“While labeling the drug investigation that ended with the disfigurement of a toddler ‘hurried and sloppy,’ a Habersham County grand jury on Monday ruled the law enforcement officers involved should not face criminal charges,” myajc.com reports. Because . . . ? “’Rather than seeing unfeeling or uncaring robots, what has not been seen before by others and talked or written about is that these individuals are suffering as well,’ the jurors wrote. ‘We have seen and heard genuine regret and sadness on the part of the law enforcement officers involved, and we think is it fair and appropriate to point out that they are human beings as well.'” Translation: the Grand Jury thinks it’s OK for ostensibly trained sworn law enforcement officers to screw-up and hurt innocent members of the public as long as the cops’ intentions are good, and they’re remorseful afterwards. Did you know that the flash bang thrown into 19-month-old Bounkham Phonesavanh’s crib detached his nose from his face? It gets worse . . .
The alleged dealer, Wanis Thonetheva, did not reside at the home where the Phonesavahs were temporarily staying after they had been displaced by a fire.
To my mind, the worst part isn’t the raid itself. It’s the fact that the 23-member jury clearly understood just how lame-brained the wrong-house SWAT raid was, from start to finish. AND they understood the changes needed to stop SWAT-mania from getting out of control. Again. Still. And let those responsible skate.
“Much of the problem in this tragic situation involved information and intelligence,” the jurors wrote in their presentment.
They concluded questions were asked about the presence of children in the home but surveillance prior to the raid was lacking.
Jurors also recommended that training for officers using “distraction devices” such as flash bang grenades be required by law. In this case, the officer who threw the grenade did not clear the darkened room beforehand.
“We recommend that whenever reasonably possible, suspects be arrested away from a home when doing so can be accomplished without extra risk to law enforcement and to citizens,” the presentment stated . . .
The jurors criticized the “zeal to hold [drug dealers] accountable,” writing it “must not override cautious and patient judgment.”
So damn what? Does the Grand Jury seriously think that their recommendation will stop SWAT cops from launching no-knock raids against their fellow Americans? Unless criminal courts hold police personal accountability for their actions, things will not change. Here’s the extent of the blowback for the GA cops who initiated, designed and implemented this botched raid.
The jury was critical of the case agent who secured the no-knock warrant and her supervisor on the Mountain Judicial Narcotics Criminal Investigation and Suppression Team.
The case agent has resigned and her supervisor was reassigned with a “significant reduction” in pay. Their names were not disclosed due to “numerous death threats” made against the officers, the jurors wrote.
The panel seemed satisfied with the decision, announced last week, to disband the Habersham task force.
There are those who aren’t satisfied with this. At all.
[criminal defense attorney and former Cobb County prosecutor Phillip] Holloway said this could easily be interpreted as law enforcement looking after its own.
“If an ordinary citizen were to act with the reckless disregard described by this grand jury there can be little doubt that criminal charges would be filed,” he said.
Cops do dangerous work from time to time, but they are “ordinary citizens.” It’s time we stripped the police of their criminal immunity. That will stop all but the most justifiable, cautious and well-planned no-knock raids in their tracks. Yes?