In the United States, there has been a lot of debate about whether or not the police force has become too militarized. A lot of current police officers are former military men, which may explain the attitude that a number of cops have. These men have the training to use the military equipment provided to them. That said, there’s no reason for SWAT teams to have access to tanks and other military vehicles to use during drug raids.
Along with the use of former military equipment, a number of police departments have been criticized for their use of military tactics. A hugely controversial tactic is a no-knock raid. This tactic involves police officers not announcing their presence and just breaking into a home. No-knock raids are typically used when searching for drugs, as it doesn’t give potential criminals time to hide any evidence. For homeowners, this can be misconstrued as a criminal breaking into their home, and oftentimes, people try to defend themselves from the raid. Sometimes, people are genuinely trying to resist arrest, but other times, people are trying to protect themselves and their family.
In a country filled with so many guns, it can be dangerous for police units to enter the homes of suspects. When breaking down the door, they don’t know who or what is waiting for them on the other side. They don’t take any chances — they shoot first and ask questions later.
Despite all the training that police departments offer their SWAT teams, raids can still go south. Unpredictable events are bound to happen — but sometimes, the police teams don’t react as well as they could have. Here are 15 examples of police raids that went horribly wrong.
16. Judy Sanchez — Wrong Apartment
The two-year investigation into a drug- and weapons-dealing operation lead was planned to end with a no-knock raid on an apartment in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. The FBI chainsawed (what?) through the door of Judy Sanchez’s apartment and held her at gunpoint for 30 minutes. During the raid, Sanchez’s three-year-old daughter witnessed the entire ordeal, terrified about what was happening to her mother.
According to Sanchez, she tried telling the FBI (while they sawed through her door) that they had the wrong apartment. She thinks she told them over fifty times, but they continued with the raid anyway.
After holding her at gunpoint for 30 minutes, the FBI realized that they really did have the wrong apartment. They’re planning on reimbursing Sanchez for the door, though she says that she and her daughter now have trouble sleeping at night. Sanchez sleeps with a baseball bat near her bed. Not sure if that will do much the next time the FBI comes to her door with a chainsaw, though.
15. Thomas Torres — Police Broke Wrong Guy’s Arm And Laughed At Him
A state police raid went horribly wrong after it left the 54-year-old resident, Thomas Torres, hospitalized despite police finding no evidence of drugs. According to reports, police broke down the door of Torres’s first-floor apartment, punched him in the face, stomped on his head, and laughed at him as they searched through his apartment for drugs.
Torres tried to jump out the window to escape and continued to resist officers’ efforts to detain and handcuff him. As anyone who has been raided will say, Torres told police that they had the wrong guy. Police were unable to locate anything illegal in his apartment and released him to the hospital where he was treated for a fractured arm.
Do you think the police officers felt silly for laughing at him, or do you think that this type of thing happens all of the time in America? We can only imagine how frustrated Torres must have been while pleading with police to stop tearing apart his home. Hopefully, the police covered his medical expenses!
14. Grandma Spaulding — Slammed Into A Wall To Find Stolen Xbox
WHOTV in Des Moines, Iowa, reported that Matthew Spaulding and his family were terrorized inside their home by police that were looking for a stolen Xbox. Allegedly, police officers slammed his grandmother into the wall and slammed his father on the ground.
Slamming an elderly woman against a wall isn’t even the worst thing that the police did during the raid. Matthew Spaulding told reporters that police demanded he get on the ground, and they put him in handcuffs. According to Spaulding, his dog, Sadie, was sniffing his head as he lay on the ground. Police shot the dog as she was next to her owners, with her blood spraying onto his face as he lay helpless on the ground. His dog took off running, and the police shot her a few more times, killing her.
Police did not find a stolen Xbox or anything illegal for that matter.
13. Tracy Lee Ingle — Got Into A “Shootout” With Police
Tracy Lee Ingle woke up to the sound of someone breaking down the door of his home and a number of people outside of his bedroom window, shattering it. He thought he was being attacked by armed robbers, so he reached for a broken gun, but when he did so, an officer inside the house fired his weapon, hitting Ingle above the knee. When the officers outside heard the first shot, they, too, fired on Ingle, hitting him four more times.
The no-knock raid was executed with the hopes of shutting down a drug operation believed to be running out of Ingle’s home. Despite not finding drugs in the home, police charged Ingle with running a drug enterprise because they found a scale and a number of small plastic bags in his home.
Additionally, Ingle is currently serving 18 years in prison for federal assault after, according to a judge, engaging in a shootout with police officers — despite never firing a bullet.
12. Henry Magee — Killed Cop & Got Away With It
Everything’s crazier in Texas. There’s a law in Texas that allows property owners to shoot people in order to protect their property and family from intruders. This law was tested in 2013 when Henry Magee shot and killed Burleson County Sheriff’s Deputy Adam Sowders during a no-knock raid on his mobile home.
Magee admitted that he had shot the Deputy in court but said that he was firing from his home to protect his pregnant girlfriend and himself from someone that he thought was breaking into his home.
The grand jury responsible for his case decided that there simply wasn’t enough evidence against Magee for him to stand trial for a capital murder charge. However, the jury indicted him for the less than five pounds of marijuana plants found growing inside of his mobile home. He was indicted for possessing marijuana while in possession of a deadly weapon, which is a felony drug charge.
11. Kathryn Johnston — Wrongly Raided And Killed
In what can only be described as a botched drug raid, three undercover officers cut off burglar bars and broke down 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston’s door using a no-knock warrant. Police stated that Johnston fired at them (probably thinking they were robbers), and they opened fire.
The officers fired 39 shots, five or six which hit her. None of the officers were hit by Johnston’s gunfire; however, the officers were injured after the altercation. These injuries were attributed to “friendly fire” from each other’s weapons.
An investigation into the raid revealed that the officers had planted marijuana in Johnston’s house after the altercation. Furthermore, the paperwork stating that drugs were present in her house and was used to obtain the warrant for the raid had been falsified. Officers had lied about the cocaine they submitted as evidence by claiming they had bought it at Johnston’s house.
The three officers were tried for manslaughter and other charges surrounding the falsification of the raid and were sentenced to ten, six, and five years. Johnston’s family were awarded $4.9 million in 2010 as part of a settlement agreement with the Atlanta Police Department.
10. Dwayne Perry — Wrong Plant
In 2014, Georgia police officers took to the skies to look for marijuana plants. They meticulously tracked down a man, Dwayne Perry of Cartersville, Georgia, whom they believed they saw watering marijuana plants.
Perry said that he noticed the helicopter flying over his home. He tried not to think too much about it, but what was happening dawned on him when police officers and a canine unit appeared on his doorstep.
Instead of finding marijuana, police officers discovered that Perry was watering his okra plant. The plants look somewhat similar, and while one is illegal, the other is an ingredient in gumbo that is deliciously legal.
The whole situation frustrated Perry, who is retired and trying to live a morally just life. The police apologized to him and his neighbors.