SWAT team injures 12-year-old girl with flash grenade - no drugs found

Radley Balko says: "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.” … 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.
Another Isolated Incident


    1. Not to mention “And Tactics”. Did no one do a recon of the space first? Thermal imaging perhaps?

      1. Thermal imaging can tell you if a room is hot. It might be useful to find an indoor marijuana setup. But if you think it lets you see through walls you’ve been watching too many movies.

          1. Yes, but if you read the story, you would know that NO Meth Lab was present. Thermal Imaging would have confirmed the presence of the lab, or in this case the two children and NO LAB.

            From the first sentence, “Radley Balko says: “Montana SWAT team drops a flash grenade through a window into a bedroom where two children are sleeping. No arrests. No alleged meth lab.” ”

            So, No Lab = No chemicals.

            A quick thermal image would have shown two small prone (sleeping) children. A chemical sniffer’s hose dropped into a window or near a vent would have shown no trace chemical signatures (because there was NO LAB).

            Face it. They screwed up and badly burned a small child who will now have issues with trust and I hope the family sues.

          2.  Or a lab during downtime and 1 or 2 guards who maybe armed that need to be stunned?
            Even if you meant during surveillance they would have spotted the children, however as other commentator’s have noted don’t meth labs typically deal with explosive chemicals? Wouldn’t a flash bang be a bad idea if it hits where the supplies are kept? 

          3.  @boingboing-35ae1151a8d9e8d22e60de3ac4c4d093:disqus – if there were a lab there they might have accidentally burned it down. I’m sure it’s the least of their concerns.

        1.  Really? Canadian Reg Force issue gear works pretty well for this with most residential housing. Not so great with a poured concrete wall but pretty decent with wooden framing.

  1. I feel sooo much more safe knowing this kid is taking morphine through a tube instead of having the potential to be buying drugs off the street or cooking meth in the kitchen for the time being.
    Anyway, we’ve been hoodwinked.  I can’t see how the family is telling the truth about any of this–I mean the SWAT team KNEW there were no children in the house!

    1. The cops can spin it that the drug dealers/innocent parents must have known that the SWAT team would raid their meth lab/residence and so they intentionally had children years and years ago in order to use them as human shields.

      Forget anchor babies and terrorist babies. Now we have to worry about drug shield babies!

      1. If the parents didn’t want their children burned to a crisp, they shouldn’t have been suspected drug dealers.

    1. I’m in favor of the girl paying a visit to the main precinct station once a month, so that all officers on the force are reminded often enough what “hunches” and lack of follow-through lead to.

      Oh, never mind. She’d probably be arrested for harassment.

    2. This sort of screw-up is a direct result of the militarization of police departments in America. 
      This is one reason I never, ever watch these shows on TV that feature SWAT teams and the military. These sort of entertainment shows serve to normalize this sort of institutionalized violence and contribute to the degradation of our society.

  2. The excuse they are giving doesn’t even make sense. The mother of the girl says “They said their intel told them there was a meth lab at our house.” Isn’t it pretty common knowledge that meth labs have a nasty habit of exploding? Why would you put an explosive device in one?

    1. Because they did their homework and research… they managed to miss that kids lived there and that whole meth labs explode portion of the homework.

    2. Because if it all blows up, how can there be any evidence of misfeasance? 

      Or possibly it’s a cost cutting measure gone awry?  If the meth lab is demolished with all the cooks and dealers inside, there’s no need for all that business with a trail and lawyers and judges.

  3. “No arrests were made during the raid and no charges have been filed, although a police spokesman said afterward that some evidence was recovered during the search. St. John declined to release specifics of the drug case, citing the active investigation, but did say that “activity was significant enough where our drug unit requested a search warrant.””

    Because I am sure that has nothing to do with the fact they screwed up big and some things happened to show up so they could try and justify their actions.  They couldn’t spot kids lived there, didn’t know the grenade had a delay, are they sure its even drugs.

    1.  Just about any home in America will have at least one item that someone somewhere has used to make meth.  Check the kitchen drawers, find a roll of aluminum foil, and you can call that evidence.  So the police saying they found evidence is effectively meaningless if they didn’t think it was enough to make an arrest.

      1. Same can be said of bomb making supplies.  They have a reason to find something to justify it, otherwise they are on the hook for the damages to the home and kids.

    2. are they sure its even drugs.

      Of course they are. It’s from the same batch they cooked up to frame the dude down the street.

      1. You think these morons could even follow the meth shake n bake method? 
        They just took some out of the evidence locker.

    3. Using the loose phrasing of “based on our intel” makes me wonder if the police might have been the intended recipients of a “swatting” call and are afraid to admit it.

      1. They claim it was an ongoing investigation, but given the fact their asses are on the line I put nothing past them.

  4. “Law Enforcement” in the United States of America has fallen from being an organization charged to serve and protect the public into a gang of muscle-for-hire-like thugs that only do what it takes to earn their precinct enough points to get that budget so they can have Christmas bonuses and purchase more tasers and pepper spray. The type of people that become officers of the law now are the crooks who use the system to serve their own purpose and the cro-magnon brutes that didn’t have the brainpower to do anything else in the first place. They get a woody any time they get to armor up and perform a raid, it’s a game to them, they don’t give a passing shit about whether or not the information is accurate. We’re two steps away literally falling into a Judge Dredd future and yet we walk around with a look of surprise on our faces like we didn’t see it coming.

    This is, of course, an exaggeration… yet that’s exactly what it feels like. And I’ve felt this way for years because of stories like this. And they’re only getting worse and more frequent. There are good people in law enforcement but there are clearly not enough of them. Something’s gotta change, or else something’s gonna give.

    1. Let’s get our brutes right, shall we? Give them the respect they deserve? The proper term is “Cro-Magnon.”

    2. This is, of course, an exaggeration

      ORLY? I remember people talking 40 years ago about how childhood bullies became either cops or criminals. I can’t see that things have changed for the better since then.

      1. I wouldn’t have a issue with that factoid if cops stuck to fighting actual criminals, then it would be a case of the problem attacking itself. But they’re less interested in going after thieves, murderers, rapists, etc. and more interested in attacking civilians raising economical awareness, putting educational facilities under maximum security lockdown, and cutting off grandma’s internet because they think she has an illegal Barry Manilow MP3.

  5. The grenade fell to the floor and went off near the girl.
    “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.”

    Unfortunate for sure but at least a meth lab was taken out of production! What? Sorry? Come again?

      1. “No, you see, I thought I was throwing an incendiary device into a lab full of flammable, corrosive chemicals, arranged to the safety standards of drug dealers.”

        1. To be fair, a flash grenade is NOT an incendiary device. It’s main purpose is NOT the starting of fires.

          That said, they DO create quite a lot of heat, light, and sound, enough so that being in same room as one is very badly disorienting and even painful when it goes off. If you have the misfortune of being right next to one when it blows, you are indeed at significant risk of burns.

          The problem lies entirely with the procedure of usage. A flash grenade is a weapon. More than that, a flash bang is an indiscriminate area-of-effect weapon. It’s intended role is as an anti-hostage-taking device, where breaching a room would place innocent lives in danger from a chaotic firefight. The flash grenade excels at incapacitating a roomful of people without killing any of them. But it CAN and WILL still harm those people, whether hostage or hostage-taker. The operative notion, of course, is that a burned and rattled hostage is preferable to a bullet-riddled one.

          There is of course absolutely no reason for a flash grenade to have been employed in this scenario. It wasn’t an armed standoff against combat ready criminals holed up in a defensible area. It was a nighttime raid of a civilian residence with absolutely no indication of armaments or tangible threats of any kind.

          1. It was a nighttime raid of a civilian residence with absolutely no indication of armaments or tangible threats of any kind.

            They couldn’t figure out there were kids in the house, so they could have totally missed weapons too.  Better safe than sorry… and a badge means never having to say sorry.

    1. These are a prideful, stupid people who are now tasked with defending the indefensible. Best not to even look, just call your government representatives.

    2. “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.”

      Read: We don’t really care unless we have to pay.

  6. The drug war needs to end. The brain-dead cops responsible for this shit sundae need to lose their jobs. And this video needs to go viral (it’s marijuana, not meth-related but it’s still relevant to the drug war)

    1. Ending the drug war requires people who are un-stereotyped supporters of decriminalization. Another pro-cannabis rap cut ain’t gonna do shit.

      1. Latest word form Colorado is that the cops and prosecutors want pot legal and are promoting the state referendum to make it so.

      2. Ending the drug war requires that people tell their elected representatives that they won’t get re-elected unless they support common-sense drug policy. And how do you get these people to talk to their elected representatives? By giving them the facts in a way that’s striking, entertaining, and easily shareable. Prince EA isn’t a stereotype, if you look into him a bit you’ll see he’s a man on a mission with a really positive message. The rap itself makes a great case too, going into the history of prohibition and moving on to today’s pharmaceutical industry interest in keeping an easy-to-grow medicinal plant illegal. People like you with knee-jerk reactions aren’t helping. Did you actually watch the video? It’s pretty affecting. 

        1. Ah, so if you disagree with my point that means I’m only reacting “knee-jerk.” Good to know.

          I’m not saying he’s a stereotype, I’m implying that he’s invoking one.

          1. Saying, in reply to my post, that ending the drug war “requires non-stereotyped supporters” implies that the supporter I linked to, Prince EA, was a stereotype.

            Since you didn’t see fit to actually reply to me, I’ll ask again. Did you watch the video? And if you did, just what exactly was stereotypical about it? The rap relates all the good arguments for legalization (possible economic benefit, Anslinger’s propaganda campaign, the cost of incarcerations, the medicinal benefits) and it does so in a very relatable manner, whether you’re a fan of rap or not.

            I doubt you would have made your comment if you’d actually watched the video, so yeah, I’m calling you out on your knee-jerk reaction, since it was demonstrably not a considered opinion. (or if it was, please defend your statement)

    2. Legalizing (rather than decriminalizing) pot makes sense to me. Meth? I have a lot of trouble coming up with any sound rationale for legalizing or decriminalizing that. Ditto Nelly’s heroin in the earlier story. 

      1. One sound rationale is that the government doesn’t own your body and shouldn’t imprison people for putting things in their bodies that the government doesn’t approve of.  

        Another is that, according to the government’s own research, the majority of people who use meth – like the majority of people who use alcohol and marijuana and heroin and cocaine – do so without negatively affecting the rest of their lives.  Most drug users are not drug abusers.

        Still, I think the first rationale is the best.

      2. What is a more sound rationale than “STFU if you don’t like it?” Like fuzzyfuzzyfungus mentioned, amphetamines are prescribed by doctors all day long, every day of the year, and have for over a century. The problems derive directly and completely from political and law enforcement interest in your personal affairs.

  7. I WANT to believe there are good cops out there, doing the right thing, conservative with their use of force, trying to set a good example, etc. And yet day after day, I read this kind of $h1t, or trigger happy cops who shoot first and explain later.

    There’s been several incidents in the last year where I live of cops shooting mentally disabled or handicapped people, because they just couldn’t be bothered assessing the situation calmly, instead THEY escalated it and then justified killing people.

  8. I’d also like to add EVEN IF they did find drugs there, it’s THEIR friggin’ responsibility to look out for the welfare of innocent people, like a 12-yr old girl, who now has to live with terrible scars the rest of her life. I don’t like how sue happy the US is, but in this case, I hope they do go after them, it’s well deserved.

    And SWAT my a$$, sound like a bunch cowboys who like playing with their ‘toys’ — NOTHING professional or tactical about what they did. They’re ‘special’ alright, in the short bus kind of way.

  9. Warrants are easy to get in Billings Montana. The judge who allowed the warrant needs some heat via a lawsuit, or a neighbourhood political action, petition or some such thing. Occupy Warrants.

    1. It would be an awful pity if somebody were to accidentally deploy a flashbang through his window while he was sleeping.

      1. Not exactly.  Civil immunity, but not criminal.  If a crime is committed because he did not do his diligence… He could be held accountable.

        But that’s unlikely.

  10. Sheesh!  It’s obvious that some law enforcement agencies just don’t discriminate enough on the basis of thinking.
    The same is probably true of some judges.

  11. “Blew the nails out of the drywall”?  What?  Pulling nails out of the underlying frame and throwing them around would require way, way more force than making that little dent.

    Don’t get me wrong, this is awful, but spare the hyperbole please.

    1. it really doesn’t. we remodeled our kitchen ourselves, and found a couple of the nails had popped out on their own about a year later. i could see that kind of force easily knocking a few out of the wall.

  12. Thermal imaging wouldn’t detect a typical meth lab unless they were in a specific phase of production. Better would be a sensitive chemical sniffer. Without some seriously advanced and expensive air handling (i.e. chemical scrubbing of fumes), it should be easy to detect chemical signatures while outside the building, even when not in production.

  13. Question that I’ve not been able to answer myself…
    Does this SWAT team have a tank and did they roll it out to the scene?

    It might explain the over the top response, they needed a giant PR show to justify their toy budget.

  14. Judges do not have absolute immunity. I thought the same thing when I saw the story of a judge whose daughter videotaped him beating her with a belt, then I did some research, and found that the immunity of a judge, or enforcement officer are very limited depending on the relation of their actions to the case. Do the research there are probably multiple lawsuits to be brought up here, and if they have a warrant there are in fact thermal imaging devices that will read heat signatures through the wall that will pick up even the the family pets. They just can’t use them for evidence to get a warrant. Only on the wall devices are allowed for this type of surveillance, but if they had the warrant to conduct the raid they would have been able to use the technology to figure out exactly where everyone was and what they were probably doing. There is no reason that they should not have known that there were children present, and no reason the idiot with the flash grenade should not have known how to work it.

  15. “But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. …See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.” -Bastiat

  16. This is the same police dept. that brought out their sniper to dispatch a rougue cow. It was running the streets. Hello, this is montana, no cowboys to round up one cow?  Their chief is out of control.

  17. Scarring a young girl’s body, scarring her heart… another victim of the Drug War. When is the Drug Peace going to come?

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