Why Police Are Maiming, Killing With 'Grenades'
Cops use flashbang grenades to stun during raids
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 18, 2015 3:40 PM CST
Updated Jan 18, 2015 4:15 PM CST
In this May 1, 2013, file photo, protesters react as a police flashbang grenade goes off during a clash with police in downtown Seattle.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

(Newser) – Following a drug tip, nearly 20 cops stormed a small apartment outside Atlanta in 2010. Invading officers found only a little weed, but managed to seriously injure resident Treneshia Dukes with a flashbang grenade—a police device that's drawing increasing attention and controversy, Pro Publica reports. Cops often toss the flash-and-bang devices to disorient suspects during drug raids, but critics note that the grenades' flash is more hot than lava. At least 50 Americans, including children and cops, have been killed, maimed, or injured by flashbangs that landed near them or went off too soon. Even Bill Nixon, an Arkansas man who used to make flashbangs for police (before an officer lost a hand demonstrating one to Boy Scouts) doesn't get why cops use them regularly. "It boggles my mind," he says.

Police in Little Rock, Ark., used them on 84% of raids from 2011 to 2013, although the raids usually just turned up minor drug paraphernalia. But a police rep defends flashbang use, saying that "what we see is a large service of warrants without gunfire." Still, horror stories include a 19-month-old Georgia baby who suffered severe facial injuries during a drug raid when a flashbang landed in her crib, WOKV reports. A grand jury didn't indict the officers involved but suggested two ideas that are going around: better police training (there are no national flashbang training standards) and fewer "no-knock" warrants that permit police raids. Meanwhile, Dukes—who suffered second-degree burns over her body—has filed a civil suit alleging excessive police force. "My skin is ugly, and I feel like I’m ugly," she says. "When I talk about it, I just get angry."
 

My Take on This Story
Show results without voting  |  
3%
5%
8%
3%
66%
16%