(courtesy myajc.com)

“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?

154 Responses to GA Grand Jury No-Bills SWAT Team for Flash-Banged Toddler

  1. You don’t serve a search warrant with a flash-bang grenade. I’ve never had any trouble with cops, but this kind of story makes me wonder what the hell is going on. This isn’t police work, it’s terrorism. With timecards.

    • +1

      Here’s a suggestion, these morons want to play with the cool toys like they’re big boys so how about they join the Army like the rest of us.
      I bet even if no one knew about this crap they’d be getting their very own blanket party within a week.

    • +1

      Flash bangs are grenades. I’ve never used one, but we did learn in the Marines that they WILL kill you if you misuse them.

      Man… the pic of that kid tears me up. Hard to look at. Look where they sewed his nose back on. This baby went through more pain and trauma that none of us short of a grievously injured combat vet will understand. That kid who was convicted of SWAT-ing the other day got 25 years because, as the judge said, he needs to be made an example of to prevent such things in the future. Why not the same reasoning here?

  2. What if baby Bounkham dies? It’s an unsettling question, but would this grand jury have decided differently if the SWAT team’s reckless disregard resulted in a homicide?

    • It would have ended the same…..because there’s far more back room deals and politics involved than anyone would care to know. Especially with midterms approaching. Accept it or deny it, either way it happened.

    • If the little one had died I don’t know what the family would do. Civil liability isn’t paid by the officers involved, but by the city (Taxpayers) that employs them.

      If a man blatantly commits a crime, but the justice system refuses to hold him accountable, does that mean that if you respond in kind that you will not be held accountable?

      The answer is no – you will be. However, the original question is not “Will I get away with it?”, the question is “Will you let injustice stand?”

      I know several people that if justice failed them, they would enact their own.

      It may not be “legal”, but the moral expression is: “If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.”

  3. Anyone who attempts to throw a flash bang into my son’s crib will be considered an enemy combatant and met with deadly force.

    • And they’ll shoot you dead and get away with it because of “officer safety”.
      You’ll be in the right, but they’ll still win.

      • That may be, but if SWAT raids are allowed day in and day out your house might be hit next. If these raids become harder and stay harder than perhaps there will be enough backlash to shut them down for good. I’m not going to live with my son having a deformed face for the rest of my life while being too cowardly to do anything about it.

        I wouldn’t necessarily die to protect my dogs, but I would fight to protect my son and my family, even if it means my own death. That’s part if the reason I own guns – to protect against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.

      • Actually you can defend yourself with lethal force against cops who are breaking the law, and in this case you could reasonably argue that. Cited from Consitution.org…

        “Citizens may resist unlawful arrest to the point of taking an arresting officer’s life if necessary.” Plummer v. State, 136 Ind. 306. This premise was upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case: John Bad Elk v. U.S., 177 U.S. 529.”

        Better to be tried by 12 than carried by six, your watching your infant be carried by six.

        • I believe TTAG reported an trial where a man had shot at police officers who where at the wrong house and the jury declared him not guilty of any crime. A little more information than that, the officers where trying to sneak in through his back door at night.

      • What difference does that make? The cops are already shooting innocent people to death. So here are your choices, mind your own business and get shot to death by the cops or fight back and get shot to death by the cops. I’m honestly shocked there’s not a Frein in every state, every day of the week.

    • I agree actually and I dont normally agree with such sentiment.

      Thats crossing the fvcking line. I dont care if im legally in the “right” or not. There are consequences for such actions.

    • in my opinion, all cops are enemy combatants because they view civilians as such (thus if we are their enemy, they must be ours). the difference between cops (any jurisdiction) and gangbangers is merely the badge…as a simple look at youtube will confirm. did anyone note the concerted outrage of all the police units in the surrounding towns, cities, counties? and the amount of TV time devoted to covering the nation-wide demonstration of police departments disavowing habersham police? oh, that’s right…there wasn’t any outrage on the part of “law enforcement”. maybe cops have earned their rancid reputation among the FBI. and as to the concern that if the cops are sued, only the taxpayers are burdened. so be it…get rid of these thugs and the liability for their unlawful actions will be nearly extinct.

      now, to those really good cops (and i know there are a coupla of you out there), you do a great job under bad conditions…except you should insist on full legal and moral accountability in your department, or resign pronto. the rest of the force is making you a target of disrespect, suspicion, contempt, rocks and bottles, and the shadow in the night that may or may not let you go home after shift. you deserve better from your leadership and co-employees.

      as i said, this is my opinion because i lack the resources to develop and present incontrovertible proof of my theory.

      thank you, and good nite.

  4. ” the Grand Jury thinks it’s OK…”

    No, they don’t think it’s criminal. You don’t have to like the result or even the jury system but it’s what we use.

    And just because an action isn’t criminal doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be lost jobs and plenty of civil liability.

    • Civil liability? You mean where the taxpayers get to pay for these clowns “non-criminal actions”. They should be held personally responsible for actions like this.

      • Well, although not the final word, clearing these “officers” of any criminal wrong-doing is step one in keeping the parents from getting any remuneration for what are going to be extensive medical bills:

        http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/aug/19/ga-county-refuses-pay-medical-bills-after-toddler-/

        Habersham County officials in Georgia said they will not pay for the medical expenses incurred by a 19-month-old who was badly burned by a flash grenade during a police raid.
        ….

        “I heard my baby wailing and asked one of the officers to let me hold him,” the boy’s mother, Alecia Phonesavanh, told Salon magazine in June. “He screamed at me to sit down and shut up and blocked my view, so I couldn’t see my son. I could see a singed crib, and I could see a pool of blood.

        “The officers yelled at me to calm down and told me my son was fine, that he’d just lost a tooth,” she added. “It was only hours later when they finally let us drive to the hospital that we found out Bou Bou was in the intensive burn unit and that he’d been placed into a medically induced coma.”

        Habersham County officials are defending their decision not to pay for the child’s medical bills, saying it wouldn’t be legal to take on the costs.

        “The question before the board was whether it is legally permitted to pay these expenses,” Habersham County’s attorney told WSBTV in a statement. “After consideration of this question following advice of counsel, the board of commissioners has concluded that it would be in violation of the law for it to do so.”

        As for Baby Bounkham, the little boy walked out of a hospital with his family after weeks of recovery. A fundraiser is planned for him in August, the station reported.

        “His face still bears scars that are going to take a number of reconstructive surgeries,” said family spokesman Marcus Coleman, Raw Story reported. “We have been informed by the family that every single night, every single night, this child wakes up screaming and holding his face.”

        • Reminds me of the cops who blocked the woman from seeing her husband in the Moore, OK theater parking lot after they killed him. “He’s fine” they kept saying while trying to stand between her camera phone and his body.

          Seriously, when is enough going to be enough? When it’s YOUR family member they’re blocking you from?

      • Depends on if the actions are found to be gross negligence or not. There is a good chance the city will be the one paying out regardless, though. Maybe it will convince them to change the way things are done on a systemic basis.

        • It’s very difficult to successfully maintain a civil action against police since they are covered by either a qualified or absolute immunity in every jurisdiction. Qualified immunity can be overcome, but only with extreme difficulty.

          The poor baby will have its bills covered if the political authorities feel like it. Otherwise, chalk this kid up as just another victim of unprovoked police violence.

        • If you do a little research you will find that the City has already determined, “they do not need to pay”

          There is fund setup where everyday citizens are contributing for the child’s care, but the city believes they have no duty to pay.

        • The city has declined to pay of its own accord but will be sued and I have little doubt the state will allow the suit to move forward. Likely to a large settlement from the city.

    • Hannibal – I disagree strongly with the jury. People in this country get arrested and convicted all the time for criminal negligence for causing injuries while driving impaired, or more recently, for texting while driving. They officers involved should have been charged with a crime.

      • These “Rambos” should have been charged with reckless endangerment.

        What they intended has nothing to do with it. They were reckless.

        http://definitions.uslegal.com/r/reckless-endangerment/

        “Reckless endangerment is a crime consisting of acts that create a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person. The accused person isn’t required to intend the resulting or potential harm, but must have acted in a way that showed a disregard for the foreseeable consequences of the actions. The charge may occur in various contexts, such as, among others, domestic cases, car accidents, construction site accidents, testing sites, domestic/child abuse situations, and hospital abuse.”

    • And what about “personal responsibility?” So what if they lose their jobs? They’ll just get re-hired the next county over.

  5. If you cannot tell you just lobbed a flash bang bomb into a crib, you have no business carrying flash bangs.

    This grand jury wimped out. The police on the swat team needed to be removed from that team.

    When you go full turbo and you lose fine details you should not do anything that will put you in full turbo mode.

    This is so bad on so many levels.

    • “The police on the swat team needed to be removed from that team.” No, they need to be removed from the police force and have their asses sued into the poor house.

    • This people still understand that this kind of thing has stopped being an exception a long time ago, it’s just that usually it’s not toddlers that get hurt, so there’s no corresponding shitstorm in the media (or at least it subsides much quicker).

      They’ll wake up when the flash grenade flies through their door. But by that time, it will be too late.

      Remember, this photo is what “tough on crime” in politico speak actually means. This is all a direct consequence of Nixon’s promises to get “tough on crime”, and specifically on drugs. And this was a botched drug raid that was supposed to bust a local low-key dealer. Is it worth it? You decide.

      Note also that this is a cross-party issue. Prominent Democrats and Republicans both contributed their fair share over the past 40 years to make this a reality today. A lot of them may talk the other talk that you like to hear, be it pro-gun for the local crowd or, say, pro-choice for the liberals. When it comes to your vote, be sure that you know the person’s full track record on all positions that you care about, don’t assume that just because they agree with you on one or two things, they don’t have something that disqualifies them. Ballotpedia is a good place to get an overview.

  6. “Cops are civilians. It’s time we stripped them of their criminal immunity.”

    Uhh, yeah … good luck with that.

    • That’s what I thought, too. Why do you think so many thugs are or want to be cops? Total immunity, that’s (one reason) why. It’s the best way to endanger people’s lives and abuse their rights on a daily basis with impunity. Oh I’m sorry, that’s incorrect. I forgot paid vacation if worse comes to worst.

  7. This is outrageous. If police are free to hurt innocent people, it’s time for law-abiding citizens to reconsider how they interact with police.

    In the mean time, I’m sure the family can, and should, sue their asses off, even if the money will come from the public treasury. Hell, if they can seize houses and cars for people selling pot, people should be able to seize police property for blowing a baby’s nose off in his own crib.

  8. So, since when was sincere regret an affirmative defense to a criminal act?

    I wonder how many drunk drivers who committed vehicular homicide while under the influence, and who exhibited similar, sincere regret, didn’t get the same treatment?

    • Oh, would you just look at that poor SWAT team.

      Those hangdog expressions, those teary eyes.

      Well, I just want to have them over for some of mama’s chicken soup.

      That’ll cheer them up.

  9. We voters have the police departments we deserve. There have been altogether too many reports of botched SWAT raids to ignore. It is far too easy to get a no-knock warrant in too many jurisdictions. (I don’t care that the standards are high in one county or with one judge; they need to be high in every county and with every judge.)
    Agressive police departments will dish-out to their subjects as much as they will tolerate; and, it seems, that’s quite a lot in America today. When voters get aggressive about demanding restraint by police then sheriffs’ and chiefs’ hearts and minds will follow; but not before.
    In my mind, the justification for a no-knock raid is nearly nil. Maybe we need 10 or 100 or 1000 per year in the nation as a whole; but, we don’t need the tens-of-thousands that we are experiencing. No drug warrant justifies the risk of a no-knock raid.
    No correction of this sorry state-of-affairs will occur until the people living in the neighborhoods suffering this abuse stand-up. We PotG need to stand behind these folks if-and-when they express their wrath on their local politicians. All politics are local; and these no-knock raids start in our home precincts.

    • Look, voting will get you nowhere.

      When “LEOs” start swinging from lampposts, then, and only then, will this abuse of authority begin to stop. Remember. There. Are. No. Good. Cops/Police/Law Enforcement officers. They are all thugs protected by those we call “government”. Please, understand that.

      Do you have a friend, relative, customer, acquaintance who is a badge-wearing thug ? If so, turn him away. Ignore him. Ostracize the SoB. Start now. For the day of reckoning is coming.

      • Bubba,

        We live under rule of law as a self-governing people, not the law of the jungle.

        The way our system deals with officer misconduct and recklessness is through the legal system.

        If your not happy with the system, work to change it peacefully.

        • Most of the time what you say is true. Most of the people commenting probably agree with you, in principle I agree with you, except…

          That’s the problem, it’s only “most of the time” if a Police Officer or anyone else for that matter, fires or brandishes a weapon at me in error then they stepped into the jungle. I carry every day and I’ve never threatened or terrorized anyone with my weapon by intent or accident either as a civilian or a member of the nation’s armed forces. I can tell you it’s not unreasonable to expect the same from Law Enforcement.

          So yeah, it’s not pretty and it’s not nice but when some jumped up pissant clears leather in error then it is the responsibility of every right thinking citizen of this country to eat that idiot alive because when you’re both armed and responsible for the safety of others you don’t get to make even one mistake. NFE.

        • John Galt, of all people, wrote: “We live under rule of law as a self-governing people, not the law of the jungle.

          The way our system deals with officer misconduct and recklessness is through the legal system.

          If your not happy with the system, work to change it peacefully.”

          Are you kidding? Have you been overseas for the last 40 years? We do not live under the rule of law and have not for decades. Officer misconduct is NOT dealt with at all. They get a paid vacation and once the dust settles down they are back harassing the populace. Some times a victim gets a pay out from the treasury, but that comes from the tax payers, not the tax feeders. Change the system peacefully? Are you delusional? How has that worked out for us over the last 40 – 50 years?

  10. “Cops are civilians. It’s time we stripped them of their criminal immunity. That will stop all but the most justifiable, cautious and well-planned no-knock raids in their tracks. Yes?”

    It’s a good question… I kinda wonder if it wouldn’t cause the same effect Obamacare essentially is (less of the talented people wanting to be Doctor’s anymore. Going to end up with a bunch of hacks). Would this only scare away good folks from being cops? I could probably argue either side…

    • The first result would be that you would get the police some people here claim already are the norm: ones that will show up well after an event and take a report, because everything else would be too dangerous,liability-wise.

      Often those who talk about wanting to strip police of any sort of indemnity aren’t all that willing to try it themselves.

      • Often those who talk about wanting to strip police of any sort of indemnity aren’t all that willing to try it themselves.

        I want to change the immunity laws and I don’t have indemnity or immunity. So I “try it” myself every day.

      • I am usually fairly pro-LEO and believe that the number of good officers far outweighs the bad, but there is one thing that bothers me about this…

        Police officers are often heralded as “heroes” and public servants daily risking their lives with no concern for themselves, in service of their fellow man. This may be true for some, or even many.

        The problem is that to me it seems like when you’re immune from any mistakes you might make, and you have no requirement to put yourself in an unsafe situation to save another (or no consequences for refusing to being unable to do so) then *anyone* can be a hero. You end up attracting a lot of people that like the immunity and authority, but aren’t willing to put themselves in any danger to help another, and who are not particularly required to do so.

        For any soldier we send off to war, it is understood that they have to make sacrifices as part of the job, and they are required to do so. They open themselves up to danger and even risk themselves for others and for this they have honor, and if they are unwilling to accept the risks, they are discharged without honor. Shouldn’t we be expecting the same out of the police we also call “heroes”?

        Shouldn’t accepting some responsibility and liability for your actions be a part of the job, and your willingness to risk those things to help your fellow man be a benchmark for how you’re doing?

        “With Great Power comes Great Responsibility.”

        • Imagine a world…

          where every doctor who makes a mistake gets held to the same standard as police who make a mistake.

          Now imagine you’ve been told you need surgery.

      • If I kicked in a stranger’s door and burned their toddler’s face off with a firecracker, I’m pretty sure I’d go to jail. So, yeah, you’re right. I’m not willing to try that.

  11. I initially interpreted the title to be implying that the SWAT team was putting on some kind of skating related fundraiser for this toddler… That would have been so much better than what I just read.

  12. Oh man “terrorism with timecards”. I’ll have to remember that Gordon. People need to get excited about THIS. Not some 300pound thug walking in the street who just robbed a convenience store. The grand jury really worried about the cops feeling bad?!?

  13. “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 ad to citizens,” the presentment stated.

    Exactly, why do you have to bust into a home to arrest them. Firstly, it allows you to look at their face and determine if you actually have the right guy or even the right home (yes – they are on that level of competence). Secondly, you don’t have to worry about home owners who are assuming you are breaking into their homes who are armed and ready to kill you. Third, you don’t have to kill any innocent home owners who were armed and merely trying to defend their home and family because you, an armed intruder broke into their home in the most threatening manner possible. No knock raids are ridiculous Rambo police operator nonsense.

      • I think that’s probably the biggest point of this. Indemnity or not. It’s the no-knock raids that are the issue here.

      • Aside from the clear Constitutional violations, there’s the practical consideration.

        Let’s explore some options.

        Option A:
        1. Gather a team of (not necessarily well-trained) police officers
        2. Suit them up in highly cumbersome armor, headgear and vision-restricting goggles
        2.1 Supply them with guns. Lots of guns.
        2.2. And grenades.
        2.3 And tear gas.
        2.4 And a tactical, dynamic forced-entry breaching tool
        3. Surround house with weapons drawn (preferably while it’s still dark)
        4. Break down door (regardless of whether it’s the right door)
        4.1 Shout incoherently at the top of your lungs
        5. Surge into house like Squiddies from The Matrix
        6. Sweep through dark, unfamiliar house with weapons drawn
        6.1 Shout incoherently at the top of your lungs
        7. Aim guns at everyone in the house
        7.1 Shout incoherently at the top of your lungs
        8. Shoot the dog if there is one
        9. Cuff everyone, regardless of whether they are clothed
        9.1 Disregard crying children
        10. Arrest suspect or serve summons

        Option B.
        1. Send suspect an invitation to pick up a $100 gift card that they “won”
        2. Arrest suspect or serve summons when they show up at your designated location

        ———————

        For example of principles similar to Option B in action, see:

        Why California is broke, and Texas is not
        http://economy.money.cnn.com/2012/10/10/california-texas-richard-fisher/

  14. They (officers involved) need to have a flame thrower taken to their faces, and noses ripped off. (I’d say it needs to happen to ~their~ kids, to compare apples to apples, but I’m not a worthless POS like they are.) Then we’ll see if they truly feel sorry about what happened.

    Stuff like this makes my blood boil and have terrible thoughts. I put myself in those parent’s shoes and it literally makes me ill. My heart goes out to these parents. Now to go price steel doors for my house…..

    • Agreed…I’m not an emotional person on the norm but as a father of 2 toddler age boys, this made me start to tear up a bit. I remember when this was first posted about on TTAG and was angry, but seeing the pics, and learning that they got away with completely, just disturbs me.

    • Steel doors don’t do any good when they are attached to a wood frame, you would have to reinforce the walls all around the door as well

  15. Those must have been hand picked jurors. How can anyone – anyone at all… break into someone’s home, blow up a baby’s face with a bomb, and not get any charges at all. Nothing.

    • Grand jury proceedings are basically show trials conducted by prosecutors to get what they want. They are not adversarial proceedings. If the state wants a no-bill, they’ll get it 9+ times out of ten. It’s the same for a true bill.

      To illustrate, do you really think the members of the grand jury sat down and wrote all that stuff themselves or do you think the prosecutor wrote it for them and then persuaded them to sign off on it?

  16. You would think that the issue of police militarization and trigger happiness would be getting better traction. It seems that everyone, left, right, and center wants the police force to be reeled in. People on juries seem to go mush minded because? I don’t get it. Our legislators could help but they will be the last to figure it out as always

    • This wasn’t the result of a trial. It was the result of the Grand Jury process being perverted by the prosecutor. A GJ only hears and sees what the prosecutor wants it to hear and see. That’s why a corrupt prosecutor can usually indict a ham sandwich or get a killer cop no-billed.

    • >> It seems that everyone, left, right, and center wants the police force to be reeled in.

      LOL, no. You have plenty of people on the right saying how police have to hand it out “rough” because that curbs crime, and out of those a not insignificant part really means “keep those spiks and niggers down where they belong” by that. You have plenty of people on the left saying that police need all those extra powers and equipment because otherwise some crook might sell some meth to their precious innocent flower (because the way they raise him, he’ll actually do it).

      Most of all, neither of them think that this is the kind of thing that can happen to them. After all, they’re not black nor Hispanic, nor do they live in a “bad” neighborhood, so there’s nothing to worry. It takes some talking and convincing to show them just how wrong they are. It would take a massive campaign in the popular media to make this happen nationwide.

      In the meantime, spread the word, one man at a time.

    • That sums it up. This same punk cops would be going bonkers with 1000 other cops lined up to help them.

      What would really curb mistakes and overzealousness is if more states were to pass Indiana style laws making them fair game like any other home invader and car jacker when they screw up etc.

  17. yes, and I will be cheering for the jury that sits in on this civil trial to award a judgement large enough to make the citizens of Habersham County cry for decades.

  18. This is the what the war on drugs looks like. If you think we need to continue as is when it comes to our drug laws then you need to take a very long look at that picture, and perhaps try to imagine that an innocent loved one, your child, sibling, parent, spouse, were physically damaged in a similar way for no other reason then the officer “felt” that it was justified. This is what the war on drugs looks like.

  19. I’m usually the first to be calling for the specific officer involved’s blood when it comes to these cases but…

    This is, I think, more endemic of the system in which these officers operate than any one cop. No knock warrants are a bane to liberty in general, but more specifically to our cause as well. Think about it, someone kicks in your door in the middle of the night, you’re probably grabbing your gun and expecting to be face to face with a robber. What’s happening more and more, is that instead its the police, they’ve got their weapons out ready to rock, see you armed, and take you out. Even if they don’t and you shoot, you’re at the mercy of the courts, though there has been some hope in that regard with courts siding with civilians shooting at cops on their property illegally.

    In other words, this specific cop who tossed this specific flash bang is small fish, compared to the larger problem of dealing with drug crime like your fighting an insurgency. Still you’d like to see some justice for this family and this child.

  20. It seems like several of the folks rejecting this grand jury’s finding have advocated respect for the process in Ferguson.

      • So you’re trusting the prosecutor in Darren Wilson’s secret grand jury proceeding not to do anything “extra-legal”? Or do you just happen to agree with the result it’s likely to produce?

        The problem here is the process. You either agree grand juries are a flawed process for deciding whether to charge LEOs with crimes or you do not. If you’re choosing to agree or disagree based on results, no reform will occur.

        • So you’re trusting the prosecutor in Darren Wilson’s grand jury not to do anything extra-legal?

          I commented on the decision being extra-legal. You are asking about the process being extra-legal. I’m not sure how you get from one to the other.

          But as has been reported, the St. Louis prosecutor is taking the approach of merely presenting all evidence to the grand jury, and tasking them with determining if a crime has been committed. He’s not presenting an argument for indictment for a given crime, and asking the grand jury to agree that the presented evidence constitutes probable cause of such.

          Smart move.

        • And that prosecutor would certainly never, ever tilt the evidence he presents in such a way that a fellow government employee would not get indicted would he?

        • And that prosecutor would certainly never, ever tilt the evidence he presents in such a way that a fellow government employee would not get indicted would he?

          He’s already committed to releasing all presented evidence if the Grand Jury returns a No-Bill. So, at that time, you can see for yourself, and decide.

    • @TT, you’ve made a poor comparison. The Ferguson GJ hasn’t come to any conclusion yet. When it does, we’ll evaluate and make a decision. The Habersham County made its decision to no-bill, and the hypocrisy is there for all of us to see.

      • I think it’s an apt comparison.

        It’s very easy to believe here that the prosecutor spoon fed the grand jury to return a no bill. Thus, people reject the result. The problem however is not this particular prosecutor. The problem is the process itself which allows the spoon and allows it to be done in secret.

        Prosecutors will use grand juries to return no bills so they have an excuse to avoid charging government officials with crimes. Juries of any sort rarely convict police officers of crimes where there’s any sort of discretion involved in the performance of duty. I fully expect the Ferguson grand jury to no bill Wilson.

        If the Ferguson grand jury no bills Wilson, then I also fully expect some of the folks decrying this decision to use the Ferguson grand jury decision as proof of Wilson’s justification in killing Brown. If grand juries are flawed processes (and you and I have both explained why they are in this thread), then the results they produce are unreliable, regardless of whether we like or dislike the result. Because the proceedings are secret, there’s no fair way to evaluate their reliability after the fact.

        The bottom line is we’ve got some folks discrediting the grand jury process here and saying to respect it over there. That’s hypocritical.

        • We’ve got some folks discrediting the grand jury process here and saying to respect it over there. That’s hypocritical.

          GJ A: “There was evidence of a crime, but the perpetrators were sincerely sorry. No Bill.”

          GJ B: “There was not sufficient evidence to support probable cause that a crime was committed. No Bill”

          The two are entirely different. It’s not inherently hypocritical to criticize one, and not the other.

  21. wow…

    I recall this story when it happened. This news leaves me without words to describe what it running though my mind.

  22. When there is a two tiered justice system, one for agents of the state and one for citizens, it never ends well.

    • “When there is a two tiered justice system, one for agents of the state and one for SUBJECTS, it never ends well.”

      Fixed it for ya.

  23. So I have mixed feelings about this. I’d much rather see a change in the policy that led to the issuance of this no-knock warrant and/or the decision to make it a no-knock raid than to see some officers scape-goated for carrying things out in the way they were trained.

    The leaders and those responsible for the decision-making process should be held responsible, and the medical care should absolutely be paid. I would think law enforcement would have to have some sort of liability insurance for this type of thing.

    The same way if a drone pilot is told to blow up a building, only to find out later it was full of civilians, you wouldn’t hold the pilot responsible if he was told it was his target and ordered to attack according to his training would you?

    • The difference here is that the police officers themselves provide the information to the magistrate that leads to the issuance of the no-knock warrant. This information is supposed to include why they think the perp will be at the premises to be searched. For no-knocks, the information should also include some reason why a no-knock is necessary. Thus, the officers themselves are directly responsible for the search and the way it is carried out. Often, officers provide magistrates with false or poorly verified information, and the magistrates rubber stamp it. The predictable result is situations like this. Innocent people being injured in no-knock raids carried out at the wrong address is shockingly common.

    • >> The same way if a drone pilot is told to blow up a building, only to find out later it was full of civilians, you wouldn’t hold the pilot responsible if he was told it was his target and ordered to attack according to his training would you?

      It depends. If he knew that the building itself is civilian (say, a school), and that it was made a target based on very flimsy data from a single informant and not cross-verified in any way, before receiving an order, he could reasonably conclude that such an order is illegal. If he’d still choose to obey it, and it was later found to be a war crime, he’d be responsible for it along with the people who gave the order.

      Basically, “I just followed orders” is not a universal excuse that absolves you from responsibility. As a human being, you are still expected to use your judgement, and can be found at fault for failing to do so and committing a crime as a consequence. Just because some other guy told you that it’s okay doesn’t mean that you should take it for granted and not question it at all.

      • I think it’s also worth pointing out that soldiers engaged in a war zone should be held to a very different standard than policemen enforcing the law. This didn’t occur to me until after I read int19h’s post. The fact that this doesn’t jump out at all of us immediately is a warning about how much the lines have already been blurred.

  24. So if you are sorry and sad it is okay? “Gee im so sorry and sad Because I stabbed you” “guess we can’t arrest that guy, he was sorry AND sad”.

      • The problem is no-knock warrant service. The fault lies with the courts, including the US Supreme Court. We know from extensive records that no-knock (and knock-then-smash) warrant service leads to many deaths. No suspected criminal activity short of known hostage-holding or bomb-producing (i.e. serious immediate danger to the public, innocents) justifies such primitive and dangerous practices. We have relatively cheap technology sufficient to track people, communicate with them, make the interior of their home unbearable but not lethal, and so forth.

        If a criminal is so dangerous to the community that he must be raided with a no-knock warrant, then he’s worth picking up outside his home, even if that requires a bit of stakeout and electronic surveillance, a bit of extra cost. The issue of qualified immunity and its precise limits is important, but the growth of no-knock warrant use is more important, as is the over-use of SWAT generally, and the failure to use technology rather than bullets and incendiaries.

  25. Grand juries. They’ve become a joke. They only exist to justify the wrongdoings of those we call “government”.

    Time for pitchforks, torches, hemp and lead.

  26. It seems as if law enforcement/prosecution are professions that does not rigorously adhere to professional standards. Or is it their definition of professiinalism needs to be revisited and critically examined?

    • These SWAT officers need to make amends, and repair this family’s world.

      Step 1. Set up a foundation for the baby.

      Step 2. Speak out vigorously against the Constitutional violations that are no-knock raids.

  27. I live in North Georgia so coverage of this case was unreal. Here in GA, Sheriffs are elected officials. But knowing some of the sentiments expressed on local coverage here I very much doubt the voters will see any issues with the Habersham County Sheriff’s Dept come election time.

    • Can you tell a little bit more about it? I just can’t imagine how you could possibly cover this case in a way that wouldn’t make blood boil in any human being with a shred of empathy in them. Much less anyone who actually has kids of their own.

  28. This was not “law enforcement looking after its own”. It was a citizen grand jury taking a hard look at ALL THE FACTS.

    You cannot assign blame to the individuals who carried out the raid in good faith, based on orders from superiors relying on bad intel.

    If you tie the hands of LEOs too much, criminals will almost always win, as they don’t have “rules”. If you expose LEOs to unlimited personal liability (criminal & civil), we’ll soon be like lawless Mexico, as few would faithfully serve in that capacity with so much risk and so little compensation.

    But don’t worry. Obama appointed U.S. Atty. Sally Yates is reviewing the case for possible Federal charges.

    • *If we tie the hands of the police, they want be able to throw grenades at babies! then we will be as lawless as mexico!*

    • >> You cannot assign blame to the individuals who carried out the raid in good faith, based on orders from superiors relying on bad intel.

      Yes, we can. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that any intel short of seeing it with your own eyes is potentially inaccurate, and therefore throwing a flash grenade into a room when you’re not sure who might be inside is a fucking stupid idea, and the very definition of negligence.

      >> If you tie the hands of LEOs too much, criminals will almost always win, as they don’t have “rules”.

      In this case, the criminal who would “win” (and he won anyway, in fact) is some low-level drug pusher. Do you seriously think that nabbing his ass justifies breaking down doors in people’s homes and maiming them?

      In the end, people just want to be safe, they don’t care who the threats are. And, as it stands, if my door breaks down and a flashbang flies in, it’s much more likely that it’s cops doing that rather than criminals. So, from my perspective, what’s the distinction even?

    • That is what those fellows at Nuremburg said. Just following orders. This will be the same cops following orders when it comes time to collect every ones guns if the Gun Ban lobby gets its Universal Registration Background Check through.

  29. It’s hard to look at the pictures of that poor and not imagine my son or daughter.

    Sure, the cops made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes. But part of life is owning up to your mistakes. Maybe those cops don’t lose their badges, but they sure as hell ought to be kicked off the SWAT team.

    And for everyone saying “Oh, that kid was in the house of a suspected drug dealer!”… last I checked, here in America, we punish individuals for the crimes they commit. We don’t punish non-involved family, especially children.

  30. From what I had read elsewhere, I thought the criminal suspect did live there, but had been staying somewhere else at time (maybe he knew a raid was imminent), and the mother had admitted to detectives that she knew the man was a dealer and transaction were occurring at the household. Still not the baby’s fault, but if true, what kind of mother brings her child to such an area?

    • So, you’re saying don’t blame the baby, but DO blame the mother for the flash-bang, forced-entry, no-knock raid?

    • Not very good detective work. Plus such a risky raid in a residential setting at night for a small amount of drugs is also amateurish at best.

  31. “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. That is an understatement.. Oh well, the cops knew they were going home that night.

  32. This is my shocked face. Once again they got away with it because “… but cops… but drugs… but heroes… but they have a really hard job and stuff… but everyone makes a mistake (and its OK even in verrrrry normal well thought out, not overly aggressive cases like this)… but it’s for the greater good.” And once again, one needs look no further than this board and see so many cheerleaders making so many excuses for them to understand why they keep on getting away with this behavior. Way to go guys, keep on giving the green light to LEO everywhere for this sort of stuff. Yes, Yes, i know “.. but honest mistake… but its not fair to be accountable… but you don’t understand how hard it is to issue a warrant without blowing up babies” (and I I am sure you will have even more excuses that are oh so much more compelling).

  33. Keep speaking truth to power, Robert. This grand jury was obviously easily manipulated, if not hand-selected by the prosecutor. But think what would have happened if just one Person Of The Gun—just one of us—had been on that grand jury? I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t a serious Civil-Rights-Act, lawsuit filed against the cops, the cop-shop, and the city government. Just remember what happened to Mike Nifong, the prosecutor in the Duke Lacrosse Team scandal. He thought he had convictions in his pocket until some determined parents and savvy lawyers pounded away at the truth and caused his whole rotten case, along with his career, to crash and burn. It takes effort to make it happen but, sooner or later, truth will win.

  34. HELLS Yeah Farago!

    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?

    “Qualified Immunity” is a 100% unicorn legal fiction created by the enforcer & legalese alchemy class as a CYA, nothing more. What other ‘class’ of people can literally get away with murder??

    Ot has ZERO precedence in our Common Law: you have no immunity, when the act itself was part of an unjustifiable use of force, PERIOD.

    Besides, “qualified immunity” is wholly UNconstitutional: while “No Bills of Attainder” clause in the constitution was intended to prohibit ‘prosecution of the blood’ (ie the progeny is not responsible for sins of the father, etc), the fundamental principle behind is a legal prohibition of creation of separate “classes of people” under our Constitutional republic construct. As such, no, just because post-FDR fascist liberal bitches who took over the entirety of the ‘legal’ system claim non-existent rights, and have been in practice by pro-statist lunatics that infest govt, don’t make it so.

    As were the case with Jim Crow & fugitive slave-act ‘laws’ that once existed, just because gun control ‘laws’ are currently on the books and are enforced by a guild of constitutional-oath clueless delusional govt terrorists, don’t make it lawful, legal or constitutional.

    “Qualified Immunity” is the most non-sensical, UnConstitutional ‘law’ in practice, in existence, along with “civil asset forfeitures.”

  35. A children’s burn unit is the most horrifying, desperately mournful place I’ve ever seen. I can still remember the blood curdling screams of the children receiving treatments. These pieces of shit put a baby in one of these places of intense suffering just because they wanted to play with their swat toys. Fuck them. As part of any civil settlement, all the cops and brass involved in this raid in any way, should be forced to volunteer in a children’s burn unit for a few months. That way they can truly understand what they did. Half of them would probably be traumatized for life, like that baby they burned.

  36. I’m the furthest thing from a “low-drag operator,” but this quote from the recommendations seems to make no sense:

    “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.”

    Aren’t flashbangs normally used before entry? Why would you bomb the room after “clearing” it.

    Can anybody with more experience with such thing explain?

    • They shouldn’t be using them in the first place except when the know 100% they have a 1986 Miami type crew or the SLA holed up.

  37. Im gonna say this and I don’t care who likes it. In the last decade I have lost all respect for cops, they shoot dogs for no reason and they don’t even care if they harm f’ing babies anymore! If that was my kid those oinkers wouldn’t have to worry about ever going to court because they wouldn’t make it there. They are totally off the hook anymore and they are about two-steps from the public turning on them. And don’t think Im some criminal w/a beef because Im in my mid 50’s and have no criminal record and have always (until recently) respected L.E.O’s but anymore if I saw one in trouble I would keep my legally concealed handgun in its holster and drive on by. We are not radical islamist we are American citizens, and if you wanna act tough join the Goddamd Marines!

  38. I would say what is in order here is that each and every member of the team, especially the flash-bang thrower and the officer in charge of the team have a civil action filed on them as individual defendants. Also, sue the state LEO licensing agency to pull these officers licenses, forever. If you sue the department, the tax payers end up getting stuck with the bill. Give them the option of surrendering their license permanently in lieu of going to court. Find some way of getting around the union lawyers and insurance. These officers do not need to be officers ever again.

  39. Now all you hear is “I had to protect my pardners” or “he/she could have been going for a gun or grenade launcher or whatever” Well what if they ask some 70 yr. old lady for her drivers liscense and she puts her hand in her purse to get it are you gonna blow her head off? They have to much lee-way, its a dangerous job and if you cant handle some of the particulars of it you shouldn’t have sought out the job, I mean you wasn’t drafted for Christ sake. And one of the ‘particulars’ of the job is if someone reaches for something especially if you tell them to (like the case of busting out the side-glass on a vehicle because a guy reached in the back seat to get his I.D.) IF they draw a weapon then you shoot them not “just in case”. Hard to do yes but that’s the job and if you cant do it you shouldn’t be a cop. Soldiers in a war zone don’t even get to act like that anymore, unfortuneatly but true and cops certainly shouldn’t act like that here in the homeland.

  40. “In this case, the officer who threw the grenade did not clear the darkened room beforehand.”

    lol… wait… wha? So… you enter the room, clear it… then it’s ok to flashbang? Doesn’t that kind of… oh forget it. That jury doesn’t even tactical.

  41. I can just see it now:

    “Aw, can’t we just let it go? I feel bad enough already about braining that clerk in a botched robbery; it wasn’t even the right store…”

    “Certainly, son; you’re only human. No charges will be filed.”

  42. I hope members of that jury go through a similar experience just to see their reaction. Well, no criminal or negligence charges but that is only in criminal court. In a civil court, they will have their asses handed to them in a silver platter since since the rules of evidence are different and only money is involved. Nothing like hitting someone in the pockets to make them feel like a elephant raped them. Don’t get mad, just sue the bastards in their professional and personal capacities and take revenge.

  43. The same home made the front page of the local paper last year as well… the other Thonetheva brother was involved in an armed felony in July of 2013 (robbery, assault) and the home is suspected of being a hub for Asian gang activity in the area. This is in addition to the armed felony the other Thonetheva brother was out on bail for from October of 2013.

    And this isn’t the first time the child’s father has lived with family members engaging in criminal activities.

    The parents do not have ‘clean hands’ in the matter.

    http://matchbin-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/public/sites/2239/assets/8I1_7_31_2013_E_edition.pdf

      • …but that standard can’t be perfection.

        The local LE had numerous interactions with this residence over the past year and were very familiar with the home and it’s occupants. They had no reason to suspect that there were now four children living in the home when previously there were none. Factor into that, too, that the children had only recently been moved into the home, were not attending school, and were being hidden whenever drug sales were taking place… how was LE supposed to know they were there?

        The SWAT team also entered through the home’s garage where the drugs were being sold out of just hours earlier… so the question now becomes how were they supposed to reasonably know that there would be children sleeping on the floor in the garage?

        While it’s obviously not a harmless error, it was an honest error, and here’s a good explanation of why we give officers of the law official immunity in these types of situations:

        “The function of official immunity is to protect individual government actors who, despite limited resources and imperfect information, must exercise judgment in the performance of their duties. Kanagawa, 685 S.W.2d at 836. The aim of official immunity is to allow officials to “make judgments affecting the public safety and welfare” without being burdened by “[t]he fear of personal liability.” Green v. Denison, 738 S.W.2d 861, 865 (Mo. banc 1987).”

        • Why did they use SWAT for this purpose at all? Was it a hostage situation or a shooting spree in progress? No? Then just send a couple of cops to knock on the door. Better yet, just arrest the guy while he’s out of the house, and then there’s no need to serve a warrant on an “armed and dangerous” suspect.

        • nivico says “The local LE had numerous interactions with this residence over the past year and were very familiar with the home and it’s occupants.”

          If that’s the case, what reason was there for a doing a no-knock SWAT raid with a flash-bang vs. some other means of dealing with him?

          Maybe because some officers like to play Rambo.

        • “If that’s the case, what reason was there for a doing a no-knock SWAT raid with a flash-bang vs. some other means of dealing with him?”

          These folks were considered extremely dangerous felons. Armed robbery, armed assault, methamphetamine distribution, suspected ties to Asian gang activities.

          Again, here’s the article from July of last year concerning the ~other~ nephew at the same residence (not the same nephew from the October armed felony):

          http://matchbin-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/public/sites/2239/assets/8I1_7_31_2013_E_edition.pdf

          And if you Google the man pictured on the front page of this article, you’ll find another incident involving another residence they maintained that had hidden trap doors in the closets that they would use to evade arrest.

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