with MP5 sub-machine guns and even a Reality TV crew, the SRT team approached the house.

A pedestrian out walking his dog was held back by police and unnecessarily pinned to the ground with police boots on his neck and back. (Gosh, those brave, virile policeman putting on a real show for reality TV). Despite this, he repeatedly told officers that there were children in the house. Bizarrely, officers broke into two locations: the suspect’s and the next door neighbour’s downstairs apartment. Windows were smashed, a concussion grenade thrown which lit up the porch. The door was kicked down and after just over 30 seconds from the start of the raid, a gunshot was heard and Aiyana Stanley-Jones lay dead from a bullet through he neck. It took only six seconds for the girl to be killed from the moment the police entered the home.


 “They blew my granddaughter’s brains out,” …  “They killed her right before my eyes. I watched the light go out of her eyes.”

Ms. Mertilla Jones, Grandmother of  Aiyana Stanley-Jones


She had been sleeping on a couch next to her Grandmother Mertilla Jones who had dived to the floor when the grenade had hit the couch, scorching it in the process. It is then that the police began to lie about the events of that early morning preferring to blame the Grandmother by saying that the man responsible for discharging his weapon – 37-year-old Officer Joseph Weekley – had lost control of his weapon due to contact with Ms. Jones whom, he said, had tried to grab the gun. The Grandmother’s story is the exact opposite to the officer’s and much more believable. She explained that she tried to protect Aiyana after being shocked awake by the grenade and the sound of broken glass. She reached for the girl and made no contact with the officer or his gun. This was later corroborated by the absence of Jones’ fingerprints on the weapon.

Although Weekly had a dubious record of hyper-aggression against children and the shooting of animals during no-knock raids, he was to escape any punishment for this latest tragedy. Both trials in 2013 and 2014 were eventually declared mistrials, as the juries on both occasions were unable to reach unanimity. Finally, in January 2015, the case was dismissed and the Jones family had to pay costs. A civil suit has been filed and an appeal to the U.S. attorney general. [8]

Family spokesman Ron Scott commented on the injustice of the law: “Weekley doesn’t have to pay but the family that lost a child has to pay,” I think it’s abominable. I think it’s evil. I think it’s one of the lowest things I have ever seen.” [9]

(For more on this story go here.)

aiyana-stanley-jones1

7 year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones killed by Detroit Police Department’s Special Response Team (SRT)

DominikaStanleycharlesJones1

In a photograph from May 2010, Dominika Stanley and Charles Jones hold a picture of their daughter, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, in a Detroit courtroom.” Source: Guardian|Photograph: Mandi Wright/AP.

As you can now imagine, there are hundreds of these stories. The following are just a selection of “no-knock raids”  conducted by police, SWAT, SRT’s and DEA teams taken from the last two years with similar catastrophic results.

No-knock SWAT raid leaves Texas father dead, family traumatized

“When they came in, they had their weapons drawn like we were members of a drug cartel.”

Police burst into wrong apartment, shoot innocent woman hiding in closet

“I told them I was afraid and do not shoot me, and one officer screamed at me to put my hands above my head… That’s when I heard the shot.”

Innocent homeless family’s wooden shack raided by police

Victim, shot at 15 times: ‘They just continued to fire’

Trooper cleared after stomping on innocent man’s skull while handcuffed

“I saw him lift his head and spit blood and teeth onto the kitchen floor.”

Mother and 4 children terrified during late night police raid on wrong apartment

A young mother explains how her evening bath was disturbed by armed men who forced her to the floor half-naked.

Empty home destroyed in 4-hour SWAT siege, innocent woman left with $100,000 in damages

“They wiped my whole life from underneath me and now I’m trying to pick it up and move on.”

SWAT team throws concussion grenade into baby playpen during no-knock raid

“Bad things happen to good people,” says the Sheriff, with every intention of continuing the raids.

Feds perform guns-drawn SWAT raid while investigating campaign finance allegation

“If they’ll do it to me, they’ll do it to anybody,” said the former attorney general.

Texas grandmother, autistic man held at gunpoint in wrong-door police raid

“They had guns directly at me and my son…There were guns everywhere. I mean, the long guns with lights on them. I was crying hysterically.”

DHS ransacks Florida couple’s home without explanation, strips woman naked

“They busted in like I was a terrorist or something.”

Texas SWAT team brutalizes innocent man in no-knock wellness check, concocts charges

“These cops are out of control. They are ruining good people’s lives.”

Utah rave party raided by SWAT team, helicopter, police dogs

A chopper hovered overhead as soldier-wannabes violently shut down the “illegal mass gathering.”


“They told me that they had taken my baby to the hospital. They said he was fine he had only lost a tooth, but they wanted him in for observation,” Phonesavanh said. When she got to the hospital she was horrified by what she saw. Bou Bou was in a medically-induced coma in the intensive care unit of Brady Memorial hospital. “His face was blown open. He had a hole in his chest that left his rib-cage visible.”

victim of SWAT raid Alecia Phonesavanh whose baby, 18-month-old Bou-Bou was on the receiving end of flash-bomb which was thrown into his cot. TheSWAT team who executed a no-knock warrant on their Georgia property on May 28 will face no charges. | Source: ‘Outrage as SWAT officers who disfigured toddler with grenade in botched drug raid will face NO charges’ Daily Mail.

bou-phonesavanh

Bou Bou Phonesavanh who is now thankfully recovering image credit: Justiceforbabyboubou.com


Rather than some overseas combat zone Americans can expect this ordeal to occur all over the United States an estimated 45,000 times every year, mostly in the search for drugs and disproportionately focused within minorities. [10]  Although the failure of the “War on Drugs” was always a certainty and remains deeply unpopular, it was never designed to be a genuine solution to a criminal enterprise, since the traditional role of intelligence agencies and law enforcement has been to profit from the support and sale of drugs on the street. 

swat-search-warrants

The creation of SWAT teams originated in the 1960s, the brainchild of the Los Angeles Police Department who were seeking ways to assist officers in high-risk situations such as a lone shooter, riots and hostage-taking. In the 21st Century they are no longer used for such specialised situations but for the average citizen and the search for drugs. According to a new study of 800 such raids conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) 79% of raids were focused on private homes and: “… only 7% of the time were heavily armed SWAT teams used for their original purposes: hostage and barricade situations.” [12]

And the reason for this explosion in state-mandated home invasions?

Aside from the aforementioned militarisation of law enforcement [8] it is partly to habituate the idea of the State as ultimate authority and the acquiescence required to justify its existence. It isn’t about finding a solution as we have surely surmised by now, it is about extending conflict in perpetuity so that the human spirit is further fragmented and broken. Secondly, as the ACLU points out, Departments of Justice, Defence, and Homeland Security make sure billions of dollars are lavished on law enforcement in order for it to complete the loop of weapons and associated military hardware contracts. The government is now merely another corporation, after all.

Tragedy and brutalisation breeds fear and compliance for some sectors of the population. For others, it ensures the propagation of the revolution meme which in turn, demands martial law and unleashing of the power of the state to enforce a return to “social cohesion.”

Continuing our look at post-9/11 rise of the police state in America, the next post will explore the use of tasers and the fallacy of non-lethality.

 


Notes

[1] ‘Bombing suspect captured after military-police lockdown of Boston’ By Alex Lantier and Kate Randall WSWS, 20 April 2013.
[2] ‘$3.4M settlement in deadly 2011 SWAT raid near Tucson’ By Joe Ferguson, Arizona Daily Star, September 20, 2013.
[3] ‘Widow to Sue Over Fatal Shooting of Husband, 80, by Sheriff’s Deputies’ KTLA, October 10 2013.

[4] ‘Grand jury rejects criminal charges in death of Robert Saylor, man with Down syndrome’ Washington Post, By Theresa Vargas March 22, 2013.
[5] ‘Arizona SWAT Team Defends Shooting Iraq Vet 60 Times’, By Ellen Tumposky, ABC News, May 20, 2011.

[6] ‘Woman Shot during Beech Street drug raid’ by: Carol Robidoux, August 29, 2014. Manchester inklink.com
[7] ‘SWAT Team Shot David Hooks At Home After Tip From Meth Addict’ by Michael McLaughlin The Huffington Post, 10 August, 2014.
[8] Family grieves death of girl, 7, in police raid’  Doug Guthrie and Valerie Olander, The Detroit News, May 17, 2010.
[9] ‘’She was only a baby’: last charge dropped in police raid that killed sleeping Detroit child, The Guardian,  “Aiyana Stanley-Jones was 7 years old when she was killed by a single bullet to the head. As officer Joseph Weekley walks free, another community is demanding answers about the increasing militarisation of law enforcement.” By Rose Hackman, Saturday 31 January 2015.
[10] ‘Another Day, Another 124 Violent SWAT Raids’ By Kara Dansky, American Civil Liberties Union, http://www.aclu.org/ June 26, 2014.
[11] Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America By Peter Dale-Scott (Updated Edition Paperback – April 10, 1998) University of California Press. ISBN-10: 0520214498. |Gary Webb’s Dark Alliance Stories on Establishment drug corruption: http://www.narconews.com/darkalliance/drugs/start.htm |’CIA funnels drugs into poor US neighborhoods’: http://rt.com/usa/usa-cia-drugs-poor-americas/
[12] op.cit Dansky.

[13] ‘War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Police June 2014: Report: https://www.aclu.org/criminal-law-reform/war-comes-home-excessive-militarization-american-police-report

Advertisements

One comment

  1. there are no consequences for police, that’s why they act the way they do,they believe they are above the law! and it,s only going to get worse,people need to stand up against rogue cop’s! if you don’t stand up against it, then say nothing when it happen’s to you!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s