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In Mistaken House Search, SWAT Team Rummages through Iraq Veteran's House and Shoots His Dog

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Another raid on the wrong residence; another dead dog. This time, Iraq War veteran Adam Arroyo says he came home on Monday to find his door busted down, and his beloved pup dead from bullet wounds. The Buffalo, NY police did not seem too concerned with cleaning up blood or anything like that, but nonetheless left behind a note of sorts: a search warrant for the apartment next door. 

“They busted the door down, with a battering ram or whatever,” he told the Buffalo News. “They came in, and within a few seconds of entering the apartment, they murdered my dog. They shot her multiple times. They had no reason to do that.” Arroyo says his dog, a two-and-a-half-year-old pit bull named Cindy, was killed while chained up in the kitchen, which he discovered ridden with bullet holes.

As WKBW points out, the police made a serious error:

The suspect named in the warrant was described as a black male and was wanted on suspicion of dealing crack.

Arroyo is Hispanic and lives at 304 Breckenridge, upper-rear apartment, which has a completely separate entrance and is clearly marked on his mail box.

"I don't do drugs. I'm a United States veteran. I work everyday. I'm just trying to live my life," Arroyo told WKBW. Crazy as this story might sound, raids on the wrong residences happen regularly, and the results can be traumatic, not to mention deadly. Militant SWAT raids are often used in drug busts, and have become increasingly popular over the past couple of decades. They are so prevalent -- and such a significant factor of police militarization -- that the ACLU recently launched an investigation into their use. 

Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda told WIVB that the department is investigating the case, and taking it "very seriously." He added, "If [the dog] was attacking an officer and he was ... stopping the dog from attacking, he'd be justified." Nevermind that they had the WRONG apartment.  

He is right, however, that the raid was pretty standard. Here's how former Seattle Chief of Police Norm Stamper has described SWAT busts:

The officers are armed with automatic weapons and are sometimes deployed from armored personnel carriers or rappelling from helicopters. Doors are smashed open with battering rams or are ripped from their hinges by ropes tied to vehicles. And, to further disorient those inside, officers are trained to use explosives—“flash-bang” grenades—upon entry. The slightest provocation, including any “furtive” moments on the part of the residents, often results in shots fired.Since drug dealers sometimes use dogs to protect their stash, family pets are shot, kicked, or, in the recent case of a New York City raid, thrown out the window.

It's probably a good thig Arroyolo wasn't home. When police become the military, their tactics lead to some of the same civilian casualties as war. Still, some discretion, at least, would be nice. Maybe double check the address next time armed men bust through a door? 

 

Kristen Gwynne is an associate editor and drug policy reporter at AlterNet.  Follow her on Twitter: @KristenGwynne

 
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