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Law Enforcement: SWAT Team Flash-Burn Grenade Assault Injures Drug Suspect

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #470)

In yet another example of over-the-top, drug war-related SWAT-style policing,
the Gary, Indiana, SWAT team fired a flash-burn grenade into the home of a drug suspect, leaving him hospitalized with serious burns
. It was just business as usual, according to the SWAT unit commander.

Detectives from the department's Narcotics-Vice Unit had obtained a search warrant for the home of Darrell Newburn after making a number of drug buys there. Police surrounded the house, and a member of the SWAT team, led by Commander Anthony Stanley, threw a flash-bang grenade into the house. The devices are designed to explode with a loud bang and a burst of bright light, distracting police targets.

Newburn was hit in the back and received a burn about 12 inches in diameter. He is hospitalized under police guard at a local hospital.

"How it happened, I'm not certain," Sgt. John Jelks, drug unit commander said a day later. "It's normal practice for them to throw the distraction device in first."

Police recovered a relatively small haul: $400 in cash, an ounce of marijuana, and a little more than a half ounce of crack cocaine, along with a pistol.

"We knew he was in there and he was armed," Jelks said.

Rather than investigating whether the use of SWAT teams and the firing of flash-bang grenades is appropriate police behavior in low-level drug raids, the local newspaper limited itself to making smart remarks about the injured man's name. "With a little help from the Gary police SWAT team, Darrell Newburn had a most appropriate name Monday," is how Post-Tribune reporter Lori Caldwell opened her story on the incident.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

I emailed this today to the newspaper linked above:


In Lori Caldwell's report about a man who was burned by a police flash grenade, she wrote: "With a little help from the Gary police S.W.A.T. team, Darrell Newburn had a most appropriate name Monday." Ha Ha! Very funny! I'm surprised that a trained journalist would choose to make a lame joke when reporting about botched arrest by the police that caused someone to be injured. I'm also surprised that any qualified editor would approve such an addition to a news (not editorial) piece. A good reporter does not make fun of a person in a news story, even if the person is a suspected criminal. Rather, a good reporter would ask questions like "Did the police properly and legally use this device that injured the suspect?" or "Is there a history of injuries caused by these devices?" I would hope that in future news stories, especially ones that involve injuries, you will keep the humor on the funny pages...

Thank you,

Brian Hamilton
Iowa City, IA

Fri, 01/26/2007 - 5:32pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

If Mr. "New-Burn" had not engaged in the distribution of narcotics, the police would not have been able to obtain a legally authorized document, signed by a judge, to enter Mr. Newburn's residence. If Mr. Newburn had not been in the possession of a firearm, the police may have chosen to enter the house in a less-intrusive manor without flash-bangs. Looks like Mr. Newburn needs to take a portion of the responsibility for his own actions.

Fri, 01/26/2007 - 7:01pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

You can use this argument, ie. IF he wasn't selling narcotics, to justigfy anything.

IF my grandmother had balls, she would be my grandfather.

Lets face it. He was selling narcotics. He does not deserve to be physically assaulted with a flash bomb.

Some times the police are just as bad as the person committing crimes. The police break laws and commit crimes all the time. The police sometimes break their own rules.

Whether it was done on purpose or was an accident we do not know.

Using these bombs should be reserved for war and not on its citizens.

Justice, or Vengeance?

Addiction is a physical, mental, and spiritual disease and is recognized as such by our educated scientific community.

Treatment, rather than a flash bomb, would be better.

Thu, 02/01/2007 - 2:42pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

The police did have a judge issued warrant to search the house. The fact that you cannot foresee the future and cannot be able to tell how a person is going to react when you serve that warrant is why they use diversionary devices(ie. flash bangs, tear gas, ect...). How do you think most people would react to people with guns banging on the front door of their own house? I do not think its illegal to use these and i applaud the use of them. If they're helping getting DRUGS AND GUNS off the streets and out of the hands of the wrong people then god bless them...and your remark about officers being as corrupt as some civilians....EVERY agency finds out about corrupt officers within their ranks and handles it in their own way...I hope your just a civilian who is misunderstood....

Fri, 02/02/2007 - 5:56pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Please take a look at the web site and see how many of these sick, twisted so called "officers of peace" receive merely a slap on the wrist for crimes they have committed. There are a few that are made an examle of but a good percentage of these dirt bags are allowed to just "quit" as a form of punishment. Most of the crimes listed are sex crimes! speaks volumes as to who the real criminals are...Very sad but very true...
As far as the judge rubber stamping a search warrant, please..

Sat, 03/03/2007 - 9:05pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

What a lot of crap Mr. Anonymous. You have no clue as to what a "legally authorized document" is and how the police use lieing snitches and false testamony from the police to get them. They found $400 and an ounce, big deal. This SWAT team business is exactly how people get killed, by being an unfortunate neighbor when the police go to the wrong house. Plenty of precidence, happens all the time in other states. We need to take these friggin SWAT teams and give them something useful to do with all their military training. Since Bush is so hot to send more American's to Iraq, we should send SWAT teams from the police over there. Then when they kill an innocent civilian they will be tried, something that doesn't happen here when innocent people get hurt in these military raids.

Sat, 01/27/2007 - 1:29am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

These are complicated and potentially dangerous operations. It is the "potential" that is being guessed at by men. Not super heros or "jack booted thugs. Just guys hoping to go home, every day. So the cops look at a number of issues and decide what types of techniques would be needed. From "ding dong, hello" warrants to full on SWAT raids. Consider the following AT A MINIMUM; criminal history, history of violence or threats of violence, knowledge of weapons present, state of mind and statementts to the CI, evidence of a "hardened target", past actions upon police contact, known training in fighting / weapons / or evidence distruction, look outs, the locations physical size and eviromental condtions.

There, now you have some idea whats up. I never write on these boards because of jackass ranting and general bellyaching by dopers and 'fraidycats. These are jobs you would not do. live with it. Second guess after you know the answers to all of the above (and you won't, thats why I don't second guess, let the laywers do that).

BTW in the above example; history, known to be armed, numerous buys... sounds like FB was needed. Why was he burned? One thing is for sure; you and I will never know.

Sat, 01/27/2007 - 3:27pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

"So the cops look at a number of issues and decide what types of techniques would be needed"? Do you really think so?
Poor decisions are made by inexperienced, young but already balding, agents regarding proper execution of these search warrants. After fabricating an affidavit to get a search warrant, a local officer summond a team (SWAT) at 3:30am, armed with automatic weapons, flash bang grenades and wearing ski masks. They also parked their vehicles down the street so not even a flashing light or police vehicle could be seen. The kicker is the lead agent was serving the warrant to a former neighbor of his whom he was friendly with! The man had no record or history of violence. The lead agent could have just knocked on the door without the mask but instead, decided to shoot the lock off the door and struck his former friend in the leg as he was looking out of the peep hole thinking he was the latest victim of a home invasion! Robbers claim to be the police every day in this country and this was the best decision on how to execute a search warrant for pot? They also hit the poor guy in the face with the grenade once they blew up his front door with shotgun blasts. How would you like to have this cop as a former neighbor? What a jerk..

Sat, 03/03/2007 - 9:33pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

A few people on both sides of the argument that is happening here are missing the point entirely. There are many sorts of people who become police officers for many reasons. Some genuinely want to do good and are brave, honest people. Some want to use the power of the position to make up for personal inadequacies. Some are nasty vile pigs. Some are wonderful people. Some even think the war on drugs is a horrible thing.
The point of articles like this is not to generally bash police. The point is that if it were not for the prohibition situaltion we have, the police and the drug users would not be in situations like this at all. The point is not that cops are bad. The point is that bad laws put cops of all sorts in bad situations that they shoudl not need to be in at all.

Mon, 01/29/2007 - 5:57pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

The bottom line is we don't live in a free country anymore, and haven't for a long, long time. This is a police state, no ifs ands or buts. What has been going on here even back in the Klinton administration and before is the Nazification of America, and the cops are the front edge of that assault on the Constitution, on the very core of American values and freedoms. The previous writer was exactly correct when he called them "the enemy of the people."
Anytime you see a cop (or a soldier, for that matter) know that they are your enemy, and the enemy of all you hold dear, the enemy of your children, and the enemy of the future. Don't let your kids participate in DARE, teach your children to hate and fear the police and the military.

Fri, 02/02/2007 - 1:12pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I can't understand why so many liberals cry about police force. This guy was a known drug dealer, and he was armed. Lets say he was selling on the corner where your child gets off her bus from school, and the deal went bad, and he took out his gun and started firing at his buyer, and your child gets shot in the head. The bottom line is if you're performing acts the endanger the way of life for so many americans you should not have so many rights. Im sick of going to sleep to the sound of gun shots. And for you people that dont know Gary Indiana isn't a place where you would expect a person to just surrender from a cop knocking on your door. The guy was probably high on crack when they flash banged the room.

Wed, 10/17/2007 - 5:31pm Permalink

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