Tuesday, December 23, 2008

0 for 2. That's not good.

The Gwinnett County, Georgia Police Department has rather a lot to answer for, as it's come to light that they've performed no-knock raids on the wrong house twice in the last two weeks, with a family dog being killed at the scene of the second screw-up.

"He said that he (homeowner John Louis) and (girlfriend Heather) James, who was in a nightgown, were ordered at gunpoint to lie on the floor. When he tried to ask what they wanted, Louis said, he was told to 'shut up.'"

That quote is from the first incident. There was also a 3-month-old baby in the house at the time of the smashing failure, by the way. Fortunately, no one was injured in this Keystone raid, but certainly not for lack of trying by the officers involved. "Shut up", indeed.

According to Louis, the cops told him that they had been investigating the other house for 3 months, yet they still managed to raid the wrong house:

"'If you had the house under surveillance for three months, why did you come here?' Louis said."

Seems like a reasonable question to me.

'"You broke in here and put all our lives in danger, and all you can say is you’re sorry?'"

Isn't breaking and entering a crime, no matter who does the B&E?

Sadly, in the second incident, a two-year-old Dalmatian was killed, as some black-clad tactical ninja apparently felt that he was going to be mauled by a family pet who was only trying to protect his masters:

"Officers said the dog charged and the officer felt he was in imminent danger and shot the dog."

Well, I guess that's case closed, then. The poor ninja wouldn't have been in perceived "imminent danger" if the cops had done their due diligence in investigating these cases. This case is strikingly similar to Mayor Cheye Calvo of Berwyn Heights, Maryland's awful situation, in which officers decided to break down the door and shoot the dogs first, and finish their investigation later. When are judges going to stop rubber-stamping these raids, and begin requiring that the cops prove that they know exactly who and where they're going to go all "smash and break" on?

The Gwinnett County Police Department should immediately be forced to cease all "no-knock" warrant services until such time as they can prove that they can perform such tasks without completely screwing them up, putting innocent lives, as well as those of the homeowner's pets, at risk.

We're going to follow up on this one, as two mistakes such as these so close together by a supposedly "professional" law enforcement agency is absolutely inexcusable.

Thanks to DeanC at the Forum for the heads-up and the links.

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