Evansville SWAT Team Responds to Online Threats, Raids the Wrong House
Tuesday, June 26th, 2012
First watch this breathless local news report, which includes video from the raid. The police shatter a window, then set off at least two flash grenades in the house—clearly before they could have any idea who or what might be inside. The family’s front door was actually already open. But what’s the fun in walking through an open door when you’re decked out in battle garb?
The raid was in response to some online threats made against police officers and their families. So in response to words, the police brought violence. And you wouldn’t know it from the fawning local news reporter in the link above, but yes, they brought that violence upon innocent people.
Stephanie Milan said she managed to remain calm because she knew her family hadn’t done anything wrong. Still, she was stunned and confused.
After speaking to Milan and her grandmother, Louise, police determined those inside the house had nothing to do with their investigation.
Police were executing a search warrant for computer equipment, which they said was used to make anonymous and specific online threats against police and their families on the website topix.com.
“The front door was open. It’s not like anyone was in there hiding,” said Ira Milan, Stephanie’s grandfather and owner of the property for many years. “To bring a whole SWAT team seems a little excessive.”
Ira Milan said the perpetrator of the threats likely used Stephanie’s Internet service connection from an outside location, which led police to the East Powell Avenue address.
But Police Chief Billy Bolin said, “We have no way of being able to tell that,” and the concerning Internet posts “definitely come back to that address.” . . .
Bolin said the SWAT team used its standard “knock and announce” procedure of knocking on the wall and repeating the words “police search warrant” three times before entering.
The police chief said the procedure doesn’t require officers to wait for a response.
“It’s designed to distract,” he said.
Note the complete lack of regret. Or even consideration of the possibility that they might have first considered the possibility that this was an open wireless connection, that the comments had been spoofed, or that they might have mistakenly traced an IP address to the wrong physical address.
Now, of course, everyone slips into bunker mode.
Police were executing a search warrant approved by a judge. Such warrants are routinely filed in the Vanderburgh County Clerks Office, but officials in the clerks office said Friday afternoon they had no record of a warrant served on that address.
When asked by the Courier & Press for access to the document that allowed them to force entry to the home, Bolin refused. He said it might contain information that would compromise their investigation. However, he said the document didn’t contain names of any suspects.
“We have an idea in our mind who it is, but we don’t have evidence yet,” Bolin said.
Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann also refused to release the warrant.
As of yesterday evening, the warrants had not yet been filed with the county clerk’s office. According to the Courier & Press, police and prosecutors are refusing to release them, even though state law apparently gives them no justification for keeping a warrant sealed once the search has been completed.