Police used a SWAT team, an armored vehicle and a flash-bang grenade to raid the home of a man wanted simply for unemployment insurance fraud.
To make matters worse, the raid ended with the shooting of a North Miami Beach police officer and the arrest of a man — with no previous criminal record — on attempted murder charges.
Early in the morning of Feb. 6, an armored vehicle and the North Miami Beach Police Special Response Team (SRT) came to the home that Elton Bandoo shares with his mother. The Miami Herald reported that the team and the vehicle were there to serve Bandoo with a federal warrant for unemployment insurance fraud. Officers tossed a flash-bang grenade into the house and entered the structure.
“I think we’re getting robbed. I think we’re getting robbed,” Bandoo’s mother reportedly yelled.
Hearing his mom’s words, Bandoo then grabbed a 40-caliber handgun and went to investigate. He saw an intruder and opened fire. The intruder was Officer Lino Diaz, who was shot in the arm and leg.
Bandoo’s attorney, Seth LaVey, said his client is innocent. LaVey added that Bandoo graduated from high school, had a 3.5 GPA and has never been in trouble with the police, The Herald reported.
“Once all the facts come to light, no crime was committed,” LaVey said. “Under no circumstance was Mr. Bandoo trying to intentionally hurt a police officer.”
Police say they announced “in a loud and clear voice” they were serving a warrant and used a flash bang grenade.
YouTube Video Played A Role
Bandoo and his mom surrendered about 10 minutes later, and he was charged with attempted first degree murder of a law enforcement officer. Diaz was taken to a hospital, where he underwent surgery for injuries to his leg and arm.
He is president and chief executive of a music production company and was arrested as part of a federal investigation into unemployment insurance fraud – a nonviolent crime. The SWAT team was apparently called out because officers had seen a hip hop video that Bandoo had made and posted on YouTube. The video shows two men pointing guns at a camera, although it’s not publicly known if Bandoo was in the video.
“They’re trying to portray him like he’s a bad person. He’s not. He’s an honor roll student. He’s a good kid,” an unidentified woman who answered the phone at his mother’s house told CBS4.
Washington Post writer Radley Balko said no-knock raids are full of contradictions.
“The police claim that the nighttime and predawn raids, the flash grenades and the quick, forced entry are all necessary to take suspects by surprise. In other words, the tactics are designed to confuse and disorient everyone inside the building that the police are raiding,” Balko wrote. “At the same time, the police argue that the same people they’re deliberately confusing, disorienting and taking by surprise should have known that the armed men breaking into their homes were police officers. You can’t have it both ways.”
“Well, actually you can. And the police do. There have been a very few cases where someone who mistakenly shot at the cops was excused, but it’s rare. The double standard is only compounded by the fact that when a police officer makes a mistake and kills or injures an innocent person during a raid, he is generally given the benefit of the doubt because of the volatile circumstances.”
Elsewhere: Police Use Flash Bang on 89-Year-Old Grandmother
Another controversial use of a flash-bang grenade occurred in Riviera Beach, Florida, in early December. Police tossed one into the home of an 89-year-old grandmother during a raid. Officers apparently had raided the wrong house.
“When I woke up, guys were standing over me with a gun telling me, ‘Where’s the guns, where’s the money?’” Vera Thompson told WPTV. Thompson was taking an afternoon nap when police tossed a flash bang grenade into her home and kicked in the door. The police were conducting a drug raid. “I said what drugs and what money are you talking about?”
She told WPTV, “All my drugs come from the doctor. 89 years old and I’m going to sell drugs?”
Police did not find any drugs.
The City of Riviera Beach has promised to repair the damage to Thompson’s house, although it has yet to do so. She needs new windows, a new front door, and new carpet.
“They’re slow as molasses,” she said.
Do you believe no-knock raids are necessary? What is your reaction to the story? Share your thoughts in the section below: