Botched Raid on Innocent Family Earns Cops Merit Badges

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Last December, I posted about a botched SWAT raid on an innocent Minnesota family.  Acting on bad information from an informant, the police threw flash grenades though the family’s windows, then exchanged gunfire with Vang Khang, who mistook the police for criminal intruders.  Seven months later, no one in the police department has been held accountable for the mistakes leading up to the raid.

However, this week Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan and Mayor R.T. Rybak did give the raiding officers medals and commendations for their bravery in nearly killing Vang Khang, his wife, and their six children.

Said Chief Dolan while handing out the hardware:

"The easy decision would have been to retreat under covering fire. The team did not take the easy way out," Dolan told the crowd. "This is a perfect example of a situation that could have gone horribly wrong, but did not because of the professionalism with which it was handled."

This is really beyond outrage.  The city of Minneapolis is commending and rewarding its police officers for firing their weapons at innocent people.  A family of eight was terrorized, assaulted, and nearly killed, and it’s the "perfect example" of a situation that could have gone wrong?

It’s not the first time this kind of thing has happened, either.  In November 2006, a Baltimore County, Maryland police officer was given an award for shooting Cheryl Lynn Noel, a mother of two gunned down in her nightgown when she grabbed a gun after mistaking the raiding police officers for criminal intruders.  The officer then shot Noel a second time from point blank range.  That award came shortly after the Noel family filed a civil suit against Baltimore County.

MORE: Listen to the 911 call from Khang’s wife here. Note how long it takes for the police to finally identify themselves.

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57 Responses to “Botched Raid on Innocent Family Earns Cops Merit Badges”

  1. #1 |  Pat Cornwallis | 

    The Mayor and Chief in Minneapolis must be sick. If you follow the local links you can hear the 911 call. It truly bobbles the mind.

  2. #2 |  MacK | 

    Damn I do have to give these cops props!
    What balls it must take to say:
    “Yes we fucked up, yes we caused the events that could have gone terribly wrong, yes we did all we could to kill several innocent people (including children), but we did it so well that we deserve to be rewarded”.

    They must have have balls of steel to stand and except the rewards.
    Wait they must have no balls to be perfectly honest.

    All cities and all states should have independent review boards, for all police activities.
    Why do we allow any organization to investigate themselves? I know that If I did something like this and investigated myself, that I would find myself innocent of any wrong doing, although anyone else investigating me would surely find me to be at fault.

  3. #3 |  Obbop | 

    I do not know the details of the event but, over the years, similar events have occured far too often.

    Those of us who were present for much or all of the Cold War wonder about the USA having a “drug czar” to head the “war on drugs” at the federal level.

    It’s as if the ruling elites were laughing at the masses and not even trying to disguise it….. as if to show the informed few that the elite’s propaganda was effective in that so many Americans accepted the elite’s actions.

    Decade follows decade, many BILLIONS of our dollars (the worker’s money taken from us by the threat of force) used to fund the drug war… innumerable innocent victims due to “whoops, sorry” mistakes by jack-booted thugs.

    In the worst cases wives and children in their HOME, watching Dad bleed to death on the floor after the thugs invaded the wrong home…..again.

    Look up “soldier’s disease” during the post-Civil War era.

    Do any type of reading about drug usage written by folks with a modicum of knowledge about sociology and economics, etc.

    Yes, no illicit drug usage is best but reality sinks its fangs in deeply.

    For whatever reason(s) the USA refuses to cease methods to curtail drug usage that have been proven to be ineffective.

    Is there an ulterior motive? Look how accepting so many Americans are regarding law enforcement becoming increasingly more Gestapo-like!!!

    The so-called drug war has empowered federal/state/local governments, the law enforcement bureaucracies, and the other aspects of power over the masses by the elite’s lackeys.

    OBEY or you may die.

    Obey or all your property and money can be confiscated merely due to the suspicion of drug activity.

    OBEY or your home may be invaded and one wrong move you and/or your family will be gunned down.

    The “war on drugs” has indoctrinated the masses into acceptance of a near-police state.

    I believe it’s all a part of a larger class war between the wealthy/powerful few, their bureaucracies and lackeys and WE, THE PEOPLE….. and it is we that are losing that war.

    Obey. You have nothing to hide, do you? Show your papers. Take the drug tests for work or whatever….. tests that are far from 100 percent accurate.

    You DO obey, right? You DO take those drug tests for that crappy $7 per hour job with no benefits?

    Those with the power to start a global-wide war……. THOSE elite class folks take a drug test, right? Don’t they? Why not?

    It IS class warfare. And the drug war is just a small part.

  4. #4 |  Ben | 

    Come join the fark discussion, it’s getting fun. http://forums.fark.com/cgi/fark/comments.pl?IDLink=3769196

  5. #5 |  MacK | 

    One thing I noticed on the released 911 tapes is that not until the gunfire is over, and they have the homeowners subdued does anyone announce they are the police.

    I’m sure that if not for the 911 recording they would have sworn they yelled “POLICE” during the illegal entry so loud that the devil would have woke.

  6. #6 |  Dave Krueger | 

    If Germany had won WWII and now controlled Europe, the extermination of the Jews would not be referred to as the “Holocaust”. That’s basically what’s going on here. The people in control are defining what happened.

    You don’t give people medals for screwing something up, therefore they must not have screwed anything up. You can’t be a fuck-up if you’re a hero.

    Which is precisely why you don’t want the press in bed with the government. To the extent that the press and the government are bed partners, the blogosphere suddenly rises to a critical level of importance in fending off the police state.

  7. #7 |  Atlanta Matt | 

    So “covering fire” is now an acceptable tactic for law enforcement?

  8. #8 |  Ginger Dan | 

    A few things:

    a) For you Generation Kill watchers, the Capt. speech about not retreating under fire sounds just like Godfather’s speech after they almost called in a close fire mission.

    b) Why are these guys such terrible shots? I’m thankfully no one in the house was injured, but c’mon. The homeowner hits his targets and these cowboys just shoot up the house and kill the sofa?

    c) Does it really take 7 months to figure out you need to do some “policework” to collaborate the stories of criminal informants?

  9. #9 |  MPLSMAN | 

    Damn… I live in Minneapolis and would love to write an angry letter to the editor if I didn’t think it would get my door kicked in.

  10. #10 |  Atlanta Matt | 

    Bad shots? Maybe because they were returning fire blind through a closed door and wall?

  11. #11 |  Ben | 

    So “covering fire” is now an acceptable tactic for law enforcement?

    No but being inept enough not to hit your target apparently is.

  12. #12 |  Ben | 

    Bad shots? Maybe because they were returning fire blind through a closed door and wall?

    Ever take an NRA safety course? First thing you learn is “know your target and what is beyond.” Shooting through a closed door is NOT an acceptable police tactic.

  13. #13 |  MacK | 

    Ginger Dan, I’m with you on the b) point.
    SWAT is supposed to be well trained with the use of deadly weaponry, yet with at least 20 shots fired in what I would assume is fairly close range they barely hit the broad side of the wall.

  14. #14 |  Heretical Ideas Weblog » Police Receive Medals For Terrorizing Innocent Family | 

    [...] enforcement. No, in the world of law enforcement, screwing up and almost killing innocent people is grounds for a medal. The indispensible Radley Balko has the scoop: Last December, I posted about a botched SWAT raid on [...]

  15. #15 |  Minneapolis SWAT nearly kills family, win award « Spiffmo | 

    [...] The Agitator] Posted in General spiffiness. Tags: respect my authority!, [...]

  16. #16 |  Atlanta Matt | 

    It seems I need to clarify my points.
    1. They failed to hit anything because they were shooting blindly through the door/walls, without regard for what was beyond, which we have established is Bad.
    2. Shooting blindly with the intent to ‘keep their heads down’ through overwhelming firepower seems to to be the definition of “covering fire.” On the battlefield this is acceptable. In police work, it is not.

  17. #17 |  jim | 

    Please tell our lovely mail how you feel.

    Mayor R.T. Rybak
    City Hall, Room 331
    350 South Fifth Street
    Minneapolis, MN 55415

    Phone: (612) 673-2100 or
    call 311 or call (612) 673-3000 outside Minneapolis

    Fax: (612) 673-2305

    E-mail: rt@minneapolis.org

  18. #18 |  HtownGuy | 

    One thing I noticed on the released 911 tapes is that not until the gunfire is over, and they have the homeowners subdued does anyone announce they are the police.

    I’m sure that if not for the 911 recording they would have sworn they yelled “POLICE” during the illegal entry so loud that the devil would have woke.

    It shouldn’t matter if or when the invaders yelled “Police!” because anyone cop, criminal, or criminal cop can yell those words. Home owners should not be conditioned to surrender to armed attackers just because they yell the word “Police”.

    We have a real problem with home invasions by people dressed as cops here in Houston. It’ll be a lot safer for them when they realize yelling “Police” will subdue their victims.

  19. #19 |  Pat Cornwallis | 

    Sgt. Jesse Garcia was the spokesman for the department at the start of this before he got pulled off. He talked with the supervisor of the SWAT team and devised a plan try to slime the Vang family. After about 24 hours it became clear that this would not work as members of the local news media were no longer buying into this line. Sgt. Garcia then went with plan 2 which was the SWAT members shielded the children while returning fire. That was also a lie.

  20. #20 |  Ginger Dan | 

    Does anyone know if the “guns” they were looking for were ever found? I wonder how many weapons they were looking for? Is there a SWAT member to guns sought ratio?

  21. #21 |  nobahdi | 

    [quote]2. Shooting blindly with the intent to ‘keep their heads down’ through overwhelming firepower seems to to be the definition of “covering fire.” On the battlefield this is acceptable. In police work, it is not.[/quote]

    They don’t even let you do that on a paintball field.

  22. #22 |  MacK | 

    HtownGuy I understand and agree with you completely.
    However I’d bet dimes to dollars the warranted they had was a knock and announce, or a no knock where they must announce also. This is not for the home owner, but for the police so they are not shot by accident. Remember a cops life is always more important then yours, thats why you get a longer prison sentence if you kill a cop as opposed to a reg civilian.

    Either way it is a procedure that if it is not followed then leads to what else is not followed during these raids.

    They always state they announced, and that because they did then people like Ryan Fredericks should face harsh penalties. There was no recording at Ryan’s unfortunate illegal raid and they swear they announced over and over, yet all witnesses state they never heard it. Now Ryan is going to be kangarooed through the courts as a murderer due to defending his home during what he thought was a burglary, because he did not hear the announcement by police.

  23. #23 |  HtownGuy | 

    They always state they announced, and that because they did then people like Ryan Fredericks should face harsh penalties.

    I hear you Mack. It’s just so unjust to let the freedom of the victims of these RAIDS hinge on whether the heavily armed attackers, while smashing into your house, said a particular word. Especially considering armed attackers who are not police can also say that word. And we’re supposed to submit to armed attackers who say the particular word?

  24. #24 |  Danno49 | 

    And it just keeps getting better and better. It’s about every day we hear about a new incident like this . . . and subsequent cover ups with lines of bullshit basically telling the public to remain calm, we are only doing our jobs. And the public eats it up because this sort of thing never has happened to them. It seems like the only thing to change opinion is for it to happen. Nothing like a gun being pointed to your head and your family in peril to make you wake the fuck up and say, hey, maybe these no knock raids are a bad idea after all! It is really disturbing the mindset of the general public. For fuck’s sake, I was reading a rant by someone the other day that pretty much said . . . well I’ll let you read it for yourself . . . I find that most people I talk to have this mentality – the topic was corrupt guards and lack of protection for inmates in Huntsville jails . . .

    My point is this: those removed from society may not be guilty as charged, but they are never innocent. For some reason they have ended up in jail. Society, or a selective group of their peers put them there. Normal, law-abiding citizens don’t have a concern because we don’t get randomly shaken down for drugs, we don’t get questioned in robberies, cops don’t have my picture in a profile.

    If the majority of people think like this, and I am inclined to think they do, and the cops continue to run around like rabid fucking dogs on a daily basis well, then my friends . . . we are so fucked.

  25. #25 |  HtownGuy | 

    It’s about every day we hear about a new incident like this . . . and subsequent cover ups with lines of bullshit basically telling the public to remain calm, we are only doing our jobs. And the public eats it up because this sort of thing never has happened to them.

    Have those people watch this law professor’s video. He talks about the 4,500+ Federal Laws, and the 10,000+ regulations enforced with criminal sanctions, then points out some that anyone can be guilty of (possessing a lobster that is too short is a Federal offense because it is an offense in Massachusets). He then goes on to demonstrate how innocent people can and are railroaded by cops.

  26. #26 |  Ben | 

    I think my favorite reply to the fark thread:

    “Hey copper… I hear Tat’dGreaser is selling drugs.”
    “Cool, let’s go bust down his door”

    That’s all it takes. Read TheAgitator (new window) and see instances of Justice Scalia’s ‘new professionalism’ at work.

    That would be enough to have cops staking out my place and gathering enough evidence to get a warrant. Don’t be so paranoid.

    Yep, these people need to get with the times.

  27. #27 |  TomMil | 

    maybe it’s like my 8 year olds soccer team and everyone gets an award even the uncoordinated kid who kept kicking the ball in his own goal.

  28. #28 |  Frank | 

    The precedent was set back when the US Marshals who Cluster-Fucked Ruby Ridge were handed awards and promotions.

    The local I-Team is about the only group of people able to call foul on this without fear.

  29. #29 |  roy | 

    Well, they are “Special” Weapons and Tactics.

  30. #30 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #27 TomMil

    maybe it’s like my 8 year olds soccer team and everyone gets an award even the uncoordinated kid who kept kicking the ball in his own goal.

    Nah. If your kid’s soccer team rewarded performance like the Minneapolis PD, then the kid who kept kicking the ball toward his own goal would have been the only kid getting an award.

  31. #31 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #24 Danno49

    . . I find that most people I talk to have this mentality – the topic was corrupt guards and lack of protection for inmates in Huntsville jails . . .

    Huntsville? Texas? Or some other Huntsville (I think every state has one)?

  32. #32 |  Danno49 | 

    Dave,

    That would be the one in Alabama, kind sir.

  33. #33 |  Steve Verdon | 

    You don’t give people medals for screwing something up, therefore they must not have screwed anything up. You can’t be a fuck-up if you’re a hero.

    Quite right. The Mayor even told us it wasn’t a mistaken raid his staff did an investigation after all. It was honorable, brave and noteworthy…hence the medals.

    Why am I thinking of the Ministry of Truth and Love and a heavy boot stamping on a human face, from now to eternity. Does the Minneapolis police department have a room numbered 101?

  34. #34 |  Botched raid on innocent family earns cops merit badges. | 

    [...] http://www.theagitator.com/2008/07/30/botched-raid-on-innocent-family-earns-cops-merit-badges/ [...]

  35. #35 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Dano49, if you have a link to that rant, I’d like to have a gander at it. I’m from Huntsville.

  36. #36 |  Ginger Dan | 

    HTown — the video was terrific (and terrifying). Thanks for the link!

  37. #37 |  Thomas Blair | 

    Danno49,

    I, too, am from Huntsville, AL, but just moved here a month ago. What is this story about corrupt guards and county inmates?

  38. #38 |  HtownGuy | 

    Does the Minneapolis police department have a room numbered 101?

    Maybe not, but the Feds have Guantanamo, and Syria, and Egypt, etc. And the Telecoms are immune to criminally spying on you, and the commercial airlines are pitching in with transport. And Due Process has become the-president-says-so. We’re kind of far along to turn back the clock on this stuff peacefully.

  39. #39 |  SusanK | 

    Couple things:
    1. The current police chief was the assistant chief when he awarded a medal of valor to an officer for shooting a citizen (apparently causing all kinds of community outrage and leading to the actual chief to demand that the officer return his medal).
    2. How is the shooting “courageous”, let alone lawful? In a lot of jurisdictions, you can meet lethal force with lethal force ONLY if you can not retreat safely. Wouldn’t the valiant thing to do be to retreat from the home, establish a perimeter, talk to the people inside, etc, rather than risk officer and civilian lives? Plus, if my shooting isn’t justified, why would an officer’s be justified under the law?

  40. #40 |  claude | 

    Im embarrassed to be a Minnesotan today. This is just plain ridiculous. :(

  41. #41 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Susan, Susan, Susan…would you please goose step this way into the re-education camp?

    Please stop bringing up these kinds of things, it only upsets the police officers, and as we can see, they aren’t too bright, are armed and face no down side to shooting you.

  42. #42 |  Danno49 | 

    Dave and Thomas,

    It was in the Rants And Raves section of Huntsville Craigslist. The specific post where I got the quote came from here:

    http://huntsville.craigslist.org/rnr/756780557.html

    There are some other posts on the subject before and after and it gets confusing as to what is what because it is not truly threaded. CL R&R is not to be taken seriously, I know, but I was posting something there (if you want to laugh perhaps check my post To the old man with the cane that lapped me – you may find it amusing) and saw a bunch of stuff about corrupt cops and the like and, well, my curiosity was piqued. I had to have a gander. And was promptly disgusted by a lot of what I found, mostly the attitudes and out and out racism. I don’t follow local news as much as I should so I have never heard of anything they are talking about with regard to the jails, either.

  43. #43 |  InFrequently Asked Questions | 

    Minneapolis Cops Get Medals For Raid On Wrong House!…

    h/t: Radley Balko…

  44. #44 |  Zeb | 

    Even supposing that the cops in this case did act correctly and with valor, isn’t it in really awful taste to give them medals when the undisputed fact is that they did terrorize a completely innocent family?

  45. #45 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I didn’t realize how many people posted on here from Huntsville. I feel like Omega Man suddenly discovering other normal humans in a land of zombies.

  46. #46 |  The Nominator | 

    Why doesn’t Khang also qualify for an award of some sort from the city? He did everything the police did and more. Chief Dolan said, “The officers put themselves in harm’s way. They were shot at and shot and deserved to be recognized.”

    Khang was also in harm’s way and shot at and shot. But Khang actually went beyond the actions of the officers. Unlike the officers:

    1. Khang had no special training (so far as I know).

    2. Khang had no time to prepare for the raid.

    3. Khang was where he was supposed to be (unlike the officers).

    4. Khang had no back-up. He was on his own.

    The City Council can pass an honorary resolution recognizing Khang’s efforts to protect his family. What argument would they now have for failing to do so?

  47. #47 |  Danno49 | 

    I didn’t realize how many people posted on here from Huntsville. I feel like Omega Man suddenly discovering other normal humans in a land of zombies.

    Ditto, Dave. But then again, who said I was normal? ;)

    Living in a military town in the South is . . . interesting . . . to say the least. It’s like: America! Fuck yeah! in most places you go. Kind of scary. Oh well, at least I’m not paying out of my ass for everything like I was in California . . . yet.

  48. #48 |  Lloyd Flack | 

    If the police officers involved were honorable men they would have rejected the awards. In fact it would be quite reasonable for them to be offended by the offer.

  49. #49 |  Andrew | 

    It just gets worse and worse. Where does this end? Where is the tipping point? What does it take for society as a whole to stand up and stop these sorts of atrocities? My god, we fought a Revolution over far less.

    If anyone has a good reason why we shouldn’t view law enforcement as an occupying standing army I’d like to hear it.

  50. #50 |  The Hateful Anarchist | 

    Cops are nothing but state-sactioned crimimals with a badge. It’s time to stand up against these worthless bastards!

  51. #51 |  Joel Rosenberg | 

    The City Council can pass an honorary resolution recognizing Khang’s efforts to protect his family. What argument would they now have for failing to do so?

    Well, there is that check that they’re going to — sooner or later — write to the Khang family. If they do the honorable thing and recognize his brave defense of his family against unknown home invaders (which they were, up until the moment that the 911 operator explained to his wife that the home invaders were the police, at which point he put down his gun), that check will have more zeroes on it.

    Which, of course, I’ll have to help pay for; I live in Minneapolis, and we taxpayers get to foot the bill for MPD misbehavior. Yay, us.

  52. #52 |  CSI | 

    This reminds me of when the crew of an American cruiser received combat medals for mistakenly shooting an Iranian civilian airliner in 1988.

  53. #53 |  SWAT Team Honored For Raid On Wrong House - Page 7 - XDTalk Forums - Your HS2000/SA-XD Information Source! | 

    [...] article on this story w/ 911 call) Botched Raid on Innocent Family Earns Cops Merit Badges Last December, I posted about a botched SWAT raid on an innocent Minnesota family. Acting on bad [...]

  54. #54 |  Wendy Weinbaum | 

    What an OUTRAGE – giving medals to jack-booted thug goof-ups! They owe TRIBUTE to the innocent family they terrorized! Moreover, as a Jewess in the US, I want to remind everyone that America wasn’t won with a registered gun! And, that criminals are stopped by FIREARMS, not by talk. That is why all REAL Americans put our 2nd Amendment FIRST!

  55. #55 |  MarK Darvin | 

    A few things:

    a) For you Generation Kill watchers, the Capt. speech about not retreating under fire sounds just like Godfather’s speech after they almost called in a close fire mission.

    b) Why are these guys such terrible shots? I’m thankfully no one in the house was injured, but c’mon. The homeowner hits his targets and these cowboys just shoot up the house and kill the sofa?

    c) Does it really take 7 months to figure out you need to do some “policework” to collaborate the stories of criminal informants?

    I stumbled onto your blog and read a few post. I like your style of writing.

  56. #56 |  How they police in Minnesota | Miscellaneous Heathen | 

    [...] if you raid the wrong house and shoot at innocent people in Minnesota? Yep, that’s right: you get a commendation. No one was held accountable at all. This entry was posted in News by admin. Bookmark the [...]

  57. #57 |  How they police in Minnesota | Miscellaneous Heathen | 

    [...] if you raid the wrong house and shoot at innocent people in Minnesota? Yep, that’s right: you get a commendation. No one was held accountable at all. This entry was posted in News by chet. Bookmark the [...]

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