Georgia Prosecutor May Charge Suspect With Injuries Caused By SWAT Team After Throwing Stun Grenade Into Crib

raid31n-1-webM84_stun_grenadeWe previously discussed the horrific injuries to a baby after a Georgia SWAT team threw a stun grenade into a house in a no-knock raid that landed in the baby’s crib. The family had no connection to the alleged crime, the suspect was not in the house, there were no drugs found at the house, and no weapon was found at the house. Just a baby near death after having an grenade explode in his crib. Now the police chief has come out to cast blame on the suspect, Wanis Thometheva, 30, and the prosecutor has suggested that he may be charged with the injury caused by the SWAT team despite the fact that he was not even in the house.

JAIL_INMATE_THOMETHEVA_WANIS__FRONT_05292014_060514_61_PMBefore the raid, Georgia police say that they purchased drugs at a home and returned with a no-knock warrant late at 3 a.m. to arrest Thometheva. They burst into the home and threw a stun grenade which landed next to the head of a 19-month-old sleeping in his crib and exploded. The baby is in serious condition and is in a medically induced coma. The pictures of the baby are too disturbing to post. The police found no drugs or weapons or even the man they were seeking to arrest in the raid. Police later declared that the state officials have concluded that no further investigation is warranted into the raid or the use of the grenade.

baby-burned-1The raid left a charred portable crib. The explosion opened up a gash on the baby’s chest, left one lung inoperable, and left the baby breathing on a respirator with a 50-percent chance of survival. Notably, police arrested the suspect at another home and the family had nothing to do with the crime. There is always a risk of such innocent individuals being in a home — making the use of such grenades an obvious risk to the very young and the elderly.

Now Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell is blaming Thometheva for the injuries to the baby and the chief assistant district attorney for the county, J. Edward Staples, says he could be charged for the injuries caused by the SWAT team to the baby.

A charge for the baby’s injury would raise some interesting question since Thometheva was not in the house and many have criticized the SWAT team for excessive force used in the no-knock raid. Indeed, the use of no-knock warrants is on the increase and have caused increasing concerns of these raids. The question is whether such injuries could be avoided if police announced themselves and demand entry. Police now routinely ask and receive warrants that waive the constitutional requirement to “knock and announcement.” Not only is this requirement codified in the U.S. Code, but it is viewed as a factor in determining if a search or seizure is reasonable under the fourth amendment. In 1995, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Wilson v. Arkansas that the requirement was indeed part of the constitutional test and in Richards v. Wisconsin the Court later rejected categorical waivers for “knock and announcement” for cases like drug investigations. Police must show on a case-by-case basis that they have reasonable suspicion of exigent circumstances. Notably, while the Court rejected categorical waivers of “knock and announce” in drug cases, police appear to have practically reached the same result in some states. By noting that guns are suspected, magistrate routinely yield to demands for a no-knock raid.

As shown in this case, raids often have these grenades used upon entry despite the risk to the young and the elderly. The police toss in the grenade without necessarily seeing anyone or a particular threat upon entry. The scene is treated as inherently dangerous and no warning is given before officers burst into a home. That also increases the risk of occupants reacting in the mistaken belief that they are being robbed or assaulted by criminals — something that we have discussed in other cases.

I would be surprised if the prosecutor went forward with this threat since the suspect was not even inside the house. Under this theory, hitting a child while racing to an arrest scene or injuries caused at multiple houses could all be applied against a defendant. However, we have often seen multiple charges in cases of alleged police negligence or abuse. The fact is that criminals do put others at risk by their actions. However, this is too extenuated for such a charge in my view. Of course, if the family sues (as expected), they will have to answer charges by the Sheriff this week that they knew of drug activity in the home. That could present a defense for civil liability for the police counsel in fighting charges of negligence, inflectional of emotional distress, battery, and assault.

46 thoughts on “Georgia Prosecutor May Charge Suspect With Injuries Caused By SWAT Team After Throwing Stun Grenade Into Crib

  1. No announce warrants being routinely given is wrong and judges who do so are not performing their functions as judges who are supposed to be a check on police excess. Such judges should be relieved of their duties.

    As to the police the fact that their conduct was excessive and dangerous apparently makes no difference to the department or the prosecutors. As a result every citizen is put at risk. Police officers see themselves as immune from both oversight and punishment for excess. As a result excessive force and abuse have become routine with SWAT teams being used to enforce warrants for over due fines. While arguably this was a drug bust gone wrong, failure to hold these officers accountable will only guarantee that this conduct will continue.

  2. Curious to know why a Florida prosecutor, as your title indicates, is bringing charges against actions arising in Georgia? I believe Habersham County sits in northwest part of Georgia.

  3. More tax dollars wasted, more lives ruined, more needless harm and more draconian responses, all for the failed war on drugs. SWAT teams with no announce warrants for small time drug sales from a home is extreme, but that’s the new police state for you.

    Both the actions of the police and the parent’s contributed to the child’s life-threatening injuries. Hopefully there is some justice and the injured child recovers.

  4. A Paramilitary at war is now what policing has become. And in war, anything goes. And civilians are collateral damage.

  5. Have to agree wit other omments up to this point. This is egregious and ompletely unnecessary behavior on part of judges and police officers. These practices must be stopped. All they do is cause suffering and cannot be justified in any case exposed to common sense reasoning and a modicum of empathy and reason.

  6. The system is locking shields to deny the kid justice.

    Wanis Thometheva is going to get crushed,

    The main casualty will however be the justice system which will take another body blow in the eyes of the public.

    Respect for the law will diminish; what will be left in the public’s perception will be fear and contempt.

  7. I don’t blame the cops so much for this as I do the judges who sign no knock warrants. Accidents like the one here are inevitable in no knock raids. Judges are supposed to be neutral and uphold the law. They’re the ones who need to say “no.”

  8. Just Shoot: The Mindset Responsible for Turning Search Warrants into Death Warrants, and SWAT Teams into Death Squads

    By John W. Whitehead
    June 02, 2014


    ” What we’re dealing with is what author Kristian Williams describes as the dual myths of heroism and danger: “The overblown image of police heroism, and the ‘obsession’ with officer safety, do not only serve to justify police violence after the fact; by providing such justification, they legitimize violence, and thus make it more likely.”

    If ever there were a time to de-militarize and de-weaponize police forces, it’s now, starting at the local level, with local governments and citizens reining in local police. The same goes for scaling back on the mindset adopted by cops that they are the law and should be revered, feared and obeyed.

    Police have been insulated from accusations of wrongdoing for too long and allowed to operate in an environment in which whatever a cop says, goes. The current practice is to let the police deal with these transgressions internally by suspending the officer involved with administrative pay, dragging out the investigation until the public forgets about the incident, and then eventually declaring the shooting incident justified based on the officer’s fear for his safety, and allowing him to go back to work as usual. And if, on the off chance, a shooting incident goes before the courts, the judiciary defers to police authority in almost all instances. Just recently, for example, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that police officers who used deadly force to terminate a car chase were immune from a lawsuit. The officers were accused of needlessly resorting to deadly force by shooting multiple times at a man and his passenger in a stopped car, killing both individuals.

    Meanwhile, the epidemic of police violence continues to escalate while fear of the police increases and the police state, with all its surveillance gear and military weaponry, expands around us.”

  9. a question I have been meaning to ask. Might these aggressive tactics be, in part, caused by the hiring of former military by law enforcement agencies? I question whether police training can replace the military mind-set of a soldier.
    Rules of engagement are far different, or should be.

  10. This is just CYA. This is the same chief who didn’t think there needed to be an investigation. He is just trying to save the department the cost of legal fees.

  11. A blame the victim culture is also a bully culture.

    Eventually the infection spreads to all corners of the culture so long as an enabling environment is the status quo.

  12. This is such disgusting bs. I would argue that the person they were looking for left the house b/c of the danger to the children who lived there. The ones responsible for the injuries to the child are those that planned the raid without proper surveillance on the property, made the decision to use the bomb and then used it. Proper surveillance would have shown that the suspect wasn’t in the house and that 4 children were. The excessive charges will cost the defendant even more in legal fees and time, regardless of the verdict.

  13. I don’t see how Wanis could be criminally liable for this. I agree it is more likely the state trying to pass blame.

  14. This is EXACTLY what they did in New York, when the NYPD shot several bystanders then charged the guy they were shooting at with causing the injuries. IIRC they got the indictment.

  15. Using a similar twisted logic, I would ask the prosecutor to charge county sheriff Joey Terrill with using excessive force and child abuse. Include the county mayor and commissioners (or their equivalents) as accomplices for granting authority and authorizing the funding to purchase the grenades.

  16. I concur with Rick and let’s add the judge as equally culpable. It is time to end immunity for these types of egregious activities. Unless someone is held accountable we are just empowering this behavior.

  17. This is what happens when you allow those we hire to “Serve and Protect” to self adjust that mission to “Sodomize and Persecute”.

    This is what happens when we allow those we hire to protect us and our rights to become the enforcement arm of the Conservative Establishment.

    This is also what happens when your Democracy is pure farce and your nation is actually run by a shadow Plutocracy but; who said anything about that?

  18. Remember folks…. in America, it is now, shoot first, answer police questions after, if you servive…….

  19. @ Andy, I think that’s a good question. This is obviously just anecdotal, but in reading posts online and at police forums, I’d say guys with military experience tend to be LESS aggressive and more respectful, maybe because they know something other than police culture. But that’s just an impression of mine. It would be a good idea to gather data on the background of officers involved in shootings and uses of force to discover if there’s some commonality that might make some officers overly aggressive. It seems like a big problem in lots of these issues with police is that there are so many different law enforcement agencies all with different record keeping rules and practices that no one really knows for sure what’s happening and why.

  20. When the family sues the “state actors” in federal court for the violation of their civil rights, I doubt that they will be blaming that “suspect”.

  21. anyone expecting the masons to turn against one another has a expectation that will completely fail them… there is a reason all high positions are and have been filled with masons. for the last tripe digit hundred years. they are near the completion of their so called one world corporation plans and will stand no interference. even though the main instigators now live on mars they still have humanity on earth held in enslavement.. there is but one way to BEAT THEM but that would take the collective of humanity as one to stand and fight together.. of which it will never happen. if you still believe in conspiracy theories i suggest you start your research first looking up exactly what and why you are now afforded a BERTH (BIRTH) CERTIFICATE and exactly what HUMAN RESOURCES truly stands for

  22. I agree with Darren that from all I can find out about the incident, it was a regular “flash-bang” grenade. I started to post a YouTube video of a training exercise with flash-bangs, but nothing does it justice. Unless you are standing ten yards from where one goes off unexpectedly, there is no way to get it across to the uninitiated. First of all, the flash is brilliant, even in broad daylight. Second, the sound is enough to shatter eardrums if you are close enough.

    I have heard of accidental discharges of flash-bang grenades during training exercises that blew off fingers and mangled an officer’s hand.

  23. Chuck, so cops throw these things into rooms that may be as small as 8′ x 8′ with the expectation that they are incapacitating their target, i.e. someone is in the room?

  24. bk,
    The idea behind the flash-bang is to disorient, confuse and startle a bad guy so they won’t be able to react quickly with violence (i.e, start shooting) when officers enter a room. Training is supposed to focus on when and when not to use them.

    As we have seen with OC spray and Tasers, sometimes the training is, shall we say, less than adequate.

  25. Prof Turley has pointed out several times in recent posts about how victims of police misconduct get charged with crimes, to be used as a bargaining point. They are just happy to get the charges dropped, and let it go at that.

    I get that SWAT breaking into a suspect’s house (or location) is inherently dangerous, but this is clearly a wakeup call that they have gone too far.

    I am sick about what happened to that baby. Will he have brain damage? Recover the use of that lung? It is the fault of who threw the grenade, not the suspect. He wasn’t even there. This was a failure in protocol.

  26. The outcome is undoubtedly that he will be severely F—-d for the sad and probably short remainder of his life while the arm of the establishment goes on killing and maiming as they please.

    The best line I’ve seen lately was on another thread and it said “Are we in the Weimer Republic?”

    How can anyone fail to see the similarities between the Republican Party of today and the Nationalist Socialist (NAZI) Party of 1930s Germany?

    How can anyone fail to realize the potential for violent oppression that is represented by the Police Departments of today’s America and the Party that controls them; the Republican Party?

    Just what will stop them from instituting the Fascist State they dream of?

    They already control the Police, SCOTUS, House of Rep., and the Military when push comes to massacre.

    And I don’t have any faith in Barack Obama or the Senate to stop it either.

    Far too far to the Right for my taste, All of them.

    But you don’t have to be a Purple Progressive as I am to see the danger here and desire to avoid the inevitable Fascist outcome we are headed for.

    It may well be too late.

    I was reading another thread and some fool was going on about how ridiculous NWO conspiracy theories are etc. and I couldn’t help but remember that Conspiracy Theorist is the name we give to Prophets prior to their prophesies coming true.

    On Wed, Jun 4, 2014 at 11:09 AM, JONATHAN TURLEY wrote:

    > Karen S commented: “Please let us know the outcome for the child. It’s > rare that the end of the story ever gets known.” >

  27. I believe we have reached a point where the abuses perpetrated by militarized police have become so epidemic that the only solution is to make both the police perpetrators and the citizens of the jurisdiction where the abuse occurs personally responsible for any damages awarded to the victim in court. Obviously there would need to be a cap on the exact amount each individual would have to pay, but the police perpetrator should have a much higher limit than the individual citizen. However, the liability of the individual citizen should be high enough to hurt, so that vacation to Hawaii or the purchase of a new car or some such thing the citizen hoped for would need to be cancelled or postponed. Perhaps each citizen’s share could be calculated according to a similar formula as property tax. There would also need to be hardship exemption for citizens who are unable to pay. Only when individual citizens in a jurisdiction are personally penalized for the actions of their police perpetrator employees will they be motivated enough to demand that these practices be curtailed and that the individual police be held accountable for their actions. A very disturbing number of police today no longer believe their duty is to protect and serve, but instead to intimidate and enforce, and to serve as stealth tax collectors by writing tickets for dubious traffic violations or ridiculous infractions like jaywalking on quiet residential streets.

  28. The use of SWAT and flash bang grenades for warrant service is terrorism.

    Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell is an apologist for state sponsored terrorism.

    Couldn’t the Habersham County Sheriffs Department simply have knocked on the door during daylight hours and announced themselves like the professionals they claim to be?

    Violence is the first refuge of the incompetent ~ Issac Asimov

  29. angrymanspeaks wrote: “… Fascists and Republicans. Wait; is there a difference???”

    Republicans are concerned about individual rights. Fascists are concerned about group rights. Socialism is a much better mechanism for fascism than the weak central government that Republicans favor. This is why historically the word socialist has been part of the name of every fascist state. Democrats are much more likely to embrace fascist principles where individuals are expected to sacrifice greatly for the good of the nation.

  30. Historically, the word “socialist” has been used in the names of fascist states for the same reason the word “democratic” is in the official name of North Korea… To make the regime sound like it’s something it’s not.

  31. Personally I’d rather have someone dealing drugs in my neighborhood that a bunch of thugs with badges and the authority to arrest me and constantly watching my every move so they can write a citation or harass me. Maybe beat me because they don’t like the way I talk. Once I worked in a furniture factory in this town and about 10 pm a cop walks in asking for a piece of wood to beat someone with. Freaked me out. These people have given up all of their rights in NE GA. I’d like to know the judge’s name and do everything I could to keep him out of office next election.

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