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The Shocking Tales of 11 of the Most Over the Top US Police Paramilitary Raids and the Innocent People They Victimized

The proliferation of SWAT tactics has resulted in wildly disproportionate responses to suspected crimes.

Recently, AlterNet reported on the wrongful police raid of an organic farm suspected of growing marijuana in Arlington, Texas. The massive SWAT team raid lasted for more than 10 hours and resulted in the seizure of vegetables and flowers—but no marijuana was found on the premises.

This is not the first time police have used paramilitary tactics to raid people’s properties to enforce regulatory laws in the absence of any justifiable threat of harm. Here’s a list of the most outlandish SWAT team raids across the county.

1. Armed agents raid animal shelter in search of baby deer—and kill it.

Shelter employee Ray Schulze was working in the barn of the Society of St. Francis animal shelter in Wisconsin, when a swarm of squad cars arrived with a search warrant for a baby fawn.

“[There were] nine DNR agents and four deputy sheriffs and they were all armed to the teeth,” Schulze told WISN 12 News.

A family who thought the animal had been abandoned brought the fawn, named Giggles, to the shelter. The agents told the staff they had come to seize the deer because the law forbids possession of wildlife. Schulze explained that the deer was scheduled to go to the wildlife rehabilitation reserve the following day. He believed the officers were going to take the deer to the shelter, but to his horror, the officers returned carrying the baby deer over their shoulder in a body bag. 

“I said, ‘Why did you do that?’ He said, ‘That’s our policy’, and I said, ‘That’s one hell of a policy,” Schulze said.

The supervisor, Jennifer Niemeyer, claimed the law requires Department of National Resources agents to euthanize animals like Giggles because they may be carrying diseases or be dangerous to humans. However, when questioned why the department didn’t just phone the shelter to advise them of the seizure instead of spending resources on a SWAT team, Niemeyer replied: “If a sheriff's department is going in to do a search warrant on a drug bust, they don't call them and ask them to voluntarily surrender their marijuana ... before they show up.”

2. Girl’s home wrongfully raided with flashbangs despite door being open.

In Indiana, a SWAT team raided an 18-year-old girl's house smashing her windows and throwing flashbangs inside, despite the fact that the girl had her front door open and was just watching TV.  In a case of mistaken identity, someone else in the street had signed onto the girl’s open WiFi network and was making threats about police. Once the police realized their error, they advised the girl to secure her WiFi account.

Their target was actually a teenage boy who admitted he had a “smart mouth” and a dislike for cops but denied making any threats. According to Gizmodo, the boy had posted a message that read, “Cops Beware! I’m proud of my country but I hate police of any kind. I have explosives :) made in America. Evansville will feel my pain.”

3. SWAT team raids DJ’s studio to enforce copyright law.

Federal police in Atlanta used a SWAT team to help the recording industry enforce copyright laws despite the fact that the target was not even involved in commercial piracy operations. The local news reported that a famous mixtape DJ was under investigation for piracy, but supporters say he is not a bootlegger. 

Even if the officers had found evidence of piracy, the bigger issue, according to Reason, is why the Recording Industry Association of America was part of the police action in the first place and why a SWAT team was used to raid a professional studio under investigation for a “non-violent white-collar crime.”

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