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Thursday, March 08, 2007

To Serve and Protect Terrorize and Endanger

Carl Chancellor of the Akron Beacon Journal reports:

Georgette Prince was making a quick run to the store last Thursday morning for orange soda and lottery tickets -- a venture that should have been an uneventful five-minute trip but became a terrifying 20-minute ordeal.

The unsuspecting Prince was caught in the storm of a SWAT team raid that had her in fear for her life.

"I thought I was going to be shot. I thought I was going to die," Prince recalled over the weekend as she sat in the living room of her Grace Avenue home.

She said she was just stepping out the front door of Mr. Pantry, a Copley Road convenience store, when her world became a frantic, frightening blur of guns, shouts and shoves of helmeted, armored men with guns.

[...]

Prince said she and her 12-year-old son, Davonte, drove to the store around 10 a.m. He waited for her in the their Jeep as she made her purchases and started back.

"I was holding the pop in my arms and was backing out the door, pushing it open with my back," Prince said.

"The next thing I know, I'm being shoved back into the store and someone is pointing a rifle at me, yelling at me to get back, get back and to get down on the floor."

With the rifle trained on her and an officer clad in helmet and body armor advancing toward her, Prince went to the floor face-down. She said her hands were pulled behind her back and she was handcuffed.

"I was crying and telling them my son was outside in the car," she said.

According to Prince, another customer, a man, ran toward the cooler when officers barged in and she saw the owner of the store at the counter.

"He had a gun on his hip... ," Prince said. "I was just hoping he didn't do anything. I was thinking if the owner made any kind of move, I was going to get killed.

"They (the officers) kept yelling: 'Tell us where the guns and money are.' I was so scared."

Outside the store, Prince's son found himself in an equally frightening situation as he stared down the barrel of a rifle.

"I was just sitting in the car waiting for my mom" when a SWAT officer pointed a rifle at him, Davonte said.

"He was looking at me through the rifle's scope and telling me to get out of the Jeep, get on the ground and put my hands behind my back," Davonte said.

The Perkins Middle School student said he complied and lay on the ground, which was wet from the morning's rain.

(entire article here, link via Hit and Run)

Not only did the sheriff's deputies terrorize Ms. Prince and her son, they also recklessly exposed the Princes, and any other customers who might have been in the store, to unnecessary danger.
[Captain] Roach and [Inspector] Thornton explained that a SWAT entry was used because the "target," the store owner, allegedly had a violent background and carried a gun.

Roach said it was understood that there was "the potential for customers" inside the store.
In other words, the deputies knew of the risk that the suspect would be armed and violent, and they knew of the possibility that customers would be in the store, but they recklessly chose to risk putting those customers in the crossfire between a SWAT team and an armed, allegedly violent, suspect.

The perpetrators of the assaults on Ms. Prince and her son report to the Honorable Drew Alexander, whose contact information is as follows:

Phone: (330) 643-2181

Fax: (330) 434-3513

e-mail: drewalexander@summitsheriff.com

Sheriff Alexander is up for re-election next year.

3 Comments:

Anonymous JollyRoger said...

It is exactly this sort of John Wayne bs that was at the root of the Branch Davidian massacre.

Law enforcement is far too militarized. It is time to remind them that they are citizens, the same as the rest of us, and do not have any special "God" status in the community.

5:09 PM, March 10, 2007  
Blogger Jason Sonenshein said...

You're right, Roger. Have you read Radley Balko's paper on paramilitary police raids? It's sad how far modern police departments have deviated from Sir Robert Peel's principles.

10:05 PM, March 11, 2007  
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