This Is Your War on Drugs

Friday, May 27th, 2011

We have another video of a raid by the Columbia Police Department. The action starts at 5:30. There’s more violence. More perfunctory dog killing. (I didn’t hear a single menacing growl, and the dogs were shot while retreating.) There’s more careless tossing of flash grenades. (They threw five  three, then, bizarrely, two more to prove that the previous three grenades had done no damage.) This raid, once again, was for marijuana.

I’ve become somewhat inoculated to the outrage in many these stories. I think you probably need to in order to write about this stuff every day. But I was shaking while watching this one. Then I let out a string of profanities. Then I gave my dog a hug.

All of which is why you need to watch it. And help distribute it as far and wide as the Columbia raid video from last year. This isn’t like watching video of a car accident or a natural disaster. This doesn’t have to happen. You’re watching something your government does to your fellow citizens about 150 times per day in this country. If this very literal “drug war” insanity is going to continue to be waged in our name, we ought to make goddamned sure everyone knows exactly what it entails. And this is what it entails. Cops dressed like soldiers breaking into private homes, tossing concussion grenades, training their guns on nonviolent citizens, and slaughtering dogs as a matter of procedure.

More details from the good people at Keep Columbia Free.

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84 Responses to “This Is Your War on Drugs”

  1. #1 |  qwints | 

    The saddest thing about the video is it probably represents best practices. The officers are mostly professional once the situation stabilizes and don’t verbally or physically abuse the residents. This is what the criminal justice system in Columbia thinks should happen when the police think a residence is used for drug dealing.

    @35, a shotgun(?) is visible at 6:51-6:53 on the floor of the bedroom right before the officers become deathly afraid of a wounded dog.

  2. #2 |  Upside | 

    At least this was on film. Maybe if all such raids were on film, and as thoroughly documented in their disproportionality as this one, we’d have gotten rid of them by now.

  3. #3 |  Dan Danknick | 

    If I lived in Colombia, owned a coffee shop and found one of those peace officers at my counter, honestly I’d waive the cost of his drink. And with a smile, throw it in his face.

    Punish the innocent? Perhaps, but in basic training when one guy screws up the entire company does push ups. In this way the drill seargeant ensures that discipline is self-enforcing among the ranks.


  4. #4 |  Whim | 

    The killing of the dogs was pre-planned, and discussed by the police before they deployed for their assault.

    Question: After being subjected to concussion grenades, how is a resident supposed to even HEAR the varied and confusing commands of the SWAT members?

    Folks, it is only going to get worse. In another 10 years, they will be using late night, No-Knock SWAT raids to serve misdemeanor warrants for failure to pay a traffic ticket.

    Just watch…..

  5. #5 |  c andrew | 

    I used to contribute to the NRA, particularly after their “jack booted thugs” campaign. I have since become convinced that at best, their defense of the 2nd amendment is purely defensive and at worst, they are using the BATFE as a boogeyman to score fundraising dollars.

    If they were serious about the 2nd amendment they would start political action against NFA, GCA68 McCLure 86 and would agitate for the abolition of the BATFE. The fact that they won’t do that tells me that they are not serious. They remain on the defensive and no one wins a conflict by staying on the defensive.

  6. #6 |  Frank Hummel | 

    After reading several of these blog entries and other as well, looks like these SWAt teams are a bunch of lucky SOBs. They never breach into a house where someone shoots back.

  7. #7 |  joshgeek | 

    That’s exactly right. These bungled, pointless, SWAT raids tarnish the name of Law Enforcement everywhere. People may not respond en mass to all officers in the manner you describe, but the experience the public gets from this sort of media does alter the perception of LEO’s on the whole, if incrementally. Some folks are outraged by such abuses, but sadly the police have psychology on their side, as some properly cowed folks will see these examples as reason to be further intimidated into non-action and compliance. Maybe it’s a wash, but I’d like to think the side of the outraged is winning out.

  8. #8 |  Justthisguy | 

    I think I need to buy a steel cup for my jock, with the continual nutpunching.

  9. #9 |  Mark | 

    According to Attorney Dan Viets, “Mr. March had no prior felony convictions” at the time of the raid and he did “possess firearms which were absolutely legal and constitutionally protected.”

    In Missouri it legal to own, possess, and conceal firearms. The shotgun seen on the bedroom floor was 100% legal.

  10. #10 |  Big Red | 

    I got swatted. They blew up one of my cats with a flashbang. 1 dead cat. Almost got shot with an MP-5. Brother was beaten and kicked after he was leg shackled belly chained and handcuffed until they broke his ribs. He had to heal up in jail because he was denied treatment All my dogs and cats were killed after we were hauled by a government employee.
    After 4 months in jail charges were dismissed by a federal judge for the longest speedy trial violation in U.S. history. We were then held without charges for months until they cobbled up some new ones. Eventually we hired really good attorneys and beat their butts. There was a lot more bad stuff that happened,but at least we survived! All over medicinal pot!

  11. #11 |  kyl | 

    Sometimes I think the War on Some Drugs is being fought so little boys who love to play cops and robbers can grow into adult men with that same little boy mentality and still play cops and robbers, excepting that real guns and real bullets are used. I am also convinced that the ONLY reason anyone would want to become a drug cop or a SWAT cop is that they want to experience what it’s like to “pull the trigger,” and SWAT or Drug Task Force units offer the best opportunities for this. I honestly believe their secret desire is to feel that ultimate power sensation of killing another human being, confident that the ensuing investigation will result not only in the obligatory “free pass” but the likelihood of a promotion. This would explain their collective affinity for murdering any unfortunate dogs who happen to be in attendance. Probably not the same (hypocritical) “high” for the thugocrats, but I suppose for them killing a dog is better than killing nothing.

    Go to and find the link to “How to Tell If Someone Is a Sociopath.” There are only six clues listed, and EVERYONE of them suggests that Presidents, lifer-politicians, and cops are indeed sociopaths. And sniveling cowards if you ask me.

    I personally love animals because there is nothing phony about them. And I personally despise Presidents, lifer-politicians, and cops because they are nothing but sociopathic phonies.

  12. #12 |  demize! | 

    Claymores in your living room goddammitt!!

  13. #13 |  engst | 

    How can the anyone be expected to trust the police? Or the government? Every time I see something like this I am more ashamed to call myself an American. This is capitalism at it’s best.

  14. #14 |  We, as a society — The League of Ordinary Gentlemen | 

    […] Here is a post from Radley Balko in which we find out that this is still happening. […]

  15. #15 |  sigh | 

    “I would like to know: What percentage of SWAT raids result in dogs that *don’t* get shot. It seems like standard operating procedure to just shoot the dogs.”

    One of the big reasons for having sound suppressors around for SWAT teams is to reduce the risk of meth lab fire/explosion.

    The other is for shooting out lights and killing dogs before kicking the door in.

    I think that will pretty much answer your question.

    As to the video here, looks to me like they deployed a flashbang before banging on the door and announcing. Flashbangs are no joke and are capable of causing serious permanent injury.

    One of these days they’re going to toss one through the wrong window start having a really bad day. And no, I don’t mean “wrong window” as in “wrong house”, because they’ve done that a number of times already.

  16. #16 |  Lucy | 

    Sometimes when I see video like this I can’t help but think, SWAT took three hours to enter the school at Columbine.

    Five seconds from knock to door-kick. Immediate flash bangs. I’m very surprised no humans died here. As has been said before, this is MAKING a situation volatile. The only explanation for this kind of thing is that cops like these raids. They like them.

    (The noise of those dogs will haunt my nightmares. That was appalling.)

  17. #17 |  Zeb | 

    I hate to say it. I try to be a reasonable person. And I hope I won’t be seen to be advocating anything here. Shooting the police is almost always a very bad idea. But honestly, I think that anyone would be completely morally justified in shooting and killing any police officers involved in an action like this (or really any action taken to arrest and imprison anyone for any drug possession or distribution charge, such laws are unjust and immoral and have no legitimacy). Again, I certainly wouldn’t advocate it; if you did so you would certainly end up dead or in prison for a long time. And some of the cops probably honestly think that they are doing good. But the issue for me is the basic and fundamental right to defend yourself and your freedom.

  18. #18 |  Reader who seldom comments | 

    Uh oh, I’m beginning to make my choice of nym look silly. But here goes anyhow.

    Are these the same stalwart guardians of Missouri’s public safety and health who rendered expert and swift medical care to this young man in 2008?

  19. #19 |  Catching Up | Truth and Justice For All | 

    […] while I was gone, Radley Balko went ballistic over this video of another SWAT drug bust in Columbia, […]


    […] The Agitator – Marijuana SWAT raid with two dogs killed in Columbia, MO […]

  21. #21 |  The War on the Constitution | 

    […] government thugs wearing black masks routinely kick homeowner's doors down, endanger children, kill family pets indiscriminately, murder innocent bystanders, kill innocent kids, steal private property, commit armed robbery, and […]

  22. #22 |  Known Prostitute | Don't Tread On Me | 

    […] […]

  23. #23 |  PHOTOS: Cops Shoot Playful Chihuahuas, Elderly Labs | USA Press | 

    […] drug raids, killing any dog in the house has become almost perfunctory. In this video of a 2008 drug raid in Columbia, Mo., you can see police kill two dogs, including one as it […]

  24. #24 |  PHOTOS: Cops Shoot Playful Chihuahuas, Elderly Labs - DigaNews | DigaNews | 

    […] drug raids, killing any dog in the house has become almost perfunctory. In this video of a 2008 drug raid in Columbia, Mo., you can see police kill two dogs, including one as it […]

  25. #25 |  PHOTOS: Cops Shoot Playful Chihuahuas, Elderly Labs | Le monde de l'information | 

    […] drug raids, killing any dog in the house has become almost perfunctory. In this video of a 2008 drug raid in Columbia, Mo., you can see police kill two dogs, including one as it […]

  26. #26 |  Mark | 

    Trigger-happy thugs. What a heavy-handed response, totally over the top.

  27. #27 |  Cop Shoots Dog: Untrained Officers Commit ‘Puppycide’ (PHOTOS) - Dog Training Guidance | Dog Training Guidance | 

    […] drug raids, killing any dog in the house has become almost perfunctory. In this video of a 2008 drug raid in Columbia, Mo., you can see police kill two dogs, including one as it […]

  28. #28 |  Alec | 

    What the hell is wrong with some people? If you are going into a house for drugs, don’t shoot the dogs!!! What the hell did they have to do with any of the marijuana in that house?? This stuff is just repulsive!!!!

  29. #29 |  Rocky | 

    These poor excuses for police officers should be publicly castrated.

  30. #30 |  sam | 

    You deal drugs this is what happens… they officers are dressed for protections. keep supporting the criminals way to go.

  31. #31 |  Ann Williams | 

    This is just DESPICABLE!! The whole operation was carried out like a military attack. There is no justification whatsoever in the way these so called POLICE conducted themselves – they behaved like trigger happy thugs. They killed the poor dog in cold blood and without mercy. It was terrified. The first shot did not kill it, it was crying and in agony. After wriggling in pain they went back and shot it at point blank again. Now I know why Police in England are not allowed guns. The US is not a good example of law and order!!!!!!!

  32. #32 |  DLW | 

    This is why pot should be legal and citizens need to be armed! I would fire on anyone who came to my door at night in this manner! If they are so afraid of a little dog they should not be on the force!

  33. #33 |  Aussie | 

    Absolutely disgraceful to watch !!! shame shame shame you dog murdering bastards !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  34. #34 |  Why Are The Police Shooting Our Dogs? | Politiva | 

    […] darker question emerges in the Huffpo story. Are dogs being shot as a matter of procedure? In this disturbing video of a drug raidyou can hear the officers discuss who may have to shoot the dogs before they arrive. […]