One of the more unfortunate side effects of police militarization isn't directly the fault of law enforcement agencies or their enablers at the Pentagon. But it is related. Thanks to the Drug War, nearly every town in the US has a SWAT team or one minutes away, whether they need one or not. This has led to the rise of SWATting -- calling in a false report in order to send a charged-up SWAT team to raid someone's home.
This has been used by scam artists against security bloggers and by trolls against celebrities, but has especially seen an increase as a form of harassment within the gaming community. A recent incident is not only notable for dragging schools into the mix, but also for being caught on tape.
Jordan "Kootra" Mathewson, who streams his sessions on Twitch, was streaming from an office near a Littleton, CO school (which was put on lockdown) when the SWAT came "knocking."
What's interesting about this (beyond the lengths griefers will go to make someone miserable) is some of the actions caught on video.
At the beginning, the SWAT team does the usual cop thing of everyone yelling at the same time because that apparently works better than having a point person designated to deliver concise, well-enunciated instructions. (Note: it does
work better than other situations where officers have yelled contradictory instructions over each other ["Stand up!! Lay on the ground!!].) Bonus points for swearing because no one takes guys with assault rifles and Kevlar vests seriously unless they use variations of the word "fuck."
About two minutes in, after Mathewson has been searched and cuffed (and held on the ground by SWAT boots, just in case), an officer asks where his phone is. He picks it up and casually starts looking through it. First off, the new rules say get a warrant
, although I'd imagine an active shooter situation (even if fake) falls under exigent circumstances. But there doesn't seem to be any hesitation on the officer's part. He just asks where Mathewson's cell phone is… and then takes it. He continues looking through it for the next couple of minutes while asking questions occasionally.
Also of note: around the 4:30 mark, Mathewson explains to the cops that he's streaming. Once he explains that people are watching, the attention shifts from Mathewson to the camera -- which the cops then disable. They have no reason to and they certainly don't have the right to
, but they just go ahead and do with a notable lack of hesitation. (The same cop who casually started looking through Mathewson's phone leads the way.)
As the camera is gracelessly dismounted, you can hear the other SWAT member ask: "If you heard us yelling, why didn't you move?" Mathewson answers that he had earphones on, but the better answer would have been, "Because I didn't want to get shot." I can think of no earthly reason
why someone being raided by a SWAT team would make any
movements that he or she hasn't been directed to make. At the point that Mathewson realizes what's happening, the SWAT team is still clearing rooms. Had he decided to make a surprise appearance in the hall, there's a good chance he would have-- at minimum -- been subjected to even rougher treatment. There's also a rather healthy (ha!) chance that someone might have fired off a round or two, given that these officers were looking for an active shooter and not, say, a serial parking law violator.
Mathewson has to walk them through the whole process of killing the stream (audio can still be heard for another minute or so), leaving the rest of the narrative to be captured in police reports. Fortunately, nothing went "wrong" in this raid, so no one was wounded or subjected to excessive amounts of force. It's also rather fortunate that Mathewson was using headphones, because one can only imagine what might have happened if the steady stream of Counter-Strike gunfire had been audible.
There have been several SWATings in recent months, but none of them have given us a look at one in progress. The SWAT team did nothing wrong by taking the threat seriously, although one officer's actions definitely approach the outer edges of what's acceptable/Constitutional and he did so with a practiced ease.