Alberta and Scott

Casualties of War


“Alberta Spruill, a fifty-seven-year-old city worker from Harlem, is among the fallen.  On May 16, 2003, a dozen New York City police officers stormed her apartment building on a no-knock warrant, acting on a tip from a confidential informant who told them a convicted felon was selling drugs on the sixth floor.  The informant had actually been in jail at the time he said he’d bought drugs in the apartment, and the target of the raid had been arrested four days before, but the officers didn’t check and didn’t even interview the building superintendent.  The only resident in the building was Alberta, described by friends as a ‘devout churchgoer.’  Before entering, police deployed a flash-bang grenade, resulting in a blinding, deafening explosion.  Alberta went into cardiac arrest and died two hours later.  The death was ruled a homicide but no one was indicted.”


“Even in small towns, such as those in Dodge County, Wisconsin, SWAT teams treat routine searches for narcotics as a major battlefront in the drug war.  In Dodge County, police raided the mobile home of Scott Bryant in April 1995, after finding traces of marijuana in his garbage.  Moments after bursting into the mobile home, police shot Bryant — who was unarmed — killing him.  Bryant’s eight-year-old son was asleep in the next room and watched his father die while waiting for an ambulance.  The district attorney theorized that the shooter’s hand had clenched in ‘sympathetic physical reaction’ as his other hand reached for handcuffs.  A spokesman for the Beretta company called this unlikely because the gun’s double-action trigger was designed to prevent unintentional firing.  The Dodge County sheriff compared the shooting to a hunting accident.”  

“Criminologist Peter Kraska reports that between 1989 and 2001 at least 780 cases of flawed paramilitary raids reached the appellate level, a dramatic increase over the 1980s, when such cases were rare, or earlier, when they were nonexistent.”

*all of the above quoted directly from Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness, pp. 75-6.


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