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.