Another Isolated Incident

Friday, October 12th, 2012

 

Montana SWAT team drops a flash grenade through a window into a bedroom where two children are sleeping. No arrests. No alleged meth lab.

A 12-year-old girl suffered burns to one side of her body when a flash grenade went off next to her as a police SWAT team raided a West End home Tuesday morning.

“She has first- and second-degree burns down the left side of her body and on her arms,” said the girl’s mother, Jackie Fasching. “She’s got severe pain. Every time I think about it, it brings tears to my eyes.”

Medical staff at the scene tended to the girl afterward and then her mother drove her to the hospital, where she was treated and released later that day.

A photo of the girl provided by Fasching to The Gazette shows red and black burns on her side.

Police Chief Rich St. John said the 6 a.m. raid at 2128 Custer Ave., was to execute a search warrant as part of an ongoing narcotics investigation by the City-County Special Investigations Unit . . .

“It was totally unforeseen, totally unplanned and extremely regrettable,” St. John said. “We certainly did not want a juvenile, or anyone else for that matter, to get injured.”

Well, I’ll give him unplanned. Though I don’t think he meant it in the way I mean it. Sorry, but when you’re blindly shoving a flash grenade attached to a boomstick through a window, and you clearly have no idea who or what is in that room where you’re detonating, the possibility that an innocence person might get burned is not “totally unforeseen.” It’s only unforeseen when you’re so caught up in your drug war that you can’t be bothered to take the time to consider the possible collateral damage your actions may cause.

On Thursday, Fasching took her daughter back to the hospital to have her wounds treated.

She questioned why police would take such actions with children in the home and why it needed a SWAT team.

“A simple knock on the door and I would’ve let them in,” she said. “They said their intel told them there was a meth lab at our house. If they would’ve checked, they would’ve known there’s not.”

She and her two daughters and her husband were home at the time of the raid. She said her husband, who suffers from congenital heart disease and liver failure, told officers he would open the front door as the raid began and was opening it as they knocked it down.

When the grenade went off in the room, it left a large bowl-shaped dent in the wall and “blew the nails out of the drywall,” Fasching said.

St. John said investigators did plenty of homework on the residence before deciding to launch the raid but didn’t know children were inside.

“The information that we had did not have any juveniles in the house and did not have any juveniles in the room,” he said. “We generally do not introduce these disorienting devices when they’re present.”

I’ve probably read about more than a thousand of these raids by now. The cognitive dissonance still astounds me. No, Chief St. John, if you did not know there were two children in the home, if you did not know that you were dropping a flash grenade into a child’s bedroom, you pretty clearly did not do “plenty” of goddamned “homework.”

Investigators consider dozens of items such as residents’ past criminal convictions, other criminal history, mental illness and previous interactions with law enforcement.

Each item is assigned a point value and if the total exceeds a certain threshold, SWAT is requested. Then a commander approves or rejects the request.

In Tuesday’s raid, the points exceeded the threshold and investigators called in SWAT.

“Every bit of information and intelligence that we have comes together and we determine what kind of risk is there,” St. John said. “The warrant was based on some hard evidence and everything we knew at the time.”

Sounds awfully professional, doesn’t it? Except that they were looking for a meth lab, and pretty clearly didn’t find it. I mean, unless the Faschings recently had their house fumigated by Vamonos Pest Control, a meth lab isn’t something you can easily pick up and move.

“If we’re wrong or made a mistake, then we’re going to take care of it,” he said. “But if it determines we’re not, then we’ll go with that. When we do this, we want to ensure the safety of not only the officers, but the residents inside.”

The last four words are self-evidently complete and utter crap. And sure. Let’s go ahead and entrust the same department that just carried out this debacle after doing “plenty of homework” to investigate itself to determine if it did anything wrong. That sounds like a perfectly fair, impartial way to treat the Faschings.

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54 Responses to “Another Isolated Incident”

  1. #1 |  H. Rearden | 

    I know I’m beating a dead horse so my questions are purely rhetorical: If everything that the police believed about this home were true, why would the element of surprise be so important? Are they afraid that they are going to flush a meth lab down the toilet?

    The level of incompetence is astounding yet no longer surprising, unfortunately.

  2. #2 |  Lewis Baumstark | 

    They threw a device capable of causing 2nd-degree burns into a house with a suspected meth lab? Did no one tell them meth labs have a bad tendency to explode?

  3. #3 |  (B)oscoH, Yogurt Eater | 

    Correction: 3 paragraphs up from bottom, looks like Radley’s comments got into the quote. Sounds awfully professional, doesn’t it?

    Otherwise, this is horrible. Any chance there’s a fund set up for this little girl?

  4. #4 |  a_random_guy | 

    A couple of points:

    - The level of incompetence here is far above the usual mark. For example, see these two quotes from the article: “investigators did plenty of homework on the residence” and “the information that we had did not have any juveniles in the house”.

    - Looking at the picture, the grenade went off directly next to the girl’s body. She may well have permanent scars.

    A presumably photogenic child seriously injured by clear incompetence. This would seem to be an ideal case to push hard.

  5. #5 |  Andy | 

    The article didn’t mention the history of the household residents and the red flags the investigators found. Poor reporting, to let us think the residents were angels.

  6. #6 |  DMS | 

    @2 That was my first thought as well. You think this is a meth lab and you’re throwing what in the house ?!?!?!

  7. #7 |  MassHole | 

    Someone should lob a few flash bangs through the Chief’s window. Bet he wouldn’t be so laid back about it if it was his kid that got burned. The War on Drugs. It’s for the children right?

  8. #8 |  The Late Andy Rooney | 

    “Any chance there’s a fund set up for this little girl?”

    I hear the Philadelphia police union is holding a benefit for her.

  9. #9 |  Personanongrata | 

    These “highly-trained professionals” decided to toss a flash bang grenade, which is considered a non-lethal explosive device, into a home their “intelligence” claimed was a meth-lab where highly combustible chemicals may have been stored.

    Brillant!

    Why couldn’t these human-turd stains have simply surveilled the home for a day or two?

    Why couldn’t these fractions of humans playing SWAT terrorist just knock on the door?

  10. #10 |  Frank Hummel | 

    Here’s a plan:
    -go into city records, see who loves there, allegedly
    -daytime surveillance of house (front and back), drive by with hi def camera taking pictures
    -nighttime surveillance of house (front and back), most people don’t have curtains so lights on inside make for good views
    -get plan of house from builder, where’s the living room, where’s the master bedroom, where might kids be sleeping
    -and last, but not least, “for officer safety”, why not just bust in when nobody’s home? I guess the search warrant is valid whether the house is empty or not.

    That all would require some work and cut into the soldier play but it definitely cost less than what the popo might pay for the actual f*ckup.

  11. #11 |  H. Rearden | 

    Frank – I would think that your plan would actually cost less than a perfectly conducted SWAT operation when you consider the overwhelming manpower they use and the premium hazard pay or overtime the officers are likely receiving.

    Is it possible to hold the Feds responsible for these incidents for enabling local yokels to purchase military equipment that they are obviously not qualified to operate?

  12. #12 |  Jack Dempsey | 

    I feel so much goddamn safer than I did yesterday!

  13. #13 |  Juice | 

    Doesn’t blackened flesh indicate 3rd degree burns?

  14. #14 |  Bob | 

    When we do this, we want to ensure the safety of not only the officers, but the residents inside.”

    Well, that explains throwing flash bangs into a suspected meth lab. Yup! That’s good work, boys.

    My favorite part was the officer was going to detonate the flash bang on the end of a broomstick… so he had to be within feet of the device. In a meth lab.

    What could go wrong?

  15. #15 |  Bill Poser | 

    Incidents like this make me think that the police should be supervised by the fire department. The fire department consists of responsible adults with a real commitment to public safety and a high level of training, and among other things, they know better than to throw bombs into what they believe to be a meth lab.

  16. #16 |  Sharon Helriggle | 

    Frank Hummel:

    That all would require some work and cut into the soldier play but it definitely cost less than what the popo might pay for the actual f*ckup.

    Silly boy – it doesn’t cost them anything when they f-up! They have all the protections in the world and a grand jury will never go against that blue line!

    And yes I know – they killed my son in a botched raid in 2002.

  17. #17 |  It’s one thing to be a liar and a thug… | The Ultimate Answer to Kings | 

    [...] But how did we find ourselves in a society where the lying thugs get to (legally!) toss grenades into little girls’ bedrooms? [...]

  18. #18 |  Michael B. | 

    Sharon, I’m so sorry that those monsters murdered your son. I just looked up your family’s story. Sad, sad, sad.

  19. #19 |  Whim | 

    The child is very lucky to be alive. LOOK at the large divit made in the drywall by the force of the exploding grenade.

    If the grenade had landed directly ON her, she could have died, been grievously injured, or blinded.

    One very interesting police Fratricide involving these Flash-Bank Grenades happened not so long ago. A police SWAT member, wearing a weapons vest, getting into or out of his automobile accidentally pulled the safety pin off of the grenade, arming it.

    It exploded next to his torso, and ended his life.

    These are GRENADES. Throwing a grenade into a suspected METH LAB is insane. Meth labs regularly blow up, with merely a harsh look.

    I hope the family sues this police department and their sponsoring government entity into OBLIVION. They deserve all they can get.

  20. #20 |  indio007 | 

    I guarantee they already sealed the warrant. I also bet on further investigation the judge rubber-stamped it without even reading it. I would double bet they DID NOT have two sworn witnesses to the “meth lab”.

    Want to see an epidemic of “isolated incidents”?
    http://www.cato.org/raidmap

    Wanna see 10-20 daily cop felonies?
    National Police Misconduct Reporting Database
    http://www.injusticeeverywhere.com

  21. #21 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    Juice: “Doesn’t blackened flesh indicate 3rd degree burns?”

    That is correct, Juice. 3rd degree–or full thickness burns–have a black, charred appearance, 2nd degreee burns present with blistering and 1st degree burns are just red (like a bad sun burn). I’m not sure if the black color in the photo is indeed a 3rd degree or if this was an effect from smoke/soot (like you would see in a close contact gunshot wound).

  22. #22 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    Whim: “These are GRENADES. Throwing a grenade into a suspected METH LAB is insane. Meth labs regularly blow up, with merely a harsh look.”

    I agree with you and the other commenters that have made this observation. Meth components are indeed unstable, so I don’t know what the hell this SWAT team was thinking or IF they were thinking. Unless I’m missing something here, this seems like an obviously unsafe practice.

  23. #23 |  Thomas Young | 

    “Another Isolated Incident”.

    I know Radley is working on a book right now, but I want to suggest to him that a book with the above title with three dozen or so of the thousand similar reports of innocent people encountering the real horror of police swat teams from across the country he mentions above would also be worthy as a book.

    What irritates me about such reports is that the people who are wrongly victimized by the police have no legal recourse to sue or be compensated for the damage done to their homes or the damage done to the bodies and minds of young children.

  24. #24 |  albatross | 

    Isn’t the explanation plain? The cops doing this SWAT raid simply had no idea what the fuck they were doing. They are presumably some small-town cops well equipped to write traffic tickets and break up the occasional fight and fill out a police report for homeowners who want to file an insurance claim after something is stolen. They had no business doing an armed raid on a suspected meth lab in much the same way I, with no medical training whatsoever, have no business doing an appendectomy.

  25. #25 |  redank | 

    @Andy

    Ya know, you COULD have gone to the original linked article where the police said they retrieved evidence that would have substantiated a warrant, but also that no arrests were made, and the police were short on details, falling back on the lame “ongoing investigation” excuse.

    So they weren’t angels. Maybe they were all junkies. Does that somehow make them deserving of this result?

  26. #26 |  Bungled SWAT Raid Leaves 12-year-old Girl Badly Burned, No Meth Lab Found – Secrets of the Fed | 

    [...] be bothered to take the time to consider the possible collateral damage your actions may cause,” The Agitator quipped. [some emphasis [...]

  27. #27 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    Wow, I read the newspaper comments and they are very harsh towards the police for a change (rightly so, of course). Is this related to the libertarian leanings that Montana is supposed to have or are people everywhere starting to get sick of this? When more people get pissed when this happens in a black or hispanic neighborhood, then we’ll know that the drug war is on its last legs. I wish I didn’t feel the need to say it that way, but white privilege has perpetuated the drug war from the start.

  28. #28 |  Darwin | 

    This isn’t just the drug war but also a result of militarizing the police for the “war on terror” and using them as political police.
    It was totally foreseeable that given these extra powers and equipment than they would abuse them. They always have.
    The general populace is learning to dislike and especially to distrust the police. They don’t seem to know or care about this but they cannot be effective if they let this continue.

  29. #29 |  Bungled SWAT Raid Leaves 12-year-old Girl Badly Burned, No Meth Lab Found - Conservative Read | 

    [...] be bothered to take the time to consider the possible collateral damage your actions may cause,” The Agitator quipped. [some emphasis [...]

  30. #30 |  Bergman | 

    SWAT teams are supposedly much better trained than regular police officers. The fact that the extremely well-trained SWAT team are so poorly trained in how their equipment works that they would throw explosives into a suspected meth lab, WHILE THE SWAT TEAM IS INSIDE THE BLAST RADIUS of that lab should it explode staggers the imagination.

    If that SWAT team is the best trained officers the department has, the rest must be so bad, they make Barney Fife look like a supercop!

  31. #31 |  Kent | 

    @Helmut, yes, there’s lots of freedom lovers in Montana. It’s a two party state, Dems and Repubs, individual freedoms mean nothing to either party, it’s all about “safety” ya know, like everywhere else in the States. I was raised there in the 80′s, the cops were just as big of dicks then as it appears they are now. I’ve never lived anywhere else where cops were so aggressive as Billings police were back in the 80′s, and I’ve been all over. The drug wars been going on there full steam for decades now, the states social conservative Repubs and flakey Dems will make sure it continues on too…

  32. #32 |  SWAT team burns 12 year old raiding house - US Message Board - Political Discussion Forum | 

    [...] team burns 12 year old raiding house Another Isolated Incident | The Agitator No drugs found,burned a 12 year old child…should be charged with assault with a deadly [...]

  33. #33 |  Linda | 

    When I first seen this on my Facebook newsfeed today I thought Facebook must be having some issues again. I had already read your Beach Park, Illinois isolated incident yesterday. I wondered why Facebook was showing it as “recently posted”….then I took another look and seen that this is an entirely different isolated incident, read further and was totally disgusted. I do not know if this injury will leave physical scars, but I would bet the emotional scars will be with this girl for life. And how sad considering everything that DID happen, I sit here and think that this girl is actually lucky, considering. Like someone else mentioned, she literally could have been killed.

  34. #34 |  Bungled SWAT Raid Leaves 12-year-old Girl Badly Burned, No Meth Lab Found | Nwo Report | 

    [...] be bothered to take the time to consider the possible collateral damage your actions may cause,” The Agitator quipped. [some emphasis [...]

  35. #35 |  Lawman | 

    I’m a 24 year law enforcement officer (retired) with 3 years as a Tactical SWAT Commander. My comments on this raid are as follows:
    -Raids on meth labs are dangerous and in fact meth labs shouldn’t be “raided” in this manner. The adult occupants should be detained/arrested away from the site and the children taken into protective custody.
    -This eliminates the chance that any accelerant, to include weapons fire, will cause an explosion. Only a fool would use a flashbang in or near a suspected meth lab.
    -Upon conducting the search of the site protective suits are required to protect the officers involved.
    -Once it has been established that a meth lab does exist the site should be isolated by barriers, plastic covering for windows, and vents sealed, and a atmospheric evacuator initiated. There is considerably more that has to be done but brevity dictates here.
    -Whoever was in charge of this “raid” is, at best, incompetent, and endangered the lives of the SWAT officers involved by exposing them to potential dangerous chemicals and/or explosions.
    -This is just another exampled of a law enforcement agency trying to justify the existance of its SWAT team and the military mentality of its SWAT members.
    I believe such raids have gotten out of control and need citizen oversight. It used to be that a tactical raid was to ensure the safety of all concerned, to include the suspects. Now, it’s just knuckle draggers profiling as heroes.

  36. #36 |  Bungled SWAT Raid Leaves 12-year-old Girl Badly Burned, No Meth Lab Found | Pakalert Press | 

    [...] be bothered to take the time to consider the possible collateral damage your actions may cause,” The Agitator quipped. [some emphasis [...]

  37. #37 |  Vic Kelley | 

    This is my 6th draft of a comment. Keep having to edit the violent hatred out of it. The police involved need to face consequences not from their own department but from citizens. People in that community should refuse to serve cops wherever they go – gas stations, grocery stores, convenience stores, hospital emergency rooms, etc. Tell the kids not to play with cops’ kids. Don’t rent houses or apartments to them. Don’t service their cars. Don’t repair their air conditioners or heat pumps.

    It’s total war. Cops wear boots and fatigues now and carry – and use – military weapons. Cops think they’re soldiers. So, we must be their enemy. Resist however you can.

  38. #38 |  Bungled SWAT Raid Leaves 12-year-old Girl Badly Burned, No Meth Lab Found – The Final Transmission | 

    [...] be bothered to take the time to consider the possible collateral damage your actions may cause,” The Agitator quipped. [some emphasis [...]

  39. #39 |  bert piraino | 

    Isolated incident? These incidents are not “isolated”. If you follow the news, you will know that these are not uncommon. The police in the USA have become increasingly militarized since the 9/11 debacle. Local police departments now have military weapons, body armor, and armored personnel carriers. We are no longer the home of the free…

  40. #40 |  Bungled SWAT Raid Leaves 12-year-old Girl Badly Burned, No Meth Lab Found | Real News Reporter | 

    [...] be bothered to take the time to consider the possible collateral damage your actions may cause,” The Agitator quipped. [some emphasis [...]

  41. #41 |  Warren Bonesteel | 

    “And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?… The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”

  42. #42 |  Bungled SWAT Raid Leaves Girl Badly Burned – Latest From Lindsey Williams – Ron Paul Won’t Endorse Romney – Choir Director Murdered to Cover Obama’s Sins? « CUTDC.COM | 

    [...] be bothered to take the time to consider the possible collateral damage your actions may cause,” The Agitator quipped. [some emphasis [...]

  43. #43 |  Donna Brenner | 

    I see some evidence of 3rd degree burns….

  44. #44 |  Steamed McQueen | 

    Since there was no mention of it I assume that there were no dog(s) on the premises? Else they’d have shot it for sure. SOP, you know.

  45. #45 |  unbelievable | 

    Vic Kelly has one of the best comments on this page! I had to repost. This IS one of the answers to the problem. Vic Kelly hit it right on. If there are no repercusions for these types of actions, the community deserves what they get. Vic, your right on with your comment:

    “Vic Kelley | October 13th, 2012 at 6:07 am
    This is my 6th draft of a comment. Keep having to edit the violent hatred out of it. The police involved need to face consequences not from their own department but from citizens. People in that community should refuse to serve cops wherever they go – gas stations, grocery stores, convenience stores, hospital emergency rooms, etc. Tell the kids not to play with cops’ kids. Don’t rent houses or apartments to them. Don’t service their cars. Don’t repair their air conditioners or heat pumps.

    It’s total war. Cops wear boots and fatigues now and carry – and use – military weapons. Cops think they’re soldiers. So, we must be their enemy. Resist however you can.”

  46. #46 |  Mannie | 

    Protect and serve. {SPIT} Those bastards simply do not care.

  47. #47 |  Dan | 

    So why is throwing a bomb into somebody’s house not terrorism? Seems to me the police are guilty of terrorism.

  48. #48 |  Hans | 

    I saw stuff like this when I was about 4 years old in Europe. I’m in my 70′s now.
    Bedroom wall got blown out. Got used to tanks rumbling outside the front door. Then one day the tanks were going the other direction. They got chased all the way to Berlin.
    When do the Americans show up to save us this time?

  49. #49 |  george washington | 

    A bunch of congressional and state busybodies just need to mind their own damn business and let people go to hell however they please. The “drug war” is what causes all the harm- if meth-heads could buy their crap at the drug store or the liquor store, none of the crap associated with it would be going on. Heroin too. It was a much nicer, safter country when junkies could get their heroin and their syringes from Sears & Roebuck. It’s the most idiotic bunch of shit that ever was piled on the country’s plate- and the only turd removed to-date is alcohol prohibition. Morons, morons, morons- who can’t mind their own business.

    It’s all good until they get their door kicked in in the middle of the night, though, right? Funny how many staunch drug-warrior boosters turn into anti-drug-war boosters once that happens.

  50. #50 |  AlgerHiss | 

    #26, you are quite correct. Until these people are made to feel very, very uncomfortable having these jobs, nothing will change.

    As the great judge Smales from Caddyshack put it: Well, the world needs ditch diggers too.

  51. #51 |  marco73 | 

    Wait until local cops get unmaned drones to deliver those flash grenades.
    Ignore any of that crap about how they’ll never drop grenades from unmaned drones: there has been no device handed to police that hasn’t been used on unsuspecting citizens.

  52. #52 |  Bungled SWAT Raid Leaves 12-year-old Girl Badly Burned, No Meth Lab Found - ArmedMobileSurvivor.com | 

    [...] be bothered to take the time to consider the possible collateral damage your actions may cause,” The Agitator quipped. [some emphasis [...]

  53. #53 |  Random Tuesday Links | Point Blunk | 

    [...] so glad we’re being protected from drugs by having flashbang grenades thrown into girl’s bedrooms. Sickening. Share this:MoreLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in [...]

  54. #54 |  Political Newsletter: Week ending 10/13/2012 | US Common Sense | 

    [...] and CRS TalkLeft: Congress Finally Questiong Wisdom of Our Rogue and Global DEA The Agitator: Another Isolated Incident Wisdom From Wenchypoo’s Old Bat Cave: Political Interlude: Congress Members Back Legislation That [...]

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