Is this kind of aggressively gung-ho behavior from law enforcers ever justifiable?
19-month old Bounkham Phonesavanh of NE Georgia has been seriously wounded after the local SWAT team detonated a grenade in his playpen. Authorized with a "no-knock warrant", the team batter-ram opened the front door of the home, and then threw the flash grenade inside before entering. The explosive landed in the baby's bed, and now this child is undergoing treatment for severe burns and compromised lungs. Is there any justifiable reason for law enforcement agents to ever act this aggressively and without regard to the safety of innocent children when pursuing a suspect?
Did they have a legitimate reason for this? Did they knock first and see if anyone was home? Were they chasing someone with guns, or worse? Or yet, did they have the wrong address?
was the youngster in his playpen? If so, I am surprised he is alive.
Yes, it is a miracle he's alive. And the SWAT members were looking for a suspected drug dealer http://www.boston.com/news/nation/2014/ … AhL/story.
That URL could not be found so I looked on Google and I found Ch. 2 story saying it was 2AM and there was no sign of child inside except for vehicle outside with stickers, toys, car seats, etc. The family just lost house to fire in other state...
Kevin, I'm glad you were able to locate it. Yeah, that family has sure been through a lot. So sad!
The sheriff was defending the cops but they did not find the culprit in the house - and the car showed children inside.
Good lord. Some people should just not be in law enforcement at all!
This is awful, bethperry. My gut says when a mistake is made and an innocent child is hurt, nothing can be justified about it. The officers and the Department should be held accountable for the child's injuries. However, I don't know what the protocol is for a "no-knock warrant."
Are they supposed to make sure they have the right house?
Are they sure the suspects they're looking for are in there?
Are they supposed to make sure no children or victims are present?
Is the use of a flash grenade necessary in this type of raid where children and other innocent family members may be present?
If there are no safeguards put in place for the safety of the innocent and liability of the Department, then it's a set-up for all involved. Ugly. Also, what responsibility do the parents of the child have for putting him in harm's way when they know they are involved in illegal activity and wanted by the police? Very complicated.
Absolutely not. I'm not American nor have I ever been to the country so I can't say how effective these methods are, or how your police force works, but I can comment that from seeing English police force everything is done with surgical precision. If knocking fails, bring in the battering ram. While negotiating, survey the area for possible hazards (like the one you mentioned with the child being burnt by a flash grenade). When negotiation fails, use non-lethal tactics when the area has been surveyed for potential hazards. No point going in all guns blazing if the house is filled with gas, is there? That can be avoided by taking time.
Now I must confess I have zero experience in the police force and I'll never be able to fully understand what constables and armed teams go through. Their training and teachings will be a lot more advanced and plentiful than what I've seen; I also don't know about what happened to cause this 'attack', and I dare say it was an attack as opposed to a prosecution.
From what I understand there is something in the police force and army called the 'Rules of Engagement', which like I said in the first paragraph are a list of things to check off with higher priorities to find the best way to deal with a threat. I know the Rules of Engagement are supposed to be taught and remembered off by heart, but if they don't cover this then common sense is the next big thing.
I know I'll get flak for this, but can the soldiers be blamed for the flash grenade? Did their superiors teach them the physical effects of a flash grenade besides blindness and a ear-splitting whistle, like igniting cloth and skin in close proximity? How about the powder that goes off and the smoke left behind? What about permenent damage? I can't excuse the battering ram until I know the full story, though.
All in all, I think soldiers need to be trained to be as surgical as the can even in split second thinking scenarios. They may not have known the effect of the grenade and as callous as it sounds - "accidents happen" - but this could just as easily be avoided and be as effective if more was done to surround the target and survey the area (if they had time). Sorry, but I cannot excuse this kind of behaviour unless I see the situation for myself.
This story is horribly sad and the number of people online standing up for these police officers actions is horrible also. More details to the story. The home owner IS a drug dealer. The child is not the homeowners and was actually the child of a couple who had moved in that day because their home burnt down and they had no where else to go. They were from out of state, so there is no telling if they knew for sure he was a drug dealer. The playpen was located in the living room near the door because there were not enough bedrooms in the home for the new family. The homeowner was NOT even home during the raid.
With all that said, even IF the mother did know the man was a drug dealer it is ridiculous that the police had not watched the home fully to find out if the man was even there or if there was a child in the home. They took the word of another druggie (informant) that there were no children in the home 12 hours prior to the raid. No knock warrants should be reserved for violent criminals not druggies.
The police said they feel horrible, and they should. In my opinion the person who gave the orders to them should be terminated for not watching the home in the hours leading up to the raid.
Maybe they should charge the drug dealer Wanis Thometheva with endangering the family and the child in particular. He moved people into his house after he had been selling methamphetamine from there.
I agree silverspeeder, but by what I have heard he will be charged with something related to child endangerment. My question is whether the police officer in charge will have any consequences.
Silverspeeder, good point. But still, his lack of judgment has little bearing on the lack of judgment from the officers.
Beth.....I am so upset and shaken by this egregious situation, I can barely collect my thoughts. I cannot imagine any sort of "bust" being so vital at a specific moment that no concern whatsoever was considered in terms of children possibly being present.
I was closely involved with certain departments of law enforcement during my 40 year career (in a separate field). To my knowledge, when a warrant of any kind has been issued, a detailed report had to be submitted to the court, when requesting such a warrant...in order to "justify" the need for the warrant.
In those cases, an enormous amount of information is collected and confirmed. In other words, WHO the suspect is, where they reside, of course and normally WHO lives with them (eg....a wife, children, any other individual) It seems highly unlikely to me that the S.W.A.T team did not have all of this info.
Having said this, regardless...I keep going back to a baby being severely injured during this violent "no knock" bust. More importantly, what happens now? Who will assume responsibility and will there be any retribution or compensation? This precious child is 100% innocent.
You know Beth, as a mother/grandmother....I cannot bring myself to even entertain the concept of "justifiable".....much less have an objective opinion.
All I can think about is how sad and angry I am and how very much I HOPE this child will be all right. I'm afraid I have little if any concern for the S.W.A.T team and certainly I couldn't care LESS what happens to the criminals involved.
This had to be a difficult issue for you to present.......Thank you. UP++
fpherj48, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and that info. As much as I detest meth users, I just don't see how harming any child can solve a single drug problem in any neighborhood. And yes, as a mom & grandmommy, this story appalls me
Not sure where the information about a car with playpens and such is coming from because I found this:
"“According to the confidential informant, there were no children,” Terrell said. “When they made the buy, they didn’t see any children or any evidence of children there, so we proceeded with our standard operation. Because of recent history with the individual involved in the alleged drug sales and knowledge of weapons in the residence, the special agent seeking the search warrant requested a “no-knock” warrant, Terrell said."
There are "no-knock" warrants issued in cases where suspects deemed extremely dangerous and armed are concerned. It is not a measure aimed at rights' violations but protecting the law enforcement officers. There are always two sides to every coin.
What I see missing here is the outrage towards the parents. They are the ones who ultimately endangered their child by knowingly associating with such an individual. The police did apparently make an arrest per reports.
Now certainly one can argue the merits of the flash bombs used. They are not intended to cause harm but to distract and confuse suspects. I would argue that there has to be another method or device that could have the desired effects but be less harmful in such an instance as this one.
No one, including these SWAT team members, wants to see a child harmed. They have already stated that if they'd known about the possible presence of a child, the raid would have been handled differently. I've seen nothing from any credible source that indicates there was a vehicle there to tip them off to such a thing. My guess would be that is a fabricated report to stir up the masses.
I am still left with the fact that we're talking about known dangerous criminals or those who've chosen to associate with same. Are we then to endanger the men & women whose job it is to apprehend these individuals and protect society? Any injury to an innocent child is a tragedy but remember, that this is what you are going to hear about. Not the successful raids that are carried out that have no collateral damage. Making it appear that this is the norm rather than the aberration.
Just my two cents.
Under the law even criminals have the right to due process of law when accused of crimes. Instead of a last resort, police often go in unecessarily with guns blazing. Also, you would be very naive to always believe the "official story."
That's fine so show me where this car that showed children present came from. I read more than one account and could find nothing of the kind mentioned. I might add, in this day and age, you would be naive to believe everything someone claims.
http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2 … drug-raid/ The part about identifying there were children there is a good ways through this article.
Like I said - the only comment about any visible evidence of children comes from who else? One of the parents. Gee you think they could have any motive to lie? You can't believe everything you read.
I live near this area and multiple neighbors are coming forward on facebook stating the exact thing. I agree you can't believe everyone. That includes the police who's informant was another druggie.
Agreed. I know cops I wouldn't trust to guard my penny. But I don't know a single criminal nor anyone who harbors one I'd trust.
Unless people stand up and demand that these tactics stop, police brutality will continue and increase. The militarization of the police is astounding. They are almost never held accountable to the law for their actions and many of them are just thugs with a badge.
People at the local level need to push for legislation that makes these kinds of incidents very costly for the police departments. Contrary to what many critics will say, the police CAN do their jobs without such brutal, military-style tactics.
I am a parent, grandparent, and am also preschool teacher. Just some information so you understand just how very much I value children and understand the tragedy involved here.
However, I am also the parent of a Law Enforcement Officer. I have been with him on ride alongs and it is absolutely horrifiying to see the absolute degenerative underbelly of our society. Yes, I believe there are times that they make decisions that may or may not cause unnecessary injury to innocents. I can assure you that 99.9% of the time they will move heaven AND earth to protect the innocents. Just like in ANY profession, there are those over zealous individuals who either don't take the time to take extra precautions to make sure there aren't children around. In addition, each department has policies and procedures that must be in place to make the decision to use a "no-knock" warrant. That typically would involve someone who is extremely dangerous to society at large. What parent of an infant allowed such a person into their home in the first place? I am discouraged that people are so niave to assume it was the Law Enforcement's fault for endangering this child. Where is the child's mother? Father? Who is responsible for providing a safe environment for this child to begin with? NOT the local Law Enforcement! What if Law Enforcement were responding to an emergency call for domestic violence and had NOT been informed of the presence of a child? You are so quick to assign blame, yet you have limited facts. It is time to get over throwing fits blaming Law Enforcement for everything and get back to following facts. I don't know who exactly is responsible. We need more FACTS! Did they know the child was there? Then they have been trained to use gentler tactics, and should have used them. The responsibility lies within the facts. Until the facts are available, we are responsible to withhold assigning blame. That is what our democracy is all about. Running around assigning blame without basis is irresponsible. As a caregiver for children, I personally hold myself responsible for the safety of the children in my care, not someone who may or may not even be aware of the child's presence.
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