Like I Said, It’s Pretty Common
Most people probably believe that the mistakes of the SWAT raid on Jonathan Whitworth’s home in Columbia are extraordinarily rare. That is, unfortunately, false. I’m sure most SWAT raids do find the person and evidence they are looking for (even if the amount of force they use is unnecessary for the task), but raids that turn up nothing or hit the wrong house are unacceptably common. Today’s example comes from Georgia:
An elderly Polk County woman is hospitalized in critical condition after suffering a heart attack when drug agents swarm[ed] the wrong house. Machelle Holl tells WSB her 76-year-old mother, Helen Pruett, who lives alone, was at home when nearly a dozen local and federal agents swarmed her house, thinking they were about to arrest suspected drug dealers.
“She was at home and a bang came on the back door and she went to the door and by the time she got to the back door, someone was banging on the front door and then they were banging on her kitchen window saying police, police,” said Holl.
Holl says her house was surrounded and she was scared to open the door. When the Polk County Police Chief finally convinced her she was safe, she let them in.
“They never served her with a warrant. At that point, she said the phones were ringing with the other men that were in the yard and they realized that it was the wrong address,” said Holl. […]
“My mother has had a heart attack. She has had congestive heart failure and she is in ICU at the moment. She is not good condition and her heart is working only 35 percent,” said Holl.
Holl admits that her mother has had three heart attacks but has been doing well for the past couple of years.
“She was traumatized. Even the doctor said this is what happens when something traumatic happens. He said it’s usually like a death in the family or something like that just absolutely scares them half to death, and that is what has happened,” said Holl.
SWAT raids are designed shock and confuse, which is why, when they occur, many people believe the police are actually criminals attacking them. This can lead to heart attacks or residents attempting to defend themselves from perceived criminals, setting off a deadly firefight. When SWAT raids are used for nonviolent situations, they almost always introduce danger into the situation rather than removing it.
Also, there is this tidbit:
Police say they have had her mother’s home under surveillance for two years.
Holl says if that’s true, how could police get the wrong address?
“We have just found out from a neighbor that they (police) went into some other elderly woman’s home who was on oxygen and took her oxygen off of her and scared her half to death,” said Holl.
If the police really have been watching the house for two years and still raided the wrong house (I have my doubts), it certainly makes the Columbia Police Department’s new rule of keeping houses that they plan to raid under constant surveillance seem woefully inadequate.
Story via Hit and Run.