I'm so angry right now I don't know whether it'll be possible for me to be dispassionate and objective as I write this post; but it's got to be written. I ask those of my readers with blogs of their own, or Facebook pages, or any other social media outlet, to please publicize this matter as well.
I accuse the Habersham County Sheriff's Office in Georgia, and all other agencies involved in this case, of child abuse under color of law. Here are before and after pictures. I've deliberately kept them very small because I don't want to show the extent of the infant's horrific injuries. One news outlet said bluntly, "Channel 2 has decided not to share most of the photos because of the graphic nature of the child’s injuries".
Here's why I level the accusation..
Early Wednesday, a multijurisdictional SWAT team raided the home to serve a drug warrant. Deputies said they bought drugs from the house and came to the house to serve a no-knock warrant to find a man they said was known to have drugs and weapons.
Deputies opened the door and threw the flash grenade into the play pen of the 19-month-old boy.
Habersham County District Attorney Brian Rickman told Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh he will review everyone who entered the home and everyone who was inside the home during the raid.
Friday, Phonesavanh said the outlook is grim for her little boy.
“The nurse explained it to me. His laceration on his chest is pretty deep, down to the muscle. They can’t close it up yet because all of the charring from the explosion,” Phonesavanh said.
“He still needs help breathing. He’ll need that help for a while. He has a big bruise on his lung from the impact. His lung is useless right now” Phonesavanh added.
. . .
The family showed Young photos of the burned play pen. The boy’s mother insists the play pen was not blocking the door as deputies reported. She also said it would have been obvious to police that her son and other children were inside.
“They can’t miss the kids. They said there were no toys, no nothing. There’s plenty of stuff,” Phonesavanh said.
There's more at the link. See also these reports:
DA investigating SWAT raid that critically injured toddler
To my unspeakable outrage, Haversham County Sheriff Joey Terrell has tried to excuse the incident by claiming that his officers and others involved were merely doing their jobs. An example of his attitude is this direct quote: "Our team went by the book. Given the same scenario, we'll do the same thing again. I stand behind what our team did."
Sheriff Terrell, HOW IN THE BLITHERING BLAZES OF HELL CAN YOU STAND BEHIND THE DELIBERATE MAIMING OF A 19-MONTH-OLD BABY BY YOUR OFFICERS, USING AN EXPLOSIVE DEVICE, IN THE NAME OF "GOING BY THE BOOK"?
This incident encapsulates everything that's wrong with law enforcement in the United States today. In the military such injuries were referred to as 'collateral damage'. Armies do that. Their very function is to break things and kill people. THAT IS NOT THE FUNCTION OF LAW ENFORCEMENT - but too many law enforcement officers behave as if it is, and try to excuse it when it happens. We call this 'the militarization of law enforcement'. It's drawing concern from both the left of US politics (e.g. the ACLU), the center (e.g. this ABC News article) and the right (e.g. the Cato Institute). Police sources seek to justify it (see, for example, this article), but what else would we expect from them? The boys want their new toys, after all.
I speak as a retired Federal officer. I swore a law enforcement oath of office myself, and had statutory powers of arrest. All I can say is that Sheriff Terrell is extremely fortunate he doesn't live within striking distance of me, because he wouldn't be allowed to say any such thing in my presence. I regard him with contempt, scorn and derision for even attempting to justify this sort of outrage. He's identified himself as a jackbooted thug for even thinking such things, much less saying them. Why he hasn't been physically slapped down (at the very least) by outraged members of his community, I just don't understand. Why the officers who perpetrated this authority also have not been dealt with as severely as possible by that same community beggars the imagination.
Sheriff Terrell's mindset is, at its root, precisely the same as that I spoke about when discussing the mindset of those in authority in the Catholic Church concerning the clergy sex abuse crisis. I discussed that mindset at considerable length in the first two sections of this article, so I won't repeat it here. Suffice it to say that much of what I said there about bishops and their thought processes applies (obviously in a very different context) to law enforcement administrators and commanders as well. They are blind to reality.
I believe Sheriff Terrell (and all officers who took part in this raid, and any other officer of any other agency who shares his defensive attitude over this incident) needs to hang up his badge RIGHT NOW and never put on law enforcement uniform again. If he does, I believe the people of his community need to remove him from office by any means necessary. If I were there, I'd not only join them - I'd help organize a community-wide drive to do so.
I swore an oath. I have kept that oath. Sheriff Terrell and his officers, by the admission contained in his own words, are in violation of that oath every day they hold office. WHY HAVE THE PEOPLE OF HAVERSHAM COUNTY NOT DONE SOMETHING ABOUT IT?