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. 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.

  2. 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.

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

  4. 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.

  5. I’m too disgusted to write anything else…………….

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

    https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/just_shoot_the_mindset_responsible_for_turning_search_warrants_into_de

    Excerpt:

    ” 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.”

  10. 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.”

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

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