My old friend Deroy Murdock was kind enough to cite me in this column, but that’s not why the column is important. In chilling — nay, not just chilling, but sickening and frightening — detail, Murdock lays out the growing problem of over-use of SWAT teams, often deadly. He also ties it to the gun-control debate, saying, in effect, that these sorts of SWAT abuses are one reason individuals need guns — yes, to protect themselves against government agents.
Please read it. Yes, this. Here is one of many examples:
On July 13, 2010, a dozen St. Paul, Minn.–area policemen and a federal Drug Enforcement Agency officer assaulted Roberto Franco’s home. Clad in Army fatigues, they rousted all nine people there, including three children. “Each plaintiff was forced to the floor at gun and rifle point and handcuffed behind their backs,” states Franco’s $30 million federal lawsuit against these authorities. “Defendants shot and killed the familydog and forced the handcuffed children to sit next to the carcass of their dead and bloody pet for more than an hour while defendants continued to search the plaintiffs’ home.”
According to the complaint, one young girl who “was handcuffed and prevented by officer from obtaining and taking her medication thus induced a diabetic episode as a result of low blood-sugar levels.”
Oops. Wrong house!
Negligent police meant to hit the house adjacent to the Francos. The search warrant named next-door neighbor Rafael Ybarra, but did not mention anyone named Franco. Perhaps these cops forgot to read that document before launching their onslaught against the Francos, their home, and their dog.
Eventually, the SWATsters realized their error. As the complaint continues: “Despite the fact that defendants learned that the suspect did not live at the address raided, defendants remained in the home of plaintiffs and continued searching the home.” The authorities eventually found a .22-caliber revolver in the basement. Although it belonged to Gilbert Castillo, another resident of the house, the gun was pinned on Franco, leading to his incarceration with Minnesota’s Department of Corrections.