California County Pays $2.6 Million To Family After Swat Team Raids Home, Starts Fire That Kills Innocent Man, and Blocks Fire Trucks Rushing To The Scene

RogelioSerrato5-300x169Monterey County has agreed to pay a family $2.6 million after police conducted a military-like raid on the home of an innocent man and burned down the home with the man inside while blocking fire trucks rushing to the scene. Rogelio “Roger” Serrato, 31, died at the scene and left a family with four children without a father.

We have been following how police departments have used terrorism funds and grants to buy military equipment and expand SWAT team raids (and here and here and here and here and here and here) for even small alleged crimes. Even the Department of Education is ordering military like raids.

800px-Nash_BearcatIn this case, the Monterey County Sheriff’s SWAT team hit Serrato’s home on suspicion of being involved in a non-fatal shooting (he turned out to be entirely innocent). They drove an armored Lenco Bearcat on to his lawn and surrounded it with paramilitary officers. When he did not come out, they hit the house with a flash bang grenade that caught furniture and a Christmas tree on fire. An officer approached the burning home with a fire extinguisher but they spotted Serrato in his shorts in the living. Shouting “suspect,” he withdrew with the fire extinguisher. The officers retreated to the armored vehicle and kept their guns pointed at the house as Serrato was reportedly heard screaming. Officers watched the house burn as fire crews were blocked by their vehicles in getting to the scene.

Despite this record, County Counsel Charles McKee insisted that the officers acted as true heroes: “They put their lives at stake in trying to secure the property and they should be commended for trying to resolve a very tense situation.” They should be commended for starting a fire and then watching a man burn inside while blocking fire trucks? I am not saying that the officers wanted the house to burn or that they could have foreseen the fire. However, their actions after the fire seem less commendable as demonstrated by the large damage award. Yet, no officers were punished for these actions.

The county’s insurance carrier settled the lawsuit without admitting any wrongdoing.

35 thoughts on “California County Pays $2.6 Million To Family After Swat Team Raids Home, Starts Fire That Kills Innocent Man, and Blocks Fire Trucks Rushing To The Scene

  1. No amount of money can restore the loss of life.

    Cases such as these are so INTOLERABLE – it quickens my anxiety beyond the point of despair/disheartening – and pushes me to the precipice of my limits of civility!

  2. There rarely seem to be consequences to police when an innocent citizen dies.

    Compare the consequences when a citizen “resists”, even when no injuries to cops result.

  3. I have seen several of those urban assault vehicles on flatbed trucks. Most of the ones I have seen had the names of law enforcement departments painted on the side. It must be a lucrative business. More profitization of the system.

    Abraham Maslow said that if the only tool you have is a hammer, all problems look like a nail. If they buy one, then there must be some secret law that says they MUST use it. My dad had a saying about stuff like this, “As useless as tits on a boar hog.”

    The only military-type gear our sheriff’s department has acquired are two Humvees, canvas-top type. Now, that makes sense, because they are useful for search and rescue in these mountains.

  4. “Abraham Maslow said that if the only tool you have is a hammer, all problems look like a nail. If they buy one, then there must be some secret law that says they MUST use it.” (OS)

    That’s a keen observation to which I would add the dangers of police-mob mentality which is influenced by the loss of responsibility of the individual when the command structure breaks down. No wrong doing? Yeah, well, try pulling an individual out of that police-mob.

  5. Justice Holmes….. You can’t be a criminal if you work for the government…..

    But the pump don’t work because the vandals stole the handle….

  6. ” I am not saying that the officers wanted the house to burn or that they could have foreseen the fire” wrong, flash bang grenades frequently cause fir. This was a possible outcome and they knew it. Their mind set was that he is a criminal and if he should die in the assault, so be it, no skin off our back.

  7. “Their mind set was that he is a criminal and if he should die in the assault, so be it, no skin off our back.” (Paul)

    Sadly … a mindset proven to be correct.

  8. Things like this usually happen in other localities, but this was in my neck of the woods. 2 days ago, the local paper published a piece by the sheriff in which he attempts to sorta justify it. The paper’s editor however did not let him get away with it, and published a retort blasting away any attempt at justification.

  9. To protect and serve–my ass! They murdered a man and left four children without a father and they are to be commended? 2.6 million doesn’t even begin to cover it. What these officers did was criminal!

  10. Monterey County Sheriff’s SWAT terrorists showed complete depraved indifference to human life.

    Monterey County Counsel Charles McKee is nothing short of a fraction of a human being for his attempt to “paint” the Monterey County Sheriff’s SWAT terrorists as heroes.

  11. Disgusting outcome of a stupid over reach by the Sheriff’s department. At least the family was able to make them dig pretty deep into their pockets to pay this claim. So sad.

  12. @rafflaw

    It isn’t the sheriff that is paying the claim.

    It’s the tax paying folks of Monterey County on the hook.

    The terrorists responsible have been called heroes by the sheriff and town counsel with nary a soul held responsible for the death of an innocent man.

    From the Monterey Herald:

    Instead of trying to help Serrato, who was emitting “anguished cries” and breaking windows, SWAT team members retreated to the transport vehicle, pointed rifles toward the home and awaited the fire department, the suit said.

    Zeros not heroes.

  13. Tragic and a big failure on so many levels before and after the event for all the reasons aformentioned here.

    When you ratchet up the threat, that is with all the SWAT response gear, weaponry, and high speed, low drag tactics, the potential for an error might be the same as with just two deputies walking up to the door and doing an ordinary arrest/investigation, but when that error happes with TAC response with all the gunnery the aftermath is orders of magnitude worse. And, going all out TAC tends to amp up people, even if they are very conscious to avoid this, it makes them react more swiftly and aggressively. But there are of course times when that is necessary such as an active shooter scenerio but the trade-off is the risk.

    There are two approaches to planning for situations. One is to go in with maximum potential gear to address any threat that comes about. The other is to spend more time planning and only taking the gear/response that is judged to be only what is necessary.

    Situation One has the advantage of having what you need if it goes to heck on you. The disadvantage is like having a hair trigger and it can fly out of hand more easily.

    Situation Two has the advantage of not rambo’ing the situation to prevent things from getting out of hand, but the disadvantage is you might have a more threatening situation that was expected and officers or hostages get hurt or killed.

    Finding the balance is the art.

    But a point of wisdom is to look at the numbers, not all situations are going to turn into a raging firefight, so planners need to sometimes take a step back and think of how we can solve this with the easiest way possible.

  14. As an insight into the mindset of the swat team, Salinas, where this happened is the ghetto sister of Monterey. It is 20mn away but sits inland and is also much poorer, its main economy is from agriculture.
    it is also prominently latino, marked with gang warfar and almost daily murder.
    This is obviously one of those areas, much like the Bronx, or Compton, where the cops go in already ready for warfare, not policing.
    This is also not the first time this has happened, as last year, another latino resident was shot before being given the opportunity to state his innocence.
    And personanongrata is right, some of my taxes will be paying for this. Makes me feel like working at paying less of them.

  15. Where’s Antoinette Tuff when you need her? Although bringing down the cops is much harder than a mentally ill 20 year old with a weapon and 500 rounds of ammunition.

  16. This will only stop once the citizens of the u.s.a understand and realize that the irs along with insurance companies all fit into the corporation that has been masking itself as a government for hundreds of years.

    This will only stop when the citizens begin going after the cops themselves instead of the depts which are agencies of the corporation and therefore forced to pay their salaries along with their lawsuits.

    This will only stop once….. the list is 10+ miles long but until the citizens begin to truly understand and begin to know how to fight this war/enslavement. then expect it to get worse..

  17. This is why God made rifles. If someone could pick off some of these swat ukFays and send em to Limbo then it would be good. Start with the Chief of Police.

  18. When we civilians murder someone, we usually go to prison for a long time. When LEOs do it, they are generally commended, and act without consequence. As these incidents increase in frequency, sooner or later civilians will probably start shooting back. Statistics show that we are many times more likely to be murdered by a LEO, than by a civilian or criminal.

  19. Reminds me of Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil”. The official response was more or less that the policemen were just following SOPs. Despicable.

  20. LISTEN to yourselves; really listen to what is being said from your own mouth. You’re authorizing your government to kill innocent people burn their property and not be held accountable and you are paying for all of it!! You are paying for their weapons and paying to clean up their mess. which is easy to talk about when it’s not your husband or son or your house or life, internalize the facts just for a few minutes ask yourself if you were the one being accused of some crime any crime I know it’s different for you, you would not allow yourself to be in that situation. If you believe that, you will realize what I am saying is true on the day you are exactly there!! That day it will be very clear to you it is possible that you can be put there you don’t have to do anything you can be in the same situation by accident, mistaken identity, or used as a scape goat, you don’t have to do anything at all to be in that exact situation EXCEPT keep quiet while others are killed innocently. That is all you have to do is keep quiet, keep busy in your own life working and keeping yourself on budget. Keep taking care of your responsibilities and being a good citizen. After all it takes everything you have to make it in the world today you surely don’t have extra time to spend verifying the facts of some criminal’s situation that is what the police are for right???? They are only human and the people are the only thing that verifies that they are acting correctly. The people are the auditors we have to keep watch and make sure they are doing things correctly. If we don’t well this is what the outcome is, the people have to let the government know what is acceptable if we don’t watch them and keep them honest they won’t be!! It is everyone’s job to watch and guide the government we are the government things that are happening are because everyone is letting it. Everyone is too busy with their own life to watch the government until you are innocently killed your property stolen your home burned down then you will understand why they need to be watched and questioned and held accountable for their actions. If you did not have to be held accountable for your actions would you continue to pay income taxes every year? especially if you saw your neighbor get rich the last two years because he didn’t pay any taxes and no one came after him he did not suffer in any way he just kept getting richer and richer eventually you may decide not to pay your taxes or at least maybe not all of them and if nothing happened you were not held accountable you would not pay them next year, especially if you did pay them and you got a thank you letter from a jeweler that your check paid for a diamond ring for a senators mistress…that’s the same thing happening today they just take the time to deposit your check and write out a different one to the jeweler. But the way things are going with no one in the government being held accountable for their actions eventually they will just save themselves some time and use your check instead of writing out a new one…and they will have a lot of stupid people thanking them for conserving paper!!

    The only way this will stop is if enough citizens decide to stop it, but like myself fear and intelligence has silenced us all. If you do speak out against ANY government agency you will pay the price, somehow, your life will be destroyed and that is the only thing that is guaranteed! You will be audited, insurance rates raised, mail disturbed, driving pulled over, permits denied, utilities disturbed somehow and I have named what I believe is just 1% of what they are capable of and will happen to anyone who does speak out, and there is no one who will try to help you when you are attacked and fall to financial ruin, everyone will run and hide as proven when someone exposed the governments spying on citizens. No one not one citizen stood behind that poor man who put his life on the line for every single American citizen. The truth is I am scared to even post this for fear of punishment. If I become incarcerated for a horrible crime that makes the general public feel thankful that I was stopped and believe I am a horrible person and deserve to be in jail if not put to death. I tell you now I am innocent, I do not do ANYTHING to harm ANYONE EVER. I do not steal or cheat or act maliciously towards anyone or anything I do not ever act with ill intent. So if I am punished let my situation serve as proof that what I am saying is real and please someone, everyone help me and in doing so help yourselves everyone together is the only way to have enough power over the government, Don’t wait until it is too late to act, don’t let another individual go down alone and unjustly because of fear. The only way any voice will be heard is if everyone stands together. EVERYONE!

  21. I wrote a guest blog about the Swat Team problem some months ago. This is the type of outcome you get when you militarize police operations. OS’s fathers saying about a nail and a hammer sums up the problem perfectly. We provide our police with all these lethal toys and this is then the kind of result that should be expected. Why is it that someone doesn’t stand trial for murder?

  22. “The county’s insurance carrier settled the lawsuit without admitting any wrongdoing.”

    That the way almost all these incidents end up, unless of course the upper administration admits it was wrong.

    Don’t tell anyone anything, except that the ‘truth’ will come out in the “investigation”….delay as much as possible, to give people time to move on to the next big news item.
    Then buy them off with a big hunk of taxpayer’s cash, and when the insurance rates go thru the roof, hope no one notices & it all goes away.

  23. I think the officers burned down the house on purpose. I think the little interlude with the fire extinguisher was something called a “dog and pony show.”

    Same as with Chris Dorner.

    Same as Waco.

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