Sunday, May 18, 2003

A woman died of a heart attack after a no-knock warrant was served at her apartment in NYC.

"Ms. Spruill, 57, a longtime city employee who lived alone, died of an apparent heart attack after officers broke down her door and tossed a flash grenade into her apartment.Police said an informant had told them the apartment contained drugs and weapons.
'The New York City Police Department is conducting a thorough investigation into Friday morning's incident,' Michael O'Looney, the department's chief spokesman, said yesterday. On Friday, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said he had suspended the use of the grenades, which are meant to stun people with a loud noise and a flash, and reassigned the lieutenant who had decided to use one at Ms. Spruill's apartment.
Mr. Kelly also apologized to the family of Ms. Spruill. She was a devoted member of the Convent Avenue Baptist Church nearby, where funeral arrangements were still pending yesterday.
'Now I'm afraid, I'm afraid of them busting down my door,' said Ms. Geiger, who sat with other building residents in the first-floor laundry room yesterday morning, reading the newspapers and weeping. They said they were not aware of any drug activity in the building, which has round-the-clock security."

Of course this lady is afraid that she could be the next victim of a no-knock warrant. But the frequency of issuing no-knowck warrants has been on the rise ever since the 'war on drugs' was declared. It is also a favorite 'tool' in the 'war on guns'.

I can see absolutely no justification for any judge to issue a no-knock warrant. The potentail benefits (catching drug dealers red handed) are grossly outweighed by the potential liabilities (the instance linked above). The further enforce the idea that the state has jurisdiction in a persons' home when it has reason to believe that person is committing a crime. there are countless stories of no-knock raids resulting in the death of the occupants & even when the occupants were completely innocent of any allegations used to obtain the warrant the officers who were resposnible for these innocent deaths are immune from punishment. I cannot express enough resentment at the practice in general & cases like these specifically.

Also I have heard of severally robberies that were committed under the guise of police using a no-knock warrant. The criminals busted in, declared they were cops serving a warrant & proceeded to rob the occupants. The criminals, just like real police, demanded everyone lay on the ground & proceeded to make sure they were unarmed. To me this is yet another reason to abandon the practice of no-knock warrants.

Personally, even though it might mean legal hardships I would advise anyone to actively defend themselves against any intrusion into their dwellings. In other words, unless & until you read the warrant for yourself & verify any credentials presented don't assume that they're cops serving a legitimate warrant. If you shoot someone under these circumstances & it turns out to be a cop there is a substantial risk of being prosecuted, but that is preferable to the definite possibility of the armed guys that just broke down your door being criminals with murderous intent.

All in all, no-knock warrants should be prohibited. They do more harm than good to society.

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