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Oakland Pays Out $1.2 Million to SWAT Raid Victim

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #653)
Consequences of Prohibition
Politics & Advocacy

The city of Oakland will pay out $1.2 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a woman who suffered serious burns from a flash-bang grenade thrown by a SWAT team officer during a 2008 drug raid. The city council voted to approve the settlement in closed session October 5 without admitting any wrongdoing.

SWAT raid
Nicole White, 31, was visiting a home in East Oakland and sleeping on a couch in the living room when an Oakland Police SWAT team serving a drug search warrant broke through the door after home resident Patricia Wilson slammed it in their face. One team member, Officer Chris Saunders, threw a flash-bang grenade toward a hallway, but it ricocheted into the living room, burning White on her chest and leg. Wilson was also injured, and has received a $45,000 pay-out from the city.

White suffered burns on 11% of her body and was permanently disfigured. She spent nearly a month being treated in the hospital. Her medical expenses ran to $400,000.

"This was a real tragedy," White's attorney, John Burris, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "The conduct of the police was reprehensible."

White's lawsuit accused police of using an "extreme level of force" in throwing the grenade in the house.  Police should have known that flash bangs, which emit a loud noise and blinding flash upon detonation, could burn or injure innocent bystanders, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit also accused police of conducting the raid to retaliate against a man connected to the home who had just three days earlier filed a class-action lawsuit accusing officers of lying on search warrants. The city denied any link, saying police believed people at the residence were armed gang members. Police found two shotguns in a garage, as well as unspecified quantities of heroin and cocaine. Neither White nor Wilson were charged.

The man who filed the class action suit, Roland Oliver, had been arrested at the house in March 2008. But prosecutors dismissed the case after finding that Officer Karla rush falsely stated on a search warrant affidavit that suspected drugs seized during his arrest had been tested and confirmed as actual drugs. That case was one of a series of similar cases in which officers lied about having confirmed drug samples. Four officers, including Rush, were fired, although one got his job back through arbitration.

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.


buzzardwhiskey (not verified)

Not by a long shot.  We all know that prohibition and its attendant violence will not end as a result of some moral outrage.  It will only end when it becomes too expensive.  Anti-prohibition campaigns most concentrate their efforts on destroying local community infrastructure through lawsuits.

Tue, 10/12/2010 - 9:57am Permalink
Doug Johnson (not verified)

Maybe there's a reason terrorists around the world are targeting our country.  Obviously voting doesn't seem to help us control our government, especially with a government that is conducting a war against its own people. So neither terrorist acts nor voting works and the American people are stuck between a rock and a hard place, frustrated, with nothing they can do.

Next time you say the Pledge of Allegiance, is this the country that you are pledge to?  Is this still the Land of the Free?

Thu, 10/14/2010 - 6:07pm Permalink
sun (not verified)

man, this is terrible!  police are outta control!  affected by too many cop programs on TV?  thinking that r smart, virile, other myths ... ?

jeez ...

Fri, 10/15/2010 - 9:24am Permalink

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