It Happens Again! Toddler Targeted By Cops’ Bomb
by Leo Hohmann
A 2-year-old California boy was burned and traumatized by a police smoke bomb in a botched “no-knock” raid at the wrong home, his family claims in a lawsuit.
The boy’s parents, Jose and Paulina Salinas of Ventura County, sued the City of Oxnard and its Police Department in Superior Court on Monday, according to Courthouse News Service.
The Salinas family seeks damages for assault, battery, trespass, false imprisonment and infliction of emotional distress from the botched raid. The raid occurred at 4 a.m. on April 16 while the family was sleeping.
Jason Benites, assistant chief with the Oxnard Police Department, refused to comment on pending litigation.
A police press release from April briefly mentioned that a 2-year-old boy had “sustained minor injuries” in the operation but did not say how the injuries occurred or that the child had been burned by a police smoke bomb. Police threw a smoke bomb into his bedroom during a “multi-location search warrant operation” by several agencies targeting suspected gang members. The agencies involved included local police, the district attorney’s office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the stated goal of reducing “gun violence” in Oxnard “through education, intervention, and enforcement,” according to the news release.
The case is similar to an incident that occurred in Habersham County, Georgia, on May 28 when a 19-month-old boy was severely burned in a botched no-knock raid on his family’s house. In that case, sheriffs deputies threw a flash-bang grenade into little Bou Bou Phonesavanh’s crib, blowing off his nose and burning his face and chest, which has required him to undergo more than $1 million worth of surgeries and treatment. Habersham County has to date refused to pay for the toddler’s medical expenses. Like in the California case, the Georgia deputies found no drugs or guns in the house. They arrested the targeted suspect hours later at another house for possession of a small amount of methamphetamine.
A grand jury deliberated over the case as presented by the district attorney but, as WND reported on Oct. 6, decided not to indict the Habersham Sheriff’s Office on any criminal charges. Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell previously told WND that the grenade tossing was a mistake. The deputy who threw the grenade has since resigned from the department.
In the wake of the “Bou Bou” case, State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Ga., has been trying to reform Georgia’s laws to rein in the use of “no-knock” warrants. A pregnant Clayton County woman was injured during a 2010 SWAT raid in Georgia and 92-year-old Kathryn Johnson was shot and killed in Atlanta, eight years ago today on Nov. 21, 2006, when a SWAT team burst into her home in a botched no-knock raid in which they had targeted the wrong home.
“Civil rights groups have chronicled dozens of other such cases in recent years where SWAT-type police with an overzealous mindset have mistakenly injured or killed innocent Americans – mistakes that are most often chalked up as little more than oops,’ absent any repercussions to the offending officers,” wrote crime journalist Cheryl Chumley in a recent column for WND.