Over the years I’ve had a number of occasions to question those in authority about incidents that appeared to have gang gone awry. Not Ruby Ridge or Waco levels of awry, but still there were casualties.
More often than not the answer I would get was: “We did everything by the book,” as though the established procedures in the manuals constituted an inerrant bible to be followed faithfully and without deviation.
During a recent wide-ranging editorial board with Sheriff Doug Gillespie I had the chance to ask him about two recent incidents involving Metro officers.
In one case three Metro SWAT officers serving a warrant on a drug suspect in Henderson were wounded when the suspect fired through the door while they were shouting and pounding on it. I asked the sheriff if it might not be better to just let the suspect flush any drugs down the toilet than risk lives with tactics often used now — barging in military-assault-style.
The other case involves corrections officers, who are under the sheriff, using a flash-bang grenade to distract an inmate so he could be removed from his cell. The inmate, who suffered burns from the device, has sued Metro claiming excessive use of force and violation of his civil rights. Metro videotaped the entire incident.
In both cases Sheriff Gillespie said the tactics used are subject to review and possible change in the future. He did not say the officers did anything wrong in either case but that the incidents would be reviewed with an eye to learning from them.
This is what he said about the SWAT incident:
This is what he said about the grenade use:
Frankly, I found his answers refreshing.