Officers, You’re Doing a Heck of a Job.

The [edit: Minneapolis,] Minnesota Police Department has given medals to eight officers who participated in the botched raid last December of a family home. They were at the wrong house; the homeowner, there with his wife and six kids and thinking he was being robbed, shot at them, and the police shot back.

Minneapolis police spokesman Sgt. William Palmer said Tuesday the department has acknowledged the raid was a mistake and has apologized to the family. But he said the officers “performed very bravely under gunfire and made smart decisions.”
Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan said that he knew giving the award might get negative attention but that “we’ve never not recognized an officer shot in the line of duty.”
Three officers received shrapnel damage to body armor and their ballistic helmets, Palmer said.

The police said it wasn’t their fault (WCCO) that they went into the wrong house; they blamed the informant. Asked if they would make changes to prevent future mistakes, a police spokesman replied:

“I don’t think it was a mistake on our part, you know, we did
everything correctly. We did everything in good faith, we followed the
search warrant, we did everything correctly. It turns out some of the
information that was given on the front end from the informant, just
wasn’t right.”

Cops routinely take credit for decisions they make based on anonymous information. In fact, in many kilo-plus drug cases the police are concealing the very existence of an anonymous informant by describing the seizure as the result of police work and luck. Even where the police admit that there was an anonymous informant he is, well, anonymous.

How about this: the buck stops with the cops. If the cops trust the wrong informant and make the wrong call, they didn’t do everything right. In fact, they screwed up. And if there ever was a time to “not recognize an officer shot in the line of duty”, it’s when the cops screwed up and put eight innocent people’s lives at risk. Thankfully, nobody was killed. But medals? Sheesh.

(h/t Windy Pundit).
(Also from the Star Tribune: shooting Winnie-the-Pooh.)

0 responses to “Officers, You’re Doing a Heck of a Job.”

  1. I hate to get in the way of a terrifically reflexive, knee-jerk reaction, but I think we need more information here. It sounds like maybe the officers were getting medals because they DIDN’T kill someone in a dangerous, stressful situation, despite the fact that the homeowner (justifiably) shot some of them. The raid was misdirected, but once involved, they made the right decisions. You say “thankfully,” and that’s appropo — but maybe we should be thankful to those officers.

    Okay, okay, so maybe medals might be a bit much.

    But I suspect that the “rest of the story” includes a hefty settlement for that homeowner from the city. (By the way, is there really a “Minnesota Police Department”? Do they mean Minneapolis?)

  2. Man, who is in charge of PR for that department?

    Yes, let’s call more attention to our screw up.

    I guess that’s a good argument for having a press office.

  3. Minneapolis/ Minnesota…either way. I feel pretty certain that it would have turned out differently here in Texas. The homeowners would have been shot and the ones that lived would have been indicted. Why? b/c we have allowed it.

  4. I’ve read a few more stories about this, and I have to back down. It sounds like the SWAT team was acting on bad information from the Violent Offenders Task Force. They wouldn’t have had reason to question the task force’s determination that a raid was justified. The officers that were shot do not appear to have been at fault. In that case, they deserve their medals.

    To the department’s credit, at least they aren’t trying to put the homeowner in jail for shooting at them, or planting drugs on him as certain other departments might have done. (I’m lookin’ at YOU, Atlanta!) These days, that makes them honorable professionals.

  5. Tarian, you are a bit off the mark. It isn’t that the DIDN’T TRY to kill anyone:

    “At the Khang house, as many as nine officers entered the home at about 12:45 a.m. Sunday. The homeowner, Vang Khang, thought they were intruders and fired his hunting rifle, hitting two officers in protective vests. Police fired multiple rounds.”

    They tried to kill him. They just missed. Pretty big difference.

    Windy, the police work was bad, as it’s been bad in a lot of these incidents. But you don’t get “credit” for not doing something you aren’t supposed to do. If we are going to give them credit for those things, we might as well give them credit for beating the hell out of him or killing him in a secure prison cell. Have our expectations dropped so low?

    On the flip side: What kind of man would except an award like this? It’s kinda like pee wee baseball where everyone gets a trophy?

    “Hey dad, what is that medal for?”

    “Well, your brave father and some other men nearly killed an innocent civilian.”

    “Isn’t that like being rewarded for screwing up?”

    “Oh no, this is completely different.”

  6. The catch 22 of American law enforcement.
    Bad intel happens. The exercise of reasonable force under the circumstances is the issue. Exercising restraint is often more difficult then the use of deadly force and should be commended instead of ridiculed.

  7. This relates to a topic I’d like to see done Mr. B. How people hear or read something and come up with completely different takes on a situation. Specifically, how this relates to juries. (If you haven’t touched on this in another post)

    Obvious personal filtering aside, how do you work against this in trial?

  8. Since neither of us were there, how do we know if the officers missed their target or not? Every shot fired under every circumstance does not have deadly force etched on the jacket. Why is it so hard to give law enforcement the benefit of the doubt once in awhile?

  9. Let’s put on the other shoe. When you defend crooks that shoot at, but don’t kill their victims, do you refer to each shot as a miss?

  10. Skip, you have no idea what you are talking about. Officers, especially SWAT, aren’t trained to shoot over peoples heads. When fired upon, they shoot to kill. Period. Go on a ride along and ask an officer if he “shoots to scare” or “shoots to wound”.

    If you are asking yourself “How do you know?!” I know, because I was one.

    As to your hypothetical, it has nothing to do with this situation. I recommend you spend a little time reading your states penal code which I’m sure you can find online.

  11. A quibble: it’s the Minneapolis Police Department, not the Minnesota Police Department.

    Other than that: well, yeah, but it’s worse. They were supposed to be searching the house of a Rolling 60’s Crip; the home belonged to, and was occupied by, the Khang family, who are Hmong; Crips are a black gang. It would have taken a sixty-second property records search to determine that the house was owned by and homesteaded to (lower tax rates for owner-occupied homes here than rental property) the Khangs; a quick glance through the window would have shown the valiant law enforcers that, instead of a bunch of black folks, it was a bunch of Hmong.

    As to who is in charge of PR in the department, it seems to vary. Sergeant Jesse Garcia III is the usual spokesman, but after this disgrace, his ever-changing stories may have prompted his bosses to put somebody else forward. There was a fair amount of shuffling going on around this; Amelia Huffman, the Lieutenant in charge of Homicide, was put in front of the cameras a few times.

    That said, I think Palmer did a pretty good job of putting lipstick on this pig: portraying shooting the hell out of the house and stumbling over a bunch of terrified little kids into “perform[ing] very bravely under gunfire and ma[king] smart decisions” with a straight face should qualify him for the Tommy Flanagan award, along with his wife, Morgan Fairchild, yeah, that’s the ticket.

    It’s awful.

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