Another Isolated Incident

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

This one will cost Minnesota taxpayers $1 million.

The Minneapolis City Council approved a $1 million settlement Friday after a botched drug raid in 2010 in which an officer threw a “flash-bang” grenade into a south Minneapolis apartment burning the flesh off a woman’s leg.

The payout to Rickia Russell, who suffered permanent injuries, was the third largest payout for alleged Minneapolis police misconduct on record.

Flash grenades are intended to distract and intimidate, not to injure people, but during the raid the device rolled under the legs of Russell, who was seated on a sofa, and exploded. The police were looking that day for a drug dealer, narcotics and a firearm, but found nothing.

Russell, now 31, suffered third- and fourth-degree burns that caused a deep indentation on the back of one leg, requiring skin grafts from her scalp. She is still undergoing physical therapy.

“What happened in this case was an accident,” Minneapolis city attorney Susan Segal said in a statement. “It’s very unfortunate that Ms. Russell suffered serious injuries, however, accidents like this are rare.”

Yet incidents of fires, injuries and even deaths caused by the devices have led to costly settlements and policy changes in cities nationwide, including Minneapolis, where a 1989 fire started by a police grenade killed two people.

My take on flash grenades here. No, they aren’t harmless. It’s probably inaccurate to even call them “non-lethal.”  They’re designed and intended to inflict injury on people who have yet to even be charged with a crime, much less convicted.

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28 Responses to “Another Isolated Incident”

  1. #1 |  supercat | 

    Simple test for whether police should claim something is “non-lethal”: if a person deployed such a device on a police officer, in the same fashion as the police deploy them against their victims, would the person be charged with attempted murder, use of deadly force, or any other such charge?

    There may be some rare occasions in some bona-fide hostage rescue operations where the risk to innocent human life could be minimized via the use of concussion grenades, but their safe use requires an extreme level of care to ensure that nobody is near where they are going to explode. Tossing a concussion grenade without ensuring the target area is clear constitutes reckless endangerment and should be prosecuted as such.

  2. #2 |  Kukulkan | 

    How was this an accident? Did the officer “accidentally” launch the grenade into the dwelling? Nope, the officer intentionally launched the device into the dwelling. There is no accident here. And it is why the city is paying $1 million.

  3. #3 |  Bob | 

    “Minneapolis police execute an average of 275 search warrants a year, and each one of them is a potentially dangerous situation,” Segal said. “Their job is to execute these warrants while minimizing danger to officers and to those present where a warrant is being served.

    Well then they’re doing a pretty lousy job, aren’t they?

    Especially when you consider that this warrant, and likely a majority of the other 275 was a dry hole, undoubtedly the result of an “informant” trying to reduce his own charges.

    Fire them all. Disband the “Narco” units across the board. Just legalize the shit and spend a fraction of the current drug war money on treatment.

  4. #4 |  CaffeineAddict | 

    A million is not enough. Perhaps enough for the person injured, but not enough to stop this kind of behavior. The cost will be capitalized, rolled into a bond with some other awards, and paid off at a couple of pennies a year by residents.

    To put an end to police militarization really takes punitive action. Serious fines taken from the police budget, not the general fund. Otherwise this is just another story in injuries, damages and murder at the hands of police.

  5. #5 |  crazybob | 

    “What happened in this case was an accident,” Minneapolis city attorney Susan Segal

    Note to Ms. Segal: There ARE NO accidents. The NTSB for example no refers “accidents” but to “crashes”, because there always IS a cause. Same here.

  6. #6 |  tim | 

    What I’m trying to understand is why would they use a flash grenade in an apartment building if they already have a history of starting things on fire?

    (lives in Minneapolis)

  7. #7 |  Mark Z. | 

    Simple test for whether police should claim something is “non-lethal”: if a person deployed such a device on a police officer

    I propose an even simpler test: will it kill you if you put it in your mouth?

    Lethal things: shotguns, samurai swords, Bowie knives, cyanide, downed power lines, plutonium, plastic bags, flashbang grenades, the ocean.

    Nonlethal things: fists, pepper spray, laser pointers, nutmeg, the music of John Tesh.

    Things too big to fit in your mouth: hippopotamuses, cement trucks, the Sun. All of these should be presumed lethal–if nothing else, they would kill you if they fell on you.

  8. #8 |  samsam von virginia | 

    Tim:

    ” What I’m trying to understand is why would they use a flash grenade in an apartment building if they already have a history of starting things on fire? ”

    Perhaps they are hoping for a job in Philadelphia?

  9. #9 |  marco73 | 

    Third and fourth degree burns, and a deep indentation in the back of a leg. Still undergoing treatment and physical therapy.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if the women’s medical bills eventually exceed $1 million. And you haven’t even touched on loss of wages and pain and suffering.
    Minneapolis is getting off cheap.
    What do you think it would cost if a private citizen with deep pockets rolled a flash grenade into this women’s apartment?

  10. #10 |  Over the River | 

    Interesting the statement didn’t go something like this:

    “What happened in this case was an accident. It’s very unfortunate that Ms. Russell suffered serious injuries, however, drugs are tearing our country apart and I don’t think anyone, including Ms. Russell would want to tie the hands of our peace officers who are on the front line protecting us from the dangers of the uncontrolled drug use that is killing our children.”

  11. #11 |  derfel cadarn | 

    Put the officers involved in this raid,their superiors and the issuer of the warrant in a room and “accidently” toss in several flash bang grenades. At the very least said individuals would find a new appreciation of the term non-lethal.

  12. #12 |  Richard Matthew | 

    I bet the guy who was responsiable for that is still on the force. If I had a buisness and someone caused me a millon dollar settlement he would be gone faster then I can blink a eye. And yet these clowns over look the big settlement and hire the cop back regardless. I read another incedence that the cop was convicted of stealing money. He then had a felony. So the board who decides weather to take him off the force decided for him to stay on the force. Now you have a person who has a felony walking around with a gun leaglely

  13. #13 |  Bill | 

    I also note that the victim of this police attack was “visiting her then-boyfriend”, yet, AFTER the thugs set her on fire, they charged her with “keeping a disorderly house”, though the charges didn’t go anywhere. So even after royally screwing up, they couldn’t be bothered to do their homework to figure out whether or not their victim lived there.

    On the up side, the names of the cops are actually in this article, so (I wishfully consider the possibility that) the good people of Minneapolis can actively snub, mock and deny services and respect to them as a way to teach them the error of their ways.

  14. #14 |  croaker | 

    I recall hearing about a case where a jury was going to the range to witness a flash-bang detonation. The police refused, stating that it was too dangerous.

    You can imagine just how the jury felt about that.

  15. #15 |  The Million Dollar Flash Bang - INGunOwners | 

    […] The Million Dollar Flash Bang If you give them toys they will use them. Often with consequences for the innocent. All in the name of their Holy War. Another Isolated Incident | The Agitator […]

  16. #16 |  Irving Washington | 

    What’s a 4th degree burn?

  17. #17 |  croaker | 

    @16 Deep burn that goes beyond fat layer into muscle and possibly bone.

  18. #18 |  FloO | 

    The government considers a first grader with a nail clipper a criminal with a lethal weapon, but cops throw a grenade into a home, and it’s accidental and non-lethal.

  19. #19 |  Jesse | 

    I live in a Minneapolis suburb. The Minneapolis cops have about the same reputation as the mafia. If people think Philadelphia cops are bad, well, the Minneapolis PD are doing their damndest giving them a run for their money, and have been for years.

    They have especially taken to asian people, raiding them and shooting them, unarmed, in the back.

  20. #20 |  albatross | 

    It seems to me the problem isn’t with the flashbangs. In the kind of cases where the police ought to be doing a SWAT raid, they’re probably a pretty sensible thing to bring along. The problem is that SWAT raids aren’t being done ten times per year in a medium-sized city, they’re being done several times a week in a medium-sized city.

    If the facts were the same, but the police had been trying to rescue a kidnapping victim, I’d think it was a tragedy, but I wouldn’t think the police had been wrong to use the flashbangs. The problem seems to me to be overuse of this kind of raids.

  21. #21 |  FloO | 

    “They have especially taken to asian people, raiding them and shooting them, unarmed, in the back.”

    @19 Are proper police procedures being followed?

  22. #22 |  benEzra | 

    What about the *inevitable* permanent hearing damage that results when an innocent person finds themself in a hard-walled room with a 170-180dB blast? That is up to 20dB LOUDER than firing a .223 rifle or a 12-gauge shotgun indoors without hearing protection. You *will* have permanent hearing loss and/or tinnitus to some degree from a 180dB blast.

    As others have said, these tools are entirely appropriate in some contexts, but they are currently used far too casually, routinely subjecting the innocent and nonviolent to minor (and occasionally major) permanent injury.

    Hmmm, I wonder if there is some OSHA reg somewhere about routine impulse noise exposure to bystanders?

  23. #23 |  beating super-bacteria with super viruses, out in the park snow is falling wallpaper, the tragedy of police over reaction | inkbluesky | 

    […] to here for this story – Botched raid costs Minneapolis $1 million The Minneapolis City Council […]

  24. #24 |  CyniCAl | 

    #7 | Mark Z. — “Nonlethal things: fists, pepper spray, laser pointers, nutmeg, the music of John Tesh.”

    You couldn’t have just left it at nutmeg. No. You had to go on.

  25. #25 |  oldgrayone | 

    The mpls goon squad srikes again. And the citizens take it in the shorts. Every time I go into mpls, I am uneasy. BTW, the music of John Tesh has been shown to sterilize salamanders at 500 meters and reduce stadiums full of people to drooling morons.

  26. #26 |  Chuck-U-Farley | 

    “Their job is to execute these warrants while minimizing danger to officers and to those present where a warrant is being served.” In that order

  27. #27 |  Jay | 

    New Footage released from this incident:

    http://cdn.wg.uproxx.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/E0iVN.gif

  28. #28 |  c andrew | 

    derfel cadarn,

    I think that an even better test would be to drop it down the front of their pants. Highly instructive. Evolutionarily effective.

    Another “non-lethal” advocate that could benefit from this kind of instruction occupies a seat in the US Senate. C’mon, senator, if it really is that benign, go ahead, drop it down your pants.

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