Hell Forms Bobsled Team After Police Chief Admits Fault In SWAT Raid Targeting Wrong Address

from the tfw-the-gold-standard-should-just-be-the-goddamn-standard dept

Something that happens far too often -- police officers raiding the wrong house in search of criminals -- has resulted in national headlines.

A police search warrant team going after a drug dealer targeted the wrong address and burst into the apartment of an innocent resident who shot and wounded two officers believing they were home invaders, Prince George’s law enforcement officials said.

It has been greeted by something that almost never happens.

Police Chief Hank Stawinski apologized for the error Thursday and said he has halted executing search warrants until the department reviews how it corroborates information to confirm addresses and the location of investigative targets.

There's more. No charges will be filed against the man who shot two officers. The police chief said the man ambushed in his own home was a "law-abiding citizen." Beyond that, he called the warrant itself into question, along with the information used to obtain it.

A confidential informant led investigators to the address at which they were serving the search warrant Wednesday night, Stawinski said. But the chief said he is “not satisfied” with the amount of information investigators used to obtain the search warrant and with the efforts to verify the information from the informant.

Here's all the things that didn't happen:

- No one suggested everyone "wait until all the facts are in."

- No one blamed the media for rushing ahead with a narrative the PD didn't find flattering.

- No one refused to comment until an investigation was completed.

- No one disparaged the victim of the raid by feeding his criminal record to local media.

- No one suggested the resident be more compliant in the future.

- No one defended the officers' actions as reasonable.

- No one filed charges against the resident for shooting and wounding police officers.

This is an astounding reaction to incidents that are far too commonplace in this country. This is also an indictment of policing in America. There is no reason this reaction should be as stunning as it is. This should be standard operating procedure when cops screw up. Instead, we're most often greeted with defense of indefensible actions combined with a multitude of efforts designed to make the SWAT raid victim appear as unsympathetic as possible.

Wrong address raids, killings of unarmed citizens, excessive force deployment… all of these events are normally handled by police departments with maximum defensiveness and minimal acceptance of culpability. A law enforcement agency immediately stepping up to take responsibility for its errors -- especially ones with potentially deadly outcomes -- is a breath of fresh air in the fetid, stagnant swamp of US policing.

But this shouldn't be the ultra-rare exception. It should be the rule. The public law enforcement serves deserves far better than the condescending, self-serving crap it's so often handed in the wake of incidents like these.


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 24 Sep 2018 @ 2:52pm

    This? Do this more often. Do this ALL the time

    Well now, if police acted like this all the time I and many others would be much more likely to cut them some slack on a regular basis when they screw up other times.

    They screwed up and they owned it.

    No attempt to shift the blame, no attempt to drag the innocent person through the mud and/or try to shift the narrative from 'SWAT team raids wrong house' to 'vile (probable) criminal shoots two cops for what are surely heinous reasons.'

    While it's unfortunate, as noted in the article, that this isn't the default, and it is therefore a pleasant surprise when police actually show some personal responsibility like this, it is still a pleasant surprise nonetheless. Now if it can start happening with such regularity that it stops being a surprise, and is instead treated as what it should have been, 'just how it works', that'd be great.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2018 @ 4:30pm

      Re: This? Do this more often. Do this ALL the time

      It's called being a mature and/or civilized person. Admit your mistakes and strive to correct them.

      I think we should give the chief a metal because that's apparently and extremely hard thing to do.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Wyrm (profile), 24 Sep 2018 @ 4:44pm

      Re: This? Do this more often. Do this ALL the time

      Obviously, it would be even better if they stopped SWAT-raiding the wrong houses on a regular basis, but accepting responsibility is a very good start. One can only reduce mistakes after acknowledging that he did make mistakes.

      Later, they might even see them stop considering a SWAT raid as the default option to serve warrants.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 25 Sep 2018 @ 6:20am

      Re: This? Do this more often. Do this ALL the time

      We need more Stawinski-like cops. Now THIS one is a good cop. Not only he didn't cover the asshats that got it wrong but he made it clear that the victim is the victim, nothing else. Doing the job properly isn't enough to call a cop a good one. You need to denounce the bad ones and refuse to comply with the bullshit we see in PDs all around.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2018 @ 3:44pm

    Wow. I am impressed. I still think compensation is in order to the victim.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2018 @ 4:02pm

    The homeowner must be important

    I suspect that the homeowner that shot the officers was someone retired or active in the military, government or a judge/lawyer. The fact that the police have acknowledged this means they had to, not because it is the right thing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2018 @ 4:07pm

      Re: The homeowner must be important

      And for some of those things on the list, it probably helps that the resident didn't end up dead and is therefore able to tell his side of the story.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2018 @ 6:06am

        Re: Re: The homeowner must be important

        I was thinking the same thing.

        It is amazing that the resident does not have a concussion, fractured skull, broken bones, missing teeth, bruises, broken nose , dislocated joints, multiple 9mm piercings and put on ice at the county coroners office.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2018 @ 1:24am

      Re: The homeowner must be important

      It is kind of a sad state that this is the first thing I thought while reading this article.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Shufflepants, 24 Sep 2018 @ 4:04pm

    Man, I have a hard enough time trying to parse headlinese when everything is capitalized making it difficult to pick out proper nouns of companies and people with names like Reality Winner without having to figure out weird euphemisms for hell freezing over...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ChristopherL (profile), 24 Sep 2018 @ 4:05pm

    Support the Police

    These are the Police I can get behind. This is what a few bad apples, immediately dealt with by honest professionals looks like.
    This is the Policing we should have.
    Police Chief Hank Stawinski, I tip my hat to you, and there's a beer for you in NJ anytime you care to claim it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bob, 24 Sep 2018 @ 4:13pm

    was race a factor?

    I looked at the source link and didn't see any mention of a name or the race of the victim.

    But I have to wonder, did the race of the person or his standing in society play any part in the response of the police chief?

    Given all the previous incidents with other police departments it is more likely that race played a part. Hopefully though the police chief is a good cop that is trying to hold others accountable for their actions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bill, 24 Sep 2018 @ 4:25pm

    You had me at the headline.

    That alone would've gotten the headline writer inducted into the late BONG Bull's Hall of fame, rumored to still exist, run by a ancient mystic wire service executive editor on a fog-shrouded eastern island.

    Well done on "Hell forms bobsled team."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 24 Sep 2018 @ 4:47pm

    Can I ask the obvious question??
    What race was the homeowner?


    Consider the entire tableau...
    Cops are giving CI's cash for tips. How did they get these CI's? They busted them for some crime & decided to use them to leverage information.
    CI's like not being in jail, like not being hassled by the police, like getting paid, and in some cases staying high.
    Police lean on a CI who has nothing, but helps them invent a reason to get a warrant anyways.
    Was the evidence literally a CI being given cash, sent into a building, & returning with some amount of drugs?
    So like they could have had some drugs in their pocket but the cash they got for the buy & the information meant even more drugs for them. You just have to walk into a building, kill a few minutes, and walk out with a few wispy threads.

    Perhaps it is time to put an end to using CI's. I mean some of the unwilling college age CI's busted with small amounts of drugs often end up pushed into working up to bigger dealers or else... they have a habit of turning up dead & the police claiming it wasn't their fault for holding a conviction over the head of a kid busted with a single joint who they pushed to get pounds of meth to setup a sting maybe.

    The entire system failed here.
    The police did nothing to verify any of the information.
    The police submitted a warrant based on lies.
    The Judge issued a warrant based on lies.
    They rolled out a swat team, based on nothing more than their target was a drug dealer... but no evidence to support that thinking.
    A homeowner wasn't given enough time to wake up from sleeping before they were doing dynamic entry & they didn't keep saying they were police which lead to a homeowner being in fear of his life & safety shooting at them.

    Drugs are bad mmmmkay, but do we need to roll highly armed & amoured teams to each suspected location, supported by the evidence of a drug using CI who might just want cash or to be left alone again serving up a fairytale.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Alphonse Tomato, 24 Sep 2018 @ 6:07pm

    For sake of completeness, the civilian was black.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/crime-law/2018/09/24/prince-georges-police-chief-does-amazing-t hing-provides-facts-apologizes-mistake-almost-immediately/?utm_term=.6e2854c49c91

    It's apparently not the first time that SWAT team has raided the wrong address.

    All parties are incredibly lucky that nobody was killed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 25 Sep 2018 @ 7:21am

      Re:

      To all those commenters who regularly moan that Tim Cushing hates cops, SHUT UP! Tim hates cop malfeasance, okay?

      I'm very glad so see a chief cop take responsibility for failures in his department and glad that nobody died. That the homeowner is a person of colour is the icing on the cake for me. I'm glad he's not facing charges.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 25 Sep 2018 @ 9:49pm

      Re:

      It's apparently not the first time that SWAT team has raided the wrong address.
      It's apparently not the first time that SWAT team has raided the wrong address.
      It's apparently not the first time that SWAT team has raided the wrong address.
      It's apparently not the first time that SWAT team has raided the wrong address.
      It's apparently not the first time that SWAT team has raided the wrong address.
      It's apparently not the first time that SWAT team has raided the wrong address.
      It's apparently not the first time that SWAT team has raided the wrong address.

      How many times can you raid the wrong house before you get some sort of review?
      Is this like the courts ruling that your rights weren't violated because no court clearly told cops that you can't fist a suspect with purple gloves??

      It's apparently not the first time that SWAT team has raided the wrong address.
      It's apparently not the first time that SWAT team has raided the wrong address.
      It's apparently not the first time that SWAT team has raided the wrong address.
      It's apparently not the first time that SWAT team has raided the wrong address.
      It's apparently not the first time that SWAT team has raided the wrong address.

      Something something whats the point of the cool military gear unless we use it at every chance we get??

      It's apparently not the first time that SWAT team has raided the wrong address.
      It's apparently not the first time that SWAT team has raided the wrong address.
      It's apparently not the first time that SWAT team has raided the wrong address.
      It's apparently not the first time that SWAT team has raided the wrong address.

      I wonder if the chief's quick mea culpa is an attempt to try to shave some 0's off of the settlement.
      How many settlements have been paid already due to this crack teams stupidity?
      How many settlements does it take to think perhaps the team is failing at the job?


      The really sad thing would be if the chief's actions were a result of the officers finally being the ones shot & the target surviving to tell his side of the story.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 24 Sep 2018 @ 7:18pm

    Knock on the Door and Serve the Warrant like Professionals

    Hell Forms Bobsled Team After Police Chief Admits Fault In SWAT Raid Targeting Wrong Address

    One small step in the right direction.

    Unfortunately once again SWAT was employed to perform a dynamic breach in order to serve a warrant to search for evidence of a potential crime (eg drug sales).

    SWAT should never have been sent to serve the warrant.

    SWAT should be utilized as a last resort after all other options have been explored. A final option not first choice.

    Employing SWAT even in a worst case scenario can be an extremely dangerous endeavor as most times police never take the time to properly surveil their targets before acting in all manner adrenaline junkies and cowboys while unleashing wanton violence designed to terrorize the persons on the receiving end into submission.

    Lack of proper surveillance ensures that SWAT will not be operationally aware of the following:

    • Number of persons in structure
    • Layout of interior of structure
    • Are weapons present?
    • Are children present?
    • Are police surveilling proper address?
    • Is it possible to use snatch/grab tactic in lieu of dynamic breach?

    Continued use of SWAT for warrant service guarantees more of the same type of results as has occurred in Prince George’s County Maryland.

    Why can't law enforcement simply knock on the door and serve the warrant?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ChristopherL (profile), 25 Sep 2018 @ 10:35am

      Re: Knock on the Door and Serve the Warrant like Professionals

      If you remove the no-knock warrant, you remove the need for SWAT, in most cases. Clearly, this is not allowed.
      Despite a long history of military or military-style tactics intersecting civilians with abhorrent results, SWAT is still a common form of modern policing. Why?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Atkray (profile), 25 Sep 2018 @ 5:33pm

        Re: Re: Knock on the Door and Serve the Warrant like Professionals

        Why? Because if all the surplus military equipment doesn't go to law enforcement it will end up in Idaho.


        And Texas.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Christenson, 24 Sep 2018 @ 9:19pm

    A trend....

    I don't see this as an isolated incident....I see it as the third or fourth item in a trend....the handwriting is on the wall that police misbehavior is not acceptable...and so the pendulum is swinging the other way with lots of help from viral screwups like this one.

    Sunlight is a wonderful tool for accountability.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2018 @ 10:10pm

      Re: A trend....

      Maybe good cops will form their own union. One that is not against accountability.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2018 @ 6:52am

        Re: Re: A trend....

        know of any?

        Being a police officer is "can only serve one master" territory. The virtue of serving a master that approves of these behaviors to being with practically precludes the vast majority from being a "good cop".

        The only "good cop" right now is one that is working 100% of the time to bring accountability to law enforcement and that is just not going to pair well with the unions or the other officers.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 24 Sep 2018 @ 11:33pm

    Where?

    It would be really awesome to add some context to let us know that Prince George's County is in the state of Maryland in the United States of America.

    E

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2018 @ 5:07am

    Look at Tim Cushing, hating cops again!

    /sarc

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 25 Sep 2018 @ 5:10am

    Here's all the things that didn't happen:

    Forgot:
    No one put 57 bullets in him.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jon, 25 Sep 2018 @ 5:35am

    How about basic reporting standards?

    Even in high school I learned every article should have the 4 W's. Who what where when.

    I've read this 3 times and still have no idea WHERE it happened. Yes, there are links to other information. That doesn't relieve the author of his responsibility to properly report.

    Many times his bias turns me off, but that's personal opinion. I can deal. But shoddy reporting (or writing) is inexcusable for any adult that makes a living at it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2018 @ 5:57am

      Re: How about basic reporting standards?

      what happened to why?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2018 @ 6:03am

      Re: How about basic reporting standards?

      It kinda did give a location, Prince George: a county in Maryland

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2018 @ 7:00am

      Re: How about basic reporting standards?

      You act as though you thought this was a news paper.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Vidiot (profile), 25 Sep 2018 @ 7:43am

      Re: How about basic reporting standards?

      This isn't a news story, but it cites one in the first line. And if clicking-through is too much work, a mere roll-over reveals there's an underlying Washington Post news story one can refer to before (or after) reading the opinion piece posted here.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2018 @ 8:10am

        Re: Re: How about basic reporting standards?

        In addition, there are search engines that provide links to various websites of which one might find stories that address the topic.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ArkieGuy (profile), 25 Sep 2018 @ 6:31am

    Presumptuous

    I think it's a little presumptuous to say that the bulleted items didn't happen... At best, you can say the local PD hasn't said those things publicly so far! I suspect that all of those things were said by "police supporters" somewhere related to this incident.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Steve Swafford (profile), 25 Sep 2018 @ 6:50am

    Has there ever been any other chief own an incident like this before?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Zof (profile), 25 Sep 2018 @ 6:56am

    Imagine How Great It Would Be

    If everybody just admitted it when they were wrong. But we don't. Instead we created The Law so wrong people can be right if they have good lawyers. Humans hate being wrong so much we made up imaginary negotiating rules so we can be right with enough money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ahaz, 25 Sep 2018 @ 8:05am

    I Wonder Why?

    It's great that the department owned up to this mistake and even more so that the homeowner didn't end up dead. However, LE doesn't readily admit mistakes and we have to wonder why in this particular case. Obviously a mistake happened, I believe that something especially egregious occurred that allowed this mistake to happen. Secondarily, in Maryland, over 90% of SWAT deployments are for the issuance of search warrants according to the last SWAT report. Over 68% of those deployments were form Part-II non-violent crimes and forcible entry is used equally between Part-I and Part-II crimes. Currently, Utah is the only state that actually has mandatory SWAT reporting requirements and they showed similar statistics as well as an ACLU study. SWAT primary purpose is to issue search warrants, NOT to respond to active shooter, barricade or hostage situations that they were originally established. The increased militarization of our police forces places all of us at risk.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2018 @ 8:15am

      Re: I Wonder Why?

      "something especially egregious occurred that allowed this mistake to happen"

      Why not something simple, like someone was lazy?

      There are several delivery services out there who seem to be able to deliver things to proper addresses, perhaps the LEOs should ask them how they do it - :) ... yes, I realize they make mistakes also but they do have a much higher volume.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2018 @ 9:07am

    You'd think they were attacking Bin Laden for christ's sake they way they act.But then, how can they keep the public in a state of compliance through fear if they don't use maximum possible force for even the most trivial things?

    All the apologies and taking responsibility is meaningless if the officers and other people directly involved receive no punishment.

    End the f'ing drug war already. There is no justification for it. Regulate it like other harmful substances like alcohol and tobacco and all the other crap people shove into their bodies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    James, 25 Sep 2018 @ 3:28pm

    I don't even...

    What happened? Is the police chief still safe?
    QUICK! Somebody make that chief the new head of the DOJ!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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