Maryland SWAT Team Raids Home on Hunch, Hits Husband in Face, Handcuffs Couple, and Shoots Family Dog — and Finds No Evidence of a Crime

250px-swat_teamThere is another story of an abusive raid by a SWAT team this week. In January, a SWAT team raid the mobile home of Mike Hasenei, hit him in the face with a shield, knocked him to the ground, handcuffed both him and his wife, and shot their family dog.

The police were looking for someone who broke into two police cruisers and stole penlights, a Police Department baseball cap, citation books – and a high-powered rifle and nearly 150 rounds of ammunition. It is not clear why police leave high-powered rifles and 150 rounds of ammo in cars unattended overnight.

Hasenei, a 38-year-old senior computer analyst for Marriott International, appears innocent but Howard County Police Chief William J. McMahon insists that he “had information” that the home might have the weapons. His forces actually raided three homes that night. He added, however, “Nobody feels good about the fact that a dog was killed.” Hmmm, the problem is that Maryland officers have been repeatedly accused of such abuses including the repeated shooting of family pets. This is precisely what happened in Prince George’s County with the raid on the home of a mayor. A pattern has been alleged in Maryland (though other states have faced alleged unnecessary shooting of family dogs).

Hasenei is pursuing a police complaint.

For the full story, click here.

20 thoughts on “Maryland SWAT Team Raids Home on Hunch, Hits Husband in Face, Handcuffs Couple, and Shoots Family Dog — and Finds No Evidence of a Crime”

  1. I have no problem hunting down cops who pull this shit. Shoot my dog, threaten me – ANYTHING – and I’m going after the cops. To me it doesn’t matter if they were even involved. They all wear a uniform, and that makes them all guilty. They all have to go to sleep sometime.

  2. I believe that no-knock warrants should absolutely be banned. The government should be compelled to announce its presence when it’s kicking down your door, especially if they are going to turn around and arrest the homeowners for firing back when they do. Also, there is no reason that they have to automatically kill the dogs in these situations. What ever happened to a little pepper spray?

  3. Mike,

    Again you cut to the chase. A tool is only as good as the user. Well done.

  4. “This was a situation that required two detectives and perhaps a patrol car backup.”

    Mike Spindell, your take is so well balanced. Demonstrated here as well.

    “I would … much prefer to see SWAT’s on a State Police/Trooper level. Make them highly mobile, but let there be a damn good reason for calling them out.

    The County and Municipal budgets cutters should closely examine these police units.

  5. Alex,
    You are right that they need to be trained with dogs in the house, but they obviously need more control in preventing their raids into the wrong homes. They also have to be able to admit that they were wrong before they will change anything.

  6. I don’t think the problem is directly that the SWAT teams are being used too much, the problem is that the highly boasted about ‘special training’ isn’t good enough. It’s not unusual for a family to have a dog, so they should be trained in how to deal with them, and shooting a running away dog in the back is not the right way.

    Animal control officers, and even firefighters (http://stopbsl.com/2008/11/01/omaha-ne-article-firefighters-get-dangerous-dog-training/) have to deal with dogs, and they don’t get guns.

  7. I would agree with Mike and Adam that the SWAT teams are necessary, but this kind of repeated abuses cannot be allowed. I seem to recall some other abuses that resulted when “no-knock” warrants were utilized. The information in the linked story indicate a very high usage of the the Swat Teams in that area. I hope the homeowner is successful in putting a serious dent in the police coffers. Those here who have criminal law experience, can the public get its hands on the transcript(s) of the hearings with the judge who signed the warrant to see what information the police actually had?

  8. Adam,
    I don’t disagree with you. The answer is oversight and respect for the law by the people who are paid to enforce it. SWAT teams in large municipalities make sense, but if your community/county is less than 250,000 people than it really is about ego. Secondly, the police should have access to the best equipment possible, but if like that small town police chief mentioned hear in the past few weeks, you think you need a tank, you’re overdoing it. I would in any event much prefer to see SWAT’s on a State Police/Trooper level. Make them highly mobile, but let there be a damn good reason for calling them out. In this instance using a SWAT team was like using a hammer to kill a fly.

  9. Mike Spindell – I would agree that police departments seem to be abusing the use of SWAT, but I have a hard time questioning that they should exist at all. There will continue to be situations where the regular beat cops are out-matched by well-armed criminals. If the police had evidence that this guy was the culprit, but also had credible information that he was armed to the teeth, that would certainly be a situation for SWAT. Other cases, such as hostage situations, organized crime, and instances of extemely well-armed criminals (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Hollywood_shootout ) will all require officers who have “special weapons and tactics”. Like so many other things, the instances of abuse do not mean that something should be banned outright. What is needed is effective and ongoing oversight by elected officials who have to answer to the people.

  10. Thanks for the story. What sort of legal remedy does such a homeowner have against the police? Could the homeowner bring a viable section 1983 suit? Or does the fact that the cops had a warrant basically shield them from liability?

  11. The para-militarization of the police, with establishment of SWAT teams was originally an offshoot of the War on Drugs and the claim that the dealers had better guns and equipment than the police, was a mistake. Their use has proliferated into overuse. After all if you’ve got elite officers, with expensive equipment, just sitting around waiting for emergencies its’ costly. This was a situation that required two detectives and perhaps a patrol car backup. SWAT tactics are such that they assume hostile resistance and barge in guns drawn, with brutal results. The fact that there is no reliable information on SWAT use and effectiveness is telling. Not to be crude but many of these teams exist for a type of “look how big my penis is” law enforcement theory dealing less with need than ego.

  12. Wow….That’s just terrible. That’s a shame that they lost their family dog.

    I too, wonder why was there a high powered rifle and ammo sitting in a car unattended overnight?
    With the high costs of each one, you would think that the police department would do a better job at storing those items so that such things don’t happen.

    Sounds like someone screwed up big time and that the police department was trying to cover their ass

Comments are closed.