One of the most widely watched police brutality videos from last year showed members of the Columbia Police Department’s SWAT team breaking into a man’s home in the middle of the night, shooting his two dogs, terrorizing him and his family, and finally arresting him for a tiny amount of marijuana. A newly released video shows a second raid conducted by Columbia SWAT. Like the first video, this one shows the police serving a search warrant for marijuana and gratuitously shooting a dog. (the video description claims two dogs were shot, but I only saw one). The cops appear to have planned shooting the dog. You can hear one officer bring up the possibility of killing the dog at the 1:45 mark in the video and, furthermore, the dog was clearly running away from the officer who shot it. The video also shows the police assaulting the home with several deadly flashbang grenades, one of which reportedly landed near a woman who was visiting.
As with most SWAT raids, no warning was given to the residents before the police broke into the home. The video shows that police only announced their presence for about 3 seconds before breaking in — hardly enough time for people who are sleeping to wake up and realize what is going on. In fact, it sounds as though the police set off one of their flashbang grenades in the home before announcing their presence at all.
10 minutes into the video, the police tell one of the men they are arresting that they’ve shot his dog, then one officer begins to lecture him: “When you deal dope, and the police have to come to your house, that’s what…” The end of his sentence is unintelligible due to problems with the video’s audio, however, I’m willing to bet that the officer said “that’s what happens.” He was clearly trying to blame the homeowner for the fact that the police shot his dog.
The raid starts 5:30 into the video.
The most important thing to understand about this video is that it is not an “isolated incident.” In fact, according to a recent USA Today interview with Peter Kraska, a criminologist whose work focuses on police militarization, SWAT teams are currently deployed about 70,000 and 80,000 per year. The main reason SWAT teams are used is to serve routine search or arrest warrants especially for drug suspects. SWAT teams have even been used to investigate suspected underage drinking and unlicensed barber shops.
Even if you haven’t broken the law, you still might fall victim to one of these raids. According to a study a government study about SWAT teams in Maryland, more than one third of SWAT raids conducted last year failed to end with even a single arrest. Dozens of innocent people have even been killed in SWAT raids.
Please share this video with as many people as you can. It might make them angry or upset, but people need to be angry and upset about the fact that raids like this are happening about 200 times per day across the United States. These SWAT rampages are nothing more than acts of terrorism and it’s time they stop.
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