Little Rock featured in investigation of police misuse of flash bang grenades | Arkansas Blog

Monday, January 12, 2015

Little Rock featured in investigation of police misuse of flash bang grenades

Posted By on Mon, Jan 12, 2015 at 2:19 PM

click to enlarge KABOOM: Map pinpoints where LRPD used flashbang grenades in raids in the city from 2011-13, with racial population indicated by shading.
  • KABOOM: Map pinpoints where LRPD used flashbang grenades in raids in the city from 2011-13, with racial population indicated by shading.

Pro Publica has released a major look at police use of military-style "flash-bang" grenades during raids with, as the article headline says, "little oversight and horrifying results."

The article includes stories on 50 people killed or maimed by the explosive devices in the U.S. since 2000.

There's abundant Arkansas material in the report.

A Northeast Arkansas man, Bill Nixon, was an early manufacturer of the devices. 

But, as flashbangs became ubiquitous, Nixon worried that departments weren’t training officers to use them properly. Reports of accidents started to trickle in. A prison guard in Nevada lost her hand when a flashbang exploded during a training exercise. And then, in 2002, an officer closer to Nixon’s home in Arkansas was injured. An Omni Blast exploded in the hand of Brandt Carmical, a North Little Rock police officer, as he conducted a flashbang demonstration for a local Boy Scout troop. It pulverized his right hand, blew out his right eardrum and perforated his left eardrum. 

Nixon settled a lawsuit over that incident and later stopped selling the devices, saying he was concerned police weren't properly trained in their use.

Questions about the devices haven't deterred the Little Rock Police Department, Pro Publica reports.

Across the river, in Little Rock, Ark., the police department is still using flashbangs on nearly every raid, according to ProPublica’s analysis. Police department records obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, as part of its nationwide survey of police militarization, showed that between 2011 and 2013, Little Rock police tossed flashbangs into homes on 112 occasions, or 84 percent of raids – nearly all of them in predominantly black neighborhoods.

Little Rock Police Department spokesman Sidney Allen defended the practice, saying, “You may see a large number of flashbang deployments, but what we see is a large service of warrants without gunfire.” But no weapons were found at three-quarters of the homes during this period, according to department records obtained by ProPublica. Most searches yielded drug paraphernalia such as small baggies of marijuana and glass pipes. Others just turned up bottles of beer.

One Sunday afternoon in 2012, Sharon Kay Harris, a diminutive 54-year-old grandmother, was still in her church clothes getting a soda out of the fridge when police officers threw a flashbang into her kitchen. “It was very scary,” Harris said. “It’s real loud, it sounds like a gun going off.” Other officers broke down her front door with a battering ram and threw a flashbang into the living room, igniting a pile of clothing. A few weeks earlier, Harris had sold a plate of food and six cans of beer without a license, a misdemeanor in Arkansas, to an undercover officer. The officer returned on a second occasion to catch Harris in another offense: selling liquor on a Sunday. During their raid on Harris’ house, the police confiscated several cases of beer, which she freely admitted to selling along with hot dogs, nachos and fajitas.

Afterward, the city of Little Rock sued Harris, alleging that her property should be declared a nuisance and “abated” – or razed – since it was being used to facilitate criminal violations. The Pulaski County Circuit Court dismissed the city’s lawsuit, but Harris was still fined $950. She could not afford the bill, so she cut grass and picked up trash at the county jail instead.

Little Rock Police Department spokesman Allen said he does not consider the force used on Harris’ home to be excessive. “If she hadn’t been selling illegal items out of the home, no warrant would have been served,” he said. “What you call extreme, we call safe.”

Yes, and if Eric Garner hadn't been selling loose cigarettes — or allegedly selling loose cigarettes — in New York City, he'd still be alive.

Tags: , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (6)

Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Judge Griffen: Why black lives matter

    Another few words from Judge Wendell Griffen growing from the controversy over the sale of Black Lives Matter T-shirts at the state black history museum — removed by the administration and restored after protests from Griffen and others stirred by a story in the Arkansas Times:
    • Mar 13, 2016
  • Two plead in fraud of sheriff's office

    A former employee of the Pulaski County sheriff and a North Little Rock woman who sold goods to the sheriff's office have pleaded guilty to mail fraud in a scheme to steal from the sheriff's office, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office.
    • May 16, 2017
  • IHOP coming down, but .....

    I always scan the Little Rock City Board for items of interest this week and this one caught my eye: A zoning measure required by a proposal to tear down the IHOP at Markham and University.
    • Apr 30, 2016

Most Shared

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation