I will start out by saying I am not anti-cop. Nothing in this article should be construed as anti-law enforcement. My bonafides: My father worked as an executive in the state prison system for over 20 years. He is now long retired. My girlfriend is in the police academy and has been in various law enforcement positions for almost three years. She will soon be an SRO in the local school system. That being said, I am troubled by the prospect of a no-knock raid.
The fact that I have exposure to policing techniques actually intensifies my distaste for poor policies, poor training, poor execution and attempts to cover up malfeasance. Houston, I am pointing toward you today, but lots of agencies fall in the same boat.
As always, initial reports are almost always wrong. Wait at least 72 hours to find any indication of what might actually be true.
The known facts:
A couple, male 59 and female 58 were the subjects of a no knock raid at their home. The dog (pit bull) is dead, shot by the first officer through the door. The physically disabled husband and wife are dead. An informant fingered them as running a black tar heroin empire out of their home. The same informant was used to do a test buy.
Think about that for a minute.
By police accounts, absolutely zero black tar heroin was found; but “recreational” quantities of marijuana were found in the home. This is being used to justify that this was a proper drug raid. Neither of the deceased had any prior criminal drug or violence convictions in their past.
The police claim none of the officers were wearing body cameras. On the police side, four of six members of the stack were wounded—none received a fatal wound.
As individuals with no prior criminal history, these people may likely have assumed they were having their home invaded. A home invasion made national news in Houston a few weeks before, when the homeowner properly defended his home. He made judicious use of an AK-47 to put four of the five invaders into pine boxes. I can’t imagine these people weren’t aware of that. They may well have discussed the other invasion and planned out actions to take if someone invaded their home.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo is a vocal gun control proponent and using this as another reason to call for increased gun control measures. These self-reinforcing tactics cause me a fair amount of concern. Police use unverified informant data to perform a no knock raid. Police catch bullets during the raid on a couple of non-felons. This fuels demands for lawfully-owned guns to be removed from the hands of citizens in order to protect law enforcement agents.
At the other side of this, if police raid the wrong house and the wrongfully-invaded citizen fights back—without dying—the citizen will face charges. In 2013, a home was the target of a no-knock raid by police, based on poorly vetted informant information. The homeowner assumed home invasion and fought back. An officer was hit in the head with a bullet and fatally wounded. The homeowner surrendered immediately when he realized it was a police raid. He was brought up on first degree murder charges. A Texas grand jury no billed him a few months later. But here, the process is the penalty. In a review of no knock raids by the ACLU, 60% of SWAT, drug-related no knock raids result in the discovery of ZERO drugs or amounts below the threshold for misdemeanor charges. That alone indicates over use of SWAT and no knock raids.
It seems to me, the simplest way to protect law enforcement officers, is to not perform no knock raids on people who only fit a profile based on wishful thinking and bad, paid for data.
That couple was not prepared. The husband suffered from disabling physical handicaps; but still managed to wound four officers with a .357 Magnum. A gun not kept on his person, before he was killed. His pit bull did buy him a bit of time, just by being a pit bull. No officers were bitten and their own report says they shot the dog on sight and as the first shot of the encounter. The wife wrestled with one of her attackers prior to being fatally shot by a different officer.
My point, imagine the scene with someone who is actually prepared and responded with something with more penetration and capacity than a .357 Magnum. I don’t know, like the guy with the AK-47.
The house I live in has two 5.56 ARs, a Taser and a Glock 22 on a gear wall. On the other side of the bed sits a gear tree with a plate carrier, a .300 BLK AR pistol, KSG shotgun loaded with Aguila mini shells (capacity 25), and my M&P 9mm, when it isn’t on my hip. All of this is within quick, easy reach. My girlfriend (who is a law enforcement officer) and I have war gamed how to act and who does what in such a situation. We both realize our chances of living through the encounter are not high, but we also know not resisting is death (or worse) for her children and us. Home invaders will have chosen poorly if they choose us, regardless of the color of their shirt.
Per ABC local, from Houston Police Officer Union President, Gimaldi.
“We are sick and tired of having dirtbags trying to take our lives when all we’re trying to do is protect this community and protect our families. Enough is enough. If you’re the ones out there spreading the rhetoric that police officers are the enemy, well just know we’ve all got your number now. We’re going to be keeping track on all of y’all, and we’re going to make sure to hold you accountable every time you stir the pot on our police officers.”
I find comments like this to be very disturbing at best. That sounds a lot like retribution in the making, especially as it looks like another botched SWAT raid on the wrong house / based on “reliable informant tips” and zero actual investigation. We as citizens have every right to question all policing techniques. We have every right to question poor choices and to demand officers be held accountable for their poor actions; especially those that result in the death of wrongful parties. I think the First Amendment applies here. Arguably, Gimaldi’s statements might come under “threats under color of law.” TITLE 18, U.S.C., SECTION 242
The good cops out there need to stand up. They need to ensure gathering of accurate information and proper due diligence is used prior to executing a no-knock raid. When innocents end up dead due to poor police choices, the thin blue line needs to purge malefactors. This needs to be done in the open. The last thing the police community needs in this environment of leftist politicians and BLM demonization; it is self-inflicted stupidity pouring gasoline on the fire. Yes, I am talking to you Mr. Gimaldi. Those of us who like law and order, those of us who are in the law enforcement sphere need your kind of help like a SWAT team needs Barney Fife in the stack.
This is a tough topic. No one wants to see law enforcement unnecessarily being exposed to gunfire anymore than the innocent civilians they have sworn to protect.
What do you think your response would be to a no-knock raid? If you are a LEO, please give the readers a glimpse of the reasoning behind no-knock raids from your perspective and experience. Share your answers in the comment section.
Sign up for K-Var’s weekly newsletter and discounts here.