Swat Team Raids Home With Armored Car, Kills Unarmed Occupant, and Costs Millions In Damages But Lead Officer Given Award For His Role In The Raid

220px-Members_of_the_60th_Security_Police_Squadron's_Base_Swat_Team628x471-1Five Connecticut towns will pay $3.5 million in a bizarre raid by heavily armed SWAT team members after a report of drugs in the house of a Norwalk man. The team hit the home with flash grenades while snipers and officers surrounded the property. The owner, Ronald Terebesi, was dragged from the home and another man, Gonzalo Guizan (right), shot and killed. Neither was armed and a small amount of recreational drugs were found. The towns however still fought the case for years until a court issued a key ruling against them. They still deny any negligence or fault and proceeded to give the officer leading the raid an award for his role in the disastrous raid. (Swat members shown here were not involved in this raid)

This is not the first time that police were given accommodations for negligent or mistaken raids.

This case however captures the problem of police departments that seem eager to use armored cars and SWAT teams funded after 9-11. Former Easton Police Chief John “Jack” Solomon insists that the raid was carried out according to a valid warrant. That warrant was based on a call from an exotic dancer who admitted that she had a dispute with Terebesi. Police (who have had complaints about Terebesi entertaining exotic dancers in the past) responded with a virtual invasion. The SWAT team covered in body armor drove into the neighborhood in SUVs and an large armored transport with SWAT team members standing on the running boards ready to assault the house. They also took a video of the assault as snipers deployed and the armored car charged the house.

Monroe Officer Michael Sweeney led the team into the house behind a large shield with Trumbull Officer Brian Weir behind him pointing a M4 assault rifle. The grenades exploded and and doors came off their hinges. Sweeney then screamed “I’m hit” and police let loose a torrent of bullets. Guizan was hit six times and died. Terresi was handcuffed and dragged out of the house. The plaintiffs say that the evidence showed both men were clearly cowering in a corner when the shooting occurred.

Sweeney was not shot and at most was hit by the debris from the flashbang grenades thrown by his own team. Weir later said that when he heard Sweeney say that he was hit, he fired at the men. Sweeney then says that he saw Terebesi and Guizan in the corner but that they charged him and Guizan tried to grab his gun. Sweeney said that he fired to keep control of his weapon. Weir however said that he saw no such struggle and the attorneys for the two men said that the evidence clearly shows that they were cowering in the corner. An autopsy showed that Sweeney was in a superior position consistent with his account on the shooting.

One would think that these towns would be outraged by the overkill shown in the assault and then the negligent actions taken in the house. If so, one would be wrong. The towns spent more money fighting the case despite clear evidence found by the courts to support a trial. Now, Easton First Selectman Thomas Herrmann insists that the settlement does not reflect any negligence by his officers or those of the other towns: “While the defendants, police departments and officers from Darien, Easton, Trumbull, Monroe and Wilton maintain they were not responsible for the unfortunate death of Mr. Guizan, the insurers for the defendants, who will bear the full cost of the settlement, believed that it was best to resolve the matter rather than incur further attorneys’ fees, which were anticipated to be significant. The defendants concurred, further believing it was important to facilitate the Guizan family being relieved of the combined burden of litigation.”

That seems a rather belated concern for the Guizan family since you first launched a virtual military assault on a drug allegation, then killed the unarmed Guizan, and then fought their claim for damages until you had little practical alternative but to settle.

Team members found only two crack pipes and a tin containing a small amount of cocaine, but no guns.

Sweeney was then honored for his role in the raid by the police department.

Source: CT Post

77 thoughts on “Swat Team Raids Home With Armored Car, Kills Unarmed Occupant, and Costs Millions In Damages But Lead Officer Given Award For His Role In The Raid

  1. Some points from the longer version of the story in
    http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/What-led-to-deadly-Easton-raid-3587812.php

    Sweeney was not really “leading the raid”. He was just the one that was put at the front end of the stack of guys who went in with instructions not to wait while the flashbang detonated. They basically flashbanged themselves and chaos was predictable – particular for people with indifferent levels of training and experience.

    The sole cause of the excessive and stupid force appears to have been Chief Solomon, who had a monkey on his back.
    One of the group of neighbors who were complaining to him about Terebesi’s lifestyle had apparently given the Chief his job.
    It was Solomon who insisted on the Keystone Cops With Tanks action. THis despite any misgiving expressed by the people who were going to do his bidding.

    As for Sweeney, his remark sums it up.
    “Why didn’t we just knock on the door?”

  2. One thing is sure, it is NOT going to end well. Definitely asymetrical war. The population not enclosed by fortresses, and with an impotent bill of rights, we wait for the attack.

  3. Nothing here to see. Move along. (GeneH).

    Meaning what”s new. Nothing. only the armament gets more militarized. And military vets need jobs, and Obama is fixing the jobs. Soon he will have internet “nests of dissidents” to raid with SWAT teams.

  4. It is easy to see if you look at the long course of history. Everyone is arming up. Outsiders are talking about the fact that people in this country are getting ready for war.Funny is the fact I am watching Katyn tonight. Watch the crimes of the statists.

  5. Real drug dealers need to install large trap doors in the floor just inside the front door and a second one out on the porch. When the LEOs come and burst in, hit the switch and put them in the cellar. We had such a set up at a gas station in East Saint Louis when I was a kid. When they got robbed the robbers got dunked into the flooded cellar. It took two events that made the news before the hoods caught on and hit em up at the back door. The owner spied through the peep hole and just shot em through the door. Then the owner closed the place and moved to a suburb. It sounds like this particular SWAT team was a product of Hitler Youth.

  6. We must always Look Forward; not Backward when assigning any responsibility in matters of potential law-breaking by any member of the ruling class. This is especially true when it comes to the brave police who risk their lives defending us against crack pipes and other dangerous weapons of terror

  7. Blouise – Part of the gun culture? Which side you talkin’ about, Willis?

    These monkeys were just jealous b/c they missed out on Waco, Ruby Ridge, Philly helo-bombing and San Berdoo…

    They outta have their nuts examined and heads extracted, or maybe the other way around.

  8. The Obama team end the “war on drugs”

    Bwahahahahahaha. Oh my, another fantasy that there is a rational government in place.

  9. From the BORDC (Bill of Rights Defense Committee blog):

    “Police consultants spread zero-tolerance policing over local objections…but who’s listening?”

    by Nadia Kayyali

    http://www.constitutioncampaign.org/blog/?p=11933#.USaTS2e3F8F

    Excerpts:

    “Police consultants such as William Bratton and Robert Wasserman are warping policing nationwide, and even globally, to a disturbing uniformity. Cash-strapped cities are paying their consulting firms thousands, even millions, of dollars for advice on how to implement “broken windows” and “zero tolerance” style policing. These policies are springing up across the country, as advocates and communities scramble to respond. The most recent place is Oakland.”

    “Oakland’s other, less reviled police consultant also has a troubled record. Robert Wasserman and his consulting firm were awarded a $99,900 contract from Oakland in September. He is the architect of the community outreach effort around suspicious activity reporting, a troubling program that encourages citizens and line officers to submit data that ends up in local-federal fusion centers. He was also a consultant for Transport for London, at the price of 1,000 pounds a day, an appointment that embroiled him in controversy . This was only one of his international consulting gigs, and he’s not alone in having worked in the U.K.. Bratton also worked as an unpaid advisor for British Prime Minister David Cameron.”

  10. Just when I start getting a little sympathetic for gun control, this reminds me of the grander scheme the second amendment was designed to control.

  11. I have to agree with an earlier poster in that we need to end two wars. The war on Terrorism and the so-called War on Drugs. Instead of arresting people and throwing them in prisons run by for profit corporations, we would all be safer if we stopped our international war projects and our domestic war projects. The money saved could run Obamacare for quite some time and would save lives at home and countless civilians overseas.

  12. When Wars Come Home

    Tuesday, 19 February 2013 10:08

    By Charles Derber and Yale Magrass, Truthout

    http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/14539-when-wars-come-home

    Excerpts:

    “In the flood of commentary about the Newtown massacre and broader US gun violence, liberals tend to blame failures of gun control while conservatives blame the mentally ill and Hollywood. But they are both missing one important and overlooked explanation: the domestic consequences of a militarized superpower engaged in chronic wars around the world.

    The US spends more money on the military than the next ten countries together. It also has the highest level of domestic gun violence in the developed world. Highly militarized societies cannot compartmentalize foreign from domestic violence. They cannot prevent wars – and guns – from coming home.”

    “Military societies cannot reproduce themselves without sustaining the commitment to guns and the morality of gun violence in the larger society. In his Farewell Address, President Eisenhower warned of the dangers of the penetration of the values and economic interests of the military-industrial complex into the heart of civil society. The Newtown massacre and the ex-LA police officer’s rampage are powerful reminders of Eisenhower’s understanding of how the military inevitably shapes the morality and conduct of civilians and companies, always threatening to bring wars home. As Martin Luther King lamented at the height of the war in Vietnam, “I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government.”

    King went on to say: “The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit.””

  13. “10 Reasons The U.S. Is No Longer The Land Of The Free”

    https://jonathanturley.org/2012/01/15/10-reasons-the-u-s-is-no-longer-the-land-of-the-free/

    Perhaps “Militarization of Police” should be added to the list.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/bradlockwood/2011/11/30/the-militarizing-of-local-police/

    Excerpts:

    “And they are receiving a warm welcome. 50 states, 17,000+ federal, state and local agencies have accepted more than $2.6 billion in donated military equipment so far this year, as revealed by the Pentagon’s Paul Stockton at a House Homeland Security Committee panel. In response to the drawdown of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, much equipment is now available – And being “donated” for domestic law enforcement. Including $600 million in cash, this equipment and funding are intended for all-inclusive counter-narcotics and -terrorism enforcement activities.”

    “…now that our wars overseas are ending, all of that equipment is coming home to roost.”

  14. If Connecticut is serious about restricting access to guns to save lives, maybe they need to start with their police departments

  15. “By giving police departments armored vehicles and assault gear, you encourage SWAT raids – essentially military tactics. Restrict police departments to police gear and they will develop good police procedures (and appropriate tactics).”

    *DING*DING*DING* Thank you, Steve Fleischer.

    If only the PD’s in my neck of the woods (Tampa area) would take this view. But no–last year, pre-RNC Convention, our departments fell over themselves in joy as they took delivery of “surplus” armored personnel carriers (most of us would call them tanks, minus the pivoting gun turrets), the maintenance of which is paid for by sponsors such as defense contractors, who get to plaster their logos on the tanks’ body, much like NASCAR vehicles. I kid you not. Oh, and a few “surveillance” drones.

    Like many others, I refer to behavior like the SWAT/PD personnel above as “The War On Some People Who Use Some Drugs”. Because that’s exactly what it is.

  16. Now exactly what training mission was the swat team on again…. I guess they can use real house and real people to make it more interesting….

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