Authorization to Execute a Search Warrant is Not an Authorization to Execute People

As the deranged and deluded partisans of the Republican and Democratic parties continue their absurd debate on the magical powers and effects of martial imagery and metaphor in our nation's political discourse, it is highly revealing that few if any have taken even a moment to reflect on the deleterious effects of actual martial policy.  Democrats and Republicans are only metaphorically at war with one another, but they have literally declared war on the people of the United States.  And the bodies keep piling up.  The Salt Lake Tribune recently made public a SWAT team video of a police home invasion from late last year in which officers executed a man in his home before executing the search warrant for that home:

Notice how police command the golf club wielding man to "get on the ground" only after he has collapsed onto the floor, having been shot three times in the chest and head by the lead officer in the assault squad.  Upon searching the home after the killing, police supposedly recovered a small amount of marijuana and an empty vial of methamphetamine.  The man who was killed, Todd Blair, was apparently not even the primary suspect in the investigation, as there was no evidence that he was a drug dealer.  That was his roommate, who had moved out of the house some time before the raid, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.  Police did not even bother to bring the warrant with them on the night of the home invasion.   Officials later deemed the cold-blooded killing "legally justified."  Ryan Grimm summarizes further details of the incident.  The dangers inherent in the militarization of police and are not difficult to discern.  From Spring Valley, NY, late last week:
A village resident said that police conducting drug raids early this morning targeted the wrong house where they roused his family out bed, pointed a machine gun at his 13-year-old daughter and threatened to shoot their poodle. . . .

David McKay said he, his wife, 13-year-old daughter and his brother-in-law were sleeping at 5:30 a.m. when they heard banging on the door of their townhouse at 36 Sharon Drive. When they went to open the door, at least 10 police officers forced their way into the home, he said.

"Their guns were drawn, they were screaming 'Where's Michael, Where's Michael,' " McKay recounted hours later in a telephone interview from Nyack Hospital, where he took his terrified daughter for treatment after she had an asthma attack and fainted following the ordeal.

McKay said he was still groggy from sleep but tried to explain that there was no one named Michael in the house. "They pulled me outside in the freezing cold in my underwear, manhandle my wife, point a gun at my daughter and they won't even tell me what they are doing in my house," said McKay. "It was terrifying and humiliating beyond belief."
Not everyone is so lucky.  From earlier this month in Framington Massachusetts:
The fatal shooting of an innocent 68-year-old man by Framingham police reignited debate among law enforcement experts yesterday over the role of heavily armed, specialized units for routine drug busts. . . . Eurie Stamps was shot to death [by police] inside a home in Framingham on Tuesday after police arrested two 20-year-old unarmed men on drug charges. A Framingham SWAT team member yesterday was placed on administrative leave in connection with the shooting, the department said.
Police conduct over 50,000 such raids every year in the United States.  Radley Balko has compiled an extensive, though not comprehensive, archive of botched paramilitary police raids in conjunction with a policy paper for the Cato Institute entitled "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America."  Let there be no doubt: the war on drugs, which has the full support of the Republican and Democratic parties, is a war on the people and the Constitution of the United States.  It should go without saying, but apparently it needs to be said: authorization to execute a search warrant is not an authorization to execute any person who may be present during that search.

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